I scratched my head when a small business in New York City asked us to do just that: build a website with brand personality.
Then it occurred to me that small businesses should be even better at projecting their personalities online than big companies.
Debra Kravet is the client. Her high end dry cleaning company had been around for more than half a century and the parents and grandparents of many of her customers had been with her almost that long. The challenge was attracting new customers, which was tough, because the company, Fashion Award Cleaners, doesn’t have a store front. It’s all pickup and delivery.
Her first website looked like this:
I asked her about the company name. What did it mean? Debra didn’t know. She’d bought the name along with the business and customers a long time ago. She did know that she wanted to keep the name.
Hmmm. Fashion Awards. Had the fashions that came into her cleaners won designer awards? Who knew? We puzzled over things for a while and rendered four concepts then called Debra. We showed her the ideas on a computer – we’re in Miami and she’s up north – and talked her through them on the phone. She looked at them and … crickets!
She didn’t like any of them. Back to the drawing board, whatever that is these days. We bounced ideas around focusing on personality, fun and involvement. We kept coming back to the unusual name, Fashion Award Cleaners, and that brought us to the concept of fashion shows and then the idea of places in New York where the people who design and wear award winning fashions might go.
The Dry Cleaner You Use When All of New York is Your Catwalk.
We loved that line when we put it with illustrations of different places in New York with tall models walking along the catwalk across the website. It was right. After that, it was all details, like the content of the website.
Debra’s upscale customers certainly didn’t need or want cleaning advice. That’s her job. So what would interest this tough audience? How about a blog focused on New York Events where these lovely garments might show up?
Thus the Talk of the Town blog was born, with the T in Town crossed out and replaced with a G - Talk of the Gown. New York’s filled with ideal events for this sort of thing: a new show at The Guggenheim, a Soho Gallery party, a new restaurant, an off-Broadway hit, jewelry, a real fashion show and on and on. Each post links to the event and we always mention at the end of the post that dazzling outfits cleaned and tailored at Fashion Award Cleaners might be at the event, looking perfect.
The new brand personality and look are already on Fashion Award’s trucks and it would be cool if we could get the models walking along the sides of the trucks like they do online.
Here are a few things to consider if you’re thinking of developing an online personality for your small business brand: 1. Does your brand have a personality now? Does it look like most of the companies in the category, or is it unique?
2. Do you show people in your photos? People like to look at other people (not stock shots).
3. Does your copy sound down to earth or is it full of “corporatese” that’s really just a company talking to itself?
4. Do you sound like a friendly brand? Friendly works. Apparently Diane Sawyer’s ratings are going up for that simple reason.
When you get a chance, please tell us about your branding efforts and your company’s personality. The comments section below is great for that. Thanks for reading this.
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