I am sure many of us have woken up one fine morning and felt, I am not looking right! Perhaps a dire change of wardrobe is needed, maybe a new haircut, maybe it’s the glasses that need changing or could be a great tattoo. A need for personality change or improvement applies not just to people, but to businesses too!
Various facets express the face and personality of any business – internally and externally. The culture of the organization, the internal communication, the language and tone of the senior management can help derive what the business stands for internally, but the challenge is to effectively translate it to your external stakeholders i.e. investors, business alliances and partners and most importantly your potential and existing customers.
We live in a time and age where even before the customer comes to your physical store/branch or interacts with a representative of the organisation, he/she has “Googled” you. Your website, your social media pages, any forums that talk about your brand and any of your other online assets become the very first touch point of your brand to your customer. There can be no two ways about it, if you want the conversation to go any further, you HAVE TO LOOK YOUR BEST!
With this in mind, over the last four years, we have had many businesses come to us and tell us – I want a new website! More often than not, these are businesses that have been in existence for a few years or more and already have an online presence in place. It has been tremendously fulfilling for us to help many of these businesses transform the way they look and feel to their customer as it has impacted the efficacy of their communication with their stakeholders. In this blog, we are sharing our key insights gleaned from across the various website projects we at IBS have spearheaded.
The current communication assets no longer truly represent the brand/business
Brands are constantly evolving and it is but natural that there are improvements being made to the product or service offering. Added to it, every year of existence brings in tremendous learning that needs to be captured within the essence of the brand. While many businesses start with a certain vision and proposition, over a period of time, there could be several iterations that refine the value proposition of the business.
The biggest bane however is that – while companies know that they are not correctly represented in their existing collateral, many do not have a clear idea of what exactly is the right representation!
Some of the reasons this non-clarity appears is:
• Change in the complete management and core team of the brand/business
• Growing competitors staking the same claim as you and pushing it more aggressively.
• What the customer once perceived as high-value has become a given and something else now needs more emphasis.
• Way too much noise and clutter in the minds of the customer forces the business to take a place that will breakthrough.
How do we help get the clarity?
At Inception, we believe that you cannot build great communication assets unless you are absolutely clear what place you want to occupy in the minds of the customers. Unless a brand is clear about its own personality and reason of existence, it will become very hard for an external customer to understand it.
Thus, we always begin a “New Website” project with a detailed positioning exercise. We align all the stakeholders, ask the important and sometimes uncomfortable questions, we facilitate conversations – individually and in groups and help derive as well as articulate the brand positioning. Extended derivations of the positioning statement are definitions of the value proposition to the customers, differentiators’ vis-à-vis competitors, personality of the brand and the communication strategy. This exercise forms the core of any communication collateral that gets developed by the brand and is articulated keeping in mind the 3-5 years vision of the business.
The end product of the positioning exercise makes the job of creating a unique website far easier and needless to say, truly representative of the brand.
The look and feel is archaic:
With the pace at which technology and all the aesthetics are changing, it is natural for an online asset to look archaic and redundant in a matter of 9-12 months. Every era has its own look that is considered contemporary. Colours, tab styles, functionality on the home page, inclusion of social media icons, use of visuals – there are many components that contribute to the aesthetics.
Here are a few ways to fix this issue:
• Pick a template, ranging from zero cost to a few hundred dollars and simply customize the imagery and text, to suit your business.
• Pick a template and hire a design team to customize the look and feel to match your business.
• Hire a top-class design firm to re-do your website through and through.
Irrespective of how small or large someone’s budget is, it is fairly simple to move to a website that looks better. At Inception we have worked on all the above methods to help our clients get better-looking sites.
The user journeys have changed:
With easy accessibility and greater reliability, the online space is now the first point of brand interaction. More often than not, customers now spend sometime on a brand/business website before interacting with it in the physical space. The website thus has to do the job of getting the customer excited enough to take the engagement to the next level. The role of your website has hence changed from sharing detailed information about the brand to being an effective sales tool.
Some of the things that the website must have now:
• What will the brand do for the customer
• Why should a customer choose my brand/business vis-à-vis the competitor
• Range of products and services offered by the brand and what needs of the customer each helps solve.
• Access to more content and social media presence allowing for further engagement with the brand.
While some of this is generic, depending on the business, the user journey can be understood in detail and customized to make the website extremely productive. At Inception, we make it a point to conduct some detailed research on customer behavior and competitor strategy before charting out the user journey.
The language and interaction is not customer-focused:
With the website changing from being an information repository to a core communication collateral, defining “who you are talking to” becomes so much more important. One of the key requirements becomes to present content from your buyer/customer’s point of view instead of the business point of view. While doing so, we at IBS try and understand or paint your “Buyer’s Persona”. Who is your typical customer- what does he/she do online, when they look for a service/product like yours what is it they want to hear, what kind of content will appeal to them – Data? Proof? Testimonials? Visuals? Stories?
Some of the essentials to think about in this space are:
• Are you speaking the language of your customer? Whether you are a teenage clothing brand or a high end consulting business to the fortune companies, you will need to use words that your customers are using everyday.
• Answering the WIIFM (what’s in it for me) question at the very beginning – Whether your customer is asking you this question upfront or not, you can bet a million bucks that this is the primary thought. It will be best to articulate the answer to this question and paste it on the landing screen.
• Make the most use of the available technology and enable as much engagement and interaction on the website as possible. From live chats to review widgets, from contact forms to referral offers there is much one can use that can make your customers stay on your website for longer and hence let your brand stick.
If you have found yourself agreeing and nodding in agreement to most of what we have shared in this piece, you are certainly ready to re-do your website. However, despite these insights, website update/re-do is a project by itself and needs dedicated time, energy and focus. Given what you know about your team and the collective bandwidth, do evaluate roping in Inception, to help you get the job done. With these elements in place, you will be well on your way to having a website that is not just new but also one that stands true!
PS: If you would like to know more about the work we have done in this space, please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org