Last week I shared about my getaway with friends and I can’t help but think of how it relates to branding websites. It so clearly directly relates to how our businesses show up to our clients and customers. I’m not talking just about how we show up online, but the whole package experience of walking into our storefronts or interacting with us as real people.

 

The Experience

We stayed in a gorgeous home, 5 houses from the expansive beach on the ocean in Delaware. That alone is a selling point, am I right? From the house we had an amazing view of the bay (but I didn’t think to take a picture of it.)

Walking into the entrance you’re immediately welcomed by a small table for your keys, a bench to use while removing your shoes and plush carpeting leading up the stairs to the main floor. Basically, you know you’re going to be both impressed and relaxed with what you experience next.

The main room was, of course, the living room with a cathedral ceiling, surrounded by the staircase and walkway on the second floor leading to the beautifully appointed, peaceful master suite (which led out onto it’s own private balcony where I’m sure the view of the bay was amazing!)

This house has five bedrooms and three full baths, plus an outside shower (I mean you don’t want to traipse sand in on the gorgeous hard wood floors…) and huge decks. Each bedroom had a theme, and felt so tranquil. Seashells adorned the bedside tables and accented the bathroom counters. The trim was all bright white and everything felt so…perfect.

 

The Realization

Sitting on the cozy sofa, looking through the glass wall it dawned on me how my friend not only remodeled, painted and created the beautiful home for herself and her family, but she also took into account the people who would be renting this home weekly throughout the summer.

My friend could easily have left the satisfactory kitchen just as it was because it was usable and didn’t look that bad even though it was outdated and didn’t quite go with the rest of the house.

She could easily have picked bedroom themes her own (almost grown) kids would have appreciated. She could easily have foregone the outside shower leaving the families to deal with the gritty sand constantly sticking to their feet and the messy cleanup at the end of each week.

Instead, she thought back to what she saw in the other homes as they house-hunted, envisioning what would be needed for a family to stay in this gorgeous home for a week and truly have an enjoyable, relaxing, non-stressful vacation. Then she and her family actually spent a week in the summer home as a renter would and paid attention to what they lacked, what they appreciated, and what would make the stay better for their visitors.

But do you know what she also did? She talked with a rental agent with experience in renting vacation homes. She didn’t just rely on her own knowledge and experience as a renter, she enlisted the help of a professional who knew the ins and outs. This helped them put the finishing touches on their home, making it ideal for the type of visitor they hoped to attract!

 

Then she made things happen.

Not with only herself and family in mind, but for the end-user.

She changed the dark brown kitchen to bright white and added amenities like spatulas and dishes so families could feel bright and have what they needed at their fingertips. She painted the trim throughout the house bright white and the living-room walls light sandy tan so it would be relaxing, light and airy.

She created themes for each bedroom that carried along a sense of beach-y relaxation with plush light blankets for when it gets chilly on fall evenings. She purchased beach chairs and a buggy to carry them in, beach toys and all the things families might forget when they come to the beach.

My friend did the research. She literally walked through the journey her renters would take from beginning to end. She did the work to make the experience truly enjoyable.

Her work paid off as her home is renting throughout the summer and the home is getting great reviews, being booked out more often than she’d prefer! (She’d like to stay there, too!)

 

My friend thought beyond her own likes and desires.

My friend branded her home. She went beyond the colors and house name (SeaGlass on Bethany Beach, Delaware if you’re interested) to give her renters an experience from top to bottom. 

 

You can do the same thing with your online presence.

Go beyond choosing colors that you like. Go beyond having pretty web pages, ones that make you feel good when you land on them.

Go beyond to create an experience for your website visitor. Walk through every step they might take when they land on your site. Make sure the colors you use on your site actually have an impact and support the feeling you want your visitors to have while on your website.

Lead your visitors through your site using hierarchy through font type and sizes as well as strategically placed calls to action.

Allow your visitors to learn about you along this path they take, forming a familiarity with you that will hopefully evolve into a relationship. Guide them the entire step of the way, from the moment they step through your online door.

But even more, follow through and create the whole package. An online experience is one thing, but if this is not reflected with personal encounters with you, your customer will feel disappointed and fooled. 

See, my friend didn’t just do all of this to give a specific impression visually. She took the entire experience and reflected that through the way she styled her home. They work in tandem.

 

“Branding is about so much more than what people see. It’s about how you make people feel.”

-Kimberly Haydn

 

Merge the Impression with the Experience So Your Visitors have all the Feels

Think about the experience you want to give your visitor alongside what you’re able to give your visitor as a customer/client. Merge the two. 

If you’re a rough and tumble, leather boot wearing individual who is pretty blunt and shoots from the hip, having a frilly pink delicate looking website will really throw customers for a loop when they get to the point of talking with you for the first time. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with being that person, just how a huge disconnect between the impression and the experience could cause confusion.

Just like if my friend’s beautifully appointed home came with an experience of rough, broken floors, leaky windows and totally different furniture would cause major confusion to someone who loved the photos they saw before booking. The experience wouldn’t match the impression given. The visitors wouldn’t feel what they expected to feel when seeing the gorgeous pictures.

 

Take Action

Put yourself in the place of your ideal visitor and customer when choosing colors, fonts and the tone and voice of your website. Merge that together with the experience you offer someone when working together. Then assemble your website to reflect the entire picture.

Let your brand reflect the total experience everywhere you show up, whether online or in person. Be genuine in this way and your visitors will already feel familiar with you when they decide to become customers.