Your website is important for your brand
Your brand is an active business asset that requires careful management. Brand value is derived from the culmination of all consumer touch points. This means that in order to maximize brand value, you need to ensure all channels provide a consistent brand experience. This includes your website. Ignoring your website or not making it a priority is a dangerous mistake. 86.6% of U.S. SMBs cite websites as their most important digital marketing tactic (eMarketer). You should be able to deliver on your brand promise as effectively on your website as you do in person or print.
The importance of your website and brand go beyond the marketing department. A 2013 study by Cerulli Associates, an industry research firm, found that when advisors select an asset manager/fund family, client service comes first, with 51% saying it has a major impact on their selection. Tied for second, with 34% of advisors each, is a firm’s website and brand.
Your website is important for establishing credibility, gaining awareness, and creating lasting connections.
Is your website keeping pace with your brand?
Use this 7 step Website Branding Checklist to help you find out:
1. Does your website match the look and feel of your brand?
Does your website look and feel match the overall look and feel of your brand? It should feel seamless. The more consistent the brand experience is across channels, the more you maximize brand equity.
2. Does your website follow the brand guidelines?
This includes specifications for how to use your logo (size and position), what colors to use, and what typography to use for both print and web. If you don’t have brand guidelines, you’re secret is safe with us, but we highly encourage you to develop the brand guidelines.
3. Are you maintaining consistency across channels?
Your brand voice should be consistent across digital and traditional channels. Your voice is an important part of the consumer experience and is part of the brand personality. A unique brand voice can help a brand differentiate from competitors. Diluting the brand voice with other voices is just diluting the power of your brand. What’s the brand personality? What are some defining characteristics? Define what your brand is and what it isn’t. Is it conversational or formal? What kind of jokes is your brand okay with?
Do you have a Copy Style Guide? This provides fluidity in experience and also aids the user by making it easy to navigate your brand. If you call your chocolate and nut flavored protein bar the “Chocolate Nutty” then always call it the “Chocolate Nutty.” You can’t grant yourself creative license to randomly call it other names in different times and places (or even the same context). “Chocolate Nuts” and “Nuts for Chocolate” isn’t going to fly, no matter how good you think the name variation sounds. Consumers won’t know it’s the same product and they might think there are multiple chocolate and nut flavored protein bars, when in fact, there’s only one.
Have rules for stylistic formattings, such as what gets capitalized and when, hyphen usage, one word or two words, etc.
Maintain the same terminology, if you refer to something as a “shopping cart” on one page, you refer to it as a “shopping cart” on all other pages, not “my cart,” “my basket,” or “my orders.” Switching terminology can confuse users. Use the same phone number and email across your website and all other channels to facilitate easy communication.
While it may seem obvious, it’s incredibly important to be consistent with the facts you present. Whether you’re referring to the product, company, industry, or anything, inconsistent facts raise a red flag to consumers. Are you careless? Disorganized? Did you make up the information? Do you simply not care? Commit to a universal document within the company that establishes how everyone will write about the brand.
Whatever communication initiatives are integrated into your website, be sure to be consistent. If you have a weekly blog, post every week (not every couple weeks or so…). The same goes for social media and email newsletters.
4. Is your technology up to date?
Not using the latest technology reflects poorly on a company as either outdated due to lack of resources, knowledge, or capability. Your website should send the message that you’re living in 2014. Not 1999, not 2003, and not even 2008. The importance of an up-to-date website goes up exponentially if your company is selling something that has anything to do with technology. If you’re selling digital patient engagement tools, EMR, EHR, medical billing software, wearables, mobile apps, etc., it’s imperative for your website to reflect the caliber of your technology. That means it should be easy-to-navigate, device agnostic (works on desktop, tablet, smartphone, etc., regardless of device or browser), and have fast site speed. If you use e-commerce, make sure the software is current and provides the best possible user experience.
Here are some interesting stats to think about:
40% of people will abandon a web page if it takes more than three seconds to load. (Source: Econsultancy)
48% of users say that if they arrive on a business site that isn’t working well on mobile, they take it as an indication of the business simply not caring.
5. Are you communicating your brand value proposition?
Does your website clearly and effectively communicate your value proposition? It should be easy for users to tell what your company provides when they first land on your site. People shouldn’t have to go through several pages to find out what you’re about.
6. Are you maintaining relevance?
In order to stay relevant in the minds of consumers (and the algorithms of search engines), you need to produce fresh content. Update information about the company and its products/services regularly. Share recent news and press releases. Integrate with social channels. Utilize content marketing for thought leadership, education, and awareness.
7. Are you telling your story?
What’s your brand all about? What makes it different? What’s its history? Why should people care? At the end of the day, you’re not B2B or B2C, you’re always B2H. Business to Human. Humans relate to stories and your website should help your brand build relationships.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2014 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.