Who Do You Think You Are??
Although the fundamentals of branding are straight forward, logical, and critical to a company’s ability to connect with its visitors, many companies overlook branding when designing, populating, or developing their Website. However, those who do enjoy the benefits of a leadership position and competitive differentiation.
Could a complete stranger to your business land on your Website and instantly identify your company’s personality, what you offer, and your unique advantages? Many times, the answer is no because companies don’t always communicate these crucial answers well or even consider them in the first place.
Although there is much more to online branding than communicating a company’s personality, offerings and differentiators are critical components. In one eyeful, a well branded Website should be able to communicate who a company is and what it stands for through the interaction of their Website’s design, graphics, text, and tone.
Let’s look at some large and small examples of well-branded companies to get a feel for how they make it work:
Apple is a well branded company, on and offline. While Apple makes laptops, phones, iPods, etc., what they really sell is ease, simplicity and empowerment. Apple’s Website is clean, uncluttered, easy to navigate and user friendly. With the use of large crisp photos, white space, and an airy feel, their Website aligns with their unique selling proposition – “buy any Apple product and change the way you live your life by doing things you couldn’t do before”. An Apple is generally thought of as easier to use than a PC, and so is their Website. Compare Apple’s Website http://www.apple.com/ with Microsoft http://www.microsoft.com/en/us/default.aspx (an iconic company of the PC category). Apple’s message and brand is reinforced across every element associated with it, galvanizing its strength and sustainability over time.
Although Apple is an example of a larger company, smaller companies should brand themselves well, too and those who are well branded are differentiated, easier to remember, and often leaders in their niche or industry. Two examples are TOMS Shoes http://www.toms.com/, and ABT Electronics http://www.abt.com/. Although TOMS manufactures shoes and ABT provides electronics, both sell their corporate personalities, offerings and differentiators through the interaction of their Website’s design, texts, graphics, and tone.
On the banner of TOMS Website is a declaration of what it does. “With every pair you purchase, TOMS will give a pair of new shoes to a child in need. One for One.” Do you know of any other shoe company that does what TOMS does? Each element across every page reinforces their distinct message. The cohesion and consistency of page elements build on each other to amplify the answer to a pivotal question, “Why buy from TOMS”? Although TOMS has grown since its humble beginnings, it is by no means considered a large company but it does represent a company that embraces the branding technique of building on a BIG idea.
ABT Electronics is a local family business with one retail location, although it rivals huge electronics chains nationwide. ABT differentiates itself on service and by reading its Website there’s no mistaking its mission of pleasing people. In fact, its tagline is “Pleasing People…Since 1936”. On their banner you’ll find their guiding principal, “The Answer is “Yes” To Any Reasonable Request”. Customer satisfaction and ease of doing business with ABT is their value proposition and differentiator. On their banner you’ll find a Live Chat and phone number prominently displayed, to easily contact them – an interactive aspect that many online consumers expect these days. The Website uses friendly colors like soft blue and light grey, with photos of its smiling employees and gives people an easy way to compare products and offers helpful articles to make the most informed buying decision. All elements on the site contribute to a positive, pleasant experience.
Considering the vast differences between the branding styles of each of these businesses, there is one core factors that remains true for them all, and more likely than not contributes hugely to the brand awareness of each of them: their specific personality and those unique advantages that differentiate them from their competition. These elements are the driving force behind each of these online brands, and need to be the basis for your company’s web marketing and advertising plan.