The intersection of brand, style, and SEO

Ian Lurie

I spent this afternoon in a fascinating branding exercise for a client. We talked a lot about what comprises a brand. A lot of it was stuff I’ve talked about here before: Your brand is the totality of the experience customers have when they encounter you.

But it suddenly dawned on me that a lot of folks confuse brand with style.

Branding is what you say.
Style is how you say it.

SEO is increasingly about both: Search engines are constantly searching for ways to tell good content from bad. Google and Bing are constantly refining their algorithms to better judge brand and style:

  • Content quality (brand)
  • Site performance (style)
  • Authority, which is really just endorsements from third parties (brand)
  • Content relevance (brand)

No grand insights here. Just a little Monday afternoon musing. Have a good week everyone.

Ian Lurie

Ian Lurie is the founder of Portent. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). Ian's recorded training for, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Ian is now an independent consultant and continues to work with the Portent team- training the agency group on all things digital. You can find him at

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  1. But Ian, don’t some brand have style? I thin that’s where people get it confused. I do a bit of content strategy and I always seem to have to add a style guide to complement the brand guidelines, which amazingly many of my clients barely adhere to anyway.
    I think this aids in the confusion. You would think branding would dominate everything a company, but I have seen otherwise so many times.

    1. I often end up having to do style guides too. And that’s fine – style is how you dress up a brand. It may be more of a venn diagram, too: All brands have style, but not all styles have brands?

      1. I can agree with that. When working with clients, I always stick to ascertaining goals and establishing strategies one segment at a time in the following order – Business, Brand and Communication. Each segment is always motivated by the previous, so it is cohesive. I’m just amazed that people still choose to skip steps when there’s so much at stake.
        Sorry for the grammar mishaps and misspellings up top. I commented from my smartphone and didn’t see my mistakes until I hit “Submit comment.” 🙂

  2. Hi Ian,
    I’ve always looked at it as your brand is your promise, your branding is how your brand comes to life . It’s what makes your brand your brand.
    There are various different cogs that need to turn to spit out your branding, style is probably a good umbrella word. It essentially includes your visual identity (style guide) and tone.

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