Ever see Star Wars? Of course you have. Remember C-3Po, the annoying robot nobody wanted showing up to the party? Of course you do. I mean, come on, it’s Star Wars. How could you forget.
Well, if you have a website with a form on it, you likely have become acquainted with one of C-3P0’s distant relatives. You know what I’m talking about, you see a form submission that looks something like this:
Yep, you have been visited by a spambot – impossible to avoid on standard web forms. At some point they find you and start submitting random gibberish junk that makes about as much sense as R2-D2’s bleeps and blips.
You have probably seen CAPTCHA fields on forms where you are required to type in some random letters or words before you can submit a form? These are used to keep the spambots out as the spambot, lacking the intellect of C-3P0 (I think it is a product of robot inbreeding), can’t reason with a CAPTCHA entry box, only a human can. Problem is, humans tend to hate CAPTCHA fields.
You can add a CAPTCHA field but by default we don’t do this for our clients, since humans don’t like entering CAPTCHA fields, it can reduce the number of submissions you get. Also, we don’t use CAPTCHA fields on our forms for our own site, so we get a few of these spambot entries each day. We just trash them as our time to trash a couple a day is worth the few legit ones here or there that we may not have gotten else-wise.
This is not to totally rule out CAPTCHA fields. If you are having security hack attempts happening, then it can make sense to tighten down the site – which is why you see CAPTCHA fields on high profile sites.
If the spambot is coming from one or just a few IP addresses, you can also look at IP blocking to keep the offending bot away. But again, it is usually easiest to just delete the spam.
This has been a busy year for companies trying to get noticed. Now I can understand with the recession and all that there is cause for concern and more reason to bring attention to your business. But attention alone doesn’t make a customer suddenly what to do more business with you. There is something to be said about familarity too as well as what kind of attention you bring to yourself.
Eariler this year Tropicana brought attention to itself by switching it’s packaging. A whole new look brought much attention for this orange juice icon. However, the attention was not positive. Amazingly, Tropicana was not able to have the forsight to realize that trading in a premium branding campaign built up over decades with a generic branding campaign anyone could have come up with wasn’t a good idea. It makes it harder to justify a premium price too if your branding reflects a generic brand. Customer outcry made them realize the mistake and a few months later, and a bunch of marketing dollars shorter, and the original branding is back.
I’m driving to work and pass by the local Wal-Mart Super Center – what the heck is that funny new logo? Oh my gosh, did they paint over the trademark blue on the outside of the building? I just can’t help thinking this is a change for the sake of change without any business reasoning behind it. I’ve never seen a shortage of cars in their parking lot and I’ve never stood in line for less than 30 minutes just to buy a pack of batteries. Love ’em or hate ’em, the new branding is just going to further irk detractors and alienate core customers, in my opinion. Wal-Mart is too much of an institution than a store – maybe more of a tradition as generations of families have been brought up under it’s roof. You just don’t mess with tradition. I’d love to see the price tag for this re-branding vs. how much more it actually adds to their bottom line.
How about that new Pepsi logo? Kinda weird, huh? Ok, they have always tended to market mostly to a younger demographic, so I’m not going to be too critical of their new branding. It may not appeal to me, but then again, I haven’t had a soda of any kind in about a decade or so. I’ll remain nuetral on this one.
I dislike their shoddy, overpriced coffee and over-sugared speciality drinks like Frappacinos, but have always loved Starbucks coffee-flavored ice cream. I mean, I really love the stuff. But Starbucks has played musical branding with it’s packaging – each time getting more generic in appearance and each time I end up seeing less of it being stocked in the ice cream isle at my local supermarket. Hmmm…. Then, about 6 months ago it disappered altogether from the shelves for a few months. I must have bought every other coffee ice cream brand known to man when magically Starbucks coffee ice cream reappeared on the shelves with what’s that, yet another packaging design (and what I swear is a different taste too). Why can’t they just leave well-enough alone – all these improvements are making it worse.
You’d think I was an anti-new-brander by this blog post so far, but I’m really not. I love pointing to the rebranding that UPS did a few years back. They took their tradition with them, enhanced their logo and made the color brown kinda cool. There was no re-adjustment, no “that’s weird” stage – everything was the same just better. You didn’t fell like you were doing business with a different company – they maintained their identity.
Now these are big multi-billion dollar corporations with established identities at stake, but what about the small business owner? What is the identity of your brand – do you have a brand identity?
Usually small business owners start on a small budget and logos and branding tends to be at a lower importance level than other factors in getting the business up and running. But as your business grows, the importance of your branding grows. As you become more established in your field, your premium rises. Just as Tropicana can charge more money for their better known, premium orange juice, your rates for your products or services will increase too. As your rates increase your customers will expect your branding to reflect this new premium. Tropicana spent a lot of money learning this lesson – don’t expect a premium while presenting in a generic fashion or stripping away your established indentity.
If you are new to the game then you are in a good position to start off on the right track. Working with a good design team you can establish the look of a premium brand before you really are one. Upfront costs in this case are more, but you can save yourself a lot of retooling of your brand down the road.
What does your brand say about you? Are you a generic, a premium, or somewhere in the middle?
The length of time that you have owned a domain name has a some influence on how Google views your website. This is because Google wants to avoid spammers as much as possible. Spammers will frequently buy up discarded domain names and attach them to a spam-oriented website. Since these sites muck up Google’s search results, Google is a bit leary with any site that has a fresh domain name registration as it may suspect spam. Also, new websites with new domain names are not yet well established. Google does not want to risk a high ranking for a website that just might be a short term site. Quality listings are what Google wants. Websites that have been online for a long time with a long standing domain name are viewed as higher in quality to Google.
If you have your domain name registered for 10 years out as opposed to year-to-year, then Google assumes you have more expectations of being around for the long haul. Renew your domain name for large chunks at a time if possible, as it gives Google more warm vibes about your site.