“Brand experience” has always been a debated concept. We all personally know when we see and feel a brand experience. Our reactive emotions can run the gamut from positive, to negative or to neutral. Basically, the brand experience is the result of any of the interactions a customer has at any of the touch points of the brand. Most think of B2C when discussing the concept of brand experience, but this concept applies liberally to B2B as well.
The visual identity of your business or product/service is a vital tool in communicating its essence. Before someone even considers contacting your business or buying your product/service, he or she will first formulate ideas — unconscious perceptions – about it, based on the look and feel of your brand’s logo. Having a strategically and professionally developed identity will more effectively represent your brand’s spirit, personality and core characteristics, and better resonate with your prospects and customers. In turn, this positive impression will support your sales and marketing efforts through all the channels you pursue, building the credibility you need to aggressively compete in the marketplace.
Does it succinctly describe what, where, when and how your business does what it does and for whom … in one paragraph? Does it offer bite-size chunks of information and links to additional details for those who seek it? Does it explain how your customers benefit from doing business with you, and competitively position your company against all other options?
The purpose of a website’s About Us page is to explain its value proposition to its most valued audiences. An About Us page should effectively explain the company’s purpose and what it stands for.
Most importantly, it should demonstrate exactly why the visitor should buy the company’s products or services.
When coming to an online About Us page, visitors should instantly find useful fact-based company information that:
- Supports his/her decision to do business with the company
- Makes him/her feel that the company is trying to create a relationship
- Boosts his/her perception of the company’s credibility
Seems like a no-brainer, right? Apparently not. Jakob Nielsen reported in ’08 that while there’s been a 9% improvement in the usability of About Us information on websites over the previous 5 years, many, many companies still can’t (or choose not to) explain what they do in one paragraph.
What’s a Company to Do?
If you take a closer look at the Nielsen study, or the websites referred to by experts as usability-focused, you’ll find that many have the following elements in common:
- The About Us link is titled as such
- The About Us link is offered in the primary navigation – not necessarily the most prominent link, but clearly visible
- The About us information is offered in 4 levels of detail:*
- Tagline on the homepage: A few words or a brief sentence summarizing what the organization does.
- Summary: 1-2 paragraphs at the top of the main About Us page that offer a bit more detail about the organization’s goal and main accomplishments.
- Fact sheet: A section following the summary that elaborates on its key points and other essential facts about the organization.
- Detailed information: secondary pages with more depth for people who want to learn more about the organization.
This layered content presentation forms an inverted pyramid that uses hypertext (text links) to shield users from overwhelming details, while making specific information available to those who need it.
Just the Facts, Ma’am
Objective, fluff-free facts are a great way to differentiate your business, and address all of the decision-making criteria your customers and prospects consider when choosing to continue or begin doing business with your company.
Here are some ideas for an online Fact Sheet. Remember, facts are also a great way to support the fluffier promises and claims you make!
Say It with Video
One definite trend in About Us content is higher user interest in video. Multi-media presentations are a great way to highlight the people within your organization, your satisfied customers and their testimonies and video can really showcase the personality of your organization’s leaders. Caveat: Web users are still impatient and prefer short videos.
A video I recently came across that fits this bill is for Uline, a shipping supply distributor. View it.
Where to Start
Auditing your own About Us page, section or entire website isn’t easy. An objective eye from an experienced outsider can often identify opportunities for improvement that may surprise you. Improvements may take the form of copy enhancements, page re-organization, link architecture, navigation, usability techniques or design.
The goal for any content improvement (copy, design, organization) is of course to present your information in a more relevant manner, making the site’s content and tools more accessible and user-friendly.
An objective 3rd party audit will lead you to site changes that will ultimately result in higher visitor usage rates and satisfaction.
The way I typically go about a website audit is to:
- Detail the current page/section/site’s contents and cite overall pros and cons
- Research, review and reference industry trends, case studies, best practices as they relate to this type of website and the client’s objectives
- Identify opportunities to improve current pages
- Develop recommendations for specific improvements and changes
- Visually illustrate recommendations where appropriate
- Present to the client; gather feedback
- Adjust and deliver final documentation based on the client’s feedback
If you’re not sure your About Us page is stacking up, and you believe that it should, contact us.
Denise B. Hearden
Are you aware that your brand is under constant assault… from forces within? Countless employees on your payroll use and abuse company brand identity, key messages, and taglines. It’s not because they want to do harm- often times it’s that they just don’t know how to use them. Luckily, there’s a simple solution: a brand identity guide.
Early last week Facebook changed the ever-popular “Become a Fan” button to “Like”. According to social networking giant, the change was made to “improve your experience and promote consistency across the site.” The “consistency” they’re referring to is the ability to “like” a friend’s status update, uploaded picture, comment on another friend’s wall, or advertisement on the site.
This is what the changes look like now, using the Johnson Direct “Like” page as an example:
While promoting consistency is almost always a good thing, Facebook’s change to their fan system has caused a great deal of headaches to agencies and end-users alike. Here are some reasons why the change may be a bad thing for business:
- Loss of a Branded Term- Prior to launching the Fan Box last July, nobody associated “Become a Fan” with an online entity. Being a fan was simply liking an artist, team, actor, etc. and being actively interested in what they were doing. When Facebook launched the Fan Box, they essentially branded the term and every television, radio, print, and online advertiser with a Fan page added that slogan to their copy. Changing “Become a Fan” to “like” took away that everyday term from association with the social network.
- Frenzied Ad Agencies- Working on the ad agency side, I can only tell you in so many ways, without using NSFW terms, how it negatively impacts client campaigns. First there’s the past collateral- what happens to everything out there now that our clients paid good money for? This could be problematic; especially for the small company that doesn’t have money budgeted for print in Q1 or Q2. Ads that are currently in production need to be put on hold, and both the creative and the marketing teams need to go back to the drawing board increasing the amount of time and resources used by both parties.
- Confused End Users- People don’t like change, especially when it comes to how they use the internet. Every time a client comes to Johnson Direct for a redesign of their website, SEO consultation or anything dealing business-to-consumer marketing, we take a look at how it affects user experience. Having a product or website that brings value to the user is great, but if they get confused about how to use it you have a huge problem. In this case, changing “Become a Fan” to “like” may associate “liking” a status, photo or advertisement to “liking” a company, band or product when they are, according to Facebook, entirely different. For an example, take a look at this post about how a top-ranked ReadWriteWeb article confused users Googling “Facebook login”. I think I’ve made my point!
As time passes we’ll know for sure if this was a good or bad move on the part of Facebook. In the short term it will hurt the ad agencies and small companies with ads in the works but who knows- maybe we’ll make up for it with increased conversions from users mistakenly clicking on our Facebook ads because they thought they were “liking” the company!