Several of our clients come to us after acquiring a hodge podge of different storage facilities, all with different names; they'll have anywhere from two to 40 stores with a variety of brands, all under one website. Whether you have a small number of stores in a condensed area or facilities spread throughout the nation, rebranding your stores to have a shared theme should become an important consideration for your marketing team.
The biggest perk of rebranding is that you'll have one giant, consolidated marketing effort. If you own several stores in a condensed market, customers will be able to recognize your brand's positioning at different stores and expect the same service and product across the board. The same principle applies here as to any big brand, local or national – Ray from HBO's Girls says it best in the show's pilot – "[McDonald's] make[s] an incredible product. It tastes tremendous. It's affordable. It's consistent. I can walk into a McDonald's in Nigeria and order Chicken McNuggets, and when I bite into it, you know what it's gonna taste like? It's gonna taste like home." Although you may disagree with Ray's views on the quality of the fast food giant's mystery meat, this is a great example of how consumers think about branding.
Rebranding and consistency is generally a good thing; however, the StorageAhead team has witnessed some major search engine optimization problems when facilities take on a new name. You'll inevitably experience some initial backlash, especially in terms of web visibility.
How so? First off, let's consider for a minute how Google and its local listings work.
According to Search Engine Watch, Google is responsible for two-thirds of all web searches – so you better play by their rules if you want potential customers to find you. Google's number one priority is to deliver its searchers with accurate results; if they fail at this, those surfing the web will turn to other search engines like Bing or Yahoo to find local businesses.
So how does rebranding affect your listings while Google's in pursuit of the ultimate truth?
The main issue here is your NAP – in one of our past articles about the basics of SEO, we explained that your NAP is your company's Name, Address and Phone number. To ensure accuracy, Google demands that your Google Local listing's NAP matches up with your website's NAP; if it doesn't (for instance, if you change your facility's name on your website but it doesn't update on their end), for fear of rejection by its users, the search engine assumes that the listings are not for the same property and will not include them in the search. You'll see your PageRank drop an incredible amount for this penalty. The worst part is that updating your local/maps' listing to include your updated name is not an instant, or even a quick process, as you'll have to go through Google's verification process again. Yikes.
In summary, take precaution before launching into a full-on rebrand, and talk to the experts at StorageAhead if you have any concerns and to ensure your web marketing bases are covered. Have you experienced any other positive experiences or problems during your rebrand? Let us know in the comments section below!