Expressing Brand Character Online

The great literary poet Arthur Fonzerelli once said (plagiarizing the slightly lesser known Socrates) “Know Thyself.” It’s a simple truth – know who you are, inside and out.

Whether “you” is … you, or “you” is your company, there is an honest truth at the core of every decision and action. Knowing what you are – and just as importantly, knowing what you are not – is the pivotal cornerstone to building an audience. This is because brands have value that is always either increasing or decreasing. With a communication cycle that is 24/7/365, knowing who you are and being able to clearly articulate it keeps you from distracting your audience with confusing messages, thereby devaluing your brand.

Online, All the Time.

Your brand is always communicating with your audience online. It is a conversation that never stops. And it happens whether you are actively engaging in the conversation or not. Your brand evangelists, social feeds, blog posts – these communications are constantly feeding the brand. This helps you find new audiences and reengage with your established ones.

But you knew that already. Which is why you probably have an entire team or agency partner dedicated to establishing your social media prominence. They spend each day conceptualizing, strategizing, being the tip of the spear, living your brand day in and day out. But in focusing on social media, you might be neglecting a fundamental piece of your online presence … you know, the laggard. The cumbersome monstrosity. The one that requires 10 developers and 200 man-hours just to make a simple headline update. Yeah, you know what I’m talking about – your website.

Don’t Leave the Dinosaurs Behind.

You haven’t forgotten about your website – it’s probably just too painful to address because you have so many stakeholders and so much legacy and capital sunk into it already. By comparison, your social media platforms feel as simple as 1 cup strategy + 1 cup content with a dash of personal correspondence. No servers to keep running. No DOS attacks to fend off. No pages to rank for search.

But it’s the last one – ranking for search – that should really catch your attention. When your audience is searching for an answer to their problem, the almighty Google, with its infinite wisdom, will display a list of … wait for it … webpages. And if you’ve done the long and arduous task of laying the groundwork on your website, building up enough equity to be seen on the ever-elusive PAGE 1, what happens to the user when they actually click the link and navigate to your page?

I’ll Never Forget Ms. Chamney.

My 1st grade teacher Ms. Chamney (Cresthaven Elementary, Waterloo, Iowa, A.K.A. the best school ever) taught me a great lesson. She said, “Never judge a book by its cover.” Oh, so you’ve heard of that adage as well? Do you live by it? Do you think the people visiting your website are keeping it in mind?

Hells to the no they’re not. None of us are.

We size up a website in a matter of seconds. Is the brand shady or reputable? Are they cheap or expensive? Do I trust them to do right by me? Will I give them my credit card number? All of this and more are surmised before the first word on the page is even read.

People can digest the core of a brand visually and almost instantly. And this “gut feeling” that people have when they first get to your site will set the tone for how, or even if, they will engage with it.

Your website needs to live and breathe the values of your brand. It needs to do this not just visually but also in how the user interacts with your site. Is your site complicated and cumbersome to navigate? Does it look and behave like it’s stuck in the 90s? Does every contact us link dead end at a one-way form that has to be submitted into the void? This says more about you than you think it does.

Customer Service Is Dead.

It seems to be a dying art, putting yourself in the shoes of your customers. It’s the ability to step back and understand that people are coming at you with a varying set of expectations, brand history, product knowledge and goals.

Do they see your website the same way that you see your company?  

If you value:

  • Customer Education – Create tutorials or video overviews for your products but give the deep research folks an additional set of FAQs.
  • Customer Satisfaction – Provide them quick and easy-to-find methods (plural) for getting help from a real person. Preferably one that does not require 27 pieces of identification so that you can track me down and market to me later.
  • Customer Expectations – Establish milestones for long or complicated processes. Or, better yet, don’t have long or complicated processes.

I could go on and on, but my coffee buzz has worn off. Actually, that’s not true. I detest coffee. What can I say – I know myself. I know what I am, and what I am not. And I live my brand.

Your Team

It can be hard taking a step back to see if you’re living your brand values online. If you need some help, give us a call. Or, visit our contact page where you’ll also find our address, phone number and social media handles. Because one of our values at BIG YAM is to be direct.