Expectations are kind of a big deal. When you walk into Starbucks you get free WiFi, friendly baristas and overpriced coffee. You expect your name to be misspelled on the cup and an endless supply of marshmallow dream bars. On a good day you expect to find a table near an outlet so you can spend 3+ hours “working” like the location independent boss that you are.
This is my experience with Starbucks. Perhaps you have a different one. Maybe you’re more of an Urth Caffe kind of person. I’m not judging. The point is we have specific expectations of the brands we interact with. If we’re going to cultivate a meaningful relationship with an audience, we need to be strategic with managing expectations.
Chances are, your website is not designed for a meaningful brand experience. It’s probably designed by a pro who learned that green is the opposite of purple and that Monsterrat is a great font for bold typography. There’s design to make something look pretty and there’s design for creating a memorable brand experience.
The next time you work on the website for your online resume, blog or indie project try these tips to creating a kick-ass brand experience for your audience.
1) Forget what the experts say. Go with your gut.
There’s nothing scientific about intuition. Just go with what feels right for you and not what’s trending or what others are doing.
2) Focus on what you want people to feel.
Emotions are powerful motivators. When someone visits your website you want them to engage with you, in some way. You want them to read your blog post, watch your video, buy your product or hire you for services. Emotions are key to getting people to take action.
3) Create an email opt-in that grabs people’s attention.
You’re building a relationship with your audience. Give them a reason to be interested in what you have to offer.
4) Plan out biweekly or monthly newsletters.
Once you have them on your list, you’ll want to keep them connected with you. It’s easy for people to forget about your brand if you’re not actively and consistently reminding them that you’re here.
5) Map out your brand journey.
Imagine you’re sitting next to people as they browse your website. Once they visit one page, where do you want them to go? What are the top 3-5 pages you want them to visit? Create an experience that guides them through that journey.
Never assume that people are having the kind of experience with your brand that you want them to have if you’re not actively creating that experience.
Brainstorm on 5 words you want people to use when they describe your brand and then check back in with your website to see if you’re meeting those expectations.
Pretty websites are awesome to look at but it’s not enough if you want to leverage your digital brand for opportunities. Being strategic, especially when it comes to design, is the only way you can manage the expectations of how you want your brand to be expressed.