April 21, 2014
Website Structure and the Brand
Previous Branding Updates have pointed out that branding for utilities does not involve inventing new ideas of value, catchy phrases, or slogans. It focuses on helping policy makers and community leaders properly categorize the utility’s value, competencies, and character. One of the ways to do this is to consciously build the brand using the website’s structure and content. A good example of this is the Cascade Water Alliance website at http://cascadewater.org
The Cascade front page has several branding features, including the following:
- Highlights the brand commitments or core values of the organization (in the boxes)
- Commitments are water supply, cost effectiveness, regional leadership, water-use efficiency, and the commitment to its members
- Emphasizes the need for long-term planning and proactive investments
- Clearly defines Cascade’s service area and member agency partners
- Emphasizes that Cascade’s members are the source of water quality and reliable service
The need for long-term planning is the central theme of the webpage’s video, “Cascade’s Vision for Today…and Tomorrow.” Both the webpage and the video highlight the co-branding and co-messaging relationships between Cascade and its member utilities. This partnership is reinforced by the fact that leaders from each community are the speakers in the video.
These concepts are simple but very important. When communicating any information it is essential to give people a framework for thinking about the value and characteristics of the utility. And when developing a website, the important point is to consciously address the brand when organizing the website’s content. Without this structure, more detailed information will not have the proper context. And out-of-context information rarely leads to desirable perceptions or trust.