Branding should be agile. This is about showing your audience you’re listening and you’re paying attention to what they value.
This isn’t about changing the core of your brand. This is about adjusting focus and altering images while remaining contiguous to your core.
Think of branding as identity and substance. Your actions define your brand to your audience. People adjust their actions and how they present themselves as they receive social input, and your brand must also be able to adjust. This could be as simple as changing the colors on your website. So how do you know which aspects of your brand should change and which should stay the same?
Heed the mantra of marketing and branding: know your audience. You could rely on intuition and first-hand observation, but the internet is now a primary touchpoint. To get to know your audience online and gain certainty, instead of playing a guessing game, use analytics and determine where to point your analysis.
The following infographic from the New Jersey Institute of Technology provides an overview on digital branding and internet touchpoints:
There are all sorts of touchpoints here, and there’s some good information about what consumers value. Note that content is a huge factor when it comes to developing trust. According to the New Jersey Institute of Technology, 83 percent of consumers report that the “type of content” affects their perception of credibility. Furthermore, 80 percent want content to be “authentic.”
To drill down further and get the kind of specificity you need, let’s concentrate on your website as a brand touchpoint.
Branding Your Website Through Analytics
Your website is your home base for content; it’s where your audience can go to get to know your brand in intimate detail.
Start with A/B testing, which is a scientific method for determining a webpage’s effectiveness. Hypothetically, if your audience views your webpage content as “authentic,” meaning they feel it actually represents who you are, and you’re putting the right type of content on web pages, your audience should respond positively to content. This could mean they read and respond to articles, or it could mean they remain on your website and investigate your offering.
A/B testing sets up a control version of a webpage and a variation version. You decide what to do with each version. In this case, since you’re focusing on content, you could create two different videos or articles that focus on portraying some aspect of your brand, such as your cornerstone offering, or the story of how you got started. Then, at random, software directs half of the visitors to the control and the other half to the variation. You’ll be able to view results on an analytics dashboard that looks like this:
Now you know which piece of content performs better with your audience (the variation). You can do this across your website, with an eye towards consistency, keeping in mind that 90 percent of consumers expect consistency from your brand.
But what type of content should you be aiming for on your website? Again, 83 percent of consumers care about the type of content you display. Develop a core brand message, and consider how each piece of content reflects that message.
Intuit’s Firm of the Future offers a useful guide on website content. Here are the key takeaways when it comes to branding:
- For blog content, use words and a writing style that capture your personality (are you conversational? professional? humorous?).
- If what you do is best represented through video, use video; or, use charts and graphs, or articles; your primary content medium should represent your brand’s focus.
- Find images online that portray your message; pinpoint which ones really stick and feel right; A/B test pages with images that are free to use; then, after you know which types of images really engage your audience, work with professionals (graphic artists, photographers) to create proprietary images unique to your site.
- What your customers have to say can be part of your brand; buttress the site with social proof in the form of testimonials and case studies
- Ninety percent of judgments about products are based on color; use colors that reflect your brand’s personality; consider the psychology of color in branding, as illustrated by this chart:
- Focus on user experience (UX): Be clean, concise, and responsive with design, cut clutter (include enough white space to allow the user to focus), and follow the “five second rule” — within five seconds of landing on any page, you should know who the site is for, what it’s for, and what it’s asking you to do.
This is a lot to consider; pin down your message, arrange your colors, logo, images, and content based on your message, start marketing, and do A/B testing on important landing pages.
Now you’re getting closer to where you can use site-wide analytics to really zone in on what’s working for your audience.
This is where you dive deep. If your branding elements are working for users, you can expect them to respond to marketing messages, such as a call to action that asks for their email address, or prompts them to download materials, or simply says “click here to learn more.”
However, your perception of whether branding is working depends on your goal. Are you aiming for more conversions? More engagement on your site? More social media mentions and followers?
A tool like Oribi helps you determine how well branding is working. The software makes website analytics easy for everyone. It tracks 100 percent of your website events, monitors user behaviour on your site, notes the ways in which visitors interact with pages, and reports everything you need to know in real-time — without the help of developers of analysts.
The first metrics you should look at are bounce rate, time on page, and conversions; these are all good indicators of branding and marketing efficacy. If branding elements don’t work, casual users might not stay on the site long enough to get engaged. They don’t go further through the funnel because, in a sense, they might not be interested in the personality you’re broadcasting. Or, they’re distracted. If the immediate brand impression doesn’t grab their attention, it’s easy for them to stray.
First, analytics can tell you how long users remain on pages, which is an important metric. Everything above the fold (the “fold” is the bottom of the screen when they first arrive on a page) must entice your potential customer to scroll down.
With analytics, you’ll be able to see how users got to your website, to begin with, and you’ll see anonymized demographic information for users. In terms of touchpoints, they may have entered through one of your social media posts, or they may have arrived via Google, Bing, or an external site that has a link to your site. As you look at where users come from, how long they remain on a landing page, and the action they take, ask yourself the following questions:
- What is my target demographic, and which pages are really attracting their attention?
- If a user arrived on a page and bounced quickly, is there a branding element above the fold that is askew and off-message? If so, how can I fix it?
- For pages that attract and maintain attention, especially those that create conversions, what is it about the type of content — the wording, the tone, the images — that I can run with more often on the site?
- Are users navigating easily throughout the site? Sometimes people have a hard time getting to a blog — which is a key branding element — because it’s not easily accessible on the menu.
- Are annoying pop-ups or virtual assistants failing to create engagement and drive conversions? If so, how can I use a different call to action that better suits my audience?
You can use analytics on your site the same way you use A/B testing for specific pages. You’re monitoring user behavior, seeing what works and what doesn’t, then altering appearance and tone across the site to optimize user experience.
Whatever you do, keep a running tab on successes, zone in on why your brand succeeded, and replicate it consistently on all your brand touchpoints, including social media. Many times, a brand’s success comes down to the tone of a message, the sound of the words themselves, and the emotions an image evokes. This is where great branding approaches poetry. The more often you accomplish the elegance and emotional vitality of art with your branding, the more often your audience will stop, take a breath, and dive into your message.
We all love to be captivated by the moment. Risk everything you can with your brand to bring your audience closer to awe and inspiration.
Daniel Matthews is a freelance writer and content consultant from beautiful Boise, Idaho. Widely published online, he specializes in crafting accessible and helpful content that caters directly to your audience’s needs. You can find him on LinkedIn.