Website Planning Guide #10
Your new business website will be a pivot, around which you will be able to orchestrate marketing, sales and business success. With it being so vital and so connected to the heart of the business, a new website project offers the perfect opportunity to review and refresh your brand positioning.
I’m not suggesting you should change your logo here. I’m talking about curating your brand essence, ahead of starting a new website project. This is the out-take that your customers have from doing business with you. Get it right and it is what makes them come back time and time again.
The following is based on my “route to Brand Positioning success”. It has been crafted, honed, adjusted, influenced, and continually refocused over my 25+ years of working within advertising, sales, marketing and branding. For this article, I have given it a spin so that you can make best-use these 15 brand tools to improve the performance of your next website.
What is a Brand, and why is it important to a website?
“Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.” – Jeff Bezos
I believe your brand is the bridge between you and your customers. So, if your customers, prospects, and competitors are going to talk about you behind your back then you sure as heck better make sure they know what your brand stands for. Because, if you don’t control it, they will make it up for you and you’ll lose that important bridge.
The 10 Brand Positioning Tools
For any brand to be successful I believe it must have these 10 key weapons in its armoury. These are serious business branding tools. For businesses that are serious about branding. Equip yourself with these before embarking on a website project and you will be one big step closer to delivering success for your organisation.
1 – Insight and Analysis
Your business leadership team should be able to provide you with the following intel. Analysis of the market, customers and competitors enables the business to be able to make decisions and plan intelligently and strategically. Which is also exactly what you need at the start of a website project.
- Current SWOT analysis for the business
- Current Competitor Analysis
- Current Customer Buying Personas
- Current Customer Success/Care report – success and issue themes
Do whatever you can to get hold of all of this info. However, for website success, the business must at least know its Buying Personas and its Competitor Analysis.
2 – Company VISION – where we are going
This is usually a statement from the board about where the company is heading. The business is not there yet, but this is where it is going to get to next. This is WHY you exist as an organisation.
3 – Company MISSION – what we are going to do
This is often a statement direct from the board. This is also a statement of what the company actually does. It is through this MISSION activity that the company will reach its VISION.
4 – Company VALUES – how we are going to get there
This is the ethos and culture of the business. This is the spirit with which the business operates – how it does what it does. The company VALUES must reflect and represent and be owned by the people within the business.
This MISSION and VALUES combine to form HOW you will create the future. Companies that know and employ their WHY and HOW do far better than those that do not.
As an example, here are Airbnb’s VALUE statements:
No global movement springs from individuals. It takes an entire team united behind something big. Together, we work hard, we laugh a lot, we brainstorm nonstop, we use hundreds of Post-Its a week, and we give the best high-fives in town.
Be A Host – Care for others and make them feel like they belong. Encourage others to participate to their fullest/ Listen, communicate openly and set clear expectations.
Champion The Mission – Prioritise work that advances the mission and positively impacts the community. Build with the long-term in mind. Actively participate in the community and culture.
Be A Cereal Entrepreneur – Be bold and apply original thinking. Imagine the ideal outcome. Be resourceful to make the outcome a reality
Embrace The Adventure – Be curious, ask for help, and demonstrate an ability to grow. Own and learn from mistakes. Bring joy and optimism to work.
5 – Positioning Statement – North Star Metric
A brand positioning statement serves as a guiding force that every creative asset will be measured against – says, Hubspot
Your Brand Positioning Statment is an internal business tool used to align efforts and activities in sales, marketing, product, customer relationship, etc, with the brand. It is your business’s single truth. And against it, the business is able to measure and judge key decisions about the direction it takes. Keeping with the theme of Airbnb, here is their Brand Positioning Statement:
Airbnb is a community-based online platform for listing and renting property. It connects hosts and travellers. It facilitates the process of renting, without owning any rooms itself. It cultivates a sharing-economy by allowing property owners to rent out private property.
Through facilitating access to distinctive spaces and culture through local hosts, Airbnb enables travellers to feel at home anywhere in the world through distinctive spaces and the culture of their destinations.
You don’t have to know this for your website project, but if you can share it with your agency it will make a magnificent difference to their understanding of your organisation.
6 – Brand Proposition Statement
A very clear Sales and Marketing statement of the tangible results your customer gets from using you. Prospects must be able to visualise the value to themselves from choosing you. It must contain a reason to buy from your organisation. And in B2B website terms ‘a buy’ or ‘a sell’ can be a form completion, a document download, or even a click of a button to read more – because with websites design we are looking to sell engagement.
Your Brand Proposition Statement is the source marketing and sales statement for the business. From this, all other customer-facing messages will cascade. By having a solid messaging genealogy, you ensure brand messaging consistency and effectiveness.
Here is Airbnb’s Proposition Statment:
Airbnb is a world where anyone can belong anywhere; providing healthy travel that is local, authentic, diverse, inclusive and sustainable.
Travellers benefit from a truly local experience and hosts benefit from extra income.
7 – Value Proposition Statements
A series of statements, used in Marketing to create competitive advantage. These are sometimes referred to as a unique selling propositions. However, in my experience it isn’t uniqueness that sells, it is emotion. So I prefer to refer to these sales message as Emotional Selling Propositions.
These statements are what your customers’ digest to help them decide to do business with you. In their minds, these make you different from your competitors. Therefore these statements have to mean something positive to your audience.
And again, here is an example of an Airbnb Proposition Statement:
Get out and stretch your imagination. You don’t have to go far to find a world of wonder.
8 – PR Boilerplate – Elevator Speech
A short statement that describes exactly why you exist, what you do and for whom. This is primarily a tool for your PR team to share with journalists to get your content published. However, a side effect of doing this job means that it also stands in as your Elevator Pitch. Its job is to give your prospects an instant overview of what you do, and how you can help them.
I often refer to this as a Cheese & Wine Speech. I believe that this classic 70’s social event far better represents business networking in the UK where we are more likely to be at a networking event with a prospect than whizzing up an elevator with them (Lockdown not withstanding, of course).
For your new website, this statement works really well as the first thing a general homepage visitor reads. It helps them in that halo moment to confirm that they have landed in the right place for what they need.
Here is Airbnb’s PR Boilerplate statement. It is simple but powerful stuff:
Founded in 2008, Airbnb is a global travel community that offers magical end-to-end trips, including where you stay, what you do and the people you meet. Airbnb uniquely leverages technology to economically empower millions of people around the world to unlock and monetize their spaces, passions and talents to become hospitality entrepreneurs. Airbnb’s accommodation marketplace offers access to millions of places to stay in more than 191 countries, from apartments and villas to castles, treehouses and B&Bs. With Experiences, people can see a different side to a destination through unique, handcrafted activities run by locals, while a partnership with Resy provides access to the best local restaurants in selected countries. All of this is brought together in one easy-to-use and beautifully designed website and app.
9 – Strapline
A strapline is used to sum up the essence of a brand or a company. It encapsulates what the company stands for, in terms the customer can see as a benefit to them. It should be short enough to be remembered. And memorable enough to last a very long time. Whenever I’m working on a strapline for a business I’m looking to write something that could last 100 years. Okay, it’s a far-out ambition, but that’s just how seriously I believe a company should take its strapline. And it’s a measure of how hard they are to get right.
By the way, you don’t have to have a strapline in a business for it to operate successfully as a memorable brand. But if you do have one, share it and its meaning, with your agency at the start of your next website project. It’ll be a vital tool in getting your website just right.
And in terms of Airbnb, their strapline is the perfectly simple “Belong Anywhere.”
10 – The Proof Messages
Essentially, you can say all the fancy words you like about your business, but nobody is going to believe you without the proof. These words are often overlooked when planning a website project, but they are an essential part of branding success – and I urge you to gather and build yourself a library of customer-success proof statements. They can sometimes even be used to form your value proposition headlines. These messages are the mirror by which your prospects’ recognise themselves and can see why they too should join your brand fan club. These are your facts, stats, testimonials and customer quotes. But they should never be empty statements like “save you time and money”. They must also be part of the cascade and be connected to the DNA of your WHY and HOW. These items complete your sales narrative and create the tasty “icing on the cake”.
Get these 10 items together, at the start of your next big website project, and you will be giving your business website a huge turbo-charged boost towards success. One last thing: if you think you might be missing any of these items, why not get in contact for a chat. We don’t just build fabulous websites at Rouge, we help shape and craft brand positioning too.