It’s August 2015, which means one thing in American politics and media: We’re in the thick of a presidential election over a year away! For some citizens, all this electioneering hoopla is a bore. For others, it’s their favorite reality show on cable news. For presidential candidates, the early campaign is an opportunity to establish their brand.
This post is the first in Dynamicweb’s new blog series on what e-businesses should learn from how US presidential candidates use the web.
The first lesson is to build your brand. A customer’s relationship with a brand is powerful, whether they’re voting with a ballot or with their wallet. Your brand is what your customer thinks about your company. Branding affects if prospects buy from you, if they recommend buying from you, and if they return to buy from you once they already have.
To see how presidential candidates influence how their customers (potential voters) view them, let’s look at their online errors, specifically their online 404 error pages. The 404 error page is what pops up on a website when a user tries to access a page that doesn’t actually exist. You don’t really want your visitors seeing this page, but presidential candidates have infused their respective 404 pages with personality in order to build their brand.
We don’t recommend foregrounding your 404 error pages, but the content here gives insight on how to build your brand as your own business online.
Hillary Clinton’s 404 page, an image that appears at the top of this post, shows how carefully chosen images help build your brand. Clinton (or her marketing team) chose a family picture at Disney, emphasizing her softer and family-centric qualities. Rather than redirecting you to another area of the site, her 404 page asks you to sign up to volunteer, so it also acts as a lead generation tool. And of course, her logo sits atop the page.
In a simple, single page, Clinton establishes how she wants to be seen and also proactively tries to capture the visitor’s information. You too want to look at each area of your website for opportunities to build your brand and grow your business. Republican candidate Mike Huckabee, similarly, has an image that shows how he wants to be seen, as a good ol’ boy fishing with his dog. Instead of a lead form, Huckabee’s 404 page implores the visitor to check out more content, namely his platform.
Just like these candidates, your e-business benefits when you leverage simple tools, such as a well-placed image and well-timed lead form, to build your brand and attract customers.
Ever since Richard Nixon debated John Kennedy, video has been recognized as a crucial tool to build your brand. The sweaty Nixon looked nothing like the young Kennedy on that newly-popular television invention. And video is just as effective at establishing a strong presence on the Internet. Republican candidate Marco Rubio’s 404 page gives the visitor a short video of Rubio coaching children’s football.
Like Hillary’s Disney picture, Rubio’s video builds his brand as someone that cares about his family. Video gives the opportunity for Rubio to expand on this image as well. Rubio is shown as equating his coaching with the themes of competition and triumph traditionally associated with football. The video also shows that Rubio values these traditional themes, unconcerned with the growing public concerns over children’s football due to the risks of concussion. Whether your company image shies away from controversy or embraces a riskier platform, video is an excellent tool to build your brand.
Bernie Sanders, once dismissed as a Democratic longshot next to Clinton, uses his website to build his brand as a straightforward, honest candidate that cares about righting the wrongs in society. Like Rubio, Sanders also chose video for his 404 page. This time, the injustice Sanders wants to fight is that of improper website navigation.
His video, in classic Sanders fashion, directly tells the visitor that they didn’t end up on the page they wanted and that he will help them get to where they want to go (on his website.) Sanders speaks directly to the camera and the visitor, a tactic that is especially effective for business content in customer testimonials. Check out the testimonials on Dynamicweb’s home page for an example.
The images and videos you put on your website reflects your company values. This content builds your brand how you want to be seen. So if you want to be positively presidential, think about how you leverage your website for the growth of your company. And stay tuned for the next blog on what lessons presidential candidates have for your e-business.