Google is definitely a recognizable brand. The familiar name has even been converted to a verb, to describe the act of doing a web search, much like Xerox at one time was synonymous with making copies. So why does one of the most iconic internet companies around feel the need to make changes their brand? There is no simple answer to such a question, however there is no question about the ripples and discussions created. For the last few days there has been story after story about Google simply changing the font of their name. Perhaps making a change to their brand, was not about improving, but more about relevance.
Google does not stand alone in web searches. Bing, Yahoo and a few others make solid competitors when it comes to search, however where they come up short, is in relevance to our daily lives. In this area Google does not fail. While maintaining a consistent clean interface, they have managed to launch and offer a dizzying array of products and services. Each one providing finger holds into areas of everyday internet usage that increase the consciousness of their brand. While many of these have not been met with success, Google has not thrown up their hands or even slowed down. They continue to move forward. What Google has figured out is how to stay relevant, all in an effort to keep their core business, "search", number one. From a marketing perspective, managing the complexity, from development, to acquisitions, to design, to implementation requires a tremendous ability to process, analyze and act upon these varying data sets and sources.
So what lessons can we learn from Google that we can apply to our own business? They can be broken down into four key factors that we can use to develop and maintain relevance in our areas of expertise:
Creating a perception of quality through design;
Developing quality content sought after by visitors to your website;
Exceeding the expectations of all visitors; and
Offering a site that is easy to use.
Let’s take a look at each of these to comprehend the importance of, and best approaches to, website branding.
A PERCEPTION OF QUALITY THROUGH DESIGN
You are looking to hire an employee and you interview two prospects. One shows up in a suit and tie and another in jeans and a t-shirt. Assuming you even continue to consider both candidates, you ask them both the same questions and get pretty much the same answers. Which one will you hire?
Your brand begins with providing a high-quality design. Your website is a hi-tech brochure, which means that one of the key functions is to provide information about your business. If you make that information look great, your visitors are going to automatically give it more credibility or a reputation of quality because of the good looks.
Shallow Hal, would be proud, but this IS the way that the consumer market functions. Branding is about “looks”, so make sure your website has the looks you think will best support your goals.
DEVELOPING QUALITY CONTENT
Getting users to your website is hard enough, keeping them there and coming back is the real trick. You are going to have to give them a reason to include your website and business in their daily lives. You have to be relevant.
Developing content that is interesting and valuable is not as hard as it sounds. Creating videos, writing blogs, posting articles and promotions are all good ways to attract visitors, but more important to your branding purposes is frequency. Keeping content fresh tells your visitors that you are engaged and creates the perception of stability.
Use your site as the meet point for everything you do and both from a marketing standpoint and if possible, business fulfillment. Social interactions, email, news, etc. should all drive visitors to your website and vice versa.
Unless your experience and expertise is your only product, don’t be afraid to give away value. There is no better way to develop credibility to than to show people you are an expert. By providing content of even more value, you are ensuring that you have cemented a place in the visitor’s mind. When they next need a product or service similar to yours, or need to purchase more of what you offer, there will be no doubt in their minds as to the best source.
EASY TO NAVIGATE
Naturally, the goal of website branding is to build a following of the brand based on the visitors’ experiences. When your site is easy to use, clearly, this means that your goals are to enhance the users experience and build a reputation for quality products or services through the text and images found at the site. Because the actual products or services are not experienced through a visit to your website, however, it is essential to translate your ideal reputation through every click and facet of the website.