Understanding Our (Web) Brand

Marketing projects move fast. Web projects move especially fast—yesterday’s trend is replaced with tomorrow’s fad. We have to pump out new content. New designs. New widgets. New . . . new . . . new.

Shortcuts happen. You need an intro paragraph for your shiny new webpage, so you cobble something together. You may not think much about the words—you just need to get it out.

When web marketers and CMS liaisons rush—when they just “get it out,” they actually tend to overdo their content. A filler sentence that isn’t needed. An “over explanation.” Words to fill the void because we think we have to get something out there.

In the face of this, it is good to revisit our brand guide, to both refresh and reflect. Our websites are important. Arguably, they are the most impactful piece of external marketing that we have. Our web content was reached over 20 million times last year. It is important that our sites are on brand.

Messaging

I find myself stressing over one or two sentences now and again. Those two sentences that you need to get a webpage off the ground. I’ve been trained that they need to be full sentences. Lots of meat. You need to have something to say, right? When I go down this road, I often create something that is—yuck.

That’s when I borrow inspiration from our brand guide. Be specific. Straightforward. Honest and to the point. Tell it like it is. And use real voices and experiences from Michigan Tech. When I remind myself of our brand, I question the need for those two intro sentences. Can I make them into something useful? Or, am I just making filler because that is what I was trained to do? Sometimes I cut the intro. Sometimes I reshape it. It might even become a little longer. Word count isn’t the goal, though. Give our users something that will help them; something that will tell our story.

Headlines and CTAs

Our brand calls out the need to tell stories. To focus on action. And to keep sentences simple and flat. Music to my ears!

Our brand guide is a great writing for the web guide as well. If you have experience or training in writing for the web, you know that headlines are important as web users skim content. You need to highlight your call-to-action (CTAs). And you know that great story telling will keep your users engaged and interested.

Reading and rereading our brand guide is a great exercise for anyone who makes updates to our University’s websites. We put the guide together to make your job easier—not harder. I can confidently say that it is a valuable tool for me. I revisit our brand guide monthly to refresh and reflect.

Joel Vertin
Director of Digital Services