While spending my time developing the new theme for this site, the reason for developing it was upper most in my mind. There are a lot of nice free or inexpensive generic templates available. However, if you want to be recognized, your look must be different. You must stand out from the crowd in many ways to succeed as a business. For your web site, the first impact and impression you get to make is the look & feel of your site. It comes even before your visitors read any text on the site! If it is not unique, your potential customers won’t be able to tell you apart! A possible competitor could go out and obtain the very same template and confuse your customers, simply by imitating your look.
Branding is almost an over-used term these days, but it still represents a core part of a successful business. Your business must be recognizable and identifiable so you can take credit for your work where it is due. But, remember that branding does not begin with the look of your site. It begins with your Unique Selling Proposition (USP). Ed Roach over at Small Business Branding has a great post on what to do if you are Drowning in Competition. In it he describes the use of USP as helping you eliminate your competition by narrowly defining your target niche. While Ed calls it “Unique Selling Point,” the concept is the same. I learned it many years ago from multiple influential sources, so we agree on what it means, if not the phrase.
You must make your business identifiable by what you do and how you do it. There should be no one out there doing the same thing you do!
Andy LaPointe, also at Small Business Branding, asks if your business’ Brand has Graduated from Kindergarten, he points out three key factors in defining your USP: Industry, Geography & Product. He points out you don’t have much control in defining your niche at the Industry level, and limited control at the Geographic level. But you have 100% control at the level of defining your product! No matter what you product is, whether it be physical goods or a service, how you define it is what makes your business unique. You must make decisions at this level before you get far in your business. Or in developing your web site.
Your USP gives you a state of mind in designing your web site. I wanted to acknowledge my desire to be free and recognize how I could be of service to others by developing this resource site. I’ve always been a teacher in my life, sometimes in the classroom, but often on the job to my co-workers. I love doing workshops and making technical presentations to an interested and interactive audience. This site is meant to demonstrate my skill both technically and philosophically with my attitude for sharing what I know, or helping others find out what they need to know that I might not–yet! I love learning, and have often said that life without learning would be too dull. In a technical field such as the web, you must continually learn to keep ahead or even survive. A long time fan of Stephen Covey, I share in his belief, presented in his book First Things First, that the fulfillment of the four human needs and capacities “to Live, to Love, to Learn and to Leave a Legacy” is vital for both our personal & professional success.
Your brand may change over time, as will your web site. If we don’t change, we stagnate. That is why there has been so much turnover in companies on the web, some kept pace, others burned out, and others put up a web site to say they had one and forgot about it. Be the first, not the last. Decide what your current brand is, close your eyes and visualize it. Then open your eyes and get to work creating your vision.