Google Merchant Center

Help Google Identify Your Products With the Brand Attribute

0 · by Dennis Moons · Updated on 6 March 2023

The brand name is one of the most important elements for online shoppers as it helps them identify and distinguish you from the competitors, and resonate with your brand. 

That’s why advertisers need to make it easy for customers to recognize branded products.

In this article, we’ll discuss the brand attribute in the product feed. We’ll also check potential feed issues with brand and other related product identifiers.

Let’s start with the basics.

This article is part of our Google Shopping Feed hub.

What Is the Brand Attribute in the Product Feed?

The brand attribute enables merchants to specify the brand of the product, both to Google and the users who’ll see a product ad.

When advertisers optimize product titles in the feed, they usually include the brand name in the title. We are not discussing titles here, they are defined by a separate attribute (i.e. the title attribute), rather we talk about how to indicate a specific brand using the brand attribute.

Is the Brand Attribute Required?

With most product feed attributes, it’s immediately clear whether the attribute is required or optional. The brand attribute can be both. Let’s explain this.

Brand is required if the product is directly associated with a manufacturer (or a brand).

Brand is also required when the original product manufacturer sells the product. This applies to custom-made items, handcrafts and other cottage industry items.

Brand is optional for products which aren’t necessarily associated with a brand. This category comprises items in the creative industries, like music, movies, books, graphics, etc.

That being said, if you don’t know the correct brand value for an item, don’t enter a placeholder value just for the sake of it. It’s better not to add value at all than to provide an incorrect entry.

How Is the Brand Attribute Used in Google Shopping?

Google uses the brand attribute to better understand your product. The more Google knows about your products, the more relevant the product matching for users who type search queries will be.

Two other attributes, Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) and Manufacturer Part Number (MPN), actually serve a much more important role in identifying products than that of [brand]. These two, along with the brand, are known as unique product identifiers (UPIs).

UPIs interact and complement each other to positively identify an item.

The requirements are different across industries and markets. For instance, for items in the apparel category, the brand is the chief UPI, and retailers can sell them without a GTIN or MPN.

For media items, GTIN is the required UPI (like ISBN for books), but brand and MPN aren’t necessary. If you don’t know your GTIN, learn here how you can find the GTIN number online.

For other categories of items, like hardware or consumer electronics, it’s best to have all three (GTIN, MPN, and brand).

Things become tricky if merchants don’t have the proper UPI, or when they are not sure which one should be provided. In product feeds, this issue is regulated with the identifier exists attribute.

What does “identifier exists” do? Well, it allows two options: you either have an UPI or you don’t (the values are true/yes and false/no). We’ve dedicated a separate article on “identifier exists” and you can check it for more details.

In essence, if there i s no brand, you can at least submit the manufacturer name. Or if there is no GTIN, you can provide an MPN and brand. If there is no GTIN, no MPN, and no brand, you can enter value “false” for the identifier exists attribute and Google will know that you sell a specific type of products (like custom made items, vintage or antiques, handcrafts, books published before 1970, etc).

Let’s check out the formatting requirements for the brand.

Options for the Brand Attribute

The format for the brand is quite simple: it can have up to 70 characters (unicode) to represent the brand name.

If you enter it in a text feed format, you just type in the brand name, for example: “Minolta.”

In XML feed file format, the value should include a tag before and after it, like so: “<g:brand>Minolta</g:brand>”

Let’s check how to add these values to items in your feed.

How To Add Brand to Your Product Feed

There are two methods to add values for a brand in a feed: directly from an ecommerce platform or by using feed rules and supplemental feeds.

When you add product data for a brand in your ecommerce platform, the change is automatically applied to the product feed.

If you prefer to make the changes in Google Merchant Center, you can do it by singling out items based on shared criteria with feed rules. Then you can provide a value for the brand for all items in that product group.

You can also create a supplemental feed to update the value for the brand. One column should contain product IDs and another should include the brand name for each item. This option is good for bulk changes.

Lastly, let’s check some common issues.

Common Problems With the Brand Attribute

If you don’t follow the requirements for the brand attribute, Google can disapprove your items. Provide the brand only if you know the correct brand name for that item.

Most of the issues with the brand attribute are related to the identifier exists attribute. You can indicate that there is no UPI for the item when there is no GTIN, MPN, or brand. If you set [identifier exists] to false, but a UPI exists, you will have issues with that item.

Use Brands to Your Advantage

Brand name is one of the central UPIs for items in your product feed. Google uses brand, GTIN, and MPN to identify products, and by satisfying the requirements for these UPIs, you help Google to optimize the performance of your campaigns.

These three attributes are also related to [identifier exists]. It’s easy to look up the original brand of any item, so make sure to provide correct values.

Brand is most important for apparel, but it’s recommended to provide it for other categories of products as well.

Dennis Moons

Dennis Moons is the founder and lead instructor at Store Growers.

He's a Google Ads expert with over 12 years of experience in running Google Ads campaigns.

During this time he has managed more than $5 million in ad spend and worked with clients ranging from small businesses to global brands. His goal is to provide advice that allows you to compete effectively in Google Ads.

Follow him on Twitter or LinkedIn.


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