Your Business Identity When Building a Website

If I had a dime for every business that hashed out its identity or business plan during instead of before the website development process, I’d be a rich woman. Secretly, I think it would be kind of refreshing to kick off website plans by asking the client: Just who do you think you are? Don’t get me wrong. I love our clients, and I don’t like confrontation. But the answer to that question is incredibly important to successful website development. Great websites come about more easily for businesses that have a solid idea upfront of who they are and where they’re trying to go.


Copyright 2009 Helga Weber


Know thy business before you start building thy website.

My experience is that many business owners don’t even realize just how schizophrenic they seem as they work out what they want their website to be and do. Revision after revision after revision eventually fleshes out their true identity: We’re remodelers. I guess we’re builders, too. No, wait, we’re actually mostly remodelers but we work with builders. But we also do roofing. Actually, we mainly do roofing. But we’re going to start getting into vinyl siding this summer. Wait, scratch that. Can you add a section on basements? And mold remediation? We’ve decided to change our business name from Toilets Forever to Castlemakers. Never mind. We’re going to spin off the toilet side of the business and create a new business focused on remodeling. But only commercial remodeling…

We don’t tend to hear all this information at one sitting. It tends to arrive in fits and starts, like little revelations, well after copywriting, design, and programming are underway. So, in a very real way, the business’s image, brand, plan, model, or other foundational pieces are being created on the fly. When a business hashes itself out in the midst of website development, there are far more potholes in the development process, and so the process slows. The business’s identity crisis hobbles creativity, raises costs, delays launch, and can leave all parties feeling frustrated.

There is no surer sign that you’re having a business identity crisis than a third, fourth, or fifth round of substantial revisions 80 percent into the development process.

Some clients decide during the development process that they are trying to be too many things to too many people. Some realize they need to create separate spin-off businesses. Some even change their business name to better reflect what they do. While it’s wonderful to see them figuring out who they are, I must say that there’s a reason the website developer’s office isn’t furnished with a psychologist’s sofa. There’s a better time and place to resolve this stuff.

As a full-service marketing firm, Mid-West Family Marketing helps businesses resolve their identity crises before website development. It’s an efficiency that pays off in spades.

When authors submit a book proposal to agents or publishers, they have to boil down hundreds of pages into a paragraph-length synopsis. In theory, business owners need to be able to do something similar for their business. They need to have clarity about their business. And it’s best to get that clarity before trying to create a new website. So, let’s return to the question: Just who do you think you are?