Questions to ask yourself when developing a brand story

Introduction: developing a brand story is crucial for website design

Where did you come from, what are you doing now, and where are you going? Developing a brand story that speaks to your vision and what sets you apart from your competition is an important factor of good website structure. You need to figure out how to best relay all the important information for an online audience that typically has a 15 second attention span per webpage. Yeah, tricky. The best way to ensure you have a solid brand identity is by narrowing your field and asking yourself the pointed questions below.

How does a great company story online help you become a major player in your industry? Here is How to establish yourself as an industry leader through your website. 

Question 1: What distinguishes my goals from my vision?

First, let’s understand the difference between a company ‘goal’ and company ‘vision’. Goals are most often concrete steps your company will take in the next few years to achieve attainable milestones. These goals should be aligned with the interests of your company, your investors, and all others involved. A vision, however, is usually more abstract. Visions are something you hope to achieve in the future, and can be a bit more far-reaching. A vision often includes the way you see your company impacting the future and what it’s place in the world will be. When developing a brand story, make sure to separate your concrete five year goals from your aspirations for the distant future.

Question 2: How would I explain my product/service in one sentence?

Every company needs to be able to explain their main service in an ‘elevator pitch’. If it takes more than a few sentences to explain your ‘About Us’, it’s going to be very difficult to have a clear and straightforward content strategy on your website. It can be difficult to be concise, so start by writing everything that’s important and then drastically cut back until you have two clear sentences.

Question 3: What is one thing I offer that none of my competitors do?

Nothing kills a company’s website more than getting lost in the crowd. When developing a brand story, you should first do research on all your competitors. What elements are they pitching heavily on their websites? How do they structure their most important information? Did you develop your company because you saw something was lacking in your industry? What was that one thing? Find what you do that’s unique, even if it’s something small like extending your hours of operation to accommodate both east and west coast markets. Highlight those unique aspects on your website. You can also learn from the masters and read 6 lessons from famous companies on creating a killer brand. 

Question 4: What are three highlights about my company that investors would be interested in?

If question 3 was about researching your competitors, this question is about getting into the mind of your potential investors. What elements are important to investors of your industry, and how many of those boxes do you tick? If you’re a mining company, how many in-production projects do you have vs. exploration? Are any of your sites 100% owned? No one understands the assets of your industry like you. If you are newer and have yet to make any major strides, what are some concrete ways you’ve been moving towards your goals? Sometimes even showing determination and highlighting a strong plan for the future is enough to hook an investor.

Question 5: How have I failed?

This is a big one in developing your brand story, even if it’s kept as an internal question (we don’t mean you should be plastering your failures all over your website). What were some of the major setbacks in developing your company? Are they issues that could arise again? And most importantly, if a bit cheesy, what have you learned from your failures and how will you grow? Often analyzing your past failures will help you build more targeted goals.

Question 6: Why am I here?

The last question is the one abstract one of the bunch and might even include a bit of soul searching. But really, ask yourself: why are you here? What makes you work towards your company goals and vision every day? What is it about your company that you believe in? Get personal in thinking, because it’s most likely the reasons you love your company that will resonate the most with your audience. Web audiences are smart, and can tell when a company’s vision is ghostwritten or crafted from a template. Allow your audience to see the human side of your company and why you’re more than just a bunch of people in a building.


Conclusion: now get everyone on board

Developing a brand story means nothing if only a few people in your company understand what you’re all doing there. Every single person who works for you should understand as well. If you’re developing a brand story, make sure everyone else also knows the company’s goals and why they give up their time each day to be working with you. A common goal makes for a hard working and well-oiled machine. Happy researching and happy brand developing!


SSR Mining

The Situation

When SSR Mining came to us for a website redesign, they had recently become a multi-mine producer with the acquisition of a large Nevada gold mine. With freshly pumping veins running through multiple continents, the company needed a brand refresh and a website that reflected their growth and stature.

 View Site

The Solution

For this project, it was important for us to showcase every aspect of the company to the highest possible standard. We focused on creating a site with an optimal user experience that appealed to both casual browsers and potential investors.

Silver Standard Portfolio 1
The Interactive Media Awards recognize the highest standards of excellence in website design and development. The competition, founded by a nonprofit organization, is designed to elevate the standards of excellence on the Internet. We’re proud to accept the award for Best in Class investor relations website for our work on the Silver Standard website redesign.


Custom design for each page of the website.

Addition of interactive elements across the site including a project map highlighting their assets.

Overall restructure of sitemap and information architecture to streamline navigation and improve user experience.

Revision of investor and corporate responsibility sections with clear categories.

Silver Standard Portfolio 3
Silver Standard Portfolio 4

Going Live in Five: what happens to your website post-launch?

More than just a pretty face 

It’s been a long road with many revisions and different opinions, but your website redesign is finally complete! The site has been tested, every button pressed and each inner page shows your successes and opportunity as a company. You’re ready to send your new website spiralling out onto the internet for the whole world to see. You lean back in your chair and wipe your sweaty brow, triumphant. All the work is done, right?


If you haven’t already guessed by this week’s title, there’s a lot more that happens to a website once it’s been taken live, especially for a public company. Andrée Emond, who leads our updates team, says it best when she describes a website as ‘a living document’. Once the site goes up, you’re anything but finished. Luckily for your company, there are many agencies out there who offer post-launch support teams. This week, we’re teaching you about those teams and why it’s so vital for public companies to work with an agency that offers this long-term website help.

What exactly does a website post-launch support team do?

Obviously, it varies from company to company. Our post-launch support team (aka the ‘updates team’ or ‘badass updates superheroes’) has a myriad of different responsibilities each day, especially since we cater to public companies. (Our updates team are masters of email dissemination, news releases, and are always checking the wire to see what’s crossing). In the most general terms, however, post-launch support is there to make sure that anything that goes wrong after a website launch gets fixed swiftly and smoothly. Since a website is a living document, things happen all the time that need attention. Your content gets outdated, or maybe you’ve created a new investor presentation and want it featured prominently on your site. It can be a headache to figure out your own avenues to go about altering your website once it’s complete. This is especially the case if you’ve gone through an agency that gives you the website as a pretty package with a bow, but then leaves you to fend for yourself afterwards. We don’t do that at Blender, and instead stick with you in the long term.

Words from the masters

We sat down with our updates team leader Andrée Emond and Blender updates superhero Heather Seehagel to learn more about their role in the company and how they help our clients out each day. Andrée works out of Toronto and Heather out of Vancouver, so all the bases (and timezones) are covered.

Why is post-launch support so important for public companies to have? 

A: The role of the support team is to maintain the relationship with the client, while meeting their needs in a reasonable and timely manner. Their website is a living document, and attention to the content is what’s most important to clients once the site has launched. Making sure the content is always being maintained is what really matters. When it comes to working with public companies, our team is there to help them meet every need of the Securities and Exchanges Commission. We respond quickly to requests to post and/or disseminate news releases, financial reports, changes in management/directors and share information. We also ensure clients websites maintain a consistent look and feel. 

H: Websites are never finished, particularly for our clients where content is always changing. Public companies require new financials to be posted, share structures to be up to date, and the latest news releases visible to the public. An updates team is crucial to help publicly traded companies function properly. Even small and/or private companies can benefit from post-website launch support to keep their information, product catalogues, etc. up to date to better serve their client base. 

What does a typical day of a Blender updates team-member look like?

A: Every day there is something new. My day usually starts at 7:00 AM (EST) to check in on the news releases that were prepared the day before. For the next hour, those prepared news releases are published and disseminated throughout a company’s email list. At 8:00 AM I start checking the tickets for the day. I see what needs to be dealt with either from the day before, and I prioritize what needs to be done ASAP versus later in the afternoon. Once all news releases are sent out, we do many different things. From updating client websites, to fixing email problems, setting up DNS records, to tracking list management for all our clients. 

H: My position requires a lot of prioritizing and streamlining of requests. Updates goes through our ticketing system to go to work on the current open ticket. When that’s done, we are on to the next one. It’s best to do this while uber caffeinated and listening to some amped up tunes. Some requests only require small amounts of adjustment of HTML, while others are a little more complex and require changes to the site’s templates. However, our most important priority on updates are news releases, as they are the most time and information sensitive. 


What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

A:The internet is constantly changing. Browser compatibility, changes to 3rd party systems and breakdowns cause us to make changes to existing sites repeatedly over time. There are even times where links that may work on our staging sites will not work after they are launched. This is why a post-lauch website quality assurance check (or Q&A) is so important. 

H: The most challenging part are those super busy days where you are inundated with requests and the phone is ringing off the hook. I can’t stress enough the importance of caffeine on days like these, as I have to be in full multi-tasking mode without sacrificing accuracy and attention to detail.


Any final thoughts?

A: It’s important for our clients and community to know that our department is very much involved in teaching. We train our clients how to use our system with our updates guide, etc. and help them figure out how to best provide information to us at Blender so all parties can work efficiently. We start by teaching each new client about our own Blender CMS (content management system) and how to send in their updates in specific formats, in advance of their deadline. In most cases, this ensures the ongoing process goes smoothly, with minimal stress.

H: Timeliness is crucial. Our clients often have sensitive information that has to be released at a specific time. In these situations, it is important that the client is able to look over the content and approve it prior to its release. Therefore, we must deliver within a time frame that allows us to make revisions if we have to. Our client centred approach at Blender really makes a difference and is what makes my job so rewarding. 


In summary:

Remember to think past that moment when your website goes live for the world to see. Nobody wants their website to stay the same forever, especially a public company. For those public companies, so much information must be updated frequently. Have a plan for when your site needs to be updated, if it’s not something your company can do themselves.


Now, time for the shameless plug: our post-launch support is pretty kick-ass. Drop us a line at [email protected] at any time and we can make your website’s adolescent phase a breeze.