Out With the Old: Does Your Website Represent the Company’s Personality?

by Halisi

(made the adjustments for Windows based machines)

I love spring!  I love to see the daffodils, tulips, and all of the other bulbs that I’ve forgotten I’d planted, come into bloom.  All of this rebirth in nature reminds me that I need to re-look at my branding.  This spring I’ve re-branded A New Dawn.  We have a new logo, new website, and new brochures etc., are on the way.  We didn’t make this decision just because we wanted to spend money.  We made the decision for several reasons.

1.  Our old materials appeared dated

2.  Our old branding did not represent the company’s personality any longer

3.  The company has added services and this was a way to remind our current customers that new and exciting things were happening at A New Dawn.

Now that you’ve gone through the efforts of spring cleaning; you’ve made sure that your house is prepared for your guests.  You’ve made sure that your staff was ready to receive your guests; now it’s time to make sure your guests know who you are.

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and post snapshots of live websites.  If I get dinged, so be it.  There’s nothing like a live example to illustrate a point.  And hey – while I’m criticizing  the website, I’m not necessarily criticizing the product or service – so maybe they’ll get a few new customers from this experiment.

Case #1  - The Case for the Urban Church.  Pearl Church (found by accident) vs. The Pearl Church

This does not look urban it looks Jane Austin!

Okay so the above church says that it is a church for the urban community.  Now of course they might mean urban as in “city”; but these days “urban” means cool, street, young, etc.   This website, with its soft colors reminds me of the sheer fabrics used on flowing dresses of the Jane Austin era.  Whatever, it doesn’t say COOL.

This is cool!

Now – this site says “urban”, this site says cool.  This is a great example of a website representing the personality of the company or organization.

Case #2   The Bent Noodle and Ajuua! vs. Tuk Tuk and Rumbi

So this is the home page for The Bent Noodle restaurant in Aurora.  Their food is pretty good, but this website…  First of all are we selling food or family values?  The family picture should be saved for the About Us page if it is absolutely necessary.  I want to see beautiful pictures of beautiful pasta dishes.

The website also looks cheap.  It looks like it was either designed in the 1990s or designed by a 1st year design student.  There are inexpensive ways to get a great looking website…don’t settle!  I bartered to get my first website designed by a designer that designed $20-30k websites by day and my website by night.  It took a little longer than I would’ve liked but it was cool, edgy and reflected our personality at the time.  Don’t settle.

Their logo needs to be redesigned too.  The cheesy clip art on the side and that green arc thing – there’s just entirely too much going on.  This logo was definitely designed at home in Microsoft Word.  Am I being too harsh?

Can we decide on a font?

This is one of my favorite Mexican restaurants.  I’ve heard there are better, but I’ve yet to find them.   First let’s look at the top picture of the food.  Does that look tasty or what?… Not!  The Bent Noodle doesn’t show food, and Ajuua! shows bad pictures of food.  I’m not too sure what’s worse.  The picture is flat, it has bad lighting or maybe it’s overexposed.  No I got it; they took the picture while the food was under one of those heating lamps.

I know Mexican design is ornate and colorful.  That’s great!  However, 4 different fonts on one page is a NO NO.  Once again it looks like the flyer that mom designed for her Sunday’s ladies lunch outing.  You remember that flyer, the one designed after she figured out all the neat stuff Microsoft Word could do with type?  Just because you have access to a lot of fonts does not mean that you’re supposed to use all of them on one page!  Pick two fonts that best represent your company and stick with those two and only those two.  Good food – bad site.

Aloha

Rumbi Island Grill… of course it is!  Look at this site.  Now they may have more money for the customized buttons, but other than that this could’ve been built from a template.  However, the site is great – easy to navigate and makes you feel you’re in for vacation-style fun when you go to their restaurant.  If the food is as good as the site, then they should be doing well

Smooth and modern

Tuk Tuk Thai Restaurant.   I can’t stand seafood, but this looks great!  The site says modern urban.  It’s cool, it’s simple.  Once again this site could’ve been created from a template.  What gives it the personality are the colors, the great, yet simple logo (no cheesy clip art attached) and the great photography.  Go to your local university and talk to the photography professors.  I’m sure they can suggest a student who would revamp your photos for little to no money.  Credit on the website might be pay enough.

Case #3  My Mom and Pop Shop – Rockinbead vs. Pot-Luck Pottery

This is a small shop on Colorado Blvd, that allows customers to paint their own pottery.  Great way to create a unique gift  or to create a unique set for yourself.  The site is simple but great.  The photography is good.  The logo…not so much – other than that; the site gets an A-

Did I get the right site? Did I have a typo?

You know the sites that exist simply to take advantage of the people who unwittingly have a typo in the URL?  This looks like that site.  In fact, that’s what I thought it was until I noticed the “Welcome to Rockinbead”  I had to circle it so you would see it.   Now I know sites that require back-office apps like shopping carts etc., are a little more expensive, but I find it hard to believe they couldn’t have at least inserted a logo!?!?!  Tell me the difference between the above site and the one below?

The above is a typo site.

TAKEAWAYS:

  • Your website should not be an afterthought; not in 2010.  It should be just as important as the signage on your storefront.
  • This spring do a rebirth of your site – make sure that it reflects the personality of your company or organization.
  • Update your logo so that it looks 21st century.
  • Make sure it’s simple enough to look good in gray scale and embroidered on a shirt or printed very small on a business card.
  • Don’t settle for cheesy clip art.  There’s always a way to afford professional looking marketing pieces – be creative…

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Halisi April 17, 2010 at 8:05 am

Thank you Robert for the compliment. I actually do know the Pearl District quite well; Powells is by far the best book store I’ve ever experienced.

Not only am I a regular church goer, one of my biggest clients is a church. While I agree that they probably meant urban as in city. As marketers we always have to be aware of not only additional meanings of words but the more popular meanings of words. And today urban typically means cool or “street”. When I showed others the first page and asked if this seemed like an a church for the “urban community” they said no it seems like a church for the suburban community.

I suggest that The Pearl Church either change the picture of the candles or use another word besides urban – perhaps cosmopolitan.

Reply

Robert April 16, 2010 at 10:00 am

This is a pretty good blog, except that your evaluation of the two Pearl Churches is way off-base. Now, I don’t know if you go to church or not, but there is a big difference between being a church with a huge and deliberate growth/expansion plan that requires marketing budget that is spent to deliberately craft a message of “coolness” and being a church who’s just being a church – spending budget on actual work to help people and not concerned about being so cool. It’s kind of a fundamental difference and if you knew the neighborhood that the Pearl District is in in Portland, you’d know that your assessment is of re: the demographic of the area. One of those churches draws from the immediate neighborhood, and one brings people in from beyond because it’s cool.

So, the “urban” in the first one is accurate in it’s true definition of “in the city” – in a very dense area, actually. Not about “being” urban.

Other than the fact that there is a huge distinction to be made when talking about churches specifically, the general direction of your post here is pretty good – I do this for a living and I tend to agree with you otherwise.

Reply

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