The power of a strong brand lies in two key areas:
- a strong, clear, unique brand positioning
- the expression of that positioning via consistent, professional design, appropriate tone of voice and clear key messages.
Perhaps the most prevalent platform for displaying your brand is your website. 81% of all consumers will look at a business’s website before engaging their services (GE Capital Retail Bank’s Major Purchase Shopper Study 2013). In our digitally focused economy, now more than ever, a strong website that reflects your brand is vital.
As a brand strategy agency, we regularly work with our clients on the development of their brands and the subsequent rollout of these brands across their digital assets. However partnering with clients on their websites and building our own BrandMatters website are two very different scenarios - with different challenges.
Here are the five key things we as an agency have learned during the development of our new BrandMatters website:
1) Brand is the heart of your website
It almost goes without saying that design that is on-brand includes the consistent use of your colour palette, image style and typography. Partner these design elements with the correct key messaging, tone of voice and a user experience that supports your broader brand positioning and you will end up with a website that, at every touch point, clarifies who you are in the mind of your customers.
For BrandMatters, a key way that our website brings our brand to life is via the inclusion of our values. Not only does sharing our values remind us to live by them, but they acted as a useful reference point and decision making tool during the web development process.
For example, one of our values is around delivery: we say we will do something and then we do. When faced with heavy workloads and potential delays, this value helped to drive the team to keep the project moving forward and to deadline.
2) Start with a clear set of objectives
There are many good reasons for redoing your website: a shift in the direction of your business; the look is outdated; the functionality is no longer user-friendly – but whatever the reason behind the decision, it’s vital to get clear up front exactly what a strong return on your web development investment will look like.
Do you want the site to be a tool for generating leads from your sweet-spot target audience? Or is building your profile and reputation more important, via shares, likes and valuable content?
If you have clear objectives, when you get to a sticking point, you can return to your objectives and see which solution best suits your business needs.
Once the site is up and running, you can then use analytics to measure the outcome of the project and ensure your site is delivering against your objectives – and change and re-test if it isn’t.
3) Engage your stakeholders early
Like a rebrand, a website is a significant investment. It will inevitably involve multiple divisions within your business and in some cases, involve the integration of services that may operate independently on a day-to-day basis.
By engaging stakeholders early, they will be invested in the process and prepared and willingly to partner with you to achieve your launch goals.
At BrandMatters we have strategy, project management and design experts in-house and were able to draw on these different skill sets within our team. By drawing on the skills and experience of your internal team, your stakeholder will feel valued and invested in the end result.
4) Be realistic
Unfortunately, all other work doesn’t just stop when you commence a website rebuild, and inevitably other projects and deadlines are going to present challenges. It’s unlikely that you’ll achieve the perfect website that functions exactly the way you want it to and looks exactly the way you dreamed, on the exact launch date you hoped for.
To prevent the project coming to a standstill, identify what factors are absolutely critical for launch – and focus on getting the site up with these elements perfected.
Then plan a phase 2 where you can add extra features, content and functionality to the site. This will give people a reason to come back to your site, and it will keep the user experience dynamic, while allowing you to hit your launch date goal and start seeing an ROI sooner.
5) Start with SEO in mind
Trying to retro-fit copy and design to allow for best-practice SEO is never smooth, and long gone are the days where you could just hide keywords in the metadata.
SEO is vital to BrandMatters. We contacted our SEO partner before commencing design or development and used their advice when developing the site. They also provided tools and resources for our developer so that he could make certain that the site was structured to accommodate SEO from the outset.
Our SEO partner then reviewed the back end of the site prior to launch to make any final tweaks to optimise for SEO and to ensure we mitigated the risk of losing our rankings.
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With the new website now live, our team is now working on phase two of the site, which will include additional case studies and content, as well as a few UX tweaks and adjustments. It’s a little soon to provide a genuine assessment of the success of the site against its objectives, but we’ll be watching our analytics closely, and doing more A/B testing moving forward.