Brand and Branding are two hot buzzy words amongst marketers of all types – on-line, dead tree, and otherwise. But, what do they really mean to you, your web site and your customers? It takes a lot more than a pretty web site to create and sustain your brand.
Branding has been around as long as human history. Our brains catalogue things as symbols (Fire Hurt. Fire Red. Red Bad.); we remember best when told stories; and our perceptions are as individual as we are. To paraphrase Alan Kay, we’re all just cavemen and cavewomen with PDAs and cute cellphones, looking for wise people to tell us stories. (Ugga and Ugho love those iPods too. Pretty sounds make us feel good!) So, what does this mean to you, your web site, and most importantly your customers? Well, no magic answers here, but always remember your brand is only as good as your story and your customers’ perception of you. And, those perceptions can change daily, depending on how well you walk your talk. Four questions for you:
1. Do you have a contact number on every page of your site, with a live person answering calls within three rings, ready and able to help (and talk storytime, i.e. real language, not marketing speak)? Congrats – that’s a great brand.
2. Is your web site easy to find, easy to read, and easy to navigate? Hey, cool brand; and, the visitor may well send a link to their friends, who’ll send to theirs, and so on. Viral marketing in action!
3. Does your site content tell a story? Yep, that’s a good brand. Of course, data such as features, availability and pricing are necessary – but your difference is created and/or the sale is made when you tell a good story (and I don’t mean a lie.)
4. Have you done all the necessary back-end planning to ensure you can deliver your product or service consistently and in the way you promise? Is that planning reflected in your site’s programming and databases? It’s one thing to have a wonderful design (we love that too), but if you want a site that gives business results, you need a site that’s developed from the start with that as the goal. Otherwise, you end up with all flash and no cash. (Sorry, I just couldn’t resist a slight pun.)