Recently I spent some time looking at how robots.txt files are used. These are small text files that tell spiders and webcrawlers how to use a site. They’re used to point the crawler towards any site maps, or exclude certain parts of your site from being crawled, or exclude specific webcrawlers. Of course unscrupulous webcrawlers ignore these instructions and it’s not an effective way to “hide” information but it is useful in terms of Search Engine Optimisation.
One company put a little branding message into their robots.txt file. See if you can guess who it’s from. (If you’re really stuck the answer is in the alt text – so just mouse over).
Pretty much nobody reads this text, the only people who do are geeks, and 50% of the geeks I asked didn’t get the branding message. But 50% did.
This says something about the company, branding is so well done internally that the geeks writing the robots.txt file include a variant of the company’s tag line. It also says they are confident about their brand can have some fun with it, whether or not it’s out there for public consumption.
I’m calling it deep branding.