There are so many words bandied about to describe the identity of your business. “Business Personality.” “Business Identity.” “Brand Identity.” Or just plain “Brand.”
“Brand” or “Branding” seem to be the two words most often used when creating a successful marketing strategy for your local business.
A brand is a representation of your products or services that distinguishes it from other products or services, so that it can be easily communicated and marketed successfully to your potential customers. Branding is the process of creating and then promoting the name of your business, its qualities, and personality.
What’s a Strong Brand?
A strong brand requires a strong brand identity, image, culture, and personality. For example, when you see the golden arches, you know immediately that the brand is McDonald’s. You know what they’re selling (burgers and fries), their image (a happy place to eat), what type of culture they’re promoting (inexpensive fast food), and their stores have a welcoming and unpretentious personality.
In addition, their marketing strategy includes investing in online, mobile, and offline marketing methods that spread clear and consistent brand-focused messages to a large audience. Their packaging is the same wherever you go. The color scheme, graphics, logo, background or theme, and print fonts are always the same.
Now, most businesses don’t have the budget or worldwide brand recognition as McDonald’s. But even in a local business of any size, the steps needed to take within a marketing strategy are the same. And they apply to everything you do to promote your business. Whether you use local newspapers, radio, cable, or TV stations. Whether you promote your product or service on a billboard, the one area you may be overlooking is your website.
Proper Website Design
Proper website design means that when you point potential customers from your traditional advertising to your website, they see a consistent message. They see the same colors, the same logo, and read the same “sell lines” or “keywords.” Too many local businesses forget or don’t understand that they must replicate their physical location attributes with their website, mobile, and online presence. And that’s the perfect way to miss out on growing your customer base.
You’ve worked hard to build your business, your reputation, and yes, your brand. So, now it’s time to put in the same amount of work into the design of your website.
Let’s talk about first impressions. The world has changed quickly. Not every potential customer walks into your store or business first. In this digital age, customers tend to do an online search to see where they can find what they’re looking for at a local business. It saves them time, it allows them to pinpoint exactly what they want, and it gives them an idea of what kind of company or business you are. That means your website is where you need to create your first impression.
Designing an effective website, having consistent marketing reflecting both your physical location and your online presence, presenting a consistent brand is the best way to increase your traffic and cash flow. Your website should clearly and dynamically mirror the brand characteristics of your business. It should provide a clear representation of the products and services you’re selling.
Whether you have an online store where customers can order your products, make an appointment, or reach out with questions, or if you use your website to drive foot traffic directly to your location, clear and consistent messaging is the number one priority in website design.
Differentiate Your Business From the Competition
You must incorporate the look, the feel, the personality of your business into your website. And you must differentiate your business from your competition. What makes you stand out from the guy down the street selling the same items? Your quality products? Your excellent customer service? Your wide selection? The ease of doing business with your company?
Do-it-yourself websites may save you money, but they look like do-it-yourself websites. You wouldn’t build a house if you weren’t a skilled builder. You wouldn’t do an oil change in your car, if you didn’t know what a dipstick was.
It’s the same with a professional looking website. Your website design should reflect your reputation, reliability, and should create customer loyalty. It should be simple and straight forward. And it should be focused, with headline grabbing, creative, relevant content, and eye-popping graphics, while clearly communicating the solutions your business can offer to its customers. Bottom line? Your website should reflect your high-quality image and professionalism.
Expertly Manage Your Digital Footprint
Do you represent your business on Facebook? GoogleAds? Instagram? Twitter? Consistency is key. Same color scheme, same dynamic content, same logo, same messaging. Every single one of your public-facing digital strategies should be recognizable immediately. Start with your professionally designed website. Then bit by bit create or revise your other online marketing until it all looks the same and delivers the same messaging.
By keeping all of your marketing or advertising consistent and coherent, you strengthen your brand, build reputation, grow your business, and reap the benefits. Everything you do to market your business goes hand-in-hand with designing a website that reflects your business identity.
The initial design of your website is most important. But don’t forget to tweak it throughout the year. Update the products, add or delete photos, make any changes in contact information or pricing. Your website needs to adapt to stay successful. Make sure your website company performs a Local SEO. Add blog posts, links to articles or other relevant content. Blow your own horn. Have you been rated “best for customer service?” Or recognized locally in some way? Are you celebrating an anniversary of years in business?
Have you determined that some aspects of your site just aren’t working? If so, it’s time for a change. That’s the beauty of a professionally designed website. Changes can be made quickly and easily. Are you having a sale? Rework the content to reflect the sale, the upcoming holiday, or just about anything that allows you to stand out from your competition.
Stale content is a customer killer. You don’t want the same content shown every single time a returning customer comes back to your site. Jazz it up. Make changes. Add a new headline, different graphics. Just remember to change all your other advertising to mirror your site changes.
By changing the look and content of your website a few times a year, you’ll have the chance to present yourself in a new light. You’ll have more opportunities to connect with your customers, offer them something new or better. Offer them a wider selection of products or services to choose from. But again, be sure to change all your other advertising or digital imaging to reflect your website changes. In the end, both you and your customers will benefit from developing a website that paints a clear picture of who you are and what you’re selling.
The brand you build with your website is fundamental to your success. It allows you to connect with your potential customers and drive traffic to either your physical location or buy on your online store. People shop where they are comfortable and feel well taken care of. A beautifully designed website can make them feel like they know and like you. They trust you. They respect the quality of your product and services. They associate your business with great product knowledge, ease of doing business, and friendly customer service.
Your business identity—your brand—is reflected in your business website. Be sure it sends the right message.