Companies spend an incredible amount of time and money creating their brands. In 2016, Pampers spent a whopping $8.3bn on its brand advertising alone. In many cases it can be a selling point in its own right - just consider how you think of a pair of Calvin Klein jeans versus an unbranded pair and you begin to understand brand power.

As a digital marketing agency specialising in retail, where branding is paramount, we understand the intricacies, best practices and key steps required to ensure everything we do represents our clients in the right way. We thought we’d share some of the key areas we keep in mind when considering brand advertising.

Start with your client’s brand document/guidelines/standards

Every brand, from the smallest startup to corporate giants, needs a set of brand guidelines: a set of rules explaining how its brand works, an overview of its history, plus its key values and visions. For example, you can find Urban Outfitters’ brand document here.

We use brand guidelines to understand a client's brand, to pull inspiration from its creative and to start to form an idea of how the ad copy might look using the client's own image and copywriting style. This is great to have in mind when you’re creating your dynamic and banner campaigns, especially when creating them in-house.

urban outfitters brand guidelines

Use your client’s website

In the same way you’d structure you PPC account to mirror its website, also use it to structure and phrase your ads. Questions you might look to ask are: Does it use certain slogans, phrases or words?

  • Are they pushing a certain trend or season?

  • What are its USPs?

Whether you’re beginning a new relationship with a client, or you’re testing some new ad copy with an existing one, studying its website is a very good way to get to grips with the brand and what terms it does and doesn’t use.

Bid on branded terms

A client may question why it would bother spend money bidding on branded terms. It is in fact very important for many reasons:

  • To dominate SERPs: You’ll have the organic listing alongside the paid search ad, making you more prominent to the customer and on the page. Most large retailers assert their presence on the SERPs and it’s best practice to do so.

  • To dominate the competition: Your competitors will bid on your brand terms if they’re savvy enough, so make sure you’re in a higher position and avoid losing clicks to them!

  • It’s cost effective: In most cases, brand terms are a lot more cost effective than generic keywords, so, why not? Branded campaigns have been seen to make up 80% of the revenue, using only 20% of the total ad spend, so well worth doing.

  • More qualified leads: We know many customers are already considering your brand: they’ve done their research. Chances are they will be further along the buying cycle, so more likely to convert.

  • More control: You have total control over the messaging within your ads, so make it count. If there are any deals, offers, or messages you’d like to highlight quickly and for a limited time you can simply swap the text out or split test to see which works best. It can also be good for showing off good reviews you’ve received, which helps instill trust.

 Making sure you dominate the top results for your own brand terms is very important.

Making sure you dominate the top results for your own brand terms is very important.

Utilise sitelinks/ad extensions

This is not only best practice in all PPC campaigns, but really important for making sure you are using all the characters available to you. They’re a great way to push trends, offers and events, as well as for reiterating brand values or USPs. They are also handy for navigating users towards specific pages.

And they take up space! Your brand ads will take up a lot more space within the SERPs if you’re using sitelinks, pushing your competitors further down the page. And don’t forget they also contribute towards your ad rank. We wrote a blog post about sitelink best practices - you should check it out to make sure you’re getting the most from your ads.

Check, double check, and be consistent

Make sure all grammar and punctuation is correct. This sounds obvious, but there are plenty of advertisers who are not thorough enough. This will not only make you look unprofessional to the client, but also to the thousands (or hundreds of thousands if your reach is big enough!) of people who see your ads. These mistakes are extremely quick and easy to check and remedy.

Once you get to grips with your client’s brand, make sure you are consistent with that messaging. It’s messy and ambiguous to mix one style or message with another.

Take a look at your ads to see what you’ve done in the past. You should be using messaging from your client’s site, so this should be easy to stay on track. We also create internal brand documents which gives an overview of terms which we don’t use and ones we do - things the client may not like etc. This can be very useful and is handy to pass over to anyone new working on the account.

poor grammar in ad

As we work with retail customers, many of which are high-fashion, we know how important it is to portray brands in the right way. These are just starting points for your AdWords practice, but if you’d like to find out more ways you can be improving your online and digital marketing efforts please sign up for our email updates below, or drop us a message at