Brand value-based discussions have been all the rage in the office over the last few weeks (slight exaggeration). At least they certainly have been for me and Michelle as we’ve been racking our brains to come up with ideas for regenerating QueryClick’s very own company website.
During this time we’ve assessed and analysed a whole host of websites, some of which have left us in awe and others that have gotten us talking for all the wrong reasons. It’s hard to imagine just how many companies out there are harming their reputation and sales by promoting a hotchpotch image online that sends off mixed signals.
Stability and competence are major drivers of brand trust that should apply both to design and content when launching or renewing any website. Contradicting brand values across your website will lead to neither.
Although I have to admit it’s great fun to point and laugh, no naming and shaming here, just a compilation of our findings and conclusions. Our approach was to question each element present on a page. Why has it been placed there? What purpose does it serve? What message is it trying to convey? And does it match the company’s profile?
A considerable amount of companies seem to favour photos of the iStock variety to illustrate what they stand for. While it may be easy to acquire these images, saving you time and effort in producing original visuals, this approach is unlikely to portray any positive brand values. You don’t want your potential clients thinking you’re lazy or unapproachable because of the presence of impersonal, posed photos that aren’t even set in your own office at the very least.
Essentially, you don’t even need to put the brand value spin on it. In the end it all comes down to professionalism and attention to detail. It probably won’t come as a surprise that businesses that have clearly invested time and effort in developing a portfolio of original images to best convey their brand presence and message got the highest acclaim from Michelle and me in our user testing of sorts.
Many companies seem to get off on the wrong foot by addressing site visitors in an inappropriate tone. The power of words on an individual should never be underestimated. While it seems right for a government agency or financial institution to present themselves in a formal manner, for example, it seems off-kilter when small businesses with the promise of personal service and friendly-faced employees address you in a “dear sir/madam” kind of way.
It can be as easy as using “we” instead of “the company” and directly addressing the visitor as “you”, but it makes a major difference. Michelle and I would certainly be more inclined to trust companies that show true team spirit and a friendly attitude yet retain a clear authority in their field by striking the exact tone to match their brand.
Our discoveries come at a time when the Edelman Trust Barometer has revealed that, while in 2008 customers chose to trust companies based on the quality of their product or service, an impressive 83% now favour companies for transparency and honesty in their practices.
Transparency and quality are, coincidentally, among QueryClick’s own brand values. Let us know if you think our existing website conveys these well and whether you have any suggestions for how we could enhance your trust.