Who is Kalicube?
Kalicube is a digital marketing agency that is pioneering the concept of Brand SERP optimisation and Knowledge Panel management. Founded by Jason Barnard, Kalicube leads the world when it comes to analysing Brand SERPs (what appears when someone googles a brand name), extracting the underlying messages they portray and implementing proven optimisation techniques. And that means not only Bluelinks, but also Rich Elements (Video Boxes, Image Boxes, Twitter Boxes, Entity Boxes, People Also Ask…) and, of course, Google Business Profiles and Knowledge Panels
Building Meaning Behind a Brand Name Means Building a Brand
Jason Barnard gave a detailed explanation of how and why he chose Kalicube as the company name:
“Kali suggests quality and cube sounds simple, solid and reliable. Simple, solid, reliable quality immediately presents a really positive brand message. And that meant for me that we would naturally build our brand and our services with those qualities. Additionally, we’re based in France, so I wanted it to work in both languages: the French word “qualité” /ka.li.te/ is quality, and “cube” has the same meaning as it does in English. Starting off with the idea that it needed to be unique and work in both French and English might actually have made it easier to find something unique in the sense that it’s quite tricky to find something that works in both languages, so I had to think a lot and that helped make the name both unique and meaningful.“Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy), CEO of Kalicube
When you have a unique name that has no intrinsic meaning, then you need to build meaning for the brand name. You need to build a meaning for your brand pixel by pixel until it makes a meaningful picture for your audience. Having a unique brand name that has implied meaning makes that task a little easier.
The polar opposite is when you choose a brand name containing meaningful keywords such as Backpacker Job Board. In that case, the meaning is already there and your focus is more about standing out from the crowd.
The focus of your efforts is very different, but in both cases, launching a new brand is a massive task that takes time, resources and (most importantly) patience.
“The illustration style for the logo and the font we use is both simple and solid, which accurately reflects the brand name… and then using a falcon added weight to the ideas of quality and solidity, and added a notion of soaring flight and freedom. Then finally, we made the falcon very colourful which adds a notion of variety and choice, but mostly, we just wanted it to stand out in the search results, and every other on and offline platform.“Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy), CEO of Kalicube
“I would argue that beyond just the name of the company being unique and containing implied meaning, having a logo that stands out and supports that implied meaning is incredibly important.”Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy), CEO of Kalicube
How Easily Did Kalicube Dominate its Brand SERP?
It is very easy to rank and dominate a Brand SERP for a unique name because you are the only brand competing for that name. No one else has the same name as you, so direct competition is low to non-existent and so you can easily dominate and turn into a great Google Business Card.
“Relatively speaking, with a unique brand name it is very easy to dominate in the sense that nobody else is competing for that keyword. After launching the website, we ranked number one after a few weeks.”Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy), CEO of Kalicube
However, that easy win came with underlying challenges:
Problem with Google’s “Did you mean:”
Since the word is new, your Google will often give an alternative spelling, assuming that the user has made a spelling mistake. As Google doesn’t know who Kalicube is, it looks for a result that’s closest to the search query in order to give its users the best experience.
In the case of Kalicube, Google initially assumed it was a spelling error and displayed results for Kali Cube. It doesn’t help that Kali Cube is also the name of an actual piece of furniture. So the term is not completely unique. 100% unique is a tough, tough ask these days 🙂
Giving Meaning to the Brand Name
With a unique brand name, since there are no clues in the name, it can be a huge challenge to ensure Google understands what you do, what you offer, and by extension who your audience is. The trick is to be careful with how you describe your company, and which platforms you focus on and always ensure you are consistent.
Difficult to Get Initial Audiences
Kalicube has a unique name and therefore nobody googles the name unless they have prior knowledge about the brand. To drive branded searches, the company relies 100% on proactively getting its name in front of its audience. Nobody will search the brand name unless they have seen it elsewhere: if they have never heard about you, they have no reason to do a Google search for your brand. The opposite is true for a keyword focussed company name where there is a possibility that it will appear in the search results as soon as a user has searched for the relevant keyword/phrase.
“Nobody will ever see your Brand SERP. If you have a unique brand name, nobody will ever see it unless they already know you. So you have to rely on other marketing channels to build brand awareness in a more traditional manner in order to get people to google your name.”Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy), CEO of Kalicube
So, you cannot rely on Google to get your name in front of the subset of its users who are your potential audience. You have to rely on other marketing channels such as social media, ads, blog articles and possibly even traditional offline advertising and promotion to get people to search for you on Google.
Google’s Reluctance on Triggering Rich Sitelinks
Rich Sitelinks are fundamentally important to a company’s Brand SERP because:
- They allow users to navigate directly to the part of the site and the type of content they want to visit.
- They are a great way for Google to show a variety of deeper content from the company website.
- They add a touch of professionalism to your brand.
- They give you a huge chunk of controlled SERP real estate.
- They indicate that your website is structured in a logical manner that makes sense to both Google and to your audience.
“Rich Sitelinks are a great ‘canary in the mine’ for a unique brand name. They are going to be more difficult to trigger on a Brand SERP for a unique name compared to a keyword-focussed brand name. Why? Because Google will find it more difficult to understand what it is you do, what you offer and who your audience is. That means until you have educated it, Google will struggle to understand who your audience is, let alone which parts of your site they are going to be interested in. So, as a ‘canary in a coalmine’, Rich Sitelinks are great since when you have them on your Brand SERP and they are truly helpful, you can be sure Google has understood who you are, what you offer and what your audience is interested in. Difficult to achieve, but very very powerful and insightful.”Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy), CEO of Kalicube
How Did Kalicube Rank for the Keyword “Brand SERP”?
Interestingly, the term Brand SERP itself was coined by Jason Barnard and so we needed to educate Google about the concept. This means that Kalicube not only needs to explain who it is but also explain the never-before-seen service it provides (Brand SERP Optimisation). That’s a double whammy! But also a massive opportunity.
The problematic double challenge was that we needed to find a way to explain both the topic and the brand name in a way that’s easy to understand not only for our audience but also to Google: “a Brand SERP is what your audience sees when they Google your brand name”. It is also your Google business card, another easy-to-understand explanation.
The opportunity is that, once Google had a clear understanding of who Kalicube is, what “Brand SERP” means and who the relevant audience is, then it became confident enough to display Kalicube as the authoritative source of information for all searches related to the Brand SERP. It knows that Kalicube is the market leader of that keyword, and thus we dominate. The audience googling “Brand SERP” is just as small as the audience googling “Kalicube”, and the search volume is driven entirely by our own non-Google marketing efforts. Huge effort, small volume, but the audience googling these terms is bottom of funnel, brand-focussed, and close to conversion.
As part of these non-Google marketing efforts, Jason Barnard wrote a book called The Fundamentals of Brand SERPs for Business, which further promotes the concept of Brand SERPs, and supports the fact that Kalicube offers Brand SERP optimisation.
“Since we had an additional issue – a unique brand name and the newly coined term ‘Brand SERP’ – we needed to ensure that the term Brand SERP was repeated in conjunction with Kalicube as much as possible on relevant sources (third party and our own sites) and then we added the book as the solid reference foundation of building Google’s understanding of that term.”Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy), CEO of Kalicube
How Easy Will it be to Diversify and Offer a Different Service?
A keyword-stuffed company name will have their service or product offering embedded in the name. The advantage here is that it is immediately obvious to everyone what they offer and to whom because that information is in the brand name. The massive advantage for a unique company name such as Kalicube is that the company has more options to expand its offering, expand into different services/products or even (in extreme cases) pivot away from its core initial business.
A Unique Brand Name Allows you to Stand Out From the Crowd
“If you’ve got a generic (brand name), you’re standing in the middle of a crowd and you’re trying to be noticed by people. It takes a lot of effort and work to fight your way to the front of the crowd, and be noticed. That is a very, very tough task that takes time… and in a crowded market may turn out to be impossible. When you have a unique name, you’re at the front of the crowd by definition. The downside is that the crowd is very, very small (or nonexistent). So you are standing on your own, trying to get people from other crowds to come into your crowd so you can communicate with them. It’s a slow process, but it means you are very focussed and that is a good thing.Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy), CEO of Kalicube
In order to build that crowd, every time we communicate on the brand name Kalicube, we need to also communicate what we do and indicate why people may be interested in our services. That is tough to start with. But it does mean we have a very engaged audience and, although our crowd is smaller, it is much easier to turn the people in that crowd into clients, and then advocates. And it is client advocates who drive long-term business.”Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy), CEO of Kalicube
Four Easy Starter Steps to Dominate Your Brand SERP
After identifying the problems and challenges that Kalicube faced, we took these three simple and non-technical steps to get started.
Build and Organise Your Website
The very first important step on the journey to dominating your Brand SERP is to get the domain name (the exact name if possible) and build a website. If the .com isn’t available, take another TLD that corresponds to your market (.lawyer, .course etc etc). A geo TLD (i.e. a domain extension attached to a country, region or town) is good if your market is limited to one geo region, otherwise it is a bad idea since it sends a very confused message to Google (and possibly your audience).
Because the name is unique and the domain name matches, ranking on the Brand SERP is a no-brainer for Google. However, it is rarely instantaneous: even with a unique brand name and a domain name to match, it will generally take a few weeks to rank #1 with a new website (more than 10 weeks is unusual and would suggest a technical issue with your website).
Tips for the website: Make sure the structure of the website is logical and simple. Use categories to organise your content: this is vital not only for Rich Sitelinks, as we’ll see, but also for Google’s understanding of your offers and to simplify your work as the website grows.
Bonus: when you build out your website, it is essential that you create an Entity Home – a page on your website that clearly describes who you are, what you offer and who your audience is (an “About Us” page). Once established, your Entity Home will be the most authoritative source about you for Google and it will use that page to get factual information and cross-check information it finds on other sources around the web. Without an Entity Home to refer to, Google will always lack confidence in its understanding of who you are, what you offer and who your audience is. That means it will always struggle to understand which subset of its users are the audience you can truly serve. Worse, without a clear, confident understanding of who you are it will always undervalue everything you publish (see this explanation of E-A-T and Entities).
“The Entity Home is the foundation on which your entire SEO strategy is built.”Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy), CEO of Kalicube
Using Rich Sitelinks to Dominate Quickly
The second step is to trigger Rich Sitelinks. This requires that your site is well organised and that you optimise the pages that are relevant to Rich Sitelinks. Please read this case study about Rich Sitelinks. In short, a well-optimised, logically structured, and clearly organised website effectively indicates what content is available, where it is and for whom it is designed… this combination will educate Google about which pages on the website will be most useful and helpful to your audience googling your brand name (prospects and clients). Once Google is sure that it knows what you are offering to this bottom of the funnel audience, it will display the appropriate Rich Sitelinks which gives your users/customers an incredibly helpful overview of your website, which is a great user experience.
“Without Rich Sitelinks you look unprofessional, and you add unnecessary friction for your bottom of the funnel audience. With them, you look professional, your audience gets a great user experience since they can directly access the parts of your site that interest them, and you control at least a third of the entire Brand SERP. Plus, you are safe in the knowledge that your site is well-organised and that Google understands what you offer.”Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy), CEO of Kalicube
Bonus: Because they are important to your prospects and clients, easy Rich Sitelink “wins” include the login page, the contact us page, the about us page and any page that displays a logical collection (of products or blog articles, for example).
Make Use of Corroborative Sources (Including Social Media)
The third step is corroboration: Having multiple social media accounts with the same (unique) name, Google will find it relatively simple to understand that these accounts are yours. Importantly, you need to link out to all of them from your Entity Home (and in the footer of your website), and back from them to your Entity Home. That will build Google’s confidence in its understanding of your brand name, and that you are a different entity than the one it suggests with the “Did you mean:”, and therefore Google will eventually get rid of this, having eliminated the confusion.
“What we did is write incredibly clearly on our own Entity Home: Kalicube is a marketing agency that specialises in Brand SERP optimisation and Knowledge Panel management. We used the term ‘marketing agency’ because we know Google understands that, and only then added the additional specifics of our unique specialisations. To drive the message home to Google, we repeat that on our social channels and every other channel where we are marketing. That enabled us to teach Google by repetition on multiple sources and it now understands who we are, what we do and who our potential audience is. For a unique brand name, that is absolutely crucial.”Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy), CEO of Kalicube
Multiple sources of confirmation and the proper corroboration to your Entity Home are important to Google. Google is like a child: it will be more confident in its understanding when it receives multiple confirmations from multiple trusted sources that it’s understood correctly.
A huge bonus here is that the social media profile pages will rank relatively easily on your Brand SERP. With a unique brand name, with the actions mentioned above – your website, Rich Sitelinks and social media accounts – you will already dominate around two thirds of your Brand SERP within a few short weeks.
“ If you link to LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and they link back to you, it’s very clear that that’s a group, especially if the social account name is exactly the same. That will also help get rid of the ‘Did you mean’ … plus getting those social media channels to rank is relatively easy which is a lovely bonus for Brand SERP control.”Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy), CEO of Kalicube
Kalicube currently has four social media accounts and these are all linked back to its Entity Home (and vice versa).
Bonus: Consider creating a page for your company on Crunchbase (here is Kalicube on Crunchbase): it is a platform that ranks really easily because it’s a database that Google looks at to get information about companies.
Building Google’s Understanding of What the Name Means
Step 4 is to build Google’s understanding. The key focus here for Google is actually not about the string of characters k-a-l-i-c-u-b-e, but an understanding of the company that the string of characters represents. A unique name gives you a massive advantage since you create the meaning, and simply need to educate Google. From that perspective, you need to define in your own mind who you are, what you do and who your audience is. In short, what is the definition of the string of k-a-l-i-c-u-b-e? That might seem obvious. But think hard. Make sure you are clear and consistent from the get-go. This is vitally important for you, your audience and Google.
Now, once you know who you are, what you do and who you serve, think about how you can educate Google and improve its understanding. Your description of yourself on your own website and on every third party webpage that talks about you needs to be clear, concise and consistent. Your content needs to have the meaning of the name woven into it. Copywriting is key. Focusing on the meaning of the name will ensure that you quickly build Google’s confidence in its understanding of your brand – which is a massive advantage in your wider SEO strategy.
“Think about the meaning behind your brand name. Focus on that to build Google’s understanding, and its confidence in that understanding. What I really like about a unique brand name is that you start off immediately with and approach of educating Google to give that name meaning in terms of who you are, what you offer and who your audience is. That approach is a massive plus for entity SEO, for your entity identity, for Knowledge Panels, for digital PR … in short, everything you need for managing and optimising your brand online (BrandTech is the new buzzword there).”Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy), CEO of Kalicube
The 3 C’s of Communication for Building Google’s Understanding: Continuous, Clear, and Consistent
Continuous Communication: Kalicube has a unique name that does not really say anything about who it is or what it does. Kalicube needs to continuously communicate and explain to Google that Kalicube is a marketing company that provides Brand SERP optimisation and Knowledge Panel management services.
“The problem with the unique name is that you systematically have to explain what it is you do, and you need to find that neat catchphrase that helps people understand.”Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy), CEO of Kalicube
Clear Explanations: Clarity can be one of the most challenging things to achieve and that is especially true when it comes to trying to educate Google. A neat catchphrase also helps here. At Kalicube, our catchphrase is
“Brand SERP optimisation and Knowledge Panel management” makes it clear that those are the main services that we offer.
However, it is also important not to assume that everyone understands what you’re talking about. In our case, we need to relentlessly expand on that initial message and offer explanations that everyone will understand, even someone who has no prior knowledge about SEO or SERP or anything related to digital marketing.
Kalicube did this with Brand SERP. As Brand SERP is a new and unique term that Kalicube introduced to the digital marketing field, we needed to educate both Google and our audience about that too. Here we use the catchphrase “Brand SERP is what your audience sees when they google your brand name”.
Consistent Messaging: In order for Google to confidently understand who you are and what you are offering, you need to provide a consistent message. As with teaching a child, consistency that reinforces learning is absolutely essential for educating Google. This is important for every brand, but especially important if you are using a unique brand name since you are building the meaning and if you are not consistent, everybody will get confused (especially Google :).
Consistency means that you need to maintain your key phrases and tone of voice across all the platforms where your brand is present. You also need to encourage your audience and partners to replicate this consistency as far as is reasonably possible.
However, being consistent doesn’t mean that you have to be rigid. At Kalicube we have a central message, a consistent tone, a clear visual identity…. But we have been innovative and creative within the boundaries set by our brand when we create and connect content to it.
How Long Does it Take to Dominate the Brand SERP With a Unique Brand Name?
It can take anywhere from a few weeks to six months, depending on how well you implement your strategy.
“Even with a unique brand name, dominating the Brand SERP with your owned content takes time because Google needs to digest this new information, understand the meaning you are giving to this new word and build its confidence in what you have taught it… but the advantage of using a unique brand name is that there is so little competition, so dominating your own Brand SERP will take a few months as opposed to several years with a keyword-focussed or ambiguous brand name.”Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy), CEO of Kalicube
At Kalicube, it took us 2 months to dominate and control our Brand SERP.
This initial stage of our strategy is explained in detail in the Foundation Brand SERP course on the Kalicube Academy. The course provides everything you need to dominate and control your Brand SERP, whether your brand name is unique or not.
Adding SERP Features (Rich Elements) to the Brand SERP
We continued with the same strategy: providing Google with the content it needs to build a Brand SERP that is helpful, valuable and attractive to our audience. Here we focussed on “attractive” with a focus on on-page visuals, videos, events, Twitter and YouTube. Leveraging multimedia content to build our Brand SERP to become a truly impressive “Google Business Card” (positive, accurate and convincing).
It took us just 9 months to make our Brand SERP look this good:
This second stage of our strategy is explained in detail in the Rich Elements Brand SERP course on the Kalicube Academy. The course provides everything you need to achieve a similar result, whether your brand name is unique or not.
Easy Domination of Your Brand SERP
A unique brand name means that your entire Brand SERP is reserved just for you, with no one else competing for that space. You have complete freedom to leverage and shape the anatomy of your Brand SERP as you see fit.
Unique Positioning in a High-Fragmented Industry
As long as it is memorable, a unique brand name immediately makes you stand out from the crowd. If you can add implicit meaning, then you have an additional advantage in terms of memorability, credibility and positioning.
Kalicube is memorable, unique and has implied meaning: as mentioned earlier, Kalicube is a play on words made up of the words quality and cube, meaning that Kalicube is synonymous with solid quality. This gives Kalicube a unique selling point among its competitors, because when a potential or existing customer sees or thinks of the name, they think of a company that stands out from the rest and offers a reliable and first-class service.
Support for Future Expansion of Products and Services
A unique brand name means you are not tied to your service or product offering. This opens up the opportunity to expand your offering or even change it altogether, as potential and existing customers do not immediately think of your initial offering when they see your brand name, unlike with a keyword focussed name.
Opportunity to Make a Great First Impression on the Audience
Your brand name is your only chance to make a good at-a-glance impression. A strong and memorable name is necessary to make people stop and pay attention and create a strong first impression. Choosing the right name is the key to a brand’s success.
From a Brand SERP perspective, second impressions count. Why? If the content a person sees alongside your brand name incites curiosity (the logo, a video, a social post, an article…), then you can expect them to google your brand name, at which point your Brand SERP is truly your Google business card where you can clearly demonstrate credibility, communicate your brand message and create meaning for your name in the person’s mind.
A More Filtered Audience
As we discussed in the case study about BackPacker Job Board, a keyword focussed company name will tend to attract an audience on Google who are top of the funnel. That’s good. But is it ideal? A unique brand name forces you to focus on multi channel strategies that drive the bottom of the funnel on Google. Since you cannot immediately rely on traditional SEO on Google, you need to get your name in front of people on other channels, and indicate what you offer.
At that point, this audience, who already know something about you, google your brand name and see your amazingly convincing “Google Business Card”. These people are prospects who already know who you are and what you do, and the implicit recommendation provided by Google through your beautiful Brand SERP is the cherry on the cake. This audience is smaller, but it is more targeted and more valuable.
“With a unique name, you’re only aiming at your own self-created audience who already know who you are. That gives you great focus. Your Brand SERP becomes key to your success since you really focus on making sure this bottom of funnel prospect or client is seeing the message that you want, which is bottom of funnel, high converting brand message.”Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy), CEO of Kalicube
A Unique Brand Name is an Undefined Box Filled with Endless Potential
Since a unique brand name means nothing to begin with, you have control over the meaning of the name you choose: you control both the inside and the outside of everything inside your “brand box” (ie YOU define what the word stands for, what the publicly visible message is), you have a great opportunity to create meaning and leverage that with both Google and your human audience. It’s up to you to be clear about the message you want your audience to see and turn your “brand box” into a prettier one that will impress your potential and existing customers alike, and that’s a big help to your bottom line.
“An analogy is this: if you think of it, your company, your product and your offers are in a box. And if you call your company Backpacker Job Board, what is inside the box is written on the box. If you call yourcompany Kalicube, what’s written on the box doesn’t tell you what’s inside the box. So you actually have to convince people to look inside the box. So you have to make a prettier box that communicates what’s inside by other means.”Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy), CEO of Kalicube
List of all wins:
- Dominate your Brand SERP with ease.
- A unique and strong brand name gives you leverage to stand out in a highly fragmented industry.
- You create the meaning behind the name.
- A unique brand name is not tied to a single service or product.
- A great opportunity to make a great first impression on your audience and turn them into a customer.