“Just like the eyes are a window to your soul, your website is a window to your brand.”
Your first experience of a company’s brand used to be in a real world.
If you were looking at buying a new car, you’d take a trip down to the car yard and that would be the first time you encountered the look, feel, sound and smell of the new car. All aspects of the car’s brand carefully designed to persuade you to own it.
However, that’s all changed.
What do you do when you hear about a company, person or product for the first time? You jump on Google.
Where do you end up? The company’s website.
Now, the first experience most people have of your business is your website and first impressions last. So, you need to get your website right.
How do you create an incredible first impression? Just like how the car manufacturer designed their car to entice you to buy, everything you need comes from your brand.
You get your brand right and everything flows from there.
It is the critical first step you must get sorted before you even think about engaging a web development company to build your site. Because, if you get it wrong, you’re not only wasting the money you’ve spent on your website, you’ve also missed out customers and revenue.
Over the next few months we’re going to cover off the key parts of the branding process, so you can get it right before you invest in your website. It will make filling out section 6 of our website brief template a breeze!
So, what actually is a brand?
“A brand is not an image or a cluster of values. It is an experience and fulfilment of the customer’s needs.”
When you say “brand,” most people think of logos, colours and images but a brand is much more than that.
In fact, your brand is your business.
It underpins everything your business does from your website and marketing channels to how you deliver your products and services to your customers.
It is the very essence of your business and is what compels people to say yes (buy) to what you’re offering them.
It is what differentiates your business from everyone else in the eyes of your customers.
And it must be relevant to your target market.
In short, to be effective, all brands must be:
They must also be simple. Your brand only needs to answer three questions for your potential customers:
- Why do they need it?
- Why is it different?
- Why is it better?
Get that right and it’s easy for them to:
- Say yes
- Change behaviour
- Shift attitudes
- Choose your brand over a competitor
- Recommend your brand
Pretty simple stuff! But simplicity isn’t necessarily easy – it takes time and effort.
Branding and your website
Simply put, your website must answer the same questions that your brand does. Read the 12 bullet points above, again. Every single one applies to your website, which is your brand and your business.
When someone hits your website, they must quickly understand why they need your products or services, how they are different from everyone else in the market, and why they’re of more value.
There’s no way you can achieve this on your site if you haven’t got your brand done first and done right.
To put it another way, if your website is the first impression people will get of your company, the design is the first impression people will get of your website. You have a matter of seconds to capture their attention, so they stick around.
The best way to capture attention? Create desire. And that desire comes from your brand – it’s appeal.
It doesn’t stop there. Once you’ve hooked your website visitor in with the design of your website and they start interacting with your site, everything they encounter – the colours, images, words, call to actions – must articulate precisely, clearly and visually your brand. Ultimately, persuading them simply and powerfully to choose you.
If there’s a disconnect, you’ve lost them.
To sum it up, your website is, quite simply, more than the online representation of your brand, it is your brand. Since it’s most likely the first place a potential customer will end up, it plays a critical role in the success or failure of your business.
Where to start
“Uncomplicate the complicated.”
You should now be able to see how crucial getting your brand right is before you start on your website.
So, when it comes to developing your brand, where should you start?
Just because your brand should be simple, it doesn’t mean they are quick to create. In fact, because they must be simple, it takes time, thought and planning to distil your brand down to its purest form.
Therefore, you need to start with a strategic plan. This will ensure you are doing the right things.
When it comes to your brand you need to think it through, create it, design it, build it, defend it, evolve it. It’s a process, and one we will take you through over the next few months.
Once you have your brand strategy, you need to execute it.
This is where you articulate your brand. The key place this happens is your website.
The objective at this stage is to do things right.
The 5 phases of creating a killer brand
The two steps above can be broken down further into 5 phases, which will be the focus of our next few posts.
- Phase 1: Discovery of your business, competitors and target audience
- Phase 2: Creating the brand
- Phase 3: Products and services
- Phase 4: Visual identity and brand language
- Phase 5: Go to market strategy
Since your website is most likely the first time people encounter your brand, it is vital you have got your brand right. This means putting the time into developing your brand before you look at getting your website built. Think right, get it right – and the rest will follow.
Hope is not a strategy. So, over the next few posts, we are going to take you through the process of developing your brand so that is simple and clearly demonstrates to your target market how your company is different, compelling and relevant.
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