The Website is the New Brand Strategy

| August 28, 2013

by Judy Asman

As digital marketers or small business owners, it’s very easy to skip over key foundational steps and jump into website development when all we can think about is growing our businesses. Considering how quickly businesses are moving and shaking on the Internet, it’s tempting to get caught up in the rapid pace of the digital age.

Hence this article to help Web designers pause and focus on brand strategy while designing a website.

neumeier_quote

Like anything sustainable, marketing is an evolution—a series of best practices that adapt to users’ demands based on the latest technology and other key shifts in the market place.

In business planning, a big foundational element is the brand strategy, often referred to as “branding.”

In all of my years working in marketing and communication, I’ve found that a common misperception about branding is that it merely means adding our logo to all of our marketing materials and getting all of the colors and fonts to match. Yet while it’s true that this graphic design/presentation element (typically known as “corporate identity graphic design”) is an important part of branding, a company or personal brand is the entire customer experience.

In a June 9, 2008 Bloomberg Business Week article, Karen E. Klein talks to several thought leaders in the branding world. Each shares his ideas of what branding really is and where in the business planning continuum it lies:

Rob Frankel, a branding expert and author in Los Angeles, says successful branding is not only about awareness, “Branding is about getting your prospects to perceive you as the only solution to their problem. Once you're perceived as 'the only,' there's no place else to shop. Which means your customers gladly pay a premium for your brand.”

Rodger Roeser, president of Cincinnati-based Eisen Management Group, a public-relations and brand-development firm calls branding the genuine “personality” of your company. “It’s what your customers think of you and say about you when they've left your company.” Roeser adds, “Your brand is what your company stands for and what it is known for.”

Steve Cecil, a copywriter and verbal-branding expert says our brand is the promise we make to the world.

When to Start Thinking About Branding

Frankel also notes that the brand strategy should come before marketing or advertising efforts. While this is more than sound advice for Web designers and business owners, as a digital marketer, I often receive requests to build or revamp websites by organizations that haven’t formally gone through the brand strategy process and want to jump into the Web design phase right away.

The “old me” would have encouraged my prospects to slow down and start with the branding before doing anything related to the Web. Now, given the rapid pace of the digital world and the urgent desire for clients to get found online, I remain open to brand strategizing in tandem with Web design.

What typically happens from there is the client then bases his or her marketing efforts on what can be found on their new websites. Their online experiences manifest into their in-person experience and their delivery of “the promise.” This is why it’s so important that we, as Web developers, take into account the foundational elements of brand strategy. These elements will no doubt translate into our clients' entire customer experience over the long term.

Here are 4 Things to Think About…

(If the website must happen before the brand strategy.)

1) Get Your Clients to Open Up

When brainstorming (or heartstorming) with your clients about their websites, ask them:

  • Do they have a business or strategic plan? What is their vision and who is their target audience? Better yet, help them get the wheels turning by emailing them a copy of this marketing plan template with instructions on how to complete.
  • What is their unique selling point? In other words, what makes them “the only” at what they do?
  • What defines their experience? Below, I paraphrase the experience of one of my clients:

We are a soup kitchen that doesn’t turn anyone away. We treat guests with dignity while offering hot nutritious meals in a warm, friendly atmosphere.

If you’re the client, be sure to do the talking and opening up. One key thing: Make sure your Web designer is aware of any parallel efforts you’re working on to brand your organization and produce other marketing materials. This is über important to ensure everything you’re doing to brand your organization—from print to collateral to merchandising to how your employees treat your customers—share the same message, look and feel.

2) Create a Digital Experience that Matches the ‘In-Person’ One

One of my favorite examples of a brand that is consistent from store to Web is Crate & Barrel’s. Walk into your local Crate & Barrel and you’ll be met with a pristine environment—everything artistically and strategically placed with customer service that’s courteous and responsive.

Visit crateandbarrel.com, and you’ll find a digital experience that aligns with their in-store one. Cleanliness and ease of use, attractive presentation and common-sense functionality that holds your attention, gets you to search deeper and of course, shop!

Barnes & Noble, on the other hand, offers an extremely inviting in-store experience—attractive interior with hunter green, comfy chairs and dark wood shelves, aromas of cafe mocha and freshly baked cookies, and employees who let you sit there and read for hours and walk you directly to the book for which you’re searching.

But their online experience? Not so much. For all of its in-store appeal, their website may help you get you to where you need to be but the personality is missing. “The only” factor is in the witness protection program. The “our promise to the world” element—gone fishing.

feature_photo

What are your favorite brands and why? Tweet us up: @tmmpdx and @nohasslecontent.

3) Hail the King (As in ‘Content’)

The last I checked, content was still king. Oh wait, let me look again. Yep, still king. Remember that content on our website is a conversation starter. Talk to your customers in the language that they understand but don’t overdo it on the jargon. As the recently deceased Elmore Leonard once said, “Use dialect, patois, sparingly.”

The other main factor about content is conveying the appropriate vibe or emotion. How our websites make our visitors feel plays a huge factor in successful relationship building and therefore, conversion. Tweet this.

4) Create a Website that Stands the Test of Time

As a marketing services provider, my daily concern is making sure I’m offering services that help my clients to build brand equity. In other words, making sure they’re in business 5 years and beyond and primed to charge what they’re worth. I do the best I can to focus on results and growth. When developing a website in tandem with brand strategy, let’s make a pact to keep the following in mind:

  • Set up the site for measurement. Make sure your Google and Bing analytics code is in place and study the webmaster tools with both search engines to help you monitor traffic and engagement over the long haul.
  • Design your website so that it’s flexible to support growth and trends in Web design. Allow for various sections that promote new campaigns but always in keeping with content, design and functionality that aligns with the brand—our personality and promise to the world.

Follow these tips while executing your traditional methods for Web design to save time and minimize the anxiety of moving slowly to engage in a quickly changing digital age. Keep in mind that price points for Web design might change as a result of this higher level of strategic thinking. But as with any expense in growing a business, it’s a worthwhile investment.

Now it’s your turn. Where has brand strategy normally landed in your marketing continuum? Will these tips help you to speed up your effective Web presence the right way? Anything you want me to clarify? Comment below or chat us up on Twitter: @tmmpdx or @nohasslecontent.

zp8497586rq

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Category: Brand Strategy, Branding, Digital Marketing, Modern Marketing Buzz, tmmBosley, tmmCharlie, tmmJill, tmmKelly, TMMPDX, tmmSabrina

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by Judy Asman

As digital marketers or small business owners, it’s very easy to skip over key foundational steps and jump into website development when all we can think about is growing our businesses. Considering how quickly businesses are moving and shaking on the Internet, it’s tempting to get caught up in the rapid pace of the digital age.

Hence this article to help Web designers pause and focus on brand strategy while designing a website.

neumeier_quote

Like anything sustainable, marketing is an evolution—a series of best practices that adapt to users’ demands based on the latest technology and other key shifts in the market place.

In business planning, a big foundational element is the brand strategy, often referred to as “branding.”

In all of my years working in marketing and communication, I’ve found that a common misperception about branding is that it merely means adding our logo to all of our marketing materials and getting all of the colors and fonts to match. Yet while it’s true that this graphic design/presentation element (typically known as “corporate identity graphic design”) is an important part of branding, a company or personal brand is the entire customer experience.

In a June 9, 2008 Bloomberg Business Week article, Karen E. Klein talks to several thought leaders in the branding world. Each shares his ideas of what branding really is and where in the business planning continuum it lies:

Rob Frankel, a branding expert and author in Los Angeles, says successful branding is not only about awareness, “Branding is about getting your prospects to perceive you as the only solution to their problem. Once you're perceived as 'the only,' there's no place else to shop. Which means your customers gladly pay a premium for your brand.”

Rodger Roeser, president of Cincinnati-based Eisen Management Group, a public-relations and brand-development firm calls branding the genuine “personality” of your company. “It’s what your customers think of you and say about you when they've left your company.” Roeser adds, “Your brand is what your company stands for and what it is known for.”

Steve Cecil, a copywriter and verbal-branding expert says our brand is the promise we make to the world.

When to Start Thinking About Branding

Frankel also notes that the brand strategy should come before marketing or advertising efforts. While this is more than sound advice for Web designers and business owners, as a digital marketer, I often receive requests to build or revamp websites by organizations that haven’t formally gone through the brand strategy process and want to jump into the Web design phase right away.

The “old me” would have encouraged my prospects to slow down and start with the branding before doing anything related to the Web. Now, given the rapid pace of the digital world and the urgent desire for clients to get found online, I remain open to brand strategizing in tandem with Web design.

What typically happens from there is the client then bases his or her marketing efforts on what can be found on their new websites. Their online experiences manifest into their in-person experience and their delivery of “the promise.” This is why it’s so important that we, as Web developers, take into account the foundational elements of brand strategy. These elements will no doubt translate into our clients' entire customer experience over the long term.

Here are 4 Things to Think About…

(If the website must happen before the brand strategy.)

1) Get Your Clients to Open Up

When brainstorming (or heartstorming) with your clients about their websites, ask them:

  • Do they have a business or strategic plan? What is their vision and who is their target audience? Better yet, help them get the wheels turning by emailing them a copy of this marketing plan template with instructions on how to complete.
  • What is their unique selling point? In other words, what makes them “the only” at what they do?
  • What defines their experience? Below, I paraphrase the experience of one of my clients:

We are a soup kitchen that doesn’t turn anyone away. We treat guests with dignity while offering hot nutritious meals in a warm, friendly atmosphere.

If you’re the client, be sure to do the talking and opening up. One key thing: Make sure your Web designer is aware of any parallel efforts you’re working on to brand your organization and produce other marketing materials. This is über important to ensure everything you’re doing to brand your organization—from print to collateral to merchandising to how your employees treat your customers—share the same message, look and feel.

2) Create a Digital Experience that Matches the ‘In-Person’ One

One of my favorite examples of a brand that is consistent from store to Web is Crate & Barrel’s. Walk into your local Crate & Barrel and you’ll be met with a pristine environment—everything artistically and strategically placed with customer service that’s courteous and responsive.

Visit crateandbarrel.com, and you’ll find a digital experience that aligns with their in-store one. Cleanliness and ease of use, attractive presentation and common-sense functionality that holds your attention, gets you to search deeper and of course, shop!

Barnes & Noble, on the other hand, offers an extremely inviting in-store experience—attractive interior with hunter green, comfy chairs and dark wood shelves, aromas of cafe mocha and freshly baked cookies, and employees who let you sit there and read for hours and walk you directly to the book for which you’re searching.

But their online experience? Not so much. For all of its in-store appeal, their website may help you get you to where you need to be but the personality is missing. “The only” factor is in the witness protection program. The “our promise to the world” element—gone fishing.

feature_photo

What are your favorite brands and why? Tweet us up: @tmmpdx and @nohasslecontent.

3) Hail the King (As in ‘Content’)

The last I checked, content was still king. Oh wait, let me look again. Yep, still king. Remember that content on our website is a conversation starter. Talk to your customers in the language that they understand but don’t overdo it on the jargon. As the recently deceased Elmore Leonard once said, “Use dialect, patois, sparingly.”

The other main factor about content is conveying the appropriate vibe or emotion. How our websites make our visitors feel plays a huge factor in successful relationship building and therefore, conversion. Tweet this.

4) Create a Website that Stands the Test of Time

As a marketing services provider, my daily concern is making sure I’m offering services that help my clients to build brand equity. In other words, making sure they’re in business 5 years and beyond and primed to charge what they’re worth. I do the best I can to focus on results and growth. When developing a website in tandem with brand strategy, let’s make a pact to keep the following in mind:

  • Set up the site for measurement. Make sure your Google and Bing analytics code is in place and study the webmaster tools with both search engines to help you monitor traffic and engagement over the long haul.
  • Design your website so that it’s flexible to support growth and trends in Web design. Allow for various sections that promote new campaigns but always in keeping with content, design and functionality that aligns with the brand—our personality and promise to the world.

Follow these tips while executing your traditional methods for Web design to save time and minimize the anxiety of moving slowly to engage in a quickly changing digital age. Keep in mind that price points for Web design might change as a result of this higher level of strategic thinking. But as with any expense in growing a business, it’s a worthwhile investment.

Now it’s your turn. Where has brand strategy normally landed in your marketing continuum? Will these tips help you to speed up your effective Web presence the right way? Anything you want me to clarify? Comment below or chat us up on Twitter: @tmmpdx or @nohasslecontent.

zp8497586rq