Branding online, an overview.

by Kelvin Collins
See Dave Speak SMX London

So far I’ve concentrated on the real world aspects of branding. I’ve discussed all those touchy feely bits and sumarised them as:

  • Brilliant customer focus
  • An obsession with staff engagement
  • Consistency that doesn’t get in the way of innovation

That’s all very well, but I’m writing on Dave Naylor’s site and as we know Dave’s genius is all about search.

Being found.

Online.

And his business, Bronco, delivers all things web to help you build and optimise your business online.

So does your brand matter online too?

Well let’s consider a few of the previous points I’ve made and see what we think.

Brilliant Customer Focus: Consider the old adage that just 7% of communication is to do with the words you speak, the rest of the job of delivering the message is down to visual stimulus such as body language and eye contact (55%) and aural stimulus such as how you sound, pitch, speed (38%).

What this effectively says is that you could say something pretty outrageous to someone, but using a sweet gentle tone and a beaming smile and they wouldn’t be offended, at least not until the words sink in.

If you’re not meeting, or even talking to people online then your words and visual stimulus are all you have to work with.

Your copy is important to help drive your search, and vital to help land your message.

Your visual stimulus is completely down to your look and feel and how easy it is to navigate around your site. And of course how you, and your team, communicate with your potential customer either seals the deal, or drives them from your virtual door – see staff engagement.

You’ll need a great strategy to turn your business into a roaring success, but it’s design that’ll ignite the passion of the reader, creating the spark that’ll leave them desperate to buy. Your site is your equivalent of your environment, your staff, your packaging. Every tool the retailer has honed over centuries in one visual package.

Here’s an example of visual stimulus delivering the brand: I had some dealings with Kitchen Architecture recently, it’s a very high end kitchen design company working with German brand Baulthaup. The site impressed me because it feels just as exclusive as the product on sale. I’m a long way from being target audience for these guys, but I’m sure if I was I’d feel confident in what I see there.

An obsession with staff engagement: This is less obvious online and does depend on how automated your e-commerce system might be, but think of that system as a member of staff and the same rules apply.

Spending time on helping your people truly understand how you wish to deal with your customers is vital. Not telling them, but sharing with them, inviting their comments and suggestions from their own experience.

We saw above that someone might get away with saying the wrong thing if they say it with a big smile on their face and a warm tone.

When we write something it’s there for the reader to ponder over, making their own decision whether to be pleased or offended by the message.

With my own business The Cornish Way I write every response to every enquiry myself. It’s easy for me to control just how much care and emotion goes into each call or email, but even then I have to be strict and not respond if I’ve had a couple of drinks, and that was learnt from getting it wrong!

The responses to enquiries that your people send are each little blocks, building, or destroying your brand. Consider how easy it is to share your feelings with a link…

Consistency: Oh how important is this word?

Consistency of delivery. We’re only as good as our last interaction.

Consistency of message. An inconsistent message destroys trust and drives the buyer away.

Consistency of look and feel. Refresh your site. But don’t turn it on its head so that the person who has been buying from you for years suddenly can’t find their way around.

I want us all to delight our customers, but online simply not annoying them can sometimes be a challenge!

To sum up: We see quite quickly that the three basic tenets of building a brand in a physical environment work online too, but that the impact of each is exaggerated.

Share your vision with your people and involve them in your decision making. Ask customers how you can improve your online experience – and don’t be surprised when they tell you! Oh, and they’ll expect you to do something about it too.

Putting words into action: When I last wrote I talked about Vitsoe as an amazing example of consistency with innovation.

The night I published the post I was hugely impressed to get a note from the MD of Vitsoe, Mark Adams.

Mark thanked me, offered more information, invited me to drop in and gently put me right on a couple of areas. I was so impressed both by his response, and the fact that he obviously tracks and responds to mentions of the company.

Mark had taken a principle so many people preach, but actually delivered on it. Well done! We can all learn something from such a simple action.

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