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Thoughts

Is your website a true reflection of your brand?

Simon Croft, Creative Director

Think about your website for a moment. Do you feel that it communicates your values? Do you love the design, layout and structure? Are you proud of the content? Does the website feel uniquely yours?

You may have answered ‘no’ to some of these, and if you have, that’s okay. For many businesses, the idea of redesigning your website sends shivers down the spine. Where do you start? Who do you include in the process? What do you ditch from the current site? What can you include this time that you never got around to adding last time? Perhaps it’s just easier to put it off for another year and settle for what you have.

Building a new website can be a daunting job for businesses, and we wouldn’t be lying if we said that some clients come to us with some deep-rooted trepidation from previous projects ‘gone bad’. But we welcome all web projects with open arms, because we know we’re a safe pair of hands. In fact, from the very first phone call all the way through to the launch (and beyond), it’s our goal to get businesses and organisations excited about their website again. And more importantly, excited about their brand.

It all beings with brand

Whether we like to admit it or not, we are all affected in some way or another by brands. From the clothes we wear, to the supermarkets we shop at, and even the finer details like who we buy our energy from. At some point in our lives, we’ve made a conscious decision to buy from one supplier over another. The influence could have come from something as small as a line of copy in an advert, or something as big as tens of thousands of five-star Trustpilot reviews.

Brand is all-encompassing, and for any business trying to build a presence online, the website is a significant and central piece to it all. It’s where your customers may stumble upon you, it’s where you customers will refer their friends, and sometimes it’s where your customers come to complain. For such a broad range of use cases, your website has a big job on its hands.

By helping our clients think of their website in a different way, we can educate them, excite them, and most of all, empower them. By thinking with a brand-first approach, website jobs become brand projects and all of a sudden, teams aren’t dreading yet another inconclusive chat about the sitemap, and instead, they’re energised and full of anticipation for what has become a wider conversation around values, people, culture, design and content.

Isn’t this just a massive upsell?

We don’t think so – we are giving value. Our clients haven’t come to us out of the blue. They’ve either been referred to us or they’ve seen our own website. In both cases, we hope that our reputation as a thoughtful and meaningful creative agency is what made them choose us over another agency who may have delivered just a website.

Web design agencies exist in all shapes and sizes, from your successful sole-traders through to 50-head agencies teeming with designers and developers. But not everyone bakes brand into the project, and that’s how we like to differentiate ourselves. Come for a website, leave with a stronger brand.

Selling the dream

So how do we do this? Well, it’s often clear from day one that our clients are looking for much more than a WordPress template and a basic maintenance contract. It won’t be a shock to them when we start talking about logos, content strategy and photography. But where we do like to surprise and delight our clients is in our process.

Something that’s fundamentally important to us is getting to know our clients as if they were a part of our own team. We’ll often interview staff throughout their business and ideally visit them. This will give us a feel for not only the people, but the culture too. We’ll also look closely at their social media output and any blog content. This gives us an understanding of their tone of voice (or sometimes, lack thereof). By embarking on this research early on in the project, we can make informed and validated decisions throughout the brand process.

Collaboration is key

Our early stage fieldwork also brings another indispensable benefit, and that’s the client/agency relationship. We want our clients’ ‘agency call’ to be something they look forward to. Rather than resenting that early morning Zoom catchup with the ‘difficult agency guys’, we want our meetings to be the highlight of their day, week or month. We achieve this in a number of ways, such as:

  • Having the confidence to challenge our clients’ ideas, but being able to articulate exactly why
  • Having the flexibility to respond to challenges. Orangery is not a ‘computer says no’ agency
  • Understanding that one size does not fit all when it comes to websites, and delivering something truly bespoke is our way forward
  • Making the branding project a collaborative process from start to finish
  • Helping break down silos and barriers, and uniting internal teams
  • Suggesting new and fresh ideas, not the ‘same old’ that they’ve become accustomed to

There is a push/pull sweet spot to be found here. It’s somewhere between point one, challenging our clients’ ideas, and point two, being flexible around clients’ challenges. Upon finding this balance, we set the groundwork for what we hope will be a long-lasting, trusting and fruitful relationship that extends far beyond the launch of the website.

Life after launch

Agency world can be fast-paced, and for many, the door to one project is barely closed before teams are jumping through the next one. But that’s not how we work. A website and brand project is, for us, about longevity. Whilst we try to keep within the spec of the project itself, it’s important to think about the extra touches, which can be technical aspects or future additions. Here are some examples:

  • We help our clients see the value in sustainable web services, and will offer green hosting with carbon offsetting as standard
  • We will revisit our clients when they’re ready to talk about extra functionality, such as ecommerce, payments, maintenance or SEO
  • We will empower our clients with the tools and knowledge they need to manage the website themselves day-to-day, such as adding new starters to a team page or a blog to their website
  • We will help them understand how their brand can work offline or in other channels such as social media 

Some of these are ‘cherry on top’ touches, whereas others are simply milestones that we hope for our clients to reach as their business grows. Either way, by providing a thoughtful and meaningful service, we are trusted by our clients and are able to follow them on their digital journey.

Here are some of the journeys we’ve been on lately:

Station 10

As a data analytics and insights business, we had to find a balance between the company’s deep, technical expertise, and their strong and personable team culture. Some examples of going the extra mile are the morse code-inspired motion graphics on the home page, and the extensive team page that not only shows headshots of the entire business, but demonstrates the company’s brand values.

British Champions Series Hall of Fame

A fully manageable website that allowed the client full autonomy when it came to updating content. Brand was fundamentally important to this project due to the heritage and prestige of the overarching organisation. Whilst there was less of a company culture to be considered here, it was important that we understood the values and mission from a different perspective. In this case, immortalising equine success.

Samson Centre

The Samson Centre, based close to us in Guildford, is a charity focused on helping people with MS live the best life they can. We spent some valuable time with the team, which allowed us some insight into the important work that the charity does. These initial interviews were understandably emotional, and it became clear from day one that culture, values and experiences were to form a key part of the brand.

Final thoughts

Next time you’re at a nice restaurant, pay close attention to the customer experience. When you take a look at the menu, you’re asking yourself “How hungry am I?” That’s something you can answer for yourself. But everything else is in the hands of the restaurant.

A good customer experience will be the waiter making an informed suggestion. Or recommending that you try something different from your last visit. Or perhaps bringing you a sample directly from the head chef.

This tailored, personable and welcoming approach is how we like to treat our clients. Tell us how hungry you are, and leave the rest to us. We are here to not only design your brand and your website, but to design your experience too.

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