The other day I was planning a client workshop with a colleague, when we discovered our mutual love of www.lingscars.com
What’s great about Lings Leases is that it doesn’t so much ignore every rule in the book when it comes to web design, it takes the rule book and bludgeons the authors into submission until they’re willing to admit that animated gifs are actually a very good thing indeed and that every website should have them. Along with some karaoke sing-a-longs too.
Although then again, does it?
Ling’s Leases reminds me a bit of a Tommy Cooper performance; at first glance it looks like a gloriously haphazard amateurish mess, but take a closer look and you realise a lot of thought and planning have gone in to both to provoke a certain reaction.
For Tommy Cooper, it was laughter; for Ling’s Leases, it’s trust. And probably a bit of laughter too.
Ling clearly recognised that to build a brand in a highly competitive and mature market, like car leasing, she had to get an edge.
That meant creating a service proposition and a website completely unlike anything else in the marketplace.
She also recognised that the best way to win the trust of customers was to give her business personality, and what better personality to place at the heart of her marketing than her own?
A woman in a male-dominated industry, a recent immigrant to the UK and with an irreverent sense of humour, Ling is perfectly placed to offer customers something different and she does that so openly and directly it’s hard not to be convinced by her.
A very different website that I was browsing around the other day is the new Guardian.
Definitely a different experience to Lings Leases, but actually the underlying values aren’t too dissimilar.
Transparency and personality are still central to the experience: a cleaner presentation, better integration of pictures and video, the ability to embed Guardian content in your own blog or website to aid sharability, and we can even see what the Guardian journalists are reading to inform their ideas and writing.
According to the latest edition of the Edelman Trust Barometer (my former employer) firms need to think hard about how they build trust with customers, as the average level of trust in business is apparently declining:
There’s a lesson here I think about personality: the more genuine personality you can bring to your marketing and the more you can make your people part of the marketing communication, the more potential you’ll have to build trust.
This takes more than simply featuring pictures of your staff on the website or in glossy brochures; it depends on their direct participation in the communications activity and the willingness of the firm to give them autonomy to tell the firm’s story.
By all means work with them to craft that story in the first place – in fact, make that an essential part of your plan – but allow them to tell it in their own way.
The subject matter might be different, but Ling and the Guardian both tell powerful stories.