EP 147: Website Teardown – Branding For Architects (Part 2)

by Jonathan DeCollibus on December 7, 2018

We’re going to be reviewing and talking about the importance of branding today and specifically the value of building a brand that can succeed in an increasingly competitive environment.

As I’m sure most of you know, there’s over ninety thousand architects in the USA and a limited amount of projects. So the architect who is branding the best and who has the most solid marketing in the most solid reputation out there is going to be the brand that will dominate in today’s world.

So what we want to do is we want to take a look at this one Web site over here. And this is something all that we’re gonna be doing here is essentially reviewing this Web site and giving it sort of a score on a few different key points in the hope of this being that you can take some value from this to apply this to your own brand and your own presentation that you have online.

So Ara, why don’t we talk a little bit here about the presentation of this website itself.

What are some of the glaring things that you see right off the bat that catch your eye and I want to sort of preface this before you answer by just letting people know I mean you talk to hundreds and hundreds of architects you’ve been on hundreds of these websites and you’ve seen the really good ones. And of course you’ve seen the ones that need work and you can really tell the difference between a successful architect’s website and one that may not appear to be successful even though they are.

So what are some of the missing elements here and what are some of the angles that you can bring to this to to sort of help and help illustrate some of the changes that a website like this would need in order to really ramp up their presentation.

Sure John, so off the bat it’s almost like you’re staring at the empty space so your looking and all you see is green. And the final information is just ducked to one corner. So, off the bat we see already missing pieces and yet whoever’s looking in the website’s hit the dislike is that there’s a mental block.

What’s going on here? Have I taken a look at time machine back to the 1990’s. For lack of a better phrase. But that’s what’s glaringly obvious and nothing screams out to me when I do look at the information.

It’s not nothing is sparking my curiosity here. It just it just looks like a cut and paste job. What’s going through my head right now is. I don’t even know the design. Oh my. Click on say the portfolio right out of curiosity but I’m actually kind of looking at these pictures thinking okay these stock photos or whatnot they’re just random google images. Already I’m seeing I’m seeing that struggle. This individual to really communicate their brand.

In fact, I think they’re doing themselves of injustice. Obviously if you spend time looking closer at the designs of you’ll think, oh wow fantastic, but they’re shooting themselves in the foot essentially. Just having this very basic, lackluster sort of design, which especially with this backdrop that is green backdrop I’m looking at.

Now what one thing which I think you would agree with Ara is that architects are held to a higher standard in terms of the design of their site.

Yes. Right.

As an architect you’re a designer you’re someone who should have some sense of of aesthetic that is going to play a part in how successful your own clients are.

So I think people tend to generalize and they will they will judge by the cover they will really legitimately judge the book by the cover and if they see something like this these guys are definitely talented and they’ve got a set of skills that are valuable. Right. But I feel like they’re like you said they’re doing themselves a disservice if you were to talk a bit about the perception that they have. what. Look let’s say that there is a potential client visiting the website right now what type of perception would they have of this brand.

I think off the bat they’ll think well okay if the site poor their designs are poor. We’re in what you would have called the attention economy is that we’re all vying for everyone’s attention. That because there is so much stimulus for us. So much information, so much visual stimulus out there that our attention spans are short.

So, potential client goes on this website. They to make the assumption that this architect has poor designs. If they if this websites poorly designed, what are their designs like?

What about the perception in terms of what the brand is worth. I mean this is obviously not coming across as a premium brand. So are going to be struggling I think in terms of commanding premium fees that they would need to command in today’s market. And just by the mere fact that their brand is. Being displayed like this they’re they’re sort of shooting themselves in the foot in an RFP RFQ scenario where they’re going to be competing against somebody else who maybe has put some more time money and energy into building a brand that’s actually going to pay off because they can charge more.

They are severely undervaluing themselves. It looks like they are designing they’re not designing buildings in 2018. They’re designing buildings at the turn of the last century. That’s what it comes across if the Internet existed back then it would be like the designing and building to 1910 or something like that.

So let’s let’s approach this from the perspective of brand elevation. I mean I think we’ve we’ve covered this a little bit already but if that’s what’s your gut telling you about in a competitive space I mean how-how is your brand elevating or not elevating or they’re their offer and their own their own principles of the firm and the design of the firm. all this. I mean what’s the impact of the elevation of this firm right now.

Severe, it’s a severe negative impact.

I am confused looking at that. What do those images represent? There’s no synchronicity the like.

So like you said there’s no there’s no synchronicity. This is not even connected to the about us.

And I think most that most people what I own say ninety-nine point nine percent people are going to click on that not bother reading it because. There’s nothing. Oh look let me put it this way. There’s nothing stimulating their imagination. You see your well-designed web site. You see their design speaking out to you. Just one look from a potential client and you imagine that your you’re already thinking about, “Wow, how’s my project going to look.”.

But this looking at this this doesn’t give me that feeling whatsoever. I mean look at look at the contact info picture. I mean I see pieces of wood. That’s just the of destruction to me that looks like something those that does look like that’s what it looks like we’re going to build you all a masterpiece like. Little simple things like that is going to affect one’s perception. It’s going to give a different impression it’s, “Well, I want a building that’s going to fall apart.” It’s very important that you go on a website with the first you’re capturing the imagination in that first look your you’re already getting them to feel like they’re a client.

And there’s also the aspect of this that, we always say this, that the website is your office. The website is your office space. Are the windows broken. Are there you shady characters hanging out in the back. Is it is it located in a bad part of town. Do you have cracked windows? And doors hanging off the hinges?

Or do you have a beautiful building with an amazing design? The best part of town with an amazing view of the entire city.

I mean that’s the reality of this and that people don’t realize it but this is the equivalent of walking into somebody’s office the doors falling off the hinges they’ve got roaches, rats running across the floor is just repulsive to the marketplace especially nowadays.

So let’s talk a little bit about differentiation. Is there anything here that that leads you to believe that that VMA, this architecture firm has the ability to be different or be unique or to be superior in any way to any other architect.

To be honest, none whatsoever. The reason being, if you dig deep that information I’m sure is there. That to a lot of people I’m going to get past the first page not quite frankly. No one’s going to knowing it just gets a chance to see the differentiation, to see how they’re different.

Even if you’re going on to the contact page. I mean it’s they’re they’re making it difficult for people to reach out to them. I actually e-mailed this link over here and it came back as undeliverable. And so there’s the email itself is not even enough. The only way somebody could contact them is with these phone number or this phone number here. If they’re still if that phone number is even still active. You know. But. This is this phone number maybe active. But the thing is if I don’t I didn’t even try to call them because I thought no probably not even a business anymore.

Now let’s take a look here at one of our clients, CPA architecture. This is a website that we just wrapped up with them now.

One of the things that I want to point out is if we’re talking about the presentation of a site, the presentation of a brand is it needs to be more of an experience right? You only really have about one to two seconds to make that impact. So somebody comes over here it’s him that comes over here the chances are are measurably higher that somebody is going to do business with this firm rather than than this firm.

One look at this site and you’re already immersing yourself in this environment you see. So, that image before that cinema, that cinema project I mean. You’ve got the feeling of your your going into that building. You’ve seen a masterpiece come to life right in front of you. And this is it. Is not just like a picture of a random building. This is a whole environment. They did giving you an insight into what your building’s going to look like when they place it somewhere.

You got the people around, the cars around, it’s like this building already exists.

And then take a look at how dynamic this is as well because as I scroll down all these things fade into the scene. Then again we make it easy for people to connect right this is just on the home page. Your name email subject line message send, done.

99 percent of people aren’t simply going to just want to fill out a quick form hit send and move on rather than be spending days and days and days trying to research and figure out how to connect with these people.

We built over 71 different logos until we came up with this logo right over here. Think about that, seventy one logos went through before we came up with this one right over here.

We are able to go beyond and and continue to innovate and change and transform the perception that these brands are having because this brand before and later know probably later on we’ll do a breakdown of the before and after of this entire brand because it really is something to behold.

This brand was very similar in some ways with this brand over here where it was a very static site. It was not a lot of design that was really put into the site and the interactivity was was very similar to something like this where you have a lot of these know quite small photographs and things of that nature that don’t bring people in.

So anyway just to wrap this up Ara, is there anything else that you would add on this. Any any tips or pointers that if we were talking to VMA that we would be able to tell them to to help build their brand better to help with their presentation?

I think with them it’s being it’s being really straight up that we need to overhaul this entire website, that your not only are they shooing away customers when they get on this website they’re leaving a lot of money on the table.

Doing an injustice to themselves. If one is to take the time to look at their portfolio their designs are great. The issue is that it’s just the total injustice here. To themselves. They need an overhaul. 100%.

100 percent. Thanks for going over this with me I think this was really valuable and I think this is going to be very valuable as well for all the architects who will be taking a look at this.

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