How To Improve Your Branding With Your Content

Advertisement

Branding experts hit the nail on the head when they say that a winning brand conveys why you are your prospects’ only solution. If you can’t achieve that, you should at least convey why you are your prospects’ best solution. Of course, the same logic applies to your clients. So make a compelling claim about your business, product or service, and back it up.

Are you the biggest or most popular provider of your type of product? Do you provide the widest selection of services? Do you leverage strategic partnerships? Create patented technology? Offer convenient locations? Or are you young and small, able to churn out customized solutions swiftly, unlike your much larger and slower competitors?

Branding
Image credit: Emily Berezin

Define your strengths and leverage them. Purposefully written Web copy that effectively tells your prospects why they should buy from you or your client can make a world of difference on the sales front. In fact, if done right, it can actually disqualify the competition.

Here’s an example. A client in the medical X-ray field had Web copy that contained vague statements such as, “We’re dedicated to providing you with the highest level of professional service possible.” That’s not a hook. Any business can state that on its website, and most do. Some basic research revealed that the client is the only business in the region that owns and operates the most advanced medical equipment in the industry. As a result, it could provide the most accurate X-rays on the same business day. No competitor in its market could make the same claim.

That simple fact differentiated our client and became a large part of its selling proposition. That’s conveying real value.

You Are What You Write

Through words, we form a personality, set a tone and create expectations – for better or for worse. When communicating in person, you have the luxury of giving and receiving verbal feedback and expressing yourself with body language and facial gestures, all in real time. Your prospects can peer into your eyes to help them decide whether to trust you and accept what you’re telling them.

However, when potential clients visit your website, they don’t have the same opportunity to size you up. Your online visitors can’t look you in the eye, so they look to your messages to help them decide whether to trust your brand, your business and you.

Hence, the words you use on your website should project the personality of your products, services and business. Your Web copy must form and foster a clear verbal identity, reflecting who you are and who you strive to be. It signifies what you stand for and promise to deliver.

Speak your audience's language
Speak your audience’s language. Your Web writing should put forth a “voice” that resonates with your intended audience. Macinhome connects with Mac enthusiasts by featuring Apple-influenced Web copy, including everything from smart, snappy comments to ending headlines with periods.

Consider the following copy from three auto manufacturers’ websites. Mercedes, in the first excerpt, positions itself as the ultimate luxury vehicle:

“Enjoy bold, spirited styling with an air of sleek confidence. A distinctive radiator grille nose hints at the power that lies beneath the hood. The highly characteristic tail, with dual tailpipes will put a look of awe on the faces of all those you leave in the dust. The SLK-Class is the ultimate combination of classic sporty personality and effortless poise and assurance.”

BMW boasts performance:

“Do bear in mind that 0-100 km/h in 5 seconds limits your chances of actually spotting the BMW M Coupe on the road. For that you can thank a 330 hp in-line six engineered to peak at an astounding 7,900 rpm. Raw power is unleashed precisely through a short-throw, 6-speed manual and is kept in-check by massive compound, cross-drilled brakes.”

Volvo tries to make its name synonymous with safety:

“Preventative safety features like Dynamic Stability and Traction Control (DSTC) help you, the driver, avoid accidents by evading them. And nothing is safer for you than no accident at all. So every Volvo is equipped with a variety of innovative preventative safety features, many of which are, of course, uniquely Volvo, developed by Volvo safety engineers over years of research, design and testing, both in the laboratory and the real world.”

Each individual message builds on its respective brand to create distinctiveness and value, in a bid to engage the targeted audience. And the words that Mercedes, BMW and Volvo choose have a direct impact on each of their bottom lines.

What Does Your Brand Stand For?

Your Web copy needs to define who you are and what you sell and cater to your target market’s specific needs. Moreover, your Web copy requires a distinct and consistent voice that expresses the value of the relationship you’re seeking, accompanied by assurance. Only then can it forge a truly emotional connection with prospective and established customers alike.

Speak your audience's language
Bring a little bit of “you” into your website. While many businesses post employee photos on websites, why not quote employees in your Web content? By doing so, MarketingAnd not only brings a human element into its website, but effectively positions its staff as industry experts.

To build your brand with words, your Web copy needs to take into account:

  • Existing perceptions of your products, services and company,
  • The actual position you occupy now on these fronts.

Recognize the gap between these two points and how they compare to where you want to be. The difference needs to be made up through your communications, from your policies to your product packaging to your Web copy.

Following are some key elements to help you foster a relationship between your brand and your customers:

Word association
What are your core strengths? What do you promise customers? Invest time to determine what you’re good at, thus focusing on your strengths. Your words in turn establish a relationship with customers by laying out your benefits, whether functional, emotional or self-expressive.

Image
Your words can sway consumers into associating certain attributes with your brand. This can shift how they see you in relation to the competitors in your marketplace, potentially even altering who you compete with. Some ingenuity can set you apart from the others to the point that your competition appears bland.

Character
Your Web copy should take into account where you come from, who you are and what you stand for. This is your guiding light. Be authentic. One step beyond your character could tarnish your integrity.

Culture
Your website content should reflect the values that give life to your business. While you don’t need to list your core values, your Web copy should draw on this framework. Ensure that it resonates with the values in and around your business.

Personality
Your Web copy needs to bring to light your business’ human characteristics, including everything from age to class to personality traits. Get creative with delivery. For instance, many businesses post employee photos on their websites. But why not actually quote employees in your Web content? It’s a great way to put a human face to your company and promote your staff as industry experts.

Spirit
Does your Web copy represent the emotional elements and values of your business? Demonstrate authenticity and commitment to creating a spirit that’s not only engaging but contagious.

So how can you differentiate your offerings? What’s different about your approach? Perhaps you can leverage:

  • Selection
  • Experience
  • Knowledge
  • Credentials
  • Expediency
  • Style
  • Technology
  • Geography
  • Alliances
  • Resources
  • Tools
  • Customer service
  • Or one of many other factors

There’s no value in everyone knowing you if they don’t know what you stand for and what you can do for them. Plus, the more reasons you give people to choose your brand, the less price becomes a factor in their purchasing decision.

Use words that clearly demonstrate how a prospective customer’s world will be made easier, more lucrative, healthier, happier and so on, with you in the picture. This overall message can then be continually reinforced not just on your website, but also in print materials, advertising, trade show presentations, press releases and so on.

Never forget that words, like design, are the foundation of communication. They help us express, understand and learn. They are invaluable to influencing your visitors’ decision-making process and loyalty.

Choose your words wisely. Failing to do so could result in a brand that’s problematic, rather than a means to a solution.

(al)

↑ Back to top

Rick is a Senior Web Copywriter and Content Strategist at Webcopyplus, which helps designers and businesses boost online traffic, leads and sales with optimized Web content. His clients range from independent retailers to some of the world’s largest service providers, including AT&T, Bell Mobile, Tim Hortons and Scotia Bank. He advocates clear, concise and objective website content that promotes readability and usability, and conducts Web content studies with organizations in Europe and the U.S., including Yale University.

  1. 1

    Dalibor Vasiljevic

    May 16, 2009 4:58 am

    You have a little mistake on “Hence, Tthe words you use on your website should project the personality of your product” which is “Tthe” word. Else, very good article, it is also about quality and uniqueness.

    (SM) Thanks, it was corrected.

    1
  2. 2

    A good article! A true straight and clear information source.

    0
  3. 3

    “Hence, Tthe words you use on your website should project the personality of your products, services and business.”

    I’m sure that you guys stand for more that typos.

    Overall really good article, and good examples of businesses using it today.

    (SM) Thanks, it was corrected.

    0
  4. 4

    very relevant and to the point.

    0
  5. 5

    Abrishca Digital Media

    May 16, 2009 6:27 am

    A very insightful post. It’s all too often that we concentrate on the visual when thinking about branding. But once a logo or colour scheme is set in place, it rarely changes or gets updated. However, web copy (especially a blog) does get updated more often and therefore provides more opportunity to take your branding further – as long as it’s not backwards!

    0
  6. 6

    Nice Article Rick…I even like the main image of diff brands.

    DKumar M.
    @instantshift

    0
  7. 7

    “Branding experts hit the nail on the head when they say that a winning brand conveys why you are your prospects’ only solution”

    Very true. In marketing this is akin to being “top of mind”–the very first brand a customer thinks of. All brands considered is called the “consideration set.”

    Segment, target, position (STP strategy). It’s the name of the branding game.

    0
  8. 8

    Internetová agentúra

    May 16, 2009 9:57 am

    Nice and impressive. This kind of articles I really like. I read it at a gulp ;) Thanks.

    0
  9. 9

    Great post, and a great read – thanks! Interesting note: when reading the three car descriptions I thought Mercedes (although spot-on in terms of communicating luxury brand) was the weakest written of the three. I’m not sure if it was the choice of words, but the copy just doesn’t flow smoothly for the reader.

    So along with key content, the copy itself MUST be well written or you run the risk of negating branding efforts with a “watered down” message.

    0
  10. 10

    Very nice article! The brand is the most important thing in marketing.

    Thanks for this article!

    0
  11. 11

    This is a great article about branding and marketing. Sometimes I don’t focus on what I really need to. This article is a great reminder of the importance of marketing and the brand!

    1
  12. 12

    Content is KING!

    0
  13. 13

    Content is king? I assume you’re referring to web design. Only writers think web copywriting is king. If you have good design the writing on a website has little significance or impact. It’s the design that counts.

    0
  14. 14

    Richard, were you serious when you said this…?
    “If you have good design the writing on a website has little significance or impact. It’s the design that counts”

    I’m an experienced digital designer of over 11 years, so please listen to some good advice. I love design and value it as much as anyone…but, design is there to ‘support’ the content e.g. copy/writing. Design is an integral part of any business communication but should never be sold in as more important than another discipline such as copywriting, user experience etc. For example, if a commercial website doesn’t look to great but works like a dream a customer will come back for repeat use and purchase. On the other hand, if a website looks fantastic but doesn’t work well or lacks content, a user will not come back. The point is, as when baking a cake, every ingredient is as important as each other, even the pinch of salt.

    If you now look back at your comment, you can see how off the mark it is. By all means, love design (as I do), but understand its limitations and role within communication.

    0
  15. 15

    Rick,
    Excellent points. Too often I see businesses wanting to promote or highlight things which no one cares about – and those things surely don’t promote their brand.
    Thanks for sharing.

    0
  16. 16

    In order to get your site recognized by the main search engines and obtain a high page ranking, you need to be able to get your site noticed by engines like Yahoo and Google. While there are several more search engines out there, these are the big two that you want to get noticed, and ranked, by.
    One way, a very big way, to get noticed is to create incoming links that are going to stand out to the search engines. How do you do that? See Smart Linking, but more about it later. You have to be honest with your links, you have to link to a relevant site, you have to use strong anchor text in your link to get noticed, and most importantly, IT HAS TO BE RELEVANT.
    Today, search engines use spybots and cookies to bounce around the internet checking all of the information and links that are out there. A couple of years ago, search engines didn’t have that ability, so web masters could create links that were not truthful or relevant to the sites he or she were linking to. They used business directories like DMOZ and many others.

    0
  17. 17

    SM- can you make an article about “smart linking”?

    0
  18. 18

    Richard are you for real? I seriously hope you don’t have several websites of your own and are neglecting the content because of your design ego…

    0
  19. 19

    Haha i love that the two people who commented about typos had typos in their comments, and then SM had typos in the responses to said comments….hmm i better double check this comment now… haha

    Good article by the way!

    0
  20. 20

    Well, couldn’t agree more. Content is really important even when you have the best design / artwork.

    0
  21. 21

    Nice! and also nice that SM is back with good articles after a period of not so good :)

    0
  22. 22

    The article is great and filled with information that I didn’t even consider since I am a designer, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t, it’s not just pretty shapes, colors, correct code and testing. So i am very thankful guys :)

    p.s. Especially like what you said about putting quotes of other employees it could help personalize the whole thing, making it a part of each and every one of ‘em.

    1
  23. 23

    good article.. thank you

    0
  24. 24

    Superb article! I don’t know why Richard said “it’s the design that counts” which is obviously ridiculous. You can have the most beautiful website in the world but it won’t matter if it doesn’t convert visitors. In fact, I’ve seen many unattractive websites that convert visitors very well compared to beautifully designed sites that barely convert anything. Design only supports the content. Plus, search engines don’t give a damn about how your website looks!

    0
  25. 25

    “If you have good design the writing on a website has little significance or impact. It’s the design that counts.”

    I see Richard’s point. Design is critical to a website’s success. It might be useful to include writing to communicate, but the design is ultimately what’s going to get visitors to a website and keep them coming back for more. The evidence is that people hire web designers all the time, but they don’t always hire web writers.

    0
  26. 26

    spidermonkeyness

    May 18, 2009 11:55 am

    Did no one else notice that someone flipped the preceeding branding icon photography horizontally? Ironic.

    0
  27. 27

    Sanchit Thakur (ILLUMINZ)

    May 18, 2009 11:58 am

    Perfectly written. Content is the king!
    Thats what we’ve tried to do on our website. Giving the effect it needs.

    0
  28. 28

    Superb article! thanks lot

    0
  29. 29

    great just great!

    0
  30. 30

    this is great!

    0
  31. 31

    “Did no one else notice that someone flipped the preceeding branding icon photography horizontally? Ironic.” — spidermonkeyness:

    I think eveyone else realised they were branding irons, and that the branded image would be imprinted the right way round.

    0
  32. 32

    Rick, I completely agree with you on the power of the written word. Well chosen words that describe what your website best delivers to your customers cannot be ignored. Excellent article, Rick. Branding is important but it should be backed by delivery to pave the way to success.

    0
  33. 33

    If “Hence, the words you use on your website should project the PERSONALITY of your products, services and business” then I believe ‘good design’ is the FACE of your products, services and business. So, to have a very successful product, service or business, it takes the harmony of both personality and beauty to create the ‘total package.’

    If ‘content is king’ but you’re too ugly to communicate, who is going to listen? On the other hand, if your gorgeous with no substance, how credible are you? If I can’t have both and could only select one, I would take good design over content. It is a shame, but how many movies containing incredible special effects with no plot become blockbusters making millions, and how many pairs of Calvin Klein jeans have you purchased because the copy really spoke to the craftsmanship??

    0
  34. 34

    JC, with all due respect, design isn’t just about beauty. Function is the most important aspect of design. Ugly can work. But I agree it’s great when we can make something functional AND beautiful! Stellar article surrounding web content. I think most designers and writers can (or should) learn something from this.

    0
  35. 35

    Maybe Mr. web writer Rick Sloboda should leave the branding to designers> That’s what we get paid to do> design. What do writers know about design?

    0
  36. 36

    No need to get defensive…web writer or not, the article has sound and valuable points we can all benefit from as designers.

    0
  37. 37

    Michael from LA

    June 15, 2009 1:27 pm

    Really, at the end of the day, EVERYONE that is involved with the website has influence on its branding, programmers, writers, and all. Designers need to ensure everything comes together. That’s what makes designers so valuable – we’re the brand gatekeepers ;).

    0
  38. 38

    Great article.I love the intellectual discourse this is bringing out. A body functions well with parts that play their role churning out the desired impact and intended purpose.Failure of one means an extra effort somewhere for cover up.

    I think both design and content are king.Design is critical to catch attention as content is to keep a lasting impression on customers.

    0
  39. 39

    Sorry maame, web design is the REAL king! Without web designers, you have no website. Simple as that.

    0
  40. 40

    WebLogicInfotech

    June 23, 2009 9:37 pm

    Excellent Article . Deep insight over every aspect , probably one of the most resourceful article for website owners and corporates

    0
  41. 41

    Greg, you’re obviously not a professional designer. If you were, you’d realize good web design incorporates all sorts of talents, from web copy writers to usability experts. Thinking a designer can cover every single aspect of web design is naive and unrealistic.

    Smashing Mag, thanks for the killer article!!

    1
  42. 42

    Yup, typically a good website has to give credit to good web designers, web copywriters, programmers, and additional contributors. The collaborative process churns out the best projects, including websites.

    0
  43. 43

    I never thought about branding with web copy, but I it makes total sense! I tend to think writers distribute information, but they also create a voice.

    0
  44. 44

    I like this article. Web copywriters can help designers achieve objectives with the influence of strong website content.

    0
  45. 45

    Up until reading this article, I never thought of web copywriting as a branding tool. Now I will with every website I design. It’s true that web copy can really give a website that extra edge or professionalism that can make a mark with audiences, help businesses have more success, and help a designer improve their level or work and clientele. Need to find a web copywriter today! :)

    0
  46. 46

    Brand with web copy? I never thought of that. I guess I’m too wrapped up in design to realize what a web copywriter could bring to a website. Maybe I should find a web writer who could handle working with a demanding designer. :)

    0
  47. 47

    I always wondered how website owners invest so much time worrying about their logo and design, and then leave the web copy to a hacker with no writing skills. It doesn’t matter how user-friendly or beautiful a design is, if the web copy isn’t good, it brings the professionalism down several notches. If a business can’t afford a website copywriter, they should at least hire an editor, or find someone internally who’s done some sort of copy writing.

    0
  48. 48

    @Richard If you think web copy has no place for consideration in making good websites, then you are likely lacking the knowledge required to produce professional websites. Web copy and design are as integral as the other. Just because you’re not a web writer, it doesn’t mean it’s a throw-away.

    0
  49. 49

    @Megan I agree. I’m glad businesses tend to spend money and time on logos and design. But then they cheap out on getting a professional copywriter. If a company is developing a new website and they hire a professional web copywriter, they’ll likely kick butt, especially if the copywriter is savvy with SEO.

    0
  50. 50

    A copywriter brings great value to a website. Designers need to realize what copywriters produce has a big role to play in overall branding.

    0
  51. 51

    The foundation of communication made easy to understand in marketing savy, Its why RapTVLive is the only address you need in the virtual world to look at our branded content. If there was a way to get this information into the minds of our local level entertainers. We just may have more mega web stars with international appeal. Im interested in hearing what other Entertainment CEOs think about the direction of music marketing using a formula more typically associated with other product types. Contact RapTVLive at 1+916-473-1323 if you would like to add imput. Yes email is fine but phone calls are faster.

    1

Leave a Comment

Yay! You've decided to leave a comment. That's fantastic! Please keep in mind that comments are moderated and rel="nofollow" is in use. So, please do not use a spammy keyword or a domain as your name, or else it will be deleted. Let's have a personal and meaningful conversation instead. Thanks for dropping by!

↑ Back to top