Being different- Why a site identity matters so much

The lone apple in a pile of oranges stands out. A color on a black background stands out. In the same way, a website with a unique identity will always stand out. With websites, functions, services, products and content are the colors and unique identity mechanisms that make them stand out. This is a basic marketing principle, and it’s as basic online as SEO- Identity creates market profile.

Product ID basics

Just about all of the world’s best-known products are based on their identity. Apple, Microsoft, Google, YouTube, Facebook and a range of other product names are literally parts of the furniture online. They’re built in to public perception, and they achieved it by getting a lot of attention with their unique characteristics.

A brand profile is created by information, both directly sourced from the product base and from media information about that product. This process takes time, but it also builds brands. For websites, there are a series of dos and don’ts that define the site identity.

A case in point is the Huffington Post, the major online news and views site. This site uses a combination of celebrity articles, news, gossip and views to maintain a steady stream of content for its users. The Huff Post, as it’s known, was started by Adriana Huffington, using her access to US big names and her reputation in the industry to create from scratch a very high profile, very conspicuous website which receives millions of hits. It’s seen as a sort of “socialite New York” news site, which is pretty much a guarantee of hits from a very wide range of interest groups.

The website identity issue

The average website may not start from an upmarket range with a lot of built-in sources, but the principle remains for successful sites. Range and scope of content are the big drivers for a site which gets attention and rankings. It’s also the key to commercial success, making site advertising and sales far more effective.

So- How to create a site identity which is unique?

The basics are very simple, but they’re also hard work:

  • Unique layout and strong visual identity: Visual keys are the initial brand recognition methods.
  • Original content: Made in-house or outsourced, content quality is the major driver for real interest.
  • Media: This needs to be a strong, targeted and high quality media with good sourcing and very high consumer values. Ironically, diversity is one of the big selling points in this area, with new content and good information values.
  • Search Engine Optimization: This isn’t some sort of “mystic technical ritual”. It’s the difference between getting hits and watching the grass grow around your site stats. Good SEO is an extremely effective tool, and largely responsible for new hits.
  • Forums and interactions: These are very high value features and attract and keep core users. They’re also a lot of fun, and produce a lot of valuable engagement.

Talent- Going with your strengths

Talent is the best possible asset in website management. If you’ve got a pet subject where you’re a real expert, can produce excellent content, and interrelate with site users on forums, etc. Focus on your strengths, and you’ll find a unique site will create itself. Have fun!