The Balancing Act: Brand Consistency vs. Conversion Optimization

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A successful brand reputation can be one of the most powerful assets that a company possesses. It can cut through the clutter in a prospect’s mind and serve as a shortcut to decision making. Many companies spend huge sums of money promoting and building their brands for this reason. They also vigilantly guard against distortions or miscommunications of their competitive positioning and messaging points.

The brand guardians within a company usually include those responsible for advertising, marketing communications, product development, and product management. These folks might extend the sphere of brand guardianship to outsource vendors such as advertising or PR agencies and media buyers. Together, the brand guardians work to maintain and monitor acceptable applications and usage of your logo, color choices, fonts, website styles, messaging points, imagery and color choices.

One of the biggest concerns of brand guardians is the lack of consistent messaging about your company’s service or product. Because of this, brand guardians often develop a set of standards for messaging that they enforce across all media outlets without variation.  Unfortunately, these brand standards may be working against you when it comes to conversion optimization on your website.

My company was once hired to perform a homepage redesign and landing page testing project for a multi-billion dollar client.  We were presented with a 179-page brand guideline document that the client insisted must govern any design changes we proposed. Unfortunately, these guidelines were developed in the age of printed materials and contradicted many Web best practices. Thus, when the goal is to increase online conversion actions, your focus should be on finding a landing page design that your audience responds to best.  This may require brand consistency to take a back seat.

A brand guardian’s insistence on messaging orthodoxy can often shut down the testing of revolutionary new sales copy or headlines that represent outside-the-box thinking. In conversion optimization, you are trying to find the right message and the best presentation of it.  If one of your alternative messages draws a better response, it means that it resonated better with your target audience.  The winning element can in fact become part of your new and improved product messaging.

Branding and conversion optimization need not be continually at odds.  Educate the brand guardians in your organization on the role of landing page testing as a market research tool.  Rather than allowing the brand guidelines to govern and restrict your website messaging, show your brand guardians how landing page tuning and testing can help them understand the changing needs of your target audience.  At best, this practice can validate the effectiveness of their original messaging, and at worst it will teach you something about your customers and their decision making process that can make you more effective in future communications.

Conversion optimization and landing page testing adds a “continuous quality improvement” component to your branding strategy. After all, at the core of the testing philosophy lies the possibility that you may not have the optimal solution now, but that through the testing of alternatives you may identify better solutions that will enhance your performance and more effectively engage your customers.

About the Author

Tim Ash is the CEO of SiteTuners, a leading conversion rate optimization agency that has helped over 850 clients worldwide. He is chairperson of Conversion Conference, the first conference focused on improving online conversions, and is a highly-regarded presenter at SES, eMetrics, PPC Summit, Affiliate Summit, PubCon, Affiliate Conference, and LeadsCon. Tim is author of the bestselling book Landing Page Optimization and is a contributing columnist to many publications. You can connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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