If you are a small business already engaged with other marketing activities then it may be relevant to look at how you fit a website into your branding strategy.
In 1990’s business merely replicated their message used in other media and put it on a website. And because the public already knew this message, they weren’t interested. In those days people hadn’t figured out the role of the website. It is different from other marketing vehicles.
A website is one of the components which make the brand what it is. The Brand being the Promise, the Big Idea and the Reputation.
As famous Ad man Walter Landor put it: “Products are made in the factory, but brands are created in the mind”
A part of branding is the logo, which originated as a mark under pottery in Roman times and the word “Brand” comes from the “branding” of cattle, the mark (or logo) cattle men used to identify their herd. But in todays business world “branding” is far more complicated and has grown to include many components as seen below:
All help to create the perception of your business in the mind of the consumer. Perception being what the consumer “believes” to be the truth (whether true or not).
We, as graphic designers, are only responsible, for the “logo” and “visual” part. That being the website, social media, printed matter and imagery used for TV advertising. The rest, Actions, Products, customer service etc.. in other words; running the business, is firmly in your domain as the business owner. So you can appreciate, it is a lot of work to manage a brand. In fact the best logo and visual branding in the world isn’t going to help you if you have serious problems with customer service (rude staff), product (someone is injured or dies from using it), employees (turn out to be sweat shop slaves) or reputation (plain dishonest like a certain German car maker recently..).
If brands are created in the mind of the consumer, well, we can’t reach into that. But a website has a unique opportunity to do something about it. You may already have a campaign directed at your target audience. Advertising in the community papers, or a niche magazine, on the radio etc. This is an opportunity to direct consumers to your site.
The website’s job is not to merely mimic the same message used on other media, as companies tended to do in the old days. Something really valuable that a website can do it is let the consumer dig deeper into your Big Idea. Deeper into your philosophy, the story you can tell with the website can be more detailed than what can be achieved in other media. Telling a story is a process of building trust with the customer, changing their perception yet again. This is helpful since people only pay money to businesses they trust.
This is why pages like the “About Us” and blogs are important. When I’m researching a product, I always look at the about page of a website, just to figure out what and who these people are. If you are a new business, no one knows about you, so in addition to an about us page, a few pages in a blog on the website can be valuable.
If the product you sell has a lot of history or information attached to it, and you as the business owner are an expert on the subject, to the point you can write a treatise on the subject and could be something really valuable to prospective customers. It is very advisable write that treatise, more to the point – that blog post. This is a great marketing opportunity and your website is the perfect vehicle. Write the authoritative blog, and your target market will treat you as the go to expert and buy from you.
Blogs have the added benefit of also being picked up by search engines, (Google loves blogs) eventually when your site ranks a little better on Google, you could be surprised how many visitors find your site just through the blog.