Your brand is one of your single most valuable business assets. It embodies everything that your company is and how your prospects, clients, customers, peers and even your competition views you. Some brands are even worth more than the companies they are attached to!
How you present your message and even your message content itself has a large bearing on your brand. Before you delve into marketing yourself, you should have a solid idea of who you are, what you stand for, what makes you different and who you serve. Without a strong identity, it is difficult to gain the attention and respect of a fast-paced business and consumer world. You have to stand out, be unique and different, if you want to be noticed.
When we work with our clients, before we start developing their website, we ask them about their brand and how they want to present themselves. We ask for existing collateral and any messaging they currently have so we can determine the best way to present their message online. We need to understand what their voice sounds like, and what their brand personality is like because that will affect how we present their content and messaging on their website.
If one of our clients had a loud, fun and humorous brand, how terrible would it be if the website did not show any of that? It might look great, clean and professional, but if it lacks their personality and the key elements that they use to connect with their target demographic, then the website will fail to produce results for them. Likewise, if their brand is designed to be very corporate and straight-laced, and we design a loud and fun website, we are likely to scare away their target clients.
With a background in marketing (I owned a marketing agency for several years), I look at websites differently than most “web guys”. I look at it as an asset and an investment in marketing for a business. It should reflect the company messaging, have a purpose and create results for my client. This is why we are so focused on creating a website with clear call to actions, solid lead capture methods and accurate brand representation.
Now, the call to actions and lead capture topics are for another day (and I’ve blogged about them before)… but today I really want to chat about branding and how incredibly important it is to be true to your brand in all of your marketing, including your website.
Know your brand.
So, let’s chat about your brand. Have you clearly identified your brand and personality? Have you defined a world view and how the brand reacts and presents itself? Have you defined a target demographic? Have you defined what sets your business apart? If not… do it! You will be doing yourself a huge favor and giving your business a more solid foundation. It is so much easier to market something that is clearly defined and organized. If you KNOW who you are, it is a piece of cake to market yourself. A well-defined brand is a marketer’s dream!
Once you know your brand, you will be able to ensure that all of your messaging, marketing and advertising has a cohesive message… and you will find the response to your marketing is much better.
If you haven’t got that part figured out and need help, find a professional that can help guide you. Look for one that has proven success with their own businesses or others and one that “gets you”. If you need a recommendation, shoot an email off to us, we know plenty of awesome branding and marketing people.
Be true to your brand.
Great! You have your brand together and are ready to get online. Now be true to that brand! The website should look, feel and read in a way that conveys your brand, your benefits, your uniqueness. If you want people to take note, you have to prove to them that you are noteworthy. If you want people to begin to identify with you and your brand, you have to be consistent.
I’ve seen great brands with owners who are incredibly personable and fun to be around, with super boring websites that just do not do them justice. On the other hand, I’ve seen very serious brands with websites or marketing that is loud or fun and simply does not represent them properly. If you are fun… show it! If you are serious… show it! Whatever your brand is… whatever your message is, make sure that in all of your marketing, you continue to be consistent and clear with it.
Don’t be afraid to scare people away.
Shout out your message!
Now here is the important part. If you take NOTHING else home with you after reading this… take this. You WILL irritate people, you WILL scare people off and you WILL rub people the wrong way if you are doing it right. Your brand and likewise, your website, should not be “all things to all people”. It should be hyper-targeted to your target demographic; to the people you want to sell to. Stop trying to make everyone happy and focus on making your ideal prospects super happy!
Would you prefer to have everyone visiting your website think your brand and website is nice and professional or would you prefer to maybe scare some away, but create fanatical buyers from the rest?! Make sense? Now, I’m not saying to be rude or crazy (unless that’s your brand, haha!). I’m just saying that you need to stand for something with your brand and you need to create something for people to identify with.
Here’s an example.
Case in point. In the past, I owned a company that was straight-laced. We were incredibly professional, clean and… well… boring (which is nothing like me: I’m loud, goofy and energetic). Our website was all about us, it talked about our services and we generally presented ourselves in a dry fashion that didn’t really speak to anyone. Now… we didn’t scare anyone away, but we didn’t create fans or people that were passionate or excited about our brand either. We didn’t talk about what was in it for our prospect and we didn’t identify to anyone.
When I founded Rock Paper Simple, on the other hand, I determined that it was going to have a very distinct brand and personality. It was going to be fun, humorous and focused on creating results for our clients. The brand is energetic and loud and and fun loving. All of our messaging reflects it. From our energetic copy and call to actions, to the scattered jokes in the copy, to the funny titles we have (my title is “head honcho”) to the way we write our blog posts… we are all about being real with people.
Now there are some people that really don’t like that and will never do business with us. That’s cool and I’m ok with that. Ya’know why? Because there are plenty of people out there who come across our website, our branding, one of my speaking engagements or even just someone I meet on a plane that LOVE our brand and LOVE the way we present ourselves. And when you get prospects and clients to identify with your brand like that, you sell more, get more referrals and have more happy clients.
So… be true to your brand.
Let that personality shine through and make sure your website conveys that messaging. Maybe it’s the way the headlines are presented… maybe it’s the way the call to actions are worded or maybe it is the type of images you use. It doesn’t matter the technique… just make sure that your unique message comes across.
Take a look at your website. Is it true to your brand?