If you don't care about your brand identity, who will?

I recently had a conversation with a buddy about his website strategy, and I thought it would be valuable to share because it speaks to how StormCellar views brand identity. I want to focus on two questions I asked him, and his responses.

My question 1: “How are you tracking who comes to the site?”
His answer: “I don’t care who comes in! This is not going to be SEO’d as it’s just information(al)”

My question 2: “What is your web marketing strategy for this site?”
His answer: “Informational only! Don’t over think this”

Now, before I go any further (and because he may very well see this blog post), I want to say that I think very highly of this guy. He runs a very successful business. He’s smart, articulate and savvy... That being said, he is wrong in his answers to my questions. And this is why

First off, tracking who comes into your website – and what they do there - is not SEO.  Its brand management. I believe he was confusing the two. To him, the informational nature of his website means that a marketing strategy doesn’t matter. But that’s not correct because he actually does have a strategy – in this case he wants to educate people about his brand. Hence, the informational. That is a reasonable and absolutely valid goal. More importantly, given that goal, I agree he should not pursue SEO as there is no value in it. But just because he doesn’t choose to optimize doesn’t mean he can (or should) ignore the fact that visitors to his site will form impressions about his brand identity. And as the business owner, regardless of the purpose of his website (aka web marketing strategy), he owes it to himself to at least be aware of who is viewing his content – and, perhaps more importantly – how they’re finding it. Because who knows – maybe one day, one of those people who stumbles onto his informational site may become a potential customer…

Which brings me to my second point. The internet is THE place where people get their information. Whether he likes it or not, SEO or not, someone is going to find his site – because, and I could be wrong on this, but the whole reason he put up the website was so that someone could find the site! Which means, by default, he has an internet marketing strategy whether he wants to admit it or not. And when people do find his website, well, I thought the rest was obvious but maybe it isn’t – when they inevitably find it, the content that my friend puts there is going to lead his visitors to form impressions about his brand identity. And he absolutely should (must?!) care about how his brand is perceived. Because, let’s face it, if you don’t care about how your customers perceive your brand, then what do you care about?