It may seem self-explanatory, but websites all over the internet are guilty of this content sin; not telling their audience what their purpose is.
It may seem simple – you make widgets and sell them. The bigger explanation, the one your audience wants to know, is why you make and sell widgets. This can be done through a few avenues, and all of them can be important. Some websites can make a statement in the first paragraph on their first page – a sort of short elevator pitch or one-sentence mission statement which lets their visitors know what they are about and why they should be loyal to the company. This has the benefit of setting the tone right off the bat – we make widgets and sell them because we want to create the most innovative widgets the world has ever seen. Right away, the customer knows more about the company than they did before – their purpose for being in the widget industry is to make the most innovative widgets. They no longer just supply widgets, they are now furthering the very discourse surround the widget industry.
The primary way to provide your purpose is through a more detailed mission statement. This can usually be found in the company description or with the front page – it’s a matter of information design at this point as to where it goes. The mission can be accompanied by a story, anecdote, or some of description as to why this is your company’s mission. So your mission is to build the most innovative widgets? Telling the story about how your father and you used to tinker with widgets when you were growing up, constantly making them better, can provide context as to why you now make it your life’s work to build the most innovative widgets. Now, instead of your company building and selling widgets, your company builds the most innovative widgets, steeped in a multi-generational tradition of building widgets. Your company doesn’t just provide them, your company is the paramount authority in widgets.
Your company doesn’t just provide them, your company is the paramount authority. Show them why.
The second way to support your purpose, is through your vision. Whereas your mission declares your purpose for your company, your vision will describe where your company aspires to be in the future. This is essentially defining what your purpose for being is if everything goes to plan in the future. If your mission is to create the most innovative widgets, then your vision might be to have the most state of the art in-house widget research facility and team. Perhaps your mission to create the most innovate widgets leads to a vision of one of your widgets in every household. Your purpose now has a description, context, and a future.
The third way to support your purpose is through your values. It may sound like something visitors and potential customers should assume, but if you value excellent customer service, then say it and explain how you are going about making it a value of yours. A company which has the purpose of building the most innovative widgets would most likely have “innovation” and “quality” in their values. Since this company is also selling widgets, “customer service” or “quick response times” might be values as well. Now that you have a set of values, your purpose has a description, context, future goals, and values to guide the company towards that purpose.
As you can see, a simple yet effective purpose such as to “build the most innovative widgets” can look like it’s easy to write down on a piece of paper and come up with. However, the most effective ones are usually given a large amount of thought, take all of these aspects into consideration, and let the audience for your website see a good amount of the work that goes into it. There are many tools out there to help with the creation of these three things, and a branding specialist is somebody who can help guide you along your way if you get stuck. Armed with this information, though, you will be able to set yourself apart from your competition by creating a unique purpose for your company, even in some of the oldest markets.