Let’s say that you own a business that’s had a relatively successful “offline” experience. Maybe you run two or three retail stores or restaurants, for instance. And now you want to design from scratch (or redesign) a site, so that your online presence “rhymes” well with what you’ve established offline.
For instance, maybe you have a beloved mascot at your store, and you’d like the little guy to pop-up on your site in a way that not only reminds the recurring visitors who you are but also engages visitors who are unfamiliar with you and helps attract new leads. Or maybe you employ a certain kind of color scheme in your stores, and you want to keep that color scheme continuous online. For instance, perhaps you run a bakery, and you bake a lot of pink, orange and red cupcakes; you want the site designer to carry over those colors and include lots of sumptuous and “delicious” shades of red, orange, pink, etc.
Integrating your online and offline “brand presences” is not rocket science, but many business owners make this process much harder than it should be, because they effectively silo the offline and online marketing efforts.
For instance, someone might hire a web designer and give that person only a cursory description of what’s going on in the offline business. The web designer then goes off and creates something that he or she thinks might be appropriate, based on that skeletal sketch of the business. Inevitably, though, he or she will miss nuances that will be very obvious to the owner. Then problems ensue with the design, schedules get pushed, tempers flare, etc.
The simple fix is to identify the critical features of your offline branding and then communicate those in a way that your designer will understand and will be able to replicate.
For instance, maybe you use a certain type of font on your menus or order boards. Or you use a certain kind of language with your customers. Maybe, for instance, your business has a cheeky sense of humor. If that’s the case, you want to identify that sense of humor, give examples, and then make sure that any copywriters you use continue that tones and those themes. That may all sound like advanced common sense, but you’d be surprised by how many “brick and mortar” business owners make this mistake; they just don’t take the time to ensure continuity between what’s worked offline and what needs to happen online.
Likewise, if and when you make changes to your offline branding – copy, design, pricing, etc – you need to make sure that’s integrated quickly and appropriately with your online presence. This means that if you have separate teams dealing with offline and online, you need to make sure that they talk with one and another!
The cool thing is that, when they do talk to one and another, you can experiment in either realm, and the results of those experiments can feed back positively in the other realm. For instance, let’s say you run a promotion online that gets a lot of new leads. Steal that copy, and start to use it in your stores to drive more people in the front door.