Companies’ founder, screenwriter, rock musician, and more, Jason talks about how his diverse background has helped him thrive and help others do so. Jason has turned his name into a personal brand, investing in an exact match domain name jasonbarnard.com; he also owns an EBM for his other business Kalicube.com. We talk about the importance of separating your personal life from your professional life. We discuss naming, branding, SEO, domain names, and the story behind Kalicube’s name. Jason explains the core of Kalicube’s business, what a Google business card is, and why it is essential for any company. He shares some tips on how to get on top of search results and establish yourself as an expert, authority, and trustworthy within the niche that you can genuinely serve while avoiding some common entrepreneur mistakes. We talk about what types of companies can benefit from Kalicube’s services and the importance of building a strong and motivated team.
Tatiana Bonneau has over 17 years of experience in the field of branding, marketing and entrepreneurship. She lead the founding of MarkUpgrade in 2018 to connect the best domain names available globally to the most suitable companies for them. MarkUpgrade covers naming, premium domain acquisitions and sales. She also operates SmartBranding, a website devoted to making it a hub for freely available resources to help anyone starting a brand make the right choices as early as possible in their development.
Introducing the Guest of the Show, Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy), Who is a Google and Branding Expert
[00:00:00] Tatiana Bonneau: So, I have the pleasure today to talk with Jason Barnard. Jason is an entrepreneur, Google expert, professional musician, screenwriter, songwriter, and a cartoon blue dog. And there’s more, but we are going to get to that, I’m sure, during the show.
[00:00:16] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): A long life with my white beard and a lot of different things along the way. I tried my hand at many, many, many things. And one of my specialties now is branding. So, that’s why I’m on the show, I think.
A Bit More Background About Jason Barnard as a Musician, a Cartoon Creator, and The Brand SERP Guy
[00:00:30] Tatiana Bonneau: Yeah. Wonderful. Well, thank you for joining us, Jason. Let’s start with a bit of a background. You mentioned the long white beard.
[00:00:40] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. This is actually quite new. I lost my hair on the top in my late 20s. And it took me another 20 years to figure out that I should grow a beard, because then it makes up for the not having the hair on top. And I quite like it now. It took a while to get used to, but I started my career as an economist in Liverpool. I played the Cavern Club, where The Beatles famously played. I was in a band.
[00:01:06] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Then I became a professional musician in France in a folk punk band, playing the double bass and singing and writing songs. We released four albums. I think we sold about 40,000 copies in total, played 600 gigs. 10,000 times, I played in the street. We used to play in the Metro in Paris. And we would jump in the Metro train, play a song, take the hat around, jump off again, and we made a pretty good living.
After Being in a Band, Jason Barnard Did Children’s Music, Made a Cartoon Series, and Became The Brand SERP Guy
[00:01:30] Tatiana Bonneau: I love that.
[00:01:31] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. It was a lot of fun. And it teaches you how to put on a show, because your living depends on you putting on a show all the time. And it was a lot of fun. And we made a reasonably good living. And then I switched over to children’s music. Because in the band, we were folk punk musicians. And we would sit in the van and discuss what our nightmare audience would be. And everybody says children. And I remember sitting there thinking, well, actually I quite like it.
[00:02:04] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And so, I then moved on and did children’s music. And that was where the blue dog came in. I wrote the songs. We couldn’t sign to a record label. And so, my ex-wife created the characters, Boowa and Kwala, a blue dog and a yellow koala. And we started making cartoons with the songs, and the career took off. It was brilliant. We made a whole TV series of 52 episodes for ITV International, and it was aired in 25 countries. And it was an awful lot of fun.
[00:02:34] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And then I became The Brand SERP Guy, and I specialise in branding on Google, because I’ve been working in the internet since 1998. I launched my first website 2 months after Google was incorporated. So, I’ve been working alongside Google for the whole time.
Jason Barnard’s Transition From the Cartoon Blue Dog to the World of Google, Branding, and SEO
[00:02:52] Tatiana Bonneau: Wonderful. And how did you make that transition from the blue dog to the Google guy?
[00:03:00] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Oh, right, yeah. Because the blue dog and yellow koala were phenomenally successful online. It started as a website that became a TV series, rather than the other way around. And we ended up with 5 million visits and 100 million page views a month on the website in 2007, when the web was relatively small than it is today.
[00:03:19] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And so, when that ended, I segued into a Google specialist and now a branding specialist. So, I’ve mastered the art and science of SEO, let’s say. And I now use SEO, search engine optimisation, as a technique to package a brand to present it on Google, rather than a strategy to get to the top of Google. I use SEO as a branding on Google strategy.
The Story of How Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy) Made His Personal Brand and His Company, Kalicube
[00:03:44] Tatiana Bonneau: I’ll get back to that. I’m just making a note because I have questions on that. But before that, I want to talk a little bit about you. So, you have your own name as a domain and as a personal brand, and you also have your brand, Kalicube. So, tell me a bit about the reason to have both and how did you come up with the name for Kalicube as well.
[00:04:06] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Right. Well, I was my own brand for a long time. I was an individual entrepreneur, I think it’s called, in France. And my company was called Jason Barnard EIRL. And that’s hugely confusing for Google, because it doesn’t understand the difference between the person and the company.
The Importance of Educating Google That Your Personal Life and Your Company Life Are Two Distinct Ideas
[00:04:23] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And to be honest, I think a lot of small businesses and auto-entrepreneurs don’t see the difference between themselves and their companies. And it’s really important to retain that distinction in your mind, both for your clients but also for Google, because there is a difference between you and your company, even if your company is just you.
[00:04:44] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So from my perspective as Kalicube, as the Brand SERP and Knowledge Panel specialist, we specialise in what your audience sees when they google your company name or your personal name. So, obviously, if it’s the same, you’re using both, but we need to educate Google that there are two distinct ideas here. One is my personal life, and the other is my company life. And so, what I then did was create a company called Kalicube, which means we now have two different domains. And it really helps me separate who I am from who the company is.
As a Multifaceted Human Being, Jason Barnard Made the Distinction Between His Personal Life and Professional Life
[00:05:18] Tatiana Bonneau: And it also gives you that freedom, I would imagine, because you seem like somebody who’s getting up to a lot of different things. So if tomorrow you decide to do something else, you can. You’re not limited, and Kalicube can do its thing.
[00:05:33] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. That’s hugely important, and I think we underestimate it. And I didn’t make the point sufficiently strongly in the sense that what you are saying is so true. I am a multifaceted human being, who has a personal life and a professional life and has a history with lots of different jobs over the time. And the company is an entity, a thing that serves its clients for Brand SERPs and Knowledge Panels. So, I need to be able to cover the music, the blue dog, the economist, and what I do for the company. And that distinction is phenomenally important.
How Did Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy) Came Up With the Name Kalicube?
[00:06:12] Tatiana Bonneau: And the name Kalicube, how did you come up with it? What was the reason in there?
[00:06:19] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Well, I decided to create Kalicube because I wanted to really specialise in Brand SERPs, SERP, search engine results page, what your audience sees when they google your brand name. And I started doing that because in 2013, when you google my name, it said at the top Jason Barnard is a cartoon blue dog, because that’s what Google had understood. And I realised it was very bad for my personal business, Jason Barnard EIRL. So, I set about changing Google’s perception of me from being a blue dog to being a digital marketer and a brand expert.
[00:06:55] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And so, I created Kalicube as part of that strategy. And I integrated Jason Barnard EIRL into Kalicube, explained that to Google, said, now it’s a company and it’s this name. And the name Kalicube comes from the fact that I could have called the company SEO Specialist Incorporated. And I could have been playing on the idea that people know immediately what it is I do or the company does, rather. I’ve just made the mistake of associating myself with my company.
Using a Unique Name Like Kalicube Allowed Jason Barnard to Create the Image of Who They Are and How They Can Serve People
[00:07:22] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): People immediately know SEO Specialist Incorporated, we’re going to be doing SEO for your company. With Kalicube, you’ve got no idea what we do. And that’s the debate. Do I call a dog a dog, for example, or do I call it the fluffy ball of fur? And if I call it the fluffy ball of fur, I have the advantage that I can create the meaning that I want.
[00:07:44] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So Kalicube, using a unique name, that doesn’t actually correspond to what it is I do directly, allows me to create the image in your mind of who I am and how I can serve you and why you might like me. If I call myself SEO Consultant or SEO Experts Incorporated, the image is already there. So, I don’t have a choice.
Kalicube, Together With a Falcon as Their Logo, Represents Strength, Flight, Solidity, Kindness, and Colour
[00:08:07] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And Kali and Cube comes from Kali for me is quality and Cube is square, solid, reliable. And we have a logo that’s a falcon, multiple colours. The falcon is a strong bird that flies, and the colours are joyful and happy and welcoming. And so, I hope we’ve built this Kalicube with the falcon together becomes strength, flight, solidity, with kindness and colour.
[00:08:39] Tatiana Bonneau: Wonderful.
[00:08:41] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): I hope so.
The Different Struggles of Having a Common Name and a Unique Name When It Comes to the Audience
[00:08:43] Tatiana Bonneau: It does also go back into the, maybe I’m just on a wave today, but to me it goes back to that freedom also that it gives you. Because you mentioned, if you call yourself the SEO whatever specialist, you’re just one of however many like that and with that. And also, you are limiting yourself to, okay, that’s what we do. And then you’re going to have to get yourself out of that box each time and tell people, oh, I also do branding consultancy or I can also help with whatever.
[00:09:12] Tatiana Bonneau: So, that is something that, like you said, I feel is very good, especially with made up names or names that are words that are translated words into other languages, mashed up words. It gives you exactly that opportunity to create the meaning yourself and then own it. And then it’s really unique.
Based on Your Choice of Brand Name, You Either Get to the Front of the Crowd and Lead It or Leave the Crowd and Encourage People to Follow You
[00:09:33] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yes. A hundred percent. And I’m really glad we did that. It’s a choice, and you need to make the choice that makes sense to you. And I like to look at it as a crowd of people. If I call myself what I am, for example, SEO Experts Incorporated, I’m in the middle of the crowd fighting to get to the front. If I call myself Kalicube, I leave the crowd and I’m trying to encourage people to follow me. And the two mindsets are very, very different. Both have huge struggles to get either to the front of the crowd or to get the crowd to follow you or get a crowd around you.
[00:10:06] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): But that’s your choice, from my perspective, in the brand name that you choose. Either I try to get to the front of the crowd and lead it, or I leave the crowd and encourage people to follow me. And the crowd that then follows me, I would hope, and this is what I’m banking on, is a crowd that appreciates who we are and appreciates the message that we’re putting across. And we can create the message we want. And as you said, we can pivot to different business offerings as well.
[00:10:33] Tatiana Bonneau: And on domain names and on brand actually, I think, and that follows logically on what we were saying here. I think that because you said you can choose one or the other, and there’s no one size or one way of doing things fits all. Obviously, it depends on whatever it is you’re trying to achieve. And when I talk to people about their domain name strategy, and they always expect me to say, well, you should absolutely have a .com domain name that matches your brand exactly. Which is in a huge part of the case is the case, but it really depends on what is that business trying to achieve.
The Idea of Investing, Creating and Managing a Brand for Long-Term Business
[00:11:18] Tatiana Bonneau: And I find that similar to your case. If you are building, for example, now many people do drop shipping, for example. And they would set up a site relatively quickly, get some paid advertising, turn some numbers, and sell the website or just set up another one. So, there are those short lived brands. I don’t know if you can even call it a brand at that stage.
[00:11:44] Tatiana Bonneau: So, for them, obviously it doesn’t make sense to invest a lot in the brand itself, because they’re working on paid advertising, they’re dragging people from here, there, everywhere, social media, selling some stuff, either selling the website or just setting up another one. Obviously, it doesn’t make sense. But if you are in business for a long term, then the answer is obviously you would have to invest in your brand and create and manage a real brand. So, I’m interviewing myself here. What are your thoughts on that?
If You’re Planning a Long Term Business, You Need to Build a Unique Brand and Exert a Huge Effort to Create the Content and Image You Want to Project
[00:12:22] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): No. I agree with everything you just said. And building a brand, it is my business long term or not. And if it’s long term, you need to build a brand. And I would suggest that a unique brand, it’s a huge effort, but it’s well worth it when you get there. The company has existed for 7 years, but I didn’t really work on the brand. We’ve been working on the brand for 2 years now, very, very, very, very hard. And we’ve got there.
[00:12:47] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And what we’ve done is we’ve created the content to create the image that we want to project. And then we’ve used SEO techniques to educate Google so that it presents those to our audience the way we want. So, now the volume of searches for Kalicube is going up. And that’s where we really are starting to win, because people searching the term Kalicube are definitely looking for us. And then what we can do is manage what Google shows them.
[00:13:17] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And if, once again, we come back to the SEO Consultancy Incorporated, I will be competing with SEO consultants in general. So, it’s very difficult for me to then project through Google my brand message to my audience. And I think the struggle to create the content that gives that strong brand message that you want is a big struggle, but it does make sure that you know what you’re talking about, you know who you’re talking to, and you know what you’re trying to communicate to them. And I think from a business perspective, that’s hugely powerful. It’s a painful process, but it’s hugely powerful.
How Do You Own Your Brand and Your Image and Make Sure That’s Exactly the Content You Want?
[00:13:55] Tatiana Bonneau: Something that I’m thinking now as you’re talking about how you focus on helping individuals or brands craft what comes up when people google their name or their brand name. And I’m thinking a lot of, or at least in my experience, I think a lot of people don’t actually even think about that. All they think about is I want to just be on top.
[00:14:19] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yep.
[00:14:21] Tatiana Bonneau: They’re not even, and I really like the way you are describing it that no, you actually have to think about it, not just I need to come up on top. Because ultimately, you can even just pay it and come up on top. Who cares? And not to mention that it’s easier than following whatever algorithm change and whatever rules apply and et cetera, et cetera. But the important thing is that, I guess, it’s to own your brand and your image and make sure that’s exactly the content. So, how do you do that?
Designing Your Google Business Card to Be Positive, Accurate, and Convincing for Your Audience
[00:14:57] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): It’s surprisingly simple. I call that your Google business card, and you need to design it. So, what we do is design a Google business card for you or your company. We make sure that Google business card is positive, accurate, and convincing when your audience googles your personal name or your brand name. And of course, the starting point is always your own website. You want to get that to the top. And a lot of SEOs say, well, I’ve got to the top, job done.
[00:15:26] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): The job is not done. There is the rest of the search engine results page to deal with and also what we call the Knowledge Panel, which is the informational panel on the right hand side, which is becoming increasingly dominant on Google. If you search my name, Jason Barnard, you will see a lot of information on the right hand side on your desktop computer. That’s a Knowledge Panel. It’s Google’s understanding of the fact about me. And it’s building those for every company and every person, whether you like it or not.
Making Sure That Google Has Understood, Because Your Knowledge Panel Is Google’s Facts About You and Google’s Stamp of Approval
[00:15:56] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, you need to take control to make sure Google has understood the facts, because that space, that real estate on your Brand SERP is much bigger than your website. And it’s Google’s facts about you. It’s what Google has understood. It’s Google’s stamp of approval. If you have a great Knowledge Panel with factual information, rich images, a great description, associated companies or people at the bottom, if you have that, then you look hugely impressive to your audience. It’s Google’s stamp of approval.
[00:16:31] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And your website is obviously you, but that’s a third party Google voucher for you, hugely important. And that understanding starts, once again, from your website. But you need to communicate to Google through your website who you are, what you do, and which audience you serve so that it can represent you to your audience in the way that you want. Obviously, you can say anything. So, Google doesn’t just believe what you say on your website. It goes around the web and corroborates what it is you’re saying.
Building Your Digital Strategy From the Brand SERP Outwards: Cleaning Your Digital Ecosystem and Projecting a Clear and Consistent Message
[00:16:56] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, you need to make sure that your entire digital ecosystem, every mention of your brand or yourself as a person is consistent with the message that you’re giving on your website. So, that means if you are focusing on getting Google to understand who you are, what you do, and which audience you serve, you’re necessarily cleaning up your digital ecosystem and projecting a clear, consistent message to your audience. That’s hugely powerful. And I call that building your digital strategy from the Brand SERP outwards.
[00:17:25] Tatiana Bonneau: I love that.
[00:17:26] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Me too.
[00:17:26] Tatiana Bonneau: Because I had an interview earlier, and it was actually a recurring theme in a lot of my interviews without me actually meaning it, but that we end up always highlighting that your brand, your business, it’s ultimately for your customers, for your users. So, your content should be for them, obviously your product is for them. And it should be all around that and the rest of everything around it, like social media, Google, all of that, those are tools to use either to attract those people or to communicate something to them.
The Importance of Your Brand Message and Content, Unique Brand Names, and the Concept of E-A-T
[00:18:11] Tatiana Bonneau: And I love the way you just said you use your website to communicate that information to Google or generally search engines. And I think a lot of people have lost their minds on doing it the other way around, where they focus on those keywords, those results, those metrics, I’m appearing here like that, there like that. And it becomes a mess. Exactly what you said, instead of saying, no, that is my brand, that is my website, get it all clear and where I actually own it and own the content. So, that’s my message, and then make sure that’s understood and communicated everywhere else.
[00:18:50] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Right. A hundred percent. You mention pushing out your brand message and your content to your audience on social media channels, on third party websites. Google brings all of that together and that result that you look at. You can just look at your Brand SERP, look at that result for your brand name or your personal name. You can immediately see are you hitting the right buttons? Are you consistent? Does it make sense?
Educating Google Like a Child About Your Unique Brand Name and Creating Your Own Meaning for Your Brand Name
[00:19:13] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And if we come back one step as well, we were talking about unique brand names and creating your own meaning for your brand name. It’s also true for Google. If you are educating Google, I like to talk about Google as a child. It wants to understand the world, and we need to educate it about our little corner of the internet.
[00:19:30] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And it wants to understand the whole world. It doesn’t have a concept of notability. It has a concept of I want to understand. And it will try to understand you, whether you make an effort or not. So, you need to make the effort to make sure it can clearly understand who you are, what you do, and which audience you serve.
[00:19:45] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And the great thing about the brand name is if you have that unique brand name, once it’s understood who you are, it can then start to understand the topics for which you are relevant and helpful to its users. And at that point, it can start to match. As you said, people want to be at the top of the search results. The best way to be at the top of the search results today is to be the expert, the authority, and trustworthy within the niche that you can truly serve, the subset of Google’s users who are your audience.
You Need to Build the Understanding in Google’s Brain for It to Recommend You to Its Users
[00:20:16] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Google wants to map your offers to their needs. And the way it can do that is through understanding your brand and understanding the services and products you offer or the content you offer and which audience that is going to serve. And as you can see, immediately, this child can match and create that relationship. So, you need to build understanding in its brain, in inverted commas.
[00:20:41] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): You need to get it to understand your topicality, get it to understand that you’re an expert, you’re authoritative, and that you’re trustworthy, so that it will recommend you to its users when they’re searching on Google anywhere. And the best way to gauge whether Google has understood, whether it trusts you, whether it thinks you’re authoritative and what your topicality is, is search your own name and look at the results and see if it corresponds to what you think it should.
What Are Some of the Common Mistakes Entrepreneurs Often Make?
[00:21:07] Tatiana Bonneau: And so, on that, what are some mistakes that you see entrepreneurs often make in that space?
[00:21:15] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Being unclear is the huge, huge, huge mistake that people and companies make, being inconsistent. Consistency is absolutely key. Another is chasing the traffic volume on Google. People see a keyword and they say, I want to rank for white paint, let’s say. If you can’t serve the needs of the user searching white paint, there is no point in ranking for it. In fact, it will be counterproductive because Google will start to then misunderstand what it is you do.
[00:21:50] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): You need to stick on topic, cover your topic incredibly well, and not get obsessed by the idea that you want to get to the top at all costs for all these different keywords. And what I hear a lot of people say is if I rank for that keyword, perhaps I can then convince the user to come over and want my services.
[00:22:12] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): You say you need to rank for the search terms where the user already needs your services. Even if it’s a small volume, it’s quality and it’s relevant. And you can really help those people. That’s what Google is looking for to. So, from that perspective, the huge mistake, both from an SEO perspective but also from a digital marketing, marketing, and branding perspective, is not being consistent and not sticking on topic.
Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy) on Being Authentic and Building the Kalicube Team’s Own Voice
[00:22:39] Tatiana Bonneau: Absolutely. And yeah, we’re back to being authentic and exactly sticking to what you are actually doing instead of trying to chase results at all costs.
[00:22:50] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. I like the word authentic as well, because you can’t pretend to be somebody you are not over a very long period of time. And you certainly can’t do it online when Google is looking over your shoulder the entire time. You’ll trip up at some point.
[00:23:02] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): One thing that we try to do at Kalicube, we’ve got a team of 14 people including me. Sorry, I had to add them all up. We talk a lot, and we discuss a lot. What I really enjoy about Kalicube now is there is a Kalicube voice that doesn’t belong to me. It’s very close to my voice, but it’s the team who have built that voice. So, now Kalicube represents something that isn’t me. And it’s authentic because the team is actually like that.
[00:23:35] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, when you see these fun, delightful social media posts or newsletters, that you sign up for our newsletter, you get these great newsletters that I don’t write. And we just created the team page a few weeks ago. And Katrina had the idea of having hashtags. We’ve got three: smart, fun, courageous. That’s Kalicube. That’s the Kalicube team.
Asking the Important Question: Is Your Brand and Your Team Expert, Authoritative, and Trustworthy?
[00:24:01] Tatiana Bonneau: That makes me think what parts do, most companies, obviously they have a team. It’s not a one man band. And those teams, they have social networks and they share content constantly, whether it is or isn’t in some way, I guess. We literally spend more time working than we spend at home. So, it is related to the company. Should a business try to, in some way, curate that content, encourage it? What are your tips on that?
[00:24:34] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): That’s a really great question. Yes is the answer. If the members of your team are actually truly interested in what they do, then it’s well worth doing. If they’re just doing a job to make money, then it isn’t worth doing because you’re going to distract both your audience and Google. So, you need to look at your team and say, well, who’s here for the long haul? Who’s here because they really love it? Who’s here who would do this in their own personal time if they didn’t have it as a job?
[00:25:05] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Those are very valuable people in terms of then saying, well, we can curate this and we can use it because Google works on a concept. I mentioned earlier on expertise, authority, and trustworthiness. That’s what Google’s term. It’s basically credibility, but they break it down into expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. That applies to the brand. Is it expert, authoritative, and trustworthy? The person creating the content, so your team. Are they expert, authoritative, and trustworthy? Or me, as an author, and then is the content expert?
Kalicube Is Not Just Jason Barnard Anymore; It’s 14 Amazing People Including Him
[00:25:40] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So if you look that middle one, the author or the creator, if you can get both your audience on board with the fact that, for example, Allyssa does case studies. She writes case studies, so we put her name on it. That makes the Kalicube team more real. It makes the content more real. And it demonstrates both to our audience, I said my, but Kalicube’s audience that it’s not just Jason.
[00:26:04] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): This is our catchphrase of the moment, because most people associate Kalicube with me, because it was just me. And for 2 years now, it’s not just Jason, but we’ve only just realised that that’s a huge problem in terms of both our audience and in terms of Google. So, we’re changing that. Kalicube, it’s not just Jason. It’s 14 amazing people including Jason.
More About Building the Kalicube Team and Having a Courageous Attitude as Being Part of It
[00:26:23] Tatiana Bonneau: For some reason, I had that image now because you started with cartoon. I think you just put that in my head. So, now I have a cartoon in my head with your office, with yourself as you are now, and 13 more people walking around with the t-shirt written, not Jason.
[00:26:39] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Oh, that’s brilliant. Oh, that’s delightful. I love that.
[00:26:43] Tatiana Bonneau: There you go.
[00:26:45] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. I hadn’t thought of that. Now I’ve got that image in my head, and it’s not going to disappear.
[00:26:50] Tatiana Bonneau: Christmas is coming. You can make some presents for your team.
Kalicube as a Company That Has Its Own Voice, Has Evolved, and Took Years to Build Its Brilliant and Wonderful Team
[00:26:55] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And I think it is really, really important. I’ve gone from solopreneur to company, and I missed the step. And it really is literally just a couple of months now where I think, it can’t just be me. It’s a company, and the company has its own voice. And it’s evolved. You don’t build a team overnight. It’s taken 2 years.
[00:27:16] Tatiana Bonneau: Absolutely.
[00:27:18] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And I thought, oh, I’ll just find 10 wonderful people and we’ll have a brilliant team and it’ll take a couple of months. 2 years later, we have a wonderful team and a brilliant team, but it’s been step by step. Some people have come and gone, some people have stayed. And we’ve built a team around an attitude and that idea of courageous. To work for Kalicube, you have to be courageous because we are building an entire niche industry.
With the Analogy of Building the Plane as You Fly, Being in Kalicube Takes Courage and Intelligence Due to Its Complexity and Deepness
[00:27:42] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): As you said, nobody’s thought about Brand SERPs. 25 years of the internet, and people haven’t thought about what appears or specialised in what appears when somebody googles your brand name. The whole point of branding and marketing is to get people to know your name. So, the whole point of your marketing strategy is to get people to search your name. So, that’s a hugely important result.
[00:28:01] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And Andrea Volpini, a company called WordLift, says we are building the plane as we fly, which I love. And that takes enormous courage. So, we’re building the plane as we fly. It takes courage. You need to be smart because this is complicated. It’s surprisingly simple and yet a very complex and deep topic. As soon as you start diving into it, you realise how complex and deeply interesting it becomes very, very quickly. And if you don’t have fun when you’re doing it, what’s the point?
Jason Barnard on Having a Problem With the Domain Names for Kalicube and Kalicube Pro
[00:28:36] Tatiana Bonneau: Yeah. Definitely. I can relate to your frustration there. It’s been 25 years, and people are just realising. And it’s crazy how some things that are really, like you said, at the heart of the internet. It’s literally what it is for, and I get the same thing with domains. I’m like, yeah, it’s been nearly 30 years and I still have to explain to people what is it and why is it important. It’s like, really?
[00:29:11] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. And talking about domains. One of the things I wanted to share was that even though Kalicube is a unique name, somebody had reserved kalicube.com. Because all of those short domains, .com have been reserved by people who are hoping that at some point somebody will think, well, I’ll create a company called that, which is exactly what this person did. And then I contacted them, and they asked me for $6,000. And I didn’t pay. And I built my entire brand on kalicube.pro thinking, I don’t care about the .com.
Using Kalicube Pro to Communicate Initially, But Kalicube.Com Kept Ranking on Their Brand SERP, Which Was Then Bought to Solve the Problem
[00:29:44] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And there are two problems that we hit that I hadn’t realised initially. Number one is I communicate on Kalicube Pro, but people still expected it to be kalicube.com. Google was ranking kalicube.com that didn’t belong to me.
[00:30:00] Tatiana Bonneau: Ouch.
[00:30:01] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Ouch. It is problematic. If the person who owns the domain tries to rank for your brand name, they have a reasonably good chance of ranking, because Google will think there are two different entities here called Kalicube, and I want to give my user the opportunity to visit either of them. So, it’s natural that Google will tend to do that. So, getting into somebody else’s Brand SERP is actually not very difficult if you really put your mind to it. So, that’s a huge problem.
[00:30:31] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): The next problem along was that I focused on kalicube.pro, so I communicated Kalicube Pro. Then the person with kalicube.com dropped the price to $1,200, and then I bought it.
After Buying the Kalicube.Com Domain, Jason Barnard Built a Platform to Help Him Rebrand Across the Entire Internet
[00:30:46] Tatiana Bonneau: Yeah. Well, you got a really good deal. Literally, I’m working with names that are in the 6 figures and up to get the brand name for that too. Yeah.
[00:30:54] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, I was terribly, terribly lucky. And I think the person just thought, there’s only one person who could buy this domain, and it’s Jason, for Kalicube the company. So, they dropped the price. Whereas in fact, if they stuck at 6,000, I would’ve ended up paying 6,000 anyway because I was having such a problem with it.
[00:31:11] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And then what happened is I then had to rebrand across the entire internet from Kalicube Pro to Kalicube. And that was a hugely difficult task because I had created an enormous digital footprint. And so, I built a platform that analyses Google to figure out your digital footprint, creates a prioritised list of all the mentions of your brand. So, you can just go around and correct it all. So, rebranding becomes an absolute piece of cake, but I built it to do it for myself, for Kalicube.
Kalicube Pro is a SaaS Platform That Can Help With Managing Brand SERPs, Educating Google, and Rebranding
[00:31:43] Tatiana Bonneau: That’s very cool, yeah, because I can imagine that’s a problem. And especially if you look at SmartBranding, we have a whole section of rebrands and another one of upgrades, because that’s pretty much the people that we work with, the entrepreneurs we work with are exactly oftentimes in your position.
[00:31:59] Tatiana Bonneau: So, they went with a name that they chose and they love and decided that’s what it’s going to be called. They didn’t get the .com. They went through the process that you went and actually some are a lot worse, you quoted. If you imagine you had those issues, but if you’re handling people’s financial information, they’re sending emails to the .com instead of the .pro, whatever, it can be…
[00:32:25] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): That’s hugely problematic.
[00:32:26] Tatiana Bonneau: It can be a lot more problematic. So, a lot of people are rebranding or just upgrading the domain, which in terms of search engine, I guess, it’s seen as the same thing. It’s a change in the search engine.
Kalicube Pro Can Do the Job of Building Your Digital Ecosystem From 12 Hours to 10 Minutes
[00:32:40] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. And that’s exactly it. And Kalicube Pro is actually a SaaS platform that’s used for managing Brand SERPs, educating Google to get the Knowledge Panel, but also hugely powerful for rebranding. And we found that it’s incredibly efficient, because we basically just ask Google, where is this brand mentioned that’s important to you? Google sees more of the web than anybody else. And so, we can produce this prioritised list.
[00:33:06] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And Allyssa, who is the team leader of Kalicube Pro, done-for-you services, went through the manual process that I had gone through before I built the machine. And it took her 12 hours to build my digital ecosystem, Jason Barnard. Then we set the machine on it. The machine did it in 10 minutes. It got 40% more that she had missed, even though she’s really smart.
Kalicube Pro Can Produce a Prioritised List of the Sources About Your Brand, Which Makes the Rebranding Process Smooth, Easy, Fast, and Effective
[00:33:33] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And it prioritised it also, we just went through, when I wanted to change some information about myself. And it took me 3 hours just going through 75 results that Google thought were important, to get Google to understand me from a different perspective. It stopped seeing me as Jason Barnard, professional musician, and saw me as Jason Barnard, author.
[00:33:53] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And right now, I’m doing another rebrand of myself, which is because it’s not just Jason at Kalicube anymore. It’s Jason Barnard, founder and CEO of Kalicube, rather than author, so that I can focus on the company. So, we’ve gone through these multiple rebranding processes. And it’s so smooth, so easy, so fast, and so effective.
The Trick on Rebranding: Do It Consistently Across the Web and Don’t Miss the Opportunity to Use Kalicube Pro
[00:34:17] Tatiana Bonneau: I’m glad we mentioned that because I actually wasn’t aware of it. And now that you mentioned it, I’m like, yeah, that can be relevant to a huge part of our audience in that case.
[00:34:27] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. It only just occurred to me as well, by the way. I hadn’t planned that at all. But rebranding, it’s perfect. I was talking to Olga on a podcast, and she was asking about changing her name to her married name and saying that’s a huge problem for me potentially. And the answer there is no, it’s not. If you use something like Kalicube Pro, you get all those lists, you go through all the sources, and you change the name. Essentially, changing to a married name is a rebranding.
[00:34:57] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And if you can do it consistently across the web, and here’s the trick, if you can do it consistently across the web in one single day, Google will see a consistent message change from one thing to another, from one day to another. Then you’ve actually really quickly nailed its understanding. And in a couple of weeks, it will understand and it will rebrand you as a person or as a company.
Google Shows the Priority for Your Audience, Which Means It Should Also Be Your Priority
[00:35:21] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And I think companies miss the opportunity that Kalicube Pro offers because they think, I know my digital ecosystem, I can just go through it. But you don’t know your digital ecosystem, because people talk about you and you don’t know it. And you don’t know what’s important to Google. You don’t know what’s important to your audience. And I would argue that the prioritised list that Google gives us is also the priority for your audience, and therefore for you.
[00:35:47] Tatiana Bonneau: That’s what they see. Yeah.
[00:35:49] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. If Google says this is important, it’s saying it’s important for your audience as it understands your audience. And if Google is getting it wrong, then you’ve probably got a very messy digital footprint, and you need to clean it up anyway.
What Are the Types of Companies That Should Be Reaching Out to Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy)?
[00:36:04] Tatiana Bonneau: So, yeah, my next question is going to be, what is the type of company that should be reaching out to you? One that has a messy footprint, obviously, is one.
[00:36:13] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. Companies with a messy footprint, companies who are rebranding, companies who acquire other companies, because you then need to explain that to Google. And the thing about Knowledge Panels, that information box on the right hand side, as I said, Google is building them for every company and every person. You need to take control now. Because if Google misunderstands today, it’s going to be hugely more difficult to correct it in a couple of years time, because that information is going to be ingrained in its brain.
[00:36:47] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, you need to take control of Google’s understanding of who you are, what you do, and which audience you serve today. And that representation is the Knowledge Panel on the right hand side and the Brand SERP on the left hand side. And you can think of it this way. The Knowledge Panel is fact as understood by Google, the right hand side of the search engine results page. The left hand side is Google’s recommendations. And if you look at it that way, it’s really easy to manage.
Building a Stable Brand SERP Takes Years, But There’s an Immense Feeling of Security and Protection When You Got It
[00:37:10] Tatiana Bonneau: And so, I’m going to try to wrap it up. But just so that entrepreneurs know that they have a problem, is that the way to check them? Just google their brand name or google their own name.
[00:37:23] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): A hundred percent. If you google your personal name or your brand name, when you do it, you think, what do I see? What did I expect to see? What do I want to see? And they’re never the same. I’ve been working on my personal Brand SERP for 10 years, and it’s now pretty much exactly what I want to see, what I want my audience to see. And it’s very, very, very, very stable.
[00:37:51] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): It’s very difficult for anybody else to get onto that Brand SERP. Because Google has understood that this is the information that makes sense to me, makes sense to my audience, therefore makes sense to Google when it’s presenting me to my audience. And that stability takes years to build. And when you’ve got it, there’s an immense feeling of security and there’s an immense protection.
[00:38:15] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): A friend of mine, Katrina McKinnon, suggested that that stable quality, relevant Brand SERP is your insurance against every Google update. Because Google has understood who you are, what you do, and which audience you serve, therefore the algorithm updates that it makes are much, much, much less likely to hurt you.
In 25 Years, Jason Barnard Is Still the Only Person Who Sees the Importance of Managing Brand SERPs
[00:38:37] Tatiana Bonneau: Yeah. And it definitely makes a lot more sense. The way you’ve described it throughout actually this podcast, throughout this interview, that it’s a concrete organised effort in owning your content, owning your brand, and feeding and contributing that content as opposed to just running out after algorithm changes and metrics. It sounds smarter.
[00:39:01] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Beautifully put. Yeah. And once again, I can’t believe that in 25 years, I’m the only person who’s thought of this. But it appears to be the case, unless somebody pops up suddenly and says, I’ve been doing this for years. But so far, that hasn’t happened. And I’m stunned that people aren’t jumping on the opportunity to work with Kalicube.
[00:39:25] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Obviously, I would always say that because it’s my company, but I don’t understand why brands don’t want to work with us, or they think that there might be a question of whether they should work with us, not because I think everybody should work with us. It sounds pretentious, but it’s so obvious and it makes so much sense. Why wouldn’t you do it?
The Different Levels of Importance of Branding, Marketing, and SEO When You’re Managing Your Brand SERP
[00:39:44] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And then you get a lot of people. I talk a lot with the SEO community. They say, well, we can do it with SEO. And I would argue that your Brand SERP is about branding, marketing, and SEO in that order. So, the SEO is simply a tool for packaging the branding and the marketing for Google. SEO, in and of itself, is meaningless.
[00:40:07] Tatiana Bonneau: Yeah.
[00:40:08] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Oh, that’s awful. Sorry.
[00:40:11] Tatiana Bonneau: No, it’s exactly that. You end up with that sort of a running after let’s appear here, let’s appear there, and let’s say that because it will please whatever algorithm. It is just running like crazy in different directions, without a direction actually, without a purpose.
[00:40:29] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah, no, a hundred percent. And that is SEO taken in isolation is meaningless, and it won’t help your business long term. SEO needs to be associated with branding and marketing. I like that quote. Kristine, who does the transcripts, that’s a great quote.
[00:40:49] Tatiana Bonneau: Write that down.
Jason Barnard on Thinking About the Roles of the People on Kalicube, Working Remotely, and Finally Meeting the Team
[00:40:50] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. We pull out quotes, and Kristine pulls out the quotes. And it’s one of the lovely things about this team is that everybody has a role. And as I go through these interviews, I think, oh, Allyssa does the Kalicube Pro platform. We’ve just released a Knowledge Panel checklist, which was the whole funnel, the whole marketing channel is designed by Katrina and promoted by Joan and Mary-Ann. And I really love the fact that in my mind I can see who’s doing what. And as I talk about this, I think about the person who represents the aspect I’m talking about. And that makes it really human, and that really speaks to me.
[00:41:26] Tatiana Bonneau: Yeah, no, that sounds wonderful. Yeah. We do have a team, but it’s all remote. So, we are not oftentimes in the same room, so I’m jealous.
[00:41:36] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Oh, no, no. The team is completely remote, and I’ve never met anyone in person.
[00:41:40] Tatiana Bonneau: Oh, is it? Oh, really? Cool. Oh, okay. I’m not that jealous.
The Kalicube Team, Who Is Currently Working Remotely, Will Finally Have a Chance to Get Together for the First Time
[00:41:43] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): No. Yeah. So, the team is remote. And we’re going to have a team get together in March for the first time.
[00:41:51] Tatiana Bonneau: Wonderful. You must be all looking forward to it.
[00:41:55] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Well, we announced it today. So, everyone is going, oh, wow, this is really happening. It’s the big surprise of the day, so I’m excited about it. And we were discussing our different emotions. And there was excitement, there’s worry. And my objective was keen. I’m enthusiastic. I think Allyssa was enthusiastic as well. And it’s really lovely to hear the emotions that the team members feel for something like that. I think I’m just a bit of an old hippie, really, at the end of the day.
For a Brand That Is Just Starting, When Is the Right Time to Talk to Jason Barnard for Their Digital Strategy?
[00:42:28] Tatiana Bonneau: Wonderful. Yeah. I’m going to ask a last question, which wasn’t planned. And we’re supposed to be finishing soon, but I have to. Because we kept talking how to check if your digital footprint is messy, you google it. What about if you’re just starting a brand? Is that a good time to be talking to you? How does it work?
[00:42:54] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yes, absolutely. And it’s a great question. Because when you are starting a brand, you need to think about where you’re going to strategise, where you’re going to place this information, what information you’re going to place. So, you would immediately go and see a brand specialist, who would create your images and your texts and help you with the branding itself and the brand message. And then it stops.
[00:43:17] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And we are working with a company called BrandFace who do that work. And they’ve just realised that we can help with the next step, which is now let’s plan how to get it out to your audience on the internet. And we will use Google to understand how best to do that.
The Concept of Entity Equivalents: Being in the Same Geo Region, the Same Entity Type, and the Same Industry
[00:43:33] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And what we do is we’ve got a concept called Entity Equivalents. So, we find a hundred entities, companies, who are very similar to you. So, you would think competitors, but it’s not always competitors. So, think slightly competitors, but it needs to be the same geo region, the same entity type, company or person, depending on which one you’re working on, and the same industry.
[00:43:57] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And then we put that into Kalicube Pro, and we build a template of what the Brand SERP and the Knowledge Panel should look like. And then we work towards that template. And that means you prioritise all the right things. You know what your potential audience, your future audience is seeing within that industry for that entity type within that geo region, so you know exactly which buttons to press for Google.
[00:44:21] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And pressing the right buttons for Google necessarily will get you in front of the right audience, if you’ve done the Entity Equivalent analysis that I talked about. So, a new brand starting out, don’t underestimate how powerful building from the Brand SERP outwards will be.
For Most of the Companies, the Tasks Are to Do a Spring Clean and Make Sure That It’s Consistent for a Year
[00:44:39] Tatiana Bonneau: So, in a way, I guess it’s better of just start in building it well from the outside than trying to pick up the pieces afterwards.
[00:44:49] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. Most of the people, most of the companies who come and see us are trying to pick up the pieces, and we do massive spring cleans for them, a spring clean of the digital ecosystem. And we spend about a year doing it, and they say, but the first month is already done. And we said, but once you’ve done the spring clean, we need to actually make sure that it’s consistent across a year, because that’s the period of time that Google needs to fully understand and be confident in its understanding.
[00:45:14] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): So, it is a year’s task. The initial spring clean is huge, and it’s slow and it’s difficult and it’s boring. But then you need the consistency. So, you need to track, you need to maintain, and you need to make sure that the flow of content and information about your brand is consistent across that year. So, we have a year of work cleaning up. Most people come to us for that problem, some for rebranding, very few for brand launches.
[00:45:41] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And it’s a little bit like SEO. SEO tends to be the thing that the marketing team will put right at the end just before they launch the site or afterwards. And it’s a huge mistake. You need to bake SEO into your website. You need to bake Google’s understanding of who you are, what you do, and which audience you serve into your digital marketing strategy from the get go.
People and Companies Don’t Realise That New Stuff Will Keep Appearing and They Have to Keep a Grip on That
[00:46:10] Tatiana Bonneau: Absolutely.
[00:46:10] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): We agree.
[00:46:12] Tatiana Bonneau: Yeah. I had an analogy when you said about the consistency. There’s one thing tidying up, and then it has to be consistent over one year. And I’m thinking about my kids’ bedroom, where they go, we tied it up, it’s all tidy. And in two days, it’s like, ooh, like something exploded here. And it’s like, yeah. It works if you have to keep putting those things back there, otherwise it just doesn’t make much sense.
[00:46:39] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Yeah. And that’s a great analogy. I think people and companies don’t realise that over time, they keep pushing this stuff out, and other people write about them. And keeping a grip on that is hugely challenging and hugely important.
Where Can People Reach Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy)?
[00:46:56] Tatiana Bonneau: Absolutely. Where can people reach you? Last thing, and then we’ll let you go.
[00:47:00] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Well, if you want to find me, you search Jason Barnard on Google. And the result it provides you will have the facts on the right hand side in the Knowledge Panel, and then a choice of how you want to connect with me. My own personal website, if you want to know more about me and the blue dog and the punk folk musician. My company website, just below that, if you want to do business with me. My articles, if you want to learn more about this particular topic.
[00:47:24] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And if you search for Kalicube, you’ll get the same thing. You search for Kalicube, you get the company at the top, then the SaaS Platform, then our Academy, then our Twitter feed, then our LinkedIn profile. And then I think I come down at the bottom somewhere. So, you can interact with the company in a similar manner.
[00:47:43] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): And now, I want to get the team page right up there at the top. You get the homepage, and then the Rich Sitelinks underneath with the team page, the about page, the login page. And that means that people can then interact directly with my team pretty much straight from the Google SERP.
Final Thoughts About the Value of Domain Names and Branding
[00:47:58] Tatiana Bonneau: I love that. All right. It’s been an absolute pleasure, Jason. I’m sure that it would be enjoyful for our audience as well.
[00:48:07] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Brilliant. And it was a really lovely new angle for me. And as I said, the reason I don’t talk about domains and branding more expressively is because people don’t often ask me. And I absolutely loved talking about it.
[00:48:19] Tatiana Bonneau: No. And it’s absolutely related, it’s absolutely connected to what you’re doing. I think, again, I’m going to draw a parallel with domains, but people see that as, oh, leave that to the tech guys. And the search engine, the results, oh, leave that to the whatever guys. And it’s like, no. It’s really, really important for your brand, which is literally your business, your core of what you do and how people see you.
[00:48:45] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Absolutely. And Google uses your domain name as a representation of you. So, your domain name becomes phenomenally valuable because it associates you with that domain name. The domain name itself becomes Google’s access to your brand. So, you need to make sure a) the domain name is logical and helpful for your user. And then once it’s anchored in, you keep it, you maintain it, and you make sure that it stays clean because it represents you. It’s a representation of your brand and Google’s access to your brand.
[00:49:26] Tatiana Bonneau: Absolutely. Wonderful. Thank you.
[00:49:29] The Brand SERP Guy (Jason Barnard): Thank you again.
[00:49:31] Tatiana Bonneau: Yeah.