16 Critical Elements of Great Website Design

16 Critical Elements of Great Website Design

Thanks to advanced technology, building a website today can be extremely simple. However, designing a website that marries impeccable functionality with stunning visuals is still challenging. It goes without saying that websites are now a fundamental part of a business’s online identity.

No business can hope to survive, let alone thrive, in today’s cutthroat market without an attractive, easy-to-navigate website. Far too many businesses fail at building a substantial online presence for their brand due to a subpar website.

So, why do some websites fail to attract and hold traffic where others succeed?

Certain elements of a website design contribute the most to building visitor interest in a website. Including these elements on your site gives it a beautiful visual appeal along with flawless functionality and authority. These are also the components that are most often botched during development.

Let’s take a closer look at 16 critical elements for building a great website.

Color Schemes

The color scheme of a website is seldom paid attention to when developing a website. However, you should know how important a role it plays in influencing a visitor’s behavior. Therefore, it’s important to use a color scheme that will best appeal to your visitors while also representing your brand well.

For instance, if you visit the fast-food giant McDonald’s website, you’ll be greeted with a color scheme that combines red, white, and yellow. These colors have been synonymous with the brand for ages.

We suggest first choosing the dominant color that best represents your brand. You can then choose an analogous color scheme that complements your dominant color choice to highlight certain sections of your site, like call-to-action (CTA) buttons.

White Space

Open any website today and you’ll find that a majority of these websites possess white space that divides certain sections of the webpages. These spaces lend an immaculate and accessible design to your site. They make the content or CTA buttons on your site easy to identify and read for visitors.

Some websites also use white space to give certain aspects of the site more emphasis than others. For instance, white space can be used to make certain “special deals” the focal point of a page.

Make sure you’re consistent in spacing the gaps between sections of your site. We recommend beginning with the navigation and then moving your attention to the content of your site. A grid-based layout can help you design a clean interface that maintains consistency across the entire page.

Easy Navigation

Sites that make it complicated for their visitors to navigate normally experience higher bounce rates.

As such, it’s imperative to facilitate simple navigation by giving users an easy-to-use and intuitive website. The website should offer users simple routes to navigate to certain fundamental aspects of a site, recommended pages, along with a way back to the original page.

Take a look at this quick navigation menu bar in Marks & Spencer’s website:

We suggest using parallax scrolling as a navigation system, which includes arrows that make a website’s user interface (UI) easy to interact with. Therefore, you must place a strong emphasis on simple navigation if you want visitors to spend more time on your site.

Distinct Typography

Using unique typography to present content on your site is an ideal way to distinguish yourself from other similar sites online. The fonts you ultimately choose should complement your brand while communicating its message to visitors. It’s also important to consider a font that makes your site look professional without appearing bland.

We suggest using a font size of at least 16 pixels to make your site’s content readable on mobile and desktop devices. You can use different but complementary fonts to highlight the headings and subheadings on the site. Finally, use contrasting color schemes to match your text with the background perfectly. Pairing darker tones with lighter colors will do the trick just fine.

Outstanding Visuals

This goes without saying, but certain visual cues on your site will give any website a distinct edge over similar websites online. Populating a webpage with high-resolution images and beautiful illustrations can make your site more compelling to visitors.

For example, take a look at this high-definition image from Hershey:

Of course, you can’t use just any random visuals on your site. They should align with what your brand stands for.

Use stunning banner images. You can populate your page with custom-made images, which can also be used to highlight certain key focal points of your site. Try to avoid using too many stock photos on your pages.

Site Usability

Aside from beautiful design, you also need to create a site that provides users with a satisfying user experience (UX). Most developers make the critical mistake of compromising a site’s usability in favor of its overall visual design. It’s imperative to optimize a site in order to facilitate smooth interaction between the site’s elements and visitors. A subpar UX design could result in your website’s bounce rate blowing through the roof.

You can enhance the user experience by using animations, readable and engaging content, simple navigation, and more interactive elements.

 

High-Quality Content

Having high-quality content is integral to optimizing search engine rankings for your site and thus generating more traffic to your site. It’s also absolutely essential to populate your site with quality content in order to keep your visitors engaged. Top-notch content that’s relevant to your brand can persuade visitors to spend more time on your site, explore other areas, or make a purchase.

We recommend dividing your content based on its relevance. Always keep relevant information about your website, product, or service at the top. Follow it up with content that explains your services or highlights features that set you apart from competitors.

Finally, use an FAQ section to answer questions that a visitor may have about your service.

Have a look at this FAQ page design from Shopify:

Compelling Calls to Action

A website exists to persuade a visitor to take certain actions on it. CTA buttons on a site trigger this response from visitors. As such, you need to place CTA buttons strategically throughout your site to persuade visitors to perform desirable actions on the webpage. The call-to-action messages themselves must be persuasive. They should explain what you want visitors to do in a few words.

“Buy Now,” “Sign up Free,” “Contact Us,” etc. are all examples of CTA buttons commonly used by most websites.

Make sure your landing page leads users to all the CTA buttons present on the page. You can utilize contrasting color schemes, content, and white spaces to highlight a CTA button.

Take a look at this CTA button used by Spotify:

If you have a variety of CTA buttons on your page, determine which type is more important and use it more prominently.

Mobile-Friendly Design

It is a well-known fact that the majority of websites receive most of their traffic from mobile users. With over 7 billion active smartphone users around the world today, not optimizing your site for mobile devices means losing out on such a massive audience. Suffice it to say, mobile optimization is one of the first things you need to do when building a website.

You need to utilize a custom web design that responds and adapts to various mobile screen sizes automatically.

We recommend using Google Search Console or other free tools like Pingdom or BrowserStack to check whether your site is mobile-friendly.

SEO-Friendly Elements

As you may know by now, search engines like Google take many aspects of a site’s user experience into consideration when ranking a site. As such, a developer needs to consider search engine optimization from the very beginning of a website’s design process. Elements like simple navigation, scannable text, loading speed, and mobile friendliness contribute to the overall user experience.

A problem with any of the above elements will result in a user having a poor experience with your site, eventually increasing its bounce rate. Google will take this high bounce as a sign of bad UX and ultimately plummet your site in search engine rankings.

It’s important to consider how each element will contribute to your site’s SEO. We suggest working with an SEO expert, who will monitor and assess all crucial elements of your site while it is in development.

Right Usage of Ads

You’ll find many websites online that have successfully monetized their websites by displaying ads on them. If used appropriately, display ads can be a great way to earn some revenue from your website. However, such advertisements – if used incorrectly – can aggravate your visitor’s user experience. In short, advertisements have the power to make or break your site.

As such, we discourage using too many ads on websites as it can harm the user experience. You don’t want your website to look unprofessional, which is exactly what will happen if your webpage is littered with ads.

The most effective way to advertise on a site, in our opinion, would be combining banner ads with affiliate marketing. Make sure your ads integrate organically with your site. They shouldn’t feel out of place and interfere with the content on your site.

Security

Online security should be an integral part of any website. Security and privacy have often been a major cause of concern for individuals surfing the web. Security alerts popping up when someone tries to open your site is a surefire way of turning potential website visitors away forever.

Internet security should be given as much focus as the design and overall functionality of your site. It should be mandatory for your website to implement an HTTPS protocol. This will help protect a user’s information, lend some much-needed credibility, and build trust among prospects. 

We suggest buying SSL certificates from reliable hosting service providers. These are cheap to acquire and can be integrated seamlessly with your site.

Integrating Social Media

Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have billions of active users from all around the world. So it only makes sense to integrate social media into your site’s design plan. You should have social media buttons that instantly redirect your users to your site’s official social media channel. You can also have buttons that allow users to directly share certain content or products from your website on their private channels. 

Having social media buttons strategically placed on your website is a great way of indirectly marketing your site, opening doors for people to leap in directly onto your site from their respective social media profiles online. 

Adding Internal and External Links

A proper link-building strategy can prove to be a great way of enhancing the brand authority of your website. It is important to learn how to build internal and external links to help boost your website’s performance. For instance, you can direct users to certain content on your site and improve its SEO performance by using appropriate internal links.

Proper link-building research requires a good strategy. We suggest finding out how your competitor’s websites are employing their link-building strategy. Draw inspiration for sites that are using the strategy with productive results.

Comments Section

We’ve already stressed how important it is to make your site as interactive and engaging as possible. Aside from content, you can add a comments section to your site, which allows users to leave their two cents below a particular content or product information. This can be a great way to receive feedback, which can be used to improve your service.

If you are running an ecommerce store, we recommend adding a review section similar to what is found on sites like Amazon and eBay. A dedicated comments and review section will make your site more interactive and improve brand loyalty.

Achievements and Endorsements

This is perhaps the most effective and widely adopted way of building trust among customers. It is in your business’s best interest to flaunt your past achievements on your website for all to see. Displaying your achievements can go a long way towards building a solid reputation for your business and brand.

We recommend having a dedicated section for testimonials, displaying positive comments from at least 4 to 5 past clients.

We also suggest highlighting the names of all the popular brands you’ve served. If you’ve received endorsements from authoritative brands, add them to your site as well.

Final Thoughts

While these 16 elements can seem a bit overwhelming, they’re essential to building a website that not only looks fantastic but functions flawlessly as well.

Are you ready for the good news? You don’t have to do it on your own!

HighClick Media is a full-service digital marketing agency that specializes in professional website design. Our talented web designers will craft your business website with lots of TLC and plenty of technical prowess! We can build you a brand new website from scratch or spruce up your existing site.

Interested? Reach out to HighClick Media today at 252.814.2150 or drop us a line here. We’ll be glad to show you how we can help #elevateyourbrand with a world-class website for your business.

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Guest blogger Joseph Schneider is the Director of Marketing at Haitna, a digital marketing firm based in Texas.

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5 Ways to Get Your Small Business Ready for the Metaverse

5 Ways to Get Your Small Business Ready for the Metaverse

Is your business ready for the transition to the metaverse? Yeah, we get it – that’s a loaded question! After all, there’s still a fair bit of speculation and rumors about exactly what’s involved with the metaverse and what it will mean for us and our businesses.

Over the past couple of years, we’ve witnessed businesses placing a greater emphasis on ecommerce and digital transformation – thanks in large part to the global pandemic. But we’re also seeing businesses begin to shift their attention even further toward digital as the virtual world becomes less of a fantastical idea and closer to reality.

With internet users spending more time online than ever before, and many small businesses falling on hard times, it’s time for us to rethink how we will connect with our audiences going forward.

In this article, we’ll explore five ways to help your small business weather the world-changing transition to the metaverse – and thrive in its aftermath.

Know Your Niche

The concept of the metaverse – connecting people to technology (and vice versa) using virtual and augmented reality – isn’t a new one. In fact, the idea has actually been kicked around for decades, to varying degrees of execution.

No one seems to agree, or know for sure when the metaverse concept was originally conceived; it’s equally difficult to find an agreed-upon definition of what the reality of the metaverse means for us now.

What’s certain is that the first (and perhaps best) way to make sure your small business is ready for this new era of digital transformation is to have a clear idea of what you want for your brand and how you can make the most of technology to achieve your goals.

For one company, that might mean developing better AI in order to be able to better address customer questions through your website. For another, it might entail creating an entire virtual reality world that allows potential buyers to examine products before buying them as though they were actually there with the items.

Let’s face it: you know your business better than anyone else. Accordingly, only you can determine what the metaverse can (or can’t) do for your business.

Consider Updating Your Branding

With new tech initiatives and the emergence of newer, more diverse social platforms come new branding opportunities. This is a great time to take a long, hard look at your visual brand.

One of the great things about the metaverse is its focus on connectivity. Startups and small businesses alike must ensure that the visual aspects of their messaging make clear how important communication is to the business. As one of the founding values behind the metaverse, paying special attention to your visual branding must always be a top priority.

Claim and Update Your Business on Search Engines

More than half of business owners haven’t claimed their company’s listings on tools like Google Business Profile (formerly known as Google My Business). This is a huge mistake!

Claiming and maintaining your online presence is absolutely crucial for a small business in today’s digital world. Without it, you’ll miss out on countless opportunities to drive traffic to your site, or to the business itself, as well as risk frustrating customers who can’t find the information they need when they need it.

Keeping this information up to date is just as important, particularly for things like holidays or hours of operation, as incorrect information could easily turn off potential customers.

I am not ready for that.

Don’t Abandon the Old Ways Too Quickly

Try to avoid the temptation to go “all virtual, all the time” too soon. Yes, the idea of the metaverse is exciting, and it’s likely that at least some of your customer base will be ready for it.

But good business dictates that you should always give the customer what they want – and the majority of consumers aren’t quite ready for this new way of doing business. At least not yet.

Even as you’re positioning your business to be ready for “the next big thing,” don’t be too hasty to cast aside the old ways completely. Many of your customers are going to want to stick with what they’re used to, for as long as possible. You should continue to give your audience the option to engage with your brand through more traditional methods.

Remain Adaptable

Last but certainly not least, be ready for anything! One thing that many entrepreneurs and small business owners know well is that right about the time you get comfortable, that’s when change comes fast and furious!

Sure, we have an exciting future ahead of us, thanks to an increasing tech-minded push, and it’s going to change the way we view and interact with our world. But if you get too hung up on tomorrow’s virtual reality project, you might not see what’s coming up next week.

 
 

Final Thoughts

Transformation is coming – that’s a given. How will your small business ride out these changes over the next decade? Well, that’s up to you. At the very least, you should be prepared for what comes next.

If you need help transforming your business for the digital age, HighClick Media can help! Whether you’re looking to update your website, get started with social media marketing, or optimize your website for search engines so it’s easier to be found online, we have a solution that’s right for you! Call us today at 252.814.2150 or drop us a line here to see how we can help elevate your brand!

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An earlier version of this article appeared on Entrepreneur’s website and can be found here.

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Millennials Mean Business

Millennials Mean Business

I Have Never Met Someone Who Doesn’t Have an Opinion on Millennials.

We are condemned for our love of avocado toast (it really is good – you should try it!) and pinned as the self-absorbed generation.  But, on the flip side, we are known for being open-minded, collaborative, tech-savvy problem solvers. Making up a quarter of the U.S. population, it should come as no surprise that Millennials have a huge impact on brand marketing.

Who We Are:

According to the Pew Research Center, if you were born between 1981 and 1996, you are a Millennial. There are currently over 76 million Millennials in the United States, and this number just keeps growing. More diverse than other generations, nearly half of Millennials are people of color.

Having been raised in a damaged economy, we are drastically more socially and technologically connected than any other generation. It’s true; We are the generation of iPhones, social media, apps, and streaming.

To put it plainly, we have a different perspective than the generations before us. Millennials are all about transparency, culture, and moral responsibility.

Our Generation Stays Connected

A whopping 86% of Millennials stay updated on brands through social networks – 82% of us are active Facebook users, with Gen X not too far behind at 76%. Not only that, but we are 2.5x more likely to adapt to new technology earlier than members of older generations.

The Millennial Income

A minority of this generation is wealthy, but for the majority of young adults, this isn’t the case. The average Millennial today earns $10,000 less than young adults in 1989.

help me im poor

Millennials Are a Health-Oriented Generation

We tend to make healthier eating choices and develop stronger exercise habits than prior generations. Using fitness apps and the internet helps Millennials research the healthiest options – and we’re willing to spend more on compelling brands.

How Millennials Shop

We are more likely to search for a deal. Nearly half of us use our smartphones to search for a better deal on a product while in-store, and 92% have made a purchase on their phone. Approximately half of Millennials spend 1 to 3 hours researching their finance options before making a major purchase. More brand-loyal than Gen Xers and Baby Boomers, 69% of Millennials have chosen the same brand for a major purchase in the last year. When Millennials were asked if they would try a new brand when making a major purchase, only 17% said they would.

Millennials Perceive Your Brand Differently

We appreciate brands that are truthful, ethical, and unrestricted. Seeking products and services that improve their lives, Millennials enjoy interacting and engaging with brands on a personal level. Thirty-six percent of Millennials expect an interactive experience when looking for solutions.

All of this matters to your marketing.

Having such remarkably different characteristics, tastes, and expectations than prior generations, Millennials challenge stale marketing tactics, emotionless branding, and lackluster customer service. They want their voices heard, they want to trust your business and they are looking for a brand that will be an experience.

If your audience is young and you lack a creative strategy for marketing to this fresh generation, reach out to us to schedule a meeting with one of our marketing geniuses! Marketing to Millennials is one of our specialties!

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Is It Time To Rebrand?

Is It Time To Rebrand?

Rebrand – to change the way that an organization, company, or product is seen by the public.

Every next level of your life will demand a different version of you.

And the same rings true for your brand. One beautiful (and sometimes, equally frustrating) thing about consumers is that they’re constantly evolving. Their preferences, views, and priorities are not always the same today as they were a few years ago. For example, did you know that Amazon, the largest internet retailer in the US, began as an online bookstore? In the last 20 years, Amazon has continuously recognized their customer evolution, requiring them to regularly rebrand.

rebranding logo

Your brand has a massive effect on how customers perceive your business, and it is so much more than your logo design or the colors associated with your brand’s name. Your brand is your message, your voice, and your activity. Your brand is your customers’ perception of the value of your company’s personality.

So, how do you know when your company is past due for a rebrand?

Your leads are less qualified.

All the leads in the world aren’t going to grow your business if they’re not quality leads. Think about the people that reach out to your company, and decide if they’re part of your target audience or not. Are they the kind of consumers who would buy your products or services? If your target audience isn’t engaging with your brand, the reason is simple. Your brand doesn’t appeal to them anymore.

Traffic is tapering.

At HighClick, we keep a close eye on our traffic stats in order to capitalize on trends and find patterns. If your traffic numbers are steadily decreasing in direct and referral, then there’s a good chance that people are becoming less engaged with your company and a rebrand is needed.

Your value proposition has shifted.

Most business do not stay on the same path from beginning to today. Maybe your company has changed directions or chosen to take an entirely new path. If this is true for you, does your brand reflect this? If a fresh pair of eyes took a look at your website, does it successfully represent what you currently do?

Your products or services are different.

If you’ve altered the products or services you provide, then you should alter your branding to reflect that. Are you currently serving an additional set of clients that weren’t part of your original target audience? You may have adjusted your pricing structure or moved to a more diverse set of services or products.  A rebrand will ensure consistency between the products and the brand.

Your look-and-feel is out-of-date.

Is your look aesthetically pleasing, or is it just …blah? Is your website mobile-friendly and easy to navigate? A brand that isn’t modernized can cause companies to miss out on business opportunities they’re qualified to receive. If you’re not sure if your look is outdated, you may want to ask someone outside of the company. Send over a link to your website and ask them what they think when they first look. How does it make them feel? Pro tip: If there’s any Comic Sans, just delete the whole site. 😉

You have an unclear message.

“What do you do again?” If this is a common question your business encounters, then it’s time to re-evaluate your message. Is your brand able to educate visitors on what you actually do, or is there a disconnect? When a prospect sees your logo or brand name, what your company offers should come to their minds immediately. If this isn’t happening, then your message is unclear. An unclear message causes confusion and can hinder your ability to improve brand awareness.

A total rebrand takes a lot of effort, but if done correctly it’ll be way worth it.

If you’re not sure if your brand needs a makeover or not, reach out to us and we’ll take a look!

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Give ‘Em Something to Talk About: A 4-Step Guide to Boosting Your Brand Reputation

Give ‘Em Something to Talk About: A 4-Step Guide to Boosting Your Brand Reputation

If you’re looking for a surefire way to win customers’ trust and grow your business, you need to pay special attention to your brand reputation. In today’s world, consumers have tons of options when it comes to online retailers. If you want to encourage more people to choose your website, it’s important to have a stellar reputation as a brand.

When people see your brand logo, you want them to instantly think of your business as one that’s dependable and passionate about helping customers. As you continue building your reputation, you’ll notice that more people are visiting your site, which significantly increases your chances that they’ll convert to customers.

Your brand reputation hinges on several factors, including established marketing channels such as social media and email. In this article, we’ll examine several things your business can do to make sure you’re establishing a favorable brand reputation.

I got a reputation! A following! My brand is on the rise!

Demonstrate Your Value

One of the best ways to bolster your brand reputation is to demonstrate your value. Many organizations like to talk about what they do that makes them great – and sometimes that approach is successful. But if you want your business to grow by leaps and bounds, you need to show visitors what you bring to the table.

There are many ways that you can highlight your brand’s value in a manner that your audience can better understand. A SaaS provider, for example, could present a full demo of the dynamic features their product offers. Instead of merely reading about how quickly someone can construct a form with your software, show them by providing a demonstration.

We would appreciate a good review.

Another great way to underscore your value is to showcase customer testimonials and reviews on your website. This method works particularly well because it’s someone else – not you – who is touting your company’s value. New visitors can see what actual customers think about your products or services, and that can be the determining factor when contemplating your value proposition.

Research proves that reviews and testimonials can help increase sales by building social proof – the idea that our behavior is influenced by the actions, attitudes, and beliefs of others, assuming it must be the correct behavior – which generates trust and a positive reputation. Adding these blurbs to your business website can improve your conversion rate by 270%!

Finally, someone's talking to me!

Engage with Your Audience

If you’re not purposefully engaging with your audience daily, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to build up your reputation. Consumers expect online brands to engage with them on social media, email, and their websites.

There are several ways that you can enhance engagement across all your marketing platforms.

On your business website, you can allow comments and reviews on your blog posts and product pages. Engaged visitors will take advantage of these channels to communicate with your brand. Make sure your team is available to address users’ concerns and thank them for their feedback.

You subscribed to my email list; prepare to buy!

Email marketing is another avenue where subscribers want to see more engagement. When you send out emails as part of a drip campaign, you can expect to get responses from users based on what you sent to them. By personalizing future emails in the campaign, you can offer specific answers to customers’ questions.

When you engage with users directly, they’re far more likely to regard your brand as trustworthy.

Social media is another pivotal platform for customer engagement. Whether you’re a small, independently owned business or a major corporation, social media engagement can generate substantial results for your business.

Who here is on social?

Reach out to consumers who comment on your posts and join relevant social media groups where you can interact with your target audience. Customers recount that when a brand engages with them on social media, they typically spend 20% to 40% more when they shop on that brand’s site.

The reason for this is simple: when companies deliver targeted, interactive experiences to consumers, they’re taking significant steps toward strengthening their brand reputation.

Is there something I can help you with?

Improve Your Customer Service

Your customer service and support teams are essential to furthering your brand reputation. Should a customer have questions or concerns, your customer service team can make the difference between a completed purchase and an abandoned cart.

Let’s say you’re visiting a particular website to make a purchase. After selecting the products you’re looking for, you realize you have a question about one of the items in your shopping cart. So, you begin searching for a way to contact customer support. Upon finding the appropriate link and typing out your query, you find out that the promised response time is 3 to 5 business days. Would you patiently wait for a response or abandon your cart and seek out a competitor with a team that’s ready, willing, and able to support you?

Hmmm...I think I'm gonna pass on that one.

In this age of instant gratification when consumer patience has dwindled to almost nil, most people would choose to find the items they need on another website.

Ideally, your website’s live chat options should include a combination of real customer service agents and chatbots. The chatbot is your first line of defense. This handy tool is typically located at the bottom corner of a site’s homepage, so customers can easily access the information they need when they have questions.

When I think of chatbots....

Chatbots should be able to accommodate essential operations such as password changes and blog references. If an issue is more complex, you can program your chatbot to transfer that customer to a live agent where they can get assistance immediately.

When your team can answer customer inquiries in minutes instead of days, you’ll be well on your way toward building a positive brand image. Customers will return to you time and time again when they perceive your business as hospitable and reputable.

Implement Social Listening

Implement Social Listening

Social listening involves monitoring and cultivating your business based on what consumers are saying about you and your competitors on social media. It’s also a powerful tool for improving your brand reputation.

Nearly half the population (49%) uses social media platforms to talk to friends, watch videos, and make purchases. Identifying how people think about your products or those of your competitors can help boost your brand reputation.

Big Reputation, Big Reputation...

Through social listening, you may notice that several people outside your primary social media group are discussing a feature your product is missing. Instead of viewing this feedback in a negative light, you can use it as an opportunity to show your commitment to customers. Implement the requested features whenever possible and work towards building an all-inclusive package for users.

Overall, social listening can help you pinpoint customers’ persistent or recurring problems, as well as identify potential areas for improvement in your products or services.

Final Thoughts

There are many ways to boost your business’s brand reputation. The tips covered here are broad in scope and applicable to a variety of different industries. Carefully consider where you might be missing out on critical opportunities to deeply connect with your audience, and make the necessary changes to rectify these problems.

Before you know it, you’ll enjoy a world-class reputation with both new and current customers. Bear in mind that reputation is much easier to lose than it is to gain. Build your audience’s trust, continue delivering on these standards, and you can expect to see exponential growth in the years to come.

If you’re looking to boost your brand reputation through digital marketing, HighClick Media is here to help! Give us a call today at 252.814.2150!

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7 Reasons Why Businesses Rebrand

7 Reasons Why Businesses Rebrand

If you’ve been in business for any significant length of time, you might have encountered the desire or necessity to rebrand your organization. Maybe you’re tired of looking at that same old logo, customers keep getting you confused with another company, or the business simply isn’t receiving the attention you know it deserves.

Rebranding isn’t a bad thing to consider – not by a long shot. Even the biggest and the best companies do it from time to time. Rebranding can help revive a failing company and sustain a successful one. When an organization rebrands, it is given the incredible opportunity to restore or revitalize its presence and image in the collective minds of its customers.

work work work busy busy busy

But rebranding isn’t a consideration that should be taken lightly. There’s no doubt that it’s a considerable undertaking, a labor-intensive process that merits months of rigorous planning and forethought.

Notwithstanding, successfully executing a rebranding strategy can benefit your organization in untold ways. Simply put, rebranding can jump-start your business and bring about substantial growth.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the most common reasons why businesses decide to rebrand. In so doing, we will come to understand what key considerations businesses should make prior to implementing a rebranding strategy. Let’s dive in!

 

What is Rebranding, Anyway?

Before we go any further, let’s clarify what rebranding actually entails. When a business rebrands itself, it is essentially creating a new and distinctive brand identity by making changes to its name, logo, style (e.g., fonts, colors, and imagery), slogan, mission statement, website, and/or company culture. The end goal of rebranding is to transform the organization’s corporate image in the eyes of its customers, prospects, competitors, employees, investors, and the general public.

7 Reasons Why Businesses Rebrand

There are any number of valid, legitimate reasons why a business might choose to rebrand. Here are seven of the most prominent among them:

I wanna consider a merger. Alan Alda

Mergers & Acquisitions

When two or more companies merge – or one acquires the other – there are countless critical decisions that have to be made. In the case of a merger, both companies typically have equal involvement in the new, combined organization. This means that neither brand will be swallowed up by the other – they’ll form a completely new brand.

If the companies choose to operate the brands separately, a rebrand is usually not necessary. However, if they want to consolidate the two (or more) brands, the companies must then decide whether to conduct business under one of the existing brand identities or carve out a new, combined identity in order to establish trust, foster new brand recognition, and avoid confusion.

In this scenario, the newly integrated enterprise must appraise both previous brands’ value to determine which branding options to take. If both brands are widely recognized, it may make more sense to hang on to both existing brand identities. If neither brand has made an especially big impact on the industry, rebranding might be the best way to make a fresh start.

Well, bad publicity is exactly what they're gonna get.

Correcting a Negative Perception of the Brand

You see it all the time. A well-known brand experiences a public relations identity crisis – whether due to negative publicity, poor reviews, a bad product, or the like – that tarnishes the brand’s reputation, diminishes its market share, and threatens its future success. As a result, the brand is weighed down by negative perceptions which can linger for years to come. Despite its best efforts (and regardless of whether it was initially at fault), the brand has struggled to overcome the disaster. What can be done?

By substantially changing its existing brand identity or creating a whole new identity, a business stands a decent chance of altering the current perception of its brand. Rebranding affords the organization a fresh opportunity to jettison former associations, forge ahead with new ones, and help lay the foundations for new opinions to form.

A word of warning here: People can be rather cynical when they see yet another company undergoing a rebrand in the wake of a PR crisis. Some think it’s simply a matter of “putting a fresh coat of paint over the same rotten interior.” So proceed with caution, and make sure your intentions are pure.

The Brand Looks & Feels Dated

When an entrepreneur first embarks on a business venture, it’s not uncommon to be a tad haphazard when it comes to branding. A logo and other brand elements are thrown together hurriedly and without a lot of advance planning. But as the company grows, its branding must evolve with it. A logo design that might have seemed fitting initially may now appear outdated in light of newer logos and design trends.

Whether it’s your overall design scheme, a company name that doesn’t easily roll off the tongue, or a color combo that looks like it belongs in the previous century, modernizing your brand identity is an essential step toward stimulating growth.

All companies – regardless of how profitable they are – have to remain on the cutting edge in order to stay on top of their game. Making sure that your brand image is ever ahead of the curve demonstrates to customers that your business is following trends within the industry and signals your intentions to not only keep up with competitors but to surpass them. As one marketer so eloquently put it: “If your company looks like it belongs in the past, it might soon end up there.”

Who exactly are you? Well, that's the question.

Your Company’s Mission, Vision, & Values Are No Longer Reflected

Your business’s mission, vision, and values (MVV) should impact every decision you make, including your branding, marketing, advertising, and customer support. If you are shifting gears with your MVV, expanding to offer new products or services, or have set new goals for your business, you may need to adapt your branding to reflect those changes.

After a thorough self-analysis of the brand, you’ll be better able to establish whether these changes are momentous enough to warrant revamping or refreshing your brand identity to parallel your new positioning.

He's shamelessly catering to his demographic.

Tap Into a New Demographic or Target Audience

As your business grows, you may want to expand your target audience in order to reach a totally different demographic. In doing so, it may become necessary to modify your branding to reflect the new consumer base.

Refreshing the look and feel of your brand is an effective way to catch the eye of prospective customers. If you concentrate on newer facets of your business and market them appropriately, people are sure to take notice.

At the same time, you don’t want to alienate your existing customers. Subsequently, as you develop your rebranding strategy, you should look to adopt a new brand identity that aligns with new and old customers alike.

How many of your competitors are doing that? Zero!

Set Yourself Apart from Competitors

Even the most successful businesses rebrand, particularly when it becomes obvious that brand recognition has begun to wane or when their target audience starts to show preference to its competitors.

Rebranding can help establish your business as an industry leader with a personality that appeals to your audience. When your audience regards your brand and your competitors as interchangeable, that’s a clear indication that a rebrand may be needed. Differentiating your brand signals to potential clients that your services are unique, your approach is different, and you’re the expert.

I've been ahead of you every step of the way.

Keep Up with the Market

If your business is part of a volatile, fast-moving market, your products and services may be ever-evolving as well – and your brand image has to keep pace. 

Stale, stagnating brands – or those that are unable to stay on the cutting edge – may get left in the lurch.

By implementing a solid rebranding strategy, you can reposition your company as a trendsetter in the new landscape.

Okay, what now?

Final Thoughts

Whether your business just needs a makeover or an entirely new brand identity to coincide with its evolution, rebranding provides an excellent opportunity to strengthen and support your brand’s identity and values – both internally with your employees and externally with your customer base.

A number of determinants factor into the enduring success of a rebrand. If customers were passionate about your original brand image, there may be some resistance toward the changes. Be mindful not to alter your brand so much that it’s no longer identifiable.

Before you begin the rebranding process, you should make certain that you and your team are fully dedicated to the cause you’re about to undertake.

Are we ready, people?

Rebranding isn’t something that can be accomplished in a day, a week, or even a month. In most cases, a comprehensive rebranding project calls for at least three to six months worth of work. Nonetheless, the results are well worth the time, energy, and resources expended. If coordinated well and executed properly, rebranding can help your company become more successful in the long run.

Want to know more about how HighClick Media can help your business succeed with a solid branding or rebranding strategy? Give us a call today at 252.814.2150 or visit our website to learn more!

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Growing Your Business vs. Growing Your Brand: What’s The Difference?

Growing Your Business vs. Growing Your Brand: What’s The Difference?

Growing a business and growing a brand often go hand in hand – but there are a few key differences. If you Google the phrase “the difference between a brand and a business,” you’ll come up with an infinite number of search results consisting of explanations aplenty describing what a brand actually is. The two work in conjunction, naturally, but growing each is a rather different endeavor.

A brand can generally exist autonomously of the businesses that operate under its umbrella. You can have numerous businesses or companies under one brand – Procter & Gamble or The Coca-Cola Company, for example – but the majority of the time, you won’t have multiple enterprises under one business. A brand is a broader representation of your business – it’s the image or identity behind your business, your ventures, and your community.

In this article, we’ll explore the major differences between growing a brand and growing a business and reveal how you can successfully do both.

Businesses Are Centered On Sales, Whereas Brands Are Community-Focused

Presumably, the aim of any business is to generate income. But the broader goal of building a brand ought to be to establish a community. Having a dedicated community can certainly lead to sales – that’s how business and brand go hand in glove, and why both are so crucial to your success.

That said, in order to grow a brand, you’re not going to be concentrating on the number of products you sell or the number of leads you generate – you’ll be much more concerned with engagement, reach, and recognition. Whereas building a business entails expanding products or offerings, developing a brand often means zeroing in on a singular concept or focus that you want your brand to encapsulate.

Your brand forges a reputation for you and any businesses that operate under that brand. Simply put, your brand is what helps people recognize and relate to your business.

Your Brand Is Bigger Than Your Product

Since building a brand transcends generating income or marketing new products, it concentrates more on public perception and sentiment. Establishing a brand isn’t about what you sell, it’s about how you make people feel.

For example, let’s take another look at Coca-Cola: this sweet, carbonated soda brings to mind unanticipated moments of happiness – not necessarily as a result of the product itself, but due to the branding around the product.

Lots of us have probably seen the Coca-Cola commercials depicting cheery people sharing a cola as part of the brand’s “Share A Coke” campaign. In this manner, Coke becomes more than simply a beverage; rather, it serves as a community for people who favor the brand and its products.

This is a clear-cut example of how product, business, and brand come together to construct a community and stimulate sales. These are the types of campaigns and connections that loom large in people’s minds and invoke an indelible impression of your brand and how your company functions within that brand. By linking your products and offerings together, you create the connections you need to have with your customers so as to maintain their interest in those products and offerings.

Your Brand Can’t Be Stripped Away from You

Your business might possibly fail, but a brand doesn’t work like that. A brand only fails if you neglect to find the right community and keep growing it. If it’s not working, you can attempt to alter the direction of your brand or change its focus. Your brand can’t ever be dispossessed of you, nor can it be appropriated outright. Your brand is an embodiment of your values, views, and goals rather than a physical offering of services or products.

For one reason or another, your business may ultimately cease operations – but your brand can unquestionably endure beyond that. A brand is the image and voice of the companies which it comprises. In a sense, a brand is more of an idea than an actual entity – and no one can take an idea away from you! Thus, growing a brand becomes just as critical in any business undertaking as growing the company or business itself.

Why Not Both? ~ Joel McHale

Growing a Business and Brand Are Different, Yet Equally Essential

As an entrepreneur or an established business owner, it’s just as important to grow your brand as it is to grow your business. Your business permits you to meet the needs within the community that your brand creates. Your brand affords you the opportunity to reach more people whose needs your business can help to resolve. Growing both of them concurrently helps you achieve your business goals more effectively. Certainly, these concepts can function independently, but the most successful businesses have devoted communities and a high degree of recognition around their brand. Therefore, it’s crucial that you make the effort to establish and build up your brand in addition to your business.

If you find yourself in need of a brand refresh, if you aim to increase brand awareness, or if you need some help establishing an air of authority around your brand, HighClick Media can help! Give us a call today at 252.814.2150 or visit our website to see how we can help you #elevateyourbrand!

NOTE:  An earlier version of this article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com.

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How To Develop & Maintain a Consistent Brand Voice

How To Develop & Maintain a Consistent Brand Voice

When you think about branding, probably the first thing that comes to mind is a logo. A close second would likely be a specific color scheme that you closely identify with the brand. But any properly developed brand must also have a distinct style of writing and speaking. This is commonly referred to as its brand voice.

Having a strong, cohesive brand voice is one of the most important components in building a successful business. Research has shown that consumers prefer brands with unique personalities. When asked which factors help a brand stand out in the crowded social media space, 40% of consumers surveyed cited memorable content, 33% noted a distinct brand personality, and 32% stated that compelling storytelling was key. And what do memorable content, distinct personality, and compelling storytelling have in common? You guessed it: brand voice.

Every time you send an email, answer a customer support call, or speak to someone face-to-face, you’re exercising your brand voice – whether you realize it or not. With each of these interactions, people are building up an impression in their minds about your brand. If this impression is to be a true reflection of your brand to followers, readers, listeners, prospects, and customers, you must be intentional about how you use your brand voice.

Identifying your brand voice isn’t easy. It demands a great deal of introspection as well as an intimate understanding of who you are as a brand. In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into what brand voice is, why it’s important, and learn how to develop and refine your own brand voice.

Brand Voice vs. Brand Tone: What’s the Difference?

You may have heard of brand voice before, but what about brand tone? Sometimes the terms are used interchangeably, but there are a few distinct differences.

Brand voice is how you express the personality of your brand through your chosen communication channels and to your target audience. It helps potential customers recognize and relate to your brand, get a feel for your mission and core values, and ensure that your message cuts through the noise.

Your brand voice encompasses everything from the words and language you use to the image your marketing assets evoke. Simply put, it’s the overall impression you wish to leave on your audience at every point of interaction in the customer’s journey.

Brand tone is the emotional inflection you apply to your brand voice. Your tone may need to be adjusted depending on who you’re talking to, what you’re talking about, and the platform you’re using to communicate your message.

While a different tone may be called for in specific situations, your tone should always feel consistent with your brand voice. If your tone is off in some way, your audience may end up feeling insulted or angry. Whereas if your tone strikes the right chord, the audience may be convinced to stay and listen.

WHY IS BRAND VOICE IMPORTANT?

 

A Strong Brand Voice Creates a Favorable First Impression

According to Forbes, it only takes 7 seconds for your target audience to form an initial opinion about your brand. Whether this first impression is positive or negative relies heavily on your brand voice.

A consistent voice lets consumers absorb your brand quickly and easily, allowing you to capture their attention and keep them interested in your content as well as your company. 

If you can craft a brand voice that effectively communicates what your company stands for and “who” it is, you’ll have a much easier time converting web visitors into loyal customers.

A Consistent Brand Voice Enhances Brand Recognition

Time for a bit of self-analysis. If your company logo didn’t appear alongside your content, could your audience easily identify the content as coming from you? Would someone viewing your content on different channels be able to recognize that it all originated from the same brand? If the answer to either of those questions is “no,” you probably have some work to do when it comes to brand voice.

Frequent or dramatic shifts in brand voice may cause confusion about your brand identity. If you’re not careful, you’ll end up with a random assortment of voices and tones in the content you produce, which doesn’t provide potential customers with a consistent picture of who your brand is.

Maintaining a consistent voice across all your media channels delivers a cohesive feel to your brand. Brands with strong voices will “sound” the same on social media, in email communications, and blog posts – even if three different individuals or teams create content for these channels. Ultimately, potential customers should be able to subconsciously associate certain words, phrases, ideas, or emotions with your brand.

A Cohesive Brand Voice Helps Build Trust with Your Audience

People prefer to support brands that they trust. In fact, a recent survey found that more than 80% of consumers want to feel like they can trust a brand before they’ll consider buying from them.

A well-crafted brand voice offers a unique opportunity to humanize your brand and demonstrate to your customers that you’re sincere and trustworthy in each interaction you have with them. If consistently applied, your brand voice can help establish enduring relationships with your existing followers as well as attracting new prospects. 

Think of your brand’s voice as a character. Stay “in character” and your audience will come to view your brand as a friend or a trusted expert. “Break character” and you’ll confuse your audience and risk breaking their trust. By being transparent, personal, helpful, and knowing your products and services better than anybody else, you can not only build trust with your customers but maintain it for the long haul as well.

A Compelling Brand Voice Helps Increase Brand Loyalty

Consumers are becoming increasingly selective about which brands they prefer to regularly support and align themselves with. When people solidly connect to the way your brand communicates online, a relationship begins to form in their minds. In the event that these consumers need to purchase a product or service that you offer, they are much more likely to become your customers and remain loyal to your brand if they perceive this emotional connection.

When your brand voice changes constantly, you may be forfeiting the opportunity to demonstrate to consumers that they can trust your brand to understand their “pain points” and dependably deliver solutions. A consistent brand voice assures consumers that the brand is carrying out the company’s mission and fulfilling its promises to the customer.

A Powerful Brand Voice Positions Your Business As an Authority in the Field

Whether you sell a product, offer a service, or both, you have specific expertise that could be valuable both to customers as well as to other businesses. By communicating consistently in the brand voice you’ve created, you can help position yourself as an easily identified and authoritative source for your area of expertise.

One of the primary reasons that customers side with certain brands is not necessarily the quality of the products, but rather the quality of the content they produce. By providing useful tips on various topics related to your niche or products, you’re not only demonstrating your expertise but also increasing awareness for your brand.

When your business is regarded as an authority in the field, people will come to you to solve their problems. And that means business!

Distinctive Brand Voice Helps You Stand Out From The Crowd

A Distinctive Brand Voice Helps You Stand Out from the Crowd

In the digital age, brands are faced with growing competition for consumer attention, interaction, and loyalty. You can only stand out so much on the strength of your visual content, logo, or product features.

The most enduring companies have a strong personality and a clear sense of purpose. The distinct voice they’ve created is used to consistently convey their message everywhere the brand has a presence.

A unique brand voice can help attract new prospects before they even become aware of your products or services. If you can quickly and effectively prove to consumers that your brand is different than – and superior to – every other brand out there.

A Credible Brand Voice Helps Boost Sales

This is where the rubber meets the road. As we’ve seen thus far, a consistent brand voice can help you better relate to your customers, establish your company as a reliable solution provider, achieve your company’s mission by following through on promises, and build your audience’s trust in you. 

All of this ultimately adds up to more closed deals and higher revenue. In fact, research has proven that brands that invest in developing and exercising a cohesive brand voice will see their revenue increase by an average of 23%! Simply put, when consumers feel like your brand voice connects well with them, they’re much more likely to buy from your business.

Dwight Schrute in The Office ~

HOW TO DEVELOP YOUR OWN BRAND VOICE

Companies that have developed a strong brand voice haven’t approached the process lightly or haphazardly. They’ve taken active steps to define what and how they want to communicate their message and documented it in detail, so that every point of contact with their customers is positive, on-brand, and consistent.

This is extremely important, since the manner in which you deliver your message to customers and prospects truly matters. In fact, it’s one of the key factors that can make or break a deal.

Finding your brand voice can seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be a big ordeal. Your brand voice already exists – it’s up to you to recognize it, articulate it, and share it with the world. But how do you unearth your voice – and where do you start?

DEFINE YOUR BRAND

To really home in on and refine your brand voice, you need to come to a deep, intimate understanding of who your brand is and what you’re trying to achieve. This is the heart of who you are as a company – your brand is simply a tool to express it.

A good place to start in developing your brand voice is to take a hard look at your company’s purpose, vision, mission, and values.

Purpose

Who are you? Why do you exist? How do your clients benefit from what you have to offer?

Vision

What kind of future do you want to create? What goals do you want to achieve? Do you aim to make a difference in your community or the world at large? What sets your company apart from the competition?

Mission

What do you plan to do to create the future you’ve envisioned? What are you trying to accomplish as a company? What do  you want your audience to say and think about you?

Values

Define your company culture and the core principles that guide your business. What’s important to you? What does your company stand for?

If you’re still struggling to pin down the particulars of your brand identity, imagine your brand as a person and try to describe its personality. How do your brand’s personality traits differ from those of your competitors?

This is an exercise you can get creative and have some fun with. Determining what type of person your company would be if it were a human being can help you gather valuable insights into the people who are most likely to connect with your brand.

What does this “person” look like? What kind of language do they use? Are they energetic or more laid-back? What does their ideal day look like?

Oftentimes, in order to determine who you are as a brand, it helps to first figure out what you’re not. Knowing this will help you better define your voice.

That’s where completing a “We’re ______, but we’re not ______” exercise can come in handy. Fill in the blanks of the sentence and duplicate the process several times until you’ve settled upon three or four sentences that best describe your brand. Once you’ve determined what your brand is not, then you can begin outlining what your brand actually is and how to 

When you’ve gained a better understanding of your brand’s DNA, you can begin to consider how you will express it through your brand voice.

GET TO KNOW YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE

Understanding exactly who you want to appeal to with your messaging is a crucial step toward developing your brand’s voice. In order to do this, you’ll have to get to know your audience on a personal level.

Research your target audience’s characteristics, habits, and behavioral patterns. Collect as much info as you can about their demographics, age range, education, job title, income level, likes/dislikes, and buying motivation.

As most of your customer interactions will transpire online, the words you use will leave a lasting impression in the minds of your target audience. The more you can align your voice with the language your audience uses, the easier it will be for potential customers to identify with you.

In addition, it’s critical to determine your target audience’s preferred method of communication. Not all demographics communicate the same way – some may prefer to be contacted on social media, while others may prefer email. Knowing how your audience prefers to engage with brands allows you to home in on the most appropriate marketing channels in an effort to create your brand voice.

Questions To Ask Your Target Audience:

  • What are their interests?
  • What are their beliefs and values?
  • What will offend them?
  • What will hook them?
  • How do they speak? Does this change across different channels?
  • What kind of content do they usually engage in?
  • Who are they following on social media?
  • What are they buying?
  • What are their expectations when they engage with brands?
  • How do you want them to feel about your brand?
  • How can you provide value to them?
  • What might make them care about your company, product, or service?
  • Does what they care about align with what your brand stands for?

AUDIT YOUR CURRENT CONTENT

Every piece of content you publish makes a statement about your brand, whether you’re purposefully crafting a voice or not. If the voice your readers are already hearing from you isn’t in keeping with your brand’s values and purpose, you may need to make adjustments in order to align your content with your brand.

Your audience will be the ultimate measure of whether you’ve created a successful brand voice. If your voice doesn’t resonate with your audience, then it probably isn’t the right voice.

To gain greater insight on how your brand voice currently sounds, conduct an audit of your existing content across all marketing platforms, including webpages, blog posts, social media posts, videos, e-books, print collateral, in-store signage, etc.

Cast a critical eye on the content samples you’ve collected. Pay especially close attention to your best-performing pieces, as these are what your audience is currently connecting with.

Extrapolate the key characteristics of the voice used in these pieces. Take note of which aspects you feel can, and should, be reproduced across your brand as a whole.

Which of these examples could have originated from one of your competitors? Set those aside. Narrow down your examples to only those that embody the brand voice that you want to represent.

DECIDE ON YOUR BRAND’S TONE OF VOICE

Once you’ve decided what your voice is, it’s time to focus on the tone of your brand. Think about what your product or service does for people. How does it solve their problems or enhance their lives? Your tone of voice should reflect and reinforce that.

When people interact with your brand, how do you want them to feel? If you want to make your audience laugh, then your tone might be whimsical, engaging, and accessible. Whereas if you want to raise awareness for a specific issue, your tone might be more compassionate, inspirational, and heartfelt.

Knowing the answers to these big-picture questions can help you pinpoint the emotional brand experience you’re attempting to deliver. Cultivating your brand tone of voice is an effective way to accomplish this.

Remember, brand voice is what you say and brand tone is how you say it. As your tone may vary across different audiences or platforms, it’s a good idea to document in your brand style guide – which we’ll talk about shortly – how content creators should utilize certain tones in specific situations.

Copycat, Literally

DON’T COPY THE COMPETITION

Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery; but with regard to branding, it won’t do your business any favors. Sure, it’s worthwhile to analyze how your competitors craft a certain tone and engage with their customers, but you shouldn’t try to imitate their style.

Attempting to emulate your rivals’ success may attract people’s attention – but not in a good way. Branding decisions that too closely resemble those of your competitors will make you look like a wannabe or a blatant ripoff. 

Aspire for something different instead. This doesn’t require doing a total about-face from your competitors. Rather, seek out qualities and traits that their brand voice obviously lacks.

Conducting a competitive analysis can not only help you identify with whom you’re competing; it can also help you distinguish between your brand and theirs.

CREATE FORMAL BRAND VOICE GUIDELINES

When developing a brand, businesses often create a style guide which defines standards for copywriting, graphics, colors, fonts, images, and all other branding details. This guide serves as a framework for all members of the team to follow when developing content.

Much like your brand style guide, your brand voice also needs documentation. Creating a brand voice document will help keep your social media posts and marketing copy in check and consistent – especially if you have more than one content creator on your team.

By creating a brand voice chart, you can organize and further elaborate on the brand attributes you’ve defined so far. Try to come up with three to four words (typically adjectives) that best represent your brand and complete a chart consisting of four columns – “Characteristics,” “Description,” “Do’s,” and “Don’ts” – explaining how each trait should and shouldn’t be represented in your marketing.

Your brand voice chart is a great starting point for creating a larger brand voice document – a crucial reference guide that helps your content creators understand what does and doesn’t align with your defined brand voice.

Your formal brand voice document should begin with your company’s core values and mission statement; but it should also include other key components of your brand, such as personality traits, common vocabulary and phrases, as well as your desired tone of voice. Additionally, you should include examples of content that “hit the mark” as well as pieces that aren’t necessarily reflective of the brand voice you’ve defined.

Establishing well-defined brand voice guidelines helps make sure that brand standards are upheld, and that every customer-facing asset your company creates sounds like one cohesive brand – even if you have a number of different people creating content and writing copy.

 

REVIEW & REVISE YOUR BRAND VOICE REGULARLY

Developing a brand voice isn’t supposed to be a one-time, set-it-and-forget-it endeavor. As your brand messaging progresses over time or new competitors enter your market, it’s a good idea to revisit your brand voice guidelines and rejuvenate them with fresh examples.

Make it a point to meet with your key content creators and communicators at designated times – whether on a quarterly basis, during major brand makeovers, or during large-scale events that could significantly alter your company’s marketing strategy – to reevaluate your brand voice.

Identify any voice attributes that haven’t performed well or, for whatever reason, are better in theory than in practice. Without regular reviews of your brand voice, you risk sounding outdated or out of touch with current events.

You want to ensure that everyone who may have a hand in creating communications from your company is on the same wavelength about what both the brand’s voice and tone should sound like.

Use your voice. ~ Lillee Jean

FINAL THOUGHTS

Your brand voice is the first impression you leave with consumers, as well as the cornerstone of developing relationships with them as customers. It’s a critical step toward becoming a company with dedicated clients and a long-standing place in the  market.

Much like a writer develops a character, your brand voice also demands careful development. Successfully keeping your brand “in character” calls for meticulous attention to detail, but it will prove profitable for your business.

While brand voice consistency is essential, flexibility is equally important. Be prepared to modulate your brand voice as customer priorities – and the market – change over time.

How will you know when you’ve found the right voice? It’s pretty simple, actually. When you publish a piece of content or launch a new marketing campaign and a reader recognizes that it’s your company before they even click, you’ll know you’ve found your voice.

Now that you’re equipped with more information about brand voice, it’s time for you to go create your own! If you feel like you could still use a bit more guidance, HighClick Media is here to help with all your branding and digital marketing needs. Give us a call today at 252.814.2150 or drop us a line here to learn how we can help elevate your brand!

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How To Deal With Negative Customer Reviews

How To Deal With Negative Customer Reviews

Negative customer reviews can happen even to businesses with top-notch customer service. Mistakes will happen from time to time; and unfortunately, social media makes it possible for a disgruntled customer to quickly tell lots of people when something goes wrong.

However, a negative customer review doesn’t necessarily signal disaster. It may seem counterintuitive, but getting a couple of negative reviews every once in a while can actually create trust with customers. Too many stellar reviews can make your business appear fake. Shoppers understand that no business is perfect – and your response to a negative review offers an opportunity to demonstrate that you truly care about your customers.

By following these steps, you can transform a negative review into a positive experience.

Step 1: Respond Right Away

To keep a negative review on social media or another public site from adversely impacting your business, respond promptly. You may not yet comprehend what went wrong – or whether you’re just dealing with a demanding customer. At this point, it doesn’t matter either way. Publicly acknowledge their feedback and advise them that you’re looking into the matter. It’s essential to address the situation with urgency in order to stifle the complaint before it goes viral.

The proper response can even turn a negative review into a positive one! Data confirms that 33% of negative reviews on Yelp take a positive turn when a business makes the effort to respond to a dissatisfied customer.

Step 2: Follow Up Discreetly

Issuing a public apology helps safeguard your company’s reputation. Once you’ve posted a heartfelt apology for others to see, attempt to get to the heart of the matter in private. Contact the individual via phone or by using a free app like Clover Feedback.

If you choose to communicate by email or direct message, bear in mind that anything you say in response can readily be saved as a screenshot and re-shared. If the customer is still unhappy, it’s important to let them voice their concerns in private where you can address them directly.

Step 3: Support Your Staff

Mistakes happen. As a small business, your employees are in the trenches every day, representing your brand to your customers. When a complaint is lodged, your staff needs to know that you are going to back them up. This could involve providing additional training on how to handle dissatisfied customers, establishing a complaint policy, or immediately handing off negative reviews to managers (or to yourself, as the business owner) to lighten the load for your team members.

Keep an eye out for “constant complainers” or “barnacles,” two particularly prickly types of customers who can turn a situation toxic quickly. These customers enjoy airing their grievances, regardless of whether they’re valid or not, in order to try to get a discount or a freebie. When you confront one of these customers, take the high road. Do what you can to rectify the situation, and then move on.

Step 4: Make It Right

Customers take satisfaction in supporting small businesses, due to the fact that they routinely establish personal relationships with you and your staff members. Because you’re most likely acquainted with many of your regulars, you’re ideally positioned to personally and genuinely resolve a negative review.

Determine the quickest, best way to remedy the immediate problem. This typically involves either returning an item, replacing it, or providing a discount. Acknowledge that you value this individual’s loyalty; empathize and engage with them in a way that sets your business apart from the dispassionate customer service centers at most big-box retailers.

“Apologize for and explain the situation, issue a refund (if applicable), and offer an additional benefit for sticking with you. Have a set strategy for specific problems, but personalize each response. Great customer service can turn unhappy customers into brand advocates. Poor service does exactly the opposite,” says Carlo Cisco, owner of FoodFan.

Step 5: Prevent Future Negative Reviews

Lastly, take advantage of this bad review as an opportunity to improve. How can your business function better, assist customers more efficiently, or enhance communication? Establish formalized procedures, such as a refund policy or return policy, and review them often. Role-play with your team members and coach them on how to respond to an irate customer face-to-face. Implement a system or tool where customers can provide feedback directly, as opposed to on a review site such as Google or Yelp.

In essence, a negative review should be seen as a gift. It demonstrates that your customers are fond enough of your brand to go to the trouble of leaving you feedback. Even the worst reviews can end up being positive experiences, if managed properly.

Final Thoughts

Do you need help engaging more effectively with your customers? HighClick Media can help! Our brand development specialists are ready, willing, and able to help create a comprehensive brand strategy which connects your business to your audience. Our social media marketing strategies can help elevate your business by increasing its website traffic, brand awareness, and customer relationships.

Reach out to us today at 252.814.2150 or drop us a line here!

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An earlier version of this article appeared here.

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