Tuesday, 3 January 2012

What does your site’s tone say about your company?

What makes your company stand out from the crowd?
Company websites are an integral part of a brand’s image and increasingly the first thing a potential customer sees. So it’s vital that yours reflects what you’re company is about and what sets you apart. 

Every organisation needs something to differentiate them from the competition. Their USP, as they call it in business textbooks. Or their ‘value proposition’ as they call it in the updated version of those textbooks.

But sometimes it’s difficult to highlight what makes you different. For example, how do you show potential customers that it’s your service that sets you apart before they’ve actually experienced it?

Well, one way is through the language and tone you adopt. If your company prides itself on its straight-forward and personalised service, the tone of the website should reflect this. It should be straight-forward and personal too.

Copy that speaks to the right type of people
Last autumn we wrote the recruitment website for FTSE 250 recruitment company, SThree. This dynamic firm is renowned for offering the best training in the industry – which explains their mantra: ‘recruit attitude and train skills’.

This excellent training is all part of SThree’s USP: the fantastic environment they’ve created for their employees. They see it as the perfect platform for them to grow their consultants’ careers.
However, anybody who’s ever dabbled in sales (or even just met someone who works in sales) will tell you: this industry is a tough one.

Therefore SThree needed to make sure they attract the type of people who were ready for this challenge. Their website had to articulate the fact that, yes, they have everything in place to make you a world beater – but you’ve still got to earn it!

So, how did we do it? Well, by using headlines which were equal parts promising and challenging:

The world. Only the ambitious need apply

We’re proud of our culture. Will it suit you?

SThree’s optimum environment is built on four guiding principles: energy, rapport, reward and respect. These are integral to everything SThree do and are fundamental in separating them from the snarling pack – so they needed to be articulated too.

We achieved this by putting a big emphasis on case studies of current employees. Leaving in their idiosyncrasies and individual turns-of-phrase meant their attitude, personality and commitment to the guiding principles really shone through. These true self portraits also allowed the potential applicant to better judge whether they would slot into the SThree culture.

Find your niche
Differentiating your company whilst engaging consumers is what it’s all about. And increasingly, websites are becoming the key arena for this. The navigation tabs for different airlines illustrate this succinctly:

Help and contact – the formal approach from a company who still think flying should carry a bit of grace – British Airways.

Branson has never been one for a formal approach.
Prefer to talk? – The off-the-cuff interrogative effort from Virgin Atlantic. Highly engaging and typical of a company ran in the spirit of a 61-year-old man who still has the audacity to have shoulder-length hair.

Contact – Ryanair go for the no-frills, basic option. What did you expect?  Punctuation costs extra.

Put your best foot forward
Company websites are now the first port-of-call for potential and existing customers and clients. You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression, so you need to make sure the tone and language you use reflect what makes your company special. Fail to do this and Google will have no qualms serving up an alternative or ten. 

Need help?
With our background in developing distinct tone of voices and branding guidelines for companies, we can help you decide how you want your website to best reflect you.

If you already know what sets you apart - we can make it happen through the language and messaging.


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