Here’s the story… there’s a small business… shit, there’s a bunch of them… but this one in particular… their founder reached out to us here at MAGNETIC. Super rad person. With a super rad team. Rad product and great personality throughout their organization. They need a new website.
We learn over a few phone calls and a meet up that they’ve been in business for about 4 years. They sell products online and in some brick and mortar stores locally as well. Their products have a solid local following and the business has seen steady growth since launch. The team feels like something is keeping them from taking their small business to the next level.
“We need a new website”
I can’t tell you how often this request comes through. I can tell you, though, how many times it’s accurate. Zero times. In over 10 years of fielding the “We need a new website” request, the solution has never been so simple.
We hear it from enterprise level executives, small business owners and everyone in between. It’s a valid request really. Don’t get me wrong, I love nothing more than a good cup of coffee and a web project . But there’s almost always something larger that needs serious attention before you design, develop and launch a new website.
A new website may very likely be one component of the solution. The real problem business’ large and small are experiencing goes much deeper, though. The problem is rooted at the brand level, compounded by business strategy and complicated at every stage of the marketing funnel.
A Familiar Conversation
As a digital branding agency, our job is to help you define your brand and implement it. If you’ve been through one of our pitches, you’re familiar with our motto; Creative Strategy rooted in Business Strategy . The problem we’re helping this SMB uncover for their online business lies in the fundamental makeup of the brand. They’ve been working for the past 4 years building a business of sales, which is great and we obviously applaud them for that. What they’re realizing now is they need to grow up. The stagnation of their business has enabled them time to poke holes in themselves, looking for somewhere to place blame.
Since the majority of their revenue is generated online, they naturally start and end at their website. When we start digging with questions about their current site and why they want to launch a new website, the conversation ends up going in a similar direction each time…
It starts with conversions… “We were on a steady growth pattern for so long, we feel like we’ve hit a plateau.”
Then to the website design and visual assets… “The images are so bland… and the design worked for a while but it just feels outdated now. It needs more… POP!”
(Side Note: whoever married the word POP with design needs to be identified . I’ll start researching for the next post.)
The next part is always the most interesting segue…
This eCommerce garage startup turned small business has been established as a storefront for commodity. A place for commerce to fill a need or desire. As we dive into the research and analysis of the brand, we see clearly that people search, find and purchase this brands product.
But the path stops there.
The business is flatlining and ultimately waiting to fail.
Without building brand affinity, your product or service will become obsolete.
Here’s why and how…
Let’s say this business we’ve been talking about sells phone chargers. Good ones. Like… the ones that charge your phone super quick… and have some cool feature like a retractable cord (why haven’t I seen that before (searching google real quick, hold tight) (ok I’m back.. buying one after I finish writing this)) and a light to help you find your phone in the night.
This phone charger is the bee’s knees.
You know what’s going to happen though? Someone is going to copy it. Someone is going to make it cheaper and ship it for free.
Someone is going to make something more bee's knees-ier.
Maybe it’s you… maybe it’s someone else.
People will find it, though. Whatever the next cheaper, easier, cooler version is, people will find it. They’ll buy the coolest version for the cheapest price. It’s a vicious cycle. One you want to stay far away from.
But you want to sell product right? Right. You don’t want to close your doors and head for a 9 to 5 just because I said eCommerce is a vicious business.
Combat price wars with branding
Combat this vicious business cycle we’ve seen time and time again by building a community through your brand. Give your audience, user, customer or whatever you call them something to believe in. Reinforce it through your product or service and every single touch point you’re lucky enough to establish.
A new website is the perfect vehicle to establish this trust and belief. Defining your purpose, your goals, your voice and tone and messaging strategy is your differentiating factor. Communities don’t form around fabricated marketing stories.
This means it’s time to take a good, long look in the mirror. It’s time to stop and figure out what your audience sees in you. What they want to see in you. And ultimately what they want and need to see in you over time in order to take this relationship to the next level. Combining these findings is where you start to define your brand. We call it finding True North.
Using your new website to build an everlasting business
When you’ve truly defined your brand, the decisions you make become precise. The products and services you build and offer now have purpose beyond the shopping cart. You’ll be able to articulate what you offer (and what you stand for) without mentioning product.
When you’ve exercised your branding principles your business will finally be able to realize it’s full potential, and win in an increasingly vicious marketplace. Then it’s time for a new website.
Once you’ve defined your brand and committed to a differentiating approach, the visual communication strategy and content developed for your website will all start to make sense. The font choices, color palettes and user experience will have purpose behind them. These choices will make a huge impact on the design, development and user interaction of your new website launch. You’ll notice a major impact. Your visitors will too. And yes, your website will POP .
What we’re moving towards is called brand affinity. It’s what keeps people coming back to your website even though someone has a cheaper product than yours. Being consistent with your branding earns trust and enables your brand to live far past your product.
Defining your brand, like taking an honest look in the mirror, can be tough. We’ve helped brands big and small do this… make sense of it… and implement it.
Every time we do, we start the same way.
When you’re ready to take an honest look at your brand in the mirror, download this brand awareness survey. It’s the first step in realizing your new websites and your brand’s full potential.