I read a lot of company websites. Whether it’s writing a LinkedIn profile, a blog post for a client, or just getting some context regarding a company, I troll many a company site to find information about them.
And finding it is not always easy.
As vital as it is for a company to have a website, what you say on that website is just as important.
A company needs to sell their proposition. Whether you make a robot vacuum, build a smartphone that will actually last 12 hours, or will clean my house and make my family dinner, your website has to have the right language that tells me what you do, why you do it, and how you’ve helped people.
The Company Story
On a Google search page, each listing has a little description that appears below the web address. Google gets this description from the website’s HTML. Like your LinkedIn profile, this is language created and controlled by you.
For LinkedIn Makeover, their description reads:
“It’s not easy to write about yourself. Get a LinkedIn Makeover and turn your LinkedIn profile into an IMPRESSIVE digital introduction to the world!”
In this description, we learn:
- The Pain That They Are Solving: Writing about yourself.
- The Platform: LinkedIn.
- The Service: Helping you brand yourself better.
A lot is accomplished in 147 characters. Not to mention, it’s snappy.
Beyond the HTML, every website needs these descriptions in a few places like the home page, an “About Us,” “Who We Are,” or “Our Story” page, and any other place you think makes sense. These descriptions tell users what you do and give them the context and language to understand everything on your site.
If users don’t understand, they won’t stick around.
The Origin Story
Every great comic book character has a solid origin story:
- Armed with amazing powers from a radioactive spider bite, a teen fights crime after his uncle is murdered.
- An Amazonian warrior princess leaves her island to battle injustice.
- In a parent’s garage, two friends build a computer that will eventually revolutionize PCs.
Maybe the last one isn’t a superhero origin story per se, but it sure is one you remember.
People love stories. They want to know why a successful businessman chose one path over the other. They want to hear about the “EUREKA!” moment. And they want to know how a company came together, what drove them, and how they shaped all the pieces into what they are today. People find these stories inspiring.
Beyond inspiring, a good origin story serves concrete branding purposes:
For Consumers: It provides them a window into the companies’ morality and philosophy. It shows how they overcame hurdles. These beliefs and underdog approach gives consumers reasons why they should support a company. Consumers feel like they become part of something bigger. (Check out my previous post about supporting a company)
For Future Employees: These insights can inform future employees what the culture and work environment might be like. They want to know if a company will be a place to find success and growth.
The Help Story
When writing a website, companies often focus on the things they can do versus what they’ve done. A list of the services that you provide is great but the work you’ve done, the way you did it, and the impact you delivered really seals the deal. These stories model how a transaction or engagement would go, what will happen, and how it helps.
This idea applies to services and products. How does your product affect your consumers? What benefit does it provide? How does it change things? Giving people the understanding of how the product works gives future customers expectations.
And a reason to buy.
While I understand that you may have confidentiality roadblocks in your path, it doesn’t mean that you can’t create model language that describes situations, solutions, and results in less-specific terms. For example: “We gave a Fortune 100 company a telecommunications service that forwarded and transcribed voicemail messages to employee smartphones. This greatly improved customer communications by allowing employees in the field instant access to messages.”
No breach of confidentiality but still the message was delivered.
People Need Stories
Each of these stories serve a specific purpose. Their creation can help a company begin to discover how to truly engage their customers. Like a blog post, websites should have a certain style and tone of language. Writing these stories develops that language. Then you can begin to say what you want to say.
Your customers are listening.
I think you should tell them a company story. Or three.