World Wildlife Fund: Website
One of the greatest aspects about market branding relates back to one of the greatest aspects about life: identity. In order for an organization to be successful they need to have an identity that makes them unique to other organizations. That is the difference between an organization and a brand. The article, “Branding Your Website” lists two components for branding a website. The first is work towards an honest identity. The second is be consistent with that identity. (Net Impact) Considering this advice could be found in the pages of a self-help book, it is surprising it is meant to help companies establish a brand. Finding a corporate identity is very similar to finding individual identity. The first step is looking at yourself honestly and seeing what your identity means to you. After that, it is being consistent with what that identity means.
Unfortunately, most individuals do not make a website about themselves to establish their personal brand to the world. Companies, however, have the privilege of marketing themselves in the best light to the world. The struggle then comes of how to best execute this. One staple component to this marketing mantra is the website. A website is what broadcasts a company’s identity. There is no doubt that a website is the epicenter to a corporation. A website can make or break a brand, determining if a company is worthy of their name. The question then becomes how to make a website matter. What is a branding marketer to do?
As I chose the World Wildlife Fund as my favorite brand in last weeks’ post, I want to further delve into what makes their website the coolest thing since Kool-Aid commercials. The World Wildlife Fund establishes themselves as a brand because they have a strong website. Their very identity is created through their website. As we have learned the key to a great website is strong content. While you can not click on an individual’s About Me Page, you certainly can for a website. When you click on the World Wildlife Funds About Page you gain a greater sense of what their organization stands for. The CEO of the WWF, Carter Roberts, states, “Conservation endures as a living discipline because it is inhabited by a magnificent collection of people. Only by working together can we create the solutions to the most vexing problems we face.” (WWF) In just one sentence we can understand the identity of the World Wildlife Fund. They believe in working together to help make the world a better place. Sounds simple enough. The next step then is creating consistency with that message.
One of the foundations of market branding, are Push and Pull techniques. In order for a website to be successful they need to have a good foundation of both marketing techniques. Let’s make things simple by defining these terms. Push Marketing is defined by helping the company get their products or ideas out into the world. Using email newsletters, RSS feeds, and text messaging alerts are great modern day push marketing techniques that can be easily implemented into a company website. Pull Marketing, in contrast, is known for drawing a consumer in in order to find the company’s products. A well placed article on Facebook, AdWords on Google, and an SEO component all work well with today’s websites. Pull marketing arguably thrives greater in today’s advertising. It is the mastery of both that we see corporations dominate.
The WWF website implements both push and pull marketing. For the push elements they most notably have members sign up for an email that sends them weekly newsletters. If you join the WWF on their website they also have a text messaging feature that sends you texts about updates, social campaigns, and environmental news. These features are a way to get their brand message noticed by the public. For offsite push marketing, they send newsletters mail to members of the WWF. They also have numerous rallies, conventions, and leafleting campaigns around the world. In 2015 in the rile up before the climate debates in Paris, 785,000 members of the WWF took part in a climate march.
It is important to note that all of their offsite campaigns broadcast the website, thus bringing everything back to their center. You can see in the picture from the climate march that they list the website on their banner. All of these efforts add to the consistent marketing brand of the WWF. If I have learned anything about brand marketing, it is that consistency is key.
When it comes to pull marketing, the WWF website has numerous ways of pulling consumers in to research their brand. What I like best about their corporation is that they are not afraid to use social media to engage an audience. One very popular pull marketing technique is writing news features that draw attention to their brand. Their website has an entire page dedicated to news and press articles. Their news page has articles that are about the WWF and also articles that relate to environmental issues. They often retweet articles from major news sources onto their website. They just recently posted an article about elephant poaching from the New York Times that links to their twitter feed. I also saw that they post articles on Facebook that link back to their website. One article just featured photos from the artic by Florian Schulz.
Finally, they use a strong SEO. The smartest form of advertising is making your product easy for researching consumers to find. SEO draws an audience in when they are researching products that relate back to your brand. When people type in “endangered pandas” into Google the WWF species page is the top site to click on. By doing, so they are bringing their audience to them.
Another favorite aspect that I absolutely love about the WWF website is that they keep their content current. They are constantly posting news and features that pertain to the organizations overall brand. Jared Leto recently posted a letter about the North American Bison on the front of the websites news feed. After reading the article I have the option to repost it on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or email. Using a well known celebrity endorsement keeps the WWF website present with todays audience. Along with fluff pieces they are also using their site to educate audience about issues that are the most concerning to them. They recently posted an article about an artist using painting as a way to protect Bristol Bay. The artist does some beautiful paintings that are both engaging and educational.
I love that I can explore the WWF website both on my laptop and my phone. With so many people accessing their information via mobile devices it is important to make a website marketable in both desktop and mobile formats. It makes it more fun for the viewer. They have so many articles, photos, and research that I can just explore at my leisure. The design of the website is also pleasing to the eye. That’s never something that hurts. It is also important because it reflects the overall quality of the WWF brand, the very purpose of a brand website.
As with everything pertaining to social media marketing, a website is just one of many components that make up the big picture. The main difference with a website, however, is that it should be the biggest platform for a company’s brand. While many people have debated the use of a website in today’s social media empire, people who know brand marketing know it’s importance. The key thing is using a website in the best way possible as the back bone to a brand. Davia Temin in one of this week’s articles articulates this conundrum, “Very few organizations have gotten this strategy totally right so far. But we submit that the answer will be for organizations to use their websites as the hub of their electronic and mobile business and their reputation, and then use social media company pages as spokes, exploiting each platform for its unique benefits and audience.” (Temin) A website should be the embodiment of a company’s identity and social media channels are just different parts of their overall personality. The WWF executes the social media conversation by having features that link to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Google+. In doing so they are reaching their brand out through a variety of ways, but always bringing it back to their website. They have social sharing buttons as well that allow viewers to share their content around the web. It all becomes a greater conversation that strengthens the WWF brand.
The greatest component that I have found lacking in the WWF website is that they are limited in their interactive features. One of the greatest ways to market a website is to add interactive features. They give consumers a reason to keep coming back to a website. They pull an audience in, so that they can later leave with the greater message of an organization. The one feature that I have found of the WWF website is an animal trivia game. Website users can earn badges as they are quizzed on their knowledge about endangered animals. It is a great concept, but sadly a bit of a snooze fest. While I love the idea, I think that this concept would better marketed as an app feature that would then connect to the WWF website. I have found a WWF Explore app that was released in 2015, but the app is not well marketed on their website. For a company that has access to footage of baby pandas and elephants, they do not seem to take advantage of this as well on their website. Just by looking at YouTube alone baby pandas could rule the world. While I am aware that the WWF takes most of the video footage from wildlife expeditions, they still could be better at pulling their audience in. Perhaps an interactive game that is featured on the website would bring in a more consistent viewer.
Aside from this small issue, as you might have gathered I am pretty much enamored with WWF and their website is only one component to their organization. When it comes to websites I would say that it is one of my favorites to explore. It expresses the identity of an organization I love, all the while selling me on the idea that saving the world is possible. That’s quite an idea to sell nowadays.
“Branding Your Website: Branding Consistency in Navigation, Social Media, and SEO” The Net Impact. July 26, 2011
“Don’t Kill Off Your Website” Temin, Davia. January 9th, 2014.