Want to run with the big dogs? Take a lesson from their playbooks and learn how to create and maintain brand consistency online.
One can learn a lot about managing a brand online just by paying attention to what the big boys are doing. Working to maintain brand consistency can be difficult if you are not clear about what your brand stands for.
JetBlue, for instance, makes its consumer brand promise about making flying cheap, easy and fun clear from the outset. Not only is this promise experienced on the plane, but you see it reinforced again and again on the company’s website. Leaders like JetBlue understand that establishing consistent brand experiences across the marketing mix naturally creates trust between the audience and the brand, leading to repeat business and customer loyalty.
The web, of course, plays a major role in how consumers interact with brands. In fact, it may be the most important way a brand communicates. The web offers a wide range of ways to interact with a brand. Consumers may visit sites with an immediate goal — getting in and getting out. But often, when done correctly, a website can lend itself to a visit where the user stays longer and goes deep, getting drawn into the site for information and connecting with the brand in a substantive way.
JetBlue, as mentioned, combines function and design to create a simple, seamless experience to illustrate its brand. In the creation of its website experience, JetBlue shows that it really understands its audience and knows what customers need to make a purchase. That goes a long way in informing potential flyers about what they can expect in their jetting experiences.
The company takes the “book a flight” concept and makes it easy to use. What a concept! The key is that JetBlue has simplified the process all the way down to the field boxes used to book a flight. Instead of offering a fill-in form for departure city, JetBlue gives a drop-down menu of all its locations, with pre-sorts for possible arrival city locations. As a result, the simplified form makes selecting information easier and the overall experience better. The following “available fares” page also makes it simple to browse nearby days and choose between direct and one-connection fares. When seats on a plane have low availability, JetBlue lets you know and tells you how many are left. The company’s site also highlights all of the lowest fares, typically spread throughout the day, so that you know you are getting the best deal when making your choice.
As an icon for design and business, Apple carries a sense of completion and refinement through everything it does, from product to marketing to retail to service. Apple’s promise is to make the best computers in the world. Its success starts with a great product, and Apple shows that it knows it by displaying the product and letting it speak for itself.
If we examine Apple’s website, we can see that the site is not just a place for product information and pictures; it is the key resource for anyone looking to by a Mac, iPod or iPhone. Apple accomplishes this through a clear and simple message for each of its products, and those messages are backed up by a wealth of information. The site allows the customer to go deep and immerse him or herself in the details, if they so choose. Product descriptions start with glory product shots, lists of features, links directly to images and icons and interactive features. The visitor can then go deeper to demo the product, check out the interface, view movies and technical specs, explore hot news about the products and check out examples of how the products work at Mac@work. Here visitors can see testimonials, techniques and more on what they will be getting.
This balance of rational and emotional content — in seeing its applications and work in progress — urges consumers to fall in love with the Apple products and feel comfortable about making a serious investment. Great copy drives every page, helping users to navigate and evaluate. When getting into technical info, bullet points are used to make the complex simple and enable the user to move quickly through the data to find what they are looking for.
It’s also important to note that Apple clearly delineates between its product marketing and its online store. Not only does this make it much easier for users to buy online, but the separation fosters a state of trust when the consumer is ready to buy. The information in the store also becomes less about the product and more about the process of buying and the options that are available for each specific product. As does JetBlue, Apple makes it easy for users to accomplish their goals.
Google may very well be the king of the internet when it comes to information, and its dominance begins and ends with the search. Essentially, Google’s mission is to provide information of higher quality, faster than anyone else on the web. Google gives prominence and priority to the ability to search on its homepage, but the company doesn’t stop there. The ability to search is so important that Google leaves pretty much everything else of its homepage. There’s plenty of white space — nothing else to compete for the user’s attention.
Its complete and unwavering focus on search has led Google to a crushing lead in the online search game. The company’s homepage has stayed essentially the same since its earliest days. Google has resisted the urge to redesign or add distracting new features and instead has tweaked and realigned so that users know what to expect every time. As Google has expanded to other web apps, such as Gmail, it has continued to utilize and emphasize search as the key to finding your email. Forget folders; just type in the keyword! The company has taken what it does really well and implemented the knowledge wherever it goes. Now loyal users expect fast, useful, no-nonsense information whenever they use Google.
What can we learn from these three brand giants? Make sure to put what your customers are looking for first. Don’t make it difficult once they get into the process. This often means simplifying your product, simplifying your message and simplifying the buying procedure. Don’t be afraid to connect emotionally with your audience, but make sure to back up that connection with information, while still making it easy to use. Great copywriting is the key to a good user experience. Finally, remember what you do really well; stick to it, focus on it and implement the heck out of it. In the end, your customers will appreciate an online brand they can really trust.