It’s not every day we take a comprehensive, unbiased and systematic look at our brand, let alone evaluate or assess its general overall health. But it’s a smart idea to pay close attention to any cracks that might be showing up in your brand, particularly online. Because the sooner you spot the cracks, the easier it is to fix them.

The clues

These are my top three clues that tell me if there’s a problem. I’m talking particularly about websites here so whether you’re looking to make a leap in your career, land a new job or client, just notice if your head is nodding up and down (or shaking back and forth) as you go down this checklist. Does it apply to you or your brand, or not? Of course, there are many other clues (invisible and not so visible) out there but this is just to get the ball rolling, and get you looking, evaluating and assessing the cracks, too.

Clue #1: No sign of clarity

Do you know that feeling when you land on a site, and before you know it, you’re scratching your head, feeling baffled and then, feeling irritated? That tells me there’s a lack of focus and intention on the site, and the clues are screaming out, ‘Go Away’ or ‘Don’t Buy,’ or even worse, ‘The Lights are Out.’

OK. What to do?

Start with getting clear. I reckon clarity is hugely underrated. Get a handle on exactly what you want your visitors to do when they land on your home page. Then, make it very simple. A confused mind never buys and never wants to connect or engage. Instead, the confused mind just says “I’ve gotta get outta here, fast.” Understand that a lack of focus and clarity is going to undermine your efforts. Then focus on creating a brand that is totally congruent and clear. FYI Clarity around brands happens to be hugely appealing. The minute you get clear, it’s easier to attract more attention, raise your visibility and make more money.

Clue #2: Resistance to showing up

Please don’t keep me at arm’s length when I land on your site. First of all, it’s not friendly. It’s not going to keep me hanging around for very long. What’s more, I’m not ever going to want to come back. Showing up online means you know how to create a presence, how to create a dialog and keep it going – and then, knowing the subtle parameters of social engagement. It can be tricky but it’s worth making the effort.

OK. What to do?

Do your research. Look around at the kinds of sites and brands that appeal, excite and inspire – and then, ask why? Which sites keep you going back for more? What’s their message and why are you responding? Analyze the messaging until you can work out exactly what it is that resonates. See how you can identify those elements, make them your own, and then focus on incorporating that kind of energy into your brand.

Clue #3: No clue that design matters

Design matters. Today, marketing is design driven – there’s no doubt about it, and that goes for online and offline. If you don’t have a design bone in your body, this is the moment to reach out and ask a friend or colleague for help, direction or whatever it takes, to get your finger on the design pulse of your brand.

OK. What to do?

Design is one of the key emotional triggers. Our brains pay attention to design. Visuals sink in. Visuals are memorable Don’t fall into the trap of saying “Who cares about design, anyway?!’ If you want a brand that resonates with your audience, make sure you bring your own kind of individualistic design element into the mix. Make it your own – and then, own it. It will make heads turn, for sure.


Mary van de Wiel is best known for her global expertise when it comes to coaxing out the real power in brands to dramatically increase sales. Van is founder and Creative Director of She is the author of soon-to-be-published Dead Brand Walking: A Brand Therapist’s Viewpoint. Follow her on Twitter.