Building a brand used to be pretty straightforward (if rather expensive)! Name. Logo. Tagline. A series of print ads. 48 sheets all over town (that’s billboards, dear reader), a few TV ads and you’re off and running.
Well, it wasn’t quite that easy. You had to have a pretty good product for a start. A great value proposition and memorable creative expression. But let’s just say there used to be a lot fewer moving parts, and a lot of it was driven by advertising.
Today you can add in a myriad of social and digital channels, user generated content, influencers, and almost a relinquishing of control over where your brand might even appear!
Scary stuff. But the central part of our digital world, from a business point of view, is the website.
And because that’s where you need to encapsulate all the differentiating, memorable, creative expression of your business, maybe it’s also the key component of brand these days.
Let’s dive in and explore the role of your website in branding your business.
What’s the most recognised English word in the world? ‘OK’.
And the second most recognised English word? ‘Coke’.
Building A Brand
Another thing that’s changed in recent years is the speed at which you can build a brand nowadays. Coke didn’t achieve that overnight, for example. It happened over a century, and was helped initially by the inclusion of some habit-forming class A substances in its original formulation, then turbocharged mid last century by the US Military shipping bottles of Coke to GIs all over the planet. A unique, recognisable bottle, an easy to say name and a tasty refreshing drink, distributed at no cost to the Coca Cola company.
A genius sales and marketing move, really, and it made Coke the most valuable brand in the world for a long time.
And what does the Coke website look like? I had no idea before looking it up to research for this article. It’s pretty average, I’ve gotta tell you. But it’s still a great brand. Now let’s assume you can’t the get US Military Complex to distribute your products globally, how else can you build a brand..?
Well, Disney did it by creating incredible content over a number of decades, Ford by building the very first production car, and then continuing to build reliable automobiles for years.
But when you look at Interbrand’s Best Global Brands 2021, you’re looking at Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Google and Samsung in the top five positions. Coke is still there at number six. Tesla has made an entry for the first time in 14th place, just ahead of Facebook at 15, and Instagram at 19.
The point is that brands don’t need to be around for decades to gain prominence anymore, and – surprise, surprise – digital brands have all the top positions.
So how do go about you building a brand nowadays?
First The Website??
You’ve got a great product or service, and now it’s time the world knew about it. “A really good website is what we need”, I can hear you saying.
Now building a website can be easy or hard! You could literally go live done in a day, just grab one of a zillion templates you can choose from, drop in some library photos, add some copy about your product or service and Bob’s your uncle.
In fact, we often help companies who have started out in this way, grown as much as they can, and realised this wasn’t going to get them to the next level. What stopped them? They didn’t stand out from the competition, their offer wasn’t clear and compelling, they weren’t memorable. In short, they were just another also-ran. They come to us to ask us if we can build a new website with all that included this time around.
What they really mean – whether they know it or not – is they need a brand. Distinctive, differentiated, persuasive, stand-out memorable, with personality, consistently executed … yep, that’d be a brand!
This is where building a brand, and building a website coincide. It’s often where an organisation, with our help, stops for a minute and considers who they really are, what they stand for, why they’re doing what they do, and why it actually matters.
And the home page of your website is where you present your entire business to the world, all condensed into a single page. In fact, “business condensed to its essence” is a pretty good description of what a brand is!
It’s a tall order to say the least, but when you get it right – everything changes.
When prospects arrive at your website you’re presenting them with the true essence of your business, and talking to then in the most convincing way possible, giving yourself the absolute best chance of a conversion.
Which is exactly what you want to be doing when you’re paying for eyeballs.
But more than that, you’re also giving your entire organisation something to learn from, and unite around. The messaging, tone of voice, look and feel of your website. The way the arguments are presented. All of this represents ‘best practice’ for your brand, and when your employees all start singing from the same song sheet, then you’re really on to a winner.
One of the benefits we often hear from our clients, is that the entire process helps refine how the employees see the business. If gives them a new language, and a new framework of engagement for dealing with clients.
And of course, if you don’t get it right, your audience is just a click away from your competitors.
So Is Building A Brand, And Building A Website The Same Thing?
Hmmm… not quite. Branding, really, is an ongoing process. Rather than something you can point to that’s it, we’re done. It’s not a logo or a website, or any one of these individual items, but an idea that’s perpetuated in the minds of your clients and prospects, through every interaction they have with your company.
It’s the friendliness of your receptionist, the music you play when they’re on hold.
The way your customer service team responds. Even the effectiveness of your product or service.
A lot of that comes from the people in the business. The decisions they make every day at work, and the attitude they carry with them.
So is building a website the key to all of that…? Well, if it’s the central reference point for WHO you are as a business, and HOW you deal with the external world, then maybe it is…
If your website is carefully, thoughtfully put together, and your employees can use it as a reference point to ensure their decisions align with the brand, then maybe building a brand, and building a website really can be the same thing. They certainly go hand in glove.
We could go much deeper into this but needless to say, if you’ve gone as far as you can with your off-the-shelf website, if your brand just isn’t crystal clear in your mind and every one of your team members’ minds and you need a little help growing your business, then just give us a shout. We’d love to chat.
PS we included above a couple of examples where we’ve built brand-rich websites. Here are a couple more: