Brand Is A Reflection, Not A Part To Play

by Brian Watkins

A recent chat with Falcon served as something of a case study about brand message. Much like he’s discussed in recent posts about creating a consistent experience, that message sets the tone for all interaction.

As obvious as that may seem in and of itself, you’d be surprised how often businesses handle it poorly. The point itself is straightforward, but really internalizing and implementing it in your branding can be tough to see through your own lens.

Here’s a recent example.

A company that specializes in content creation reached out to Falcon, so he and I were looking over their site. Their tone was very forward and fun, and they used superhero references throughout. It was clear they wanted to showcase how they were different from others, how they were lighthearted and creative. But as much thought as they’d clearly put into the content in some regards, they made a few gaffes that changed everything.

  1. Their content was almost entirely “This is why we’re awesome. [Insert superhero reference.] We’re not like others in the industry. We rock. [Insert more superhero references.]” No focus on who they help or how, or even some general examples of how their unique approach makes a difference.
  2. They briefly mention having specialized software that guides their focus (and how amazing it is), but again offered no detail about how that actually matters. Nothing like “Because we had this data, we were able to draw XYZ conclusions for a client and [insert solution].” They acted like this software was their greatest asset, yet spent almost no time talking about it.
  3. After a few pages of reading the constant superhero references began to feel heavy-handed. They seemed to demonstrate a greater knowledge of Marvel comics than of the industry they professed to have mastered.
  4. Their team page featured a photo of them all sticking their tongues out at the camera and drinking wine. Obviously this was meant to again convey their fun and creative side, but to Falcon it came off as flippant. He said he’d be reluctant to outsource his content to people that seem to party on the job every day.

General takeaway: for people that claim to be masters of web content they demonstrated relatively little understanding of communicating to an audience about the why, and seemed to be trying too hard to be edgy.

That, and several typos we found throughout. Typos are unfortunate for anyone, but particularly for a company whose sole product is “amazingly written material”.

We weren’t trying to be overly harsh when we discussed this, but as artisans of branding ourselves we couldn’t help but notice things that seemed confusing or off-putting.

It’s clear they put a lot of effort into writing their content for their big relaunch, and were obviously proud of what they’d done. Certainly there were aspects of it I thought were great. But all the same it served as good example of how mild messaging inconsistencies can ruin the experience.