A subject of great debate in the Jack in the box office recently was, can search engine marketing be used as a branding tool? By concentrating on search engine marketing do you leave your brand behind? Do searchers just view you as another name-less online supplier? Let me show you how search engine marketing can be used in a totally different way to not only build your brand, but take it to completely new places.

Firstly, I’ll explain both sides of the argument.

Search engine marketing is about getting yourself found. If someone wants a wedding photographer, it’s about you making sure they find you when they search online. It assumes they hadn’t heard of you before, and had no idea about what they wanted.

The flip side is that search engine marketing assumes you have no brand awareness. Wouldn’t you prefer someone types in www.bestweddingphotographer.com instead of searching through Google, and potentially finding a competitor?

Do you invest in building your brand so that every time someone thinks about a wedding photographer they think of you? Or do you invest in search engine marketing to ensure you’re number one when someone searches for your services?

My argument is that search engine marketing can certainly do both.

Check out this video from Converse, showing how they took AdWords advertising to a whole new level.

This campaign shows how SEM doesn’t have to be about hiding your brand amongst a heap of competitors.

A man in the US made headlines when he scored himself a job with a big advertising agency through a similar tactic. He purchased google adword advertising for the names of creative directors and CEO’s from major advertising agencies in the country. The ad went something like this:

‘Hey [Director’s Name]

Googling yourself is a lot of fun.

Hiring me is fun, too.’

As there was no-one competing for the key words, the whole campaign cost him $6.

These two examples show that Google AdWords advertising doesn’t have to be about being obvious or focusing on what you think people are searching for. Topical words, trends, events and people all provide an opportunity to be different, instead of selecting words that are highly competitive and cost you an arm and a leg.

After all, branding is about making sure you’re noticed in all the right places.