How to make your website feel like your brand

Using these tools will keep your brand front and center when beginning a website project

With everything else you need to think of when you embark on a new website project with a partner - personas, technology, site maps, information architecture, user experience, design, content and more - your brand might get lost in the shuffle. 


A brand should permeate everything you do as a marketer.

With a stellar campaign in market, you may be on your way to doing that. But, yes, that “everything” includes your website. The digital experience you build gives you a special opportunity to move beyond mere conveyance of information into something that truly reinforces the feeling of your brand for your audience.

Your website is one of the most outwardly facing representations of your brand. It’s also very likely the most functional representation of your brand - a customer experience the customer manages themselves. Your brand can define the digital experience you provide your audience which is quite an important part of the overall experience you provide. This is especially true in healthcare marketing where unique positions get defined by things much deeper than messaging, creative or sales opportunities. Innovation, patient intimacy, convenience, quality, these positions resonate with audiences and give a health system the opportunity to reinforce a unique experience and bond. Your website is a valuable opportunity to build that bond to reinforce your brand.  

When your audience feels and understands your why, you will build your brand. To achieve that on your website, adopt the adage, “Be it, don’t say it.” You website (like other communications opportunities and experiences) should embody the emotions you need your audience to feel, not say them.

Your audience needs a reason to care about you and a reason to believe in you or they will get what you do elsewhere.

Five brand development tools, perfect for your new website

This article will cover five components your team needs to build a website that builds your brand. If you are working with a partner to build a website or begin a digital project, starting here by building out these deliverables will enable you to apply your brand as your work on your website and digital experience. They are simple in construction if not in conception (as they are based on deep research and discovery). And they are vital to ensuring your team has not only defined your brand, but is also able to bring it to life in impactful and creative ways for your audience.

The purpose of putting these specific components in place is to make it easy for everyone building the website to keep the brand front and center so it is defined, represented and activated from planning through launch and the audience’s entire experience. 

Know your BRAND ESSENCE

To get to the true essence of who you are - why you do what you do - you must get to your purpose. Your WHY.

When you see a website, or a message from a brand, and don’t feel anything, it’s because the message and experience is focused on WHAT, not why. To get to the essence of your brand, identify what you do, how you do it and why you do it. The WHY builds a connection with your audience that they’ll feel. 

The Brand Essence condenses everything you know and believe about your brand into digestible statements - WHY, HOW, WHAT - that provide a foundation to keep your team focused on the core of your brand as they work. When you launch your website, everyone should be able to feel your brand.

At Core, the Brand Essence is a critical part of our Brand Compass, the key output of the Brand Definition stage of our 5D Brand Process. 

As you plan, build, write … start with WHY

Once you have your Brand Essence … you must use it.  

To build your brand as you build your website, you should lead with the WHY you’ve identified in your Brand Essence. Let it guide your decision making. It’s tempting to get into the details right away, but focusing on succinctly making your why felt ensures your brand is represented. It’s an action you must take as you plan and build everything. Ignoring your why in your planning and execution can cause missteps that lead to diluting the power of your brand and shifting away from what makes you unique, from why your audience chooses you. As you plan the user’s experience and journey through your website, keeping your why front and center will help your team make decisions based on the brand and how the user can best connect with it. 

This ensures you do more than tell your audience how many beds your flagship hospital has. Yes, they need to know what specialties you feature and where you’re located. Functional information like that is very important on a website and it should be easy to find. Still, you shouldn’t lead with it when working to build your brand. They need to know why they should choose you over the other guys (the ones in the big city, out of town, with the bigger reputation you can’t seem to break through, in spite of the quality of care you provide). 

Which leads us to our next point … 

Identify your DIFFERENTIATOR

Part of your brand discovery process should be to define what makes you different. What is your position and how does it relate to the competition? There are many drivers of choice for healthcare consumers (innovation, convenience, experience, performance and results, to name a few). To stand out against competition, identify what makes you different from your competition. You’ll see the gaps and, therefore, the opportunities to best position your brand and how it can uniquely serve healthcare consumers in your area. 

Your differentiator can even lead to specific features and experiences on your website. 

It can drive the strategy of the experience you’re building for your audience. Innovative? Your website can focus on why you are dedicated to innovation and how you achieve or earn that position so you prove it for your audience. Your website could deliver a number of innovative experiential features that reinforce that innovation. Convenient? This is your opportunity to deliver on it with more than just your location and appointment times. Build in easy access to your providers with videos that introduce them, chat functions that answer questions and online scheduling that helps today’s on-the-go healthcare consumer. Above all, make sure you’ve operationalized your promises so you deliver an exemplary experience. Your differentiator must be backed up by truth and by the experience (online AND offline) you’re building for your audience. 

LADDER Up

All that talk about WHY doesn’t mean you should ignore features and functions. At some point, your brand must get to business. It’s important to understand how to prioritize that messaging. 

Using a Brand Ladder is an incredibly useful way to build the value proposition. It helps to condense a lot of information so it’s ready for easy application through all of your team’s outputs as you get to work.

Build your Brand Ladder to climb up, like a pyramid, from a foundation of features to a peak of emotions.

  • Emotional - This is what you make your audience feel. 
  • Functional - These are the rational and practical benefits you offer people. It’s what people get out of the how of your brand essence.
  • Defining Features - These are your core brand attributes. 

Aligning your attributes, benefits and the emotions your audience will feel in a Brand Ladder provides the digest your strategists and creators need to build a website that reflects your brand, and the ongoing content it will doubtless require. The Brand Essence and Brand Ladder are indispensable to the creation of the Content Strategy, User Experience Strategy and everything that serves the audience. 

Speaking of audience … 

Build PERSONAS

Don’t make the mistake of spending too much time looking in the mirror. 

You brand is for your audience. Your website is for your audience. In many cases, it evolves in the hands of your audience. If that’s the case, you’d better spend the time to get to know that audience. And not just the demographics. You must identify and understand that audience if you’re going to create a website and digital experience that serves them. To know how, build a persona(s) that gives you an intimate understanding of not just the demographics of your target audience, but their behavior and psychographics. 

You should understand their: 

  • Personality Traits 
  • Needs & Goals  
  • Pain Points/Concerns
  • Emotional Motivations
  • Desired Outcomes

Detail this profile of the audience you need to reach and serve. Use it as you move through every step of the process. As you address user experience. As you build its architecture and site map. As you create a content strategy. As you consider how your health system’s features can become features in your digital experience. As you design. As you write. As you develop.

Using these tools will put your team in a position to succeed by bringing your brand to life. 

They’ll be able to build a website experience your audience will remember with a brand they’ll feel.

And that audience will be all the more likely to come back again and again. 

Downloadable

Know your options when embarking on a healthcare website redesign project

Download our cheat sheet with 4 topics to cover with your web development partner — and the questions to ask — to ensure a successful website redesign.

Download our cheatsheet

author

Colin Deval is the Senior Communications Strategist at Core Creative.

connect with us

Subscribe to stay in touch and learn about our latest insights into healthcare marketing.