Designing Compelling Market Messages

author image Written by: Lia           Categories - Success Stories

How SEO TWIST Maintained Strong Brand Identity and Design Messaging with the International Pilot Academy

There’s something inspiring about flight. People have always been fascinated and enamored with flying, as evidenced by the number of hobby pilots and those who make a living flying as commercial pilots. Becoming a pilot and flying a plane is a dream that many want to make a reality. Enter the International Pilot Academy. The International Pilot Academy (IPA) is a Gatineau-based flight school that wants to make these dreams come true. Owned and operated by Jules Selwan, IPA established a reputation as a leading Canadian pilot training school, all in a remarkably short time since opening its doors in 2011. In October of 2017, IPA approached SEO TWIST and gave us a mandate to update and revamp their website with a new SEO setup and architecture to promote classes and a new college-recognized course offered in conjunction with Cégep Heritage College. While we were excited by IPA’s enthusiasm and availability, we realized early on the challenge would be delivering an exceptional finished product that was more than just a website for a business. While we had to appeal to the broader market of budding pilots, the site needed to appeal equally to hobbyists and professionals-in-training, all while reflecting IPA’s core identity and highlighting their partnership with the College. We set about creating a compelling design alongside uniquely informative messaging to appeal to these key demographics. At SEO TWIST, we immerse ourselves in a market’s culture to understand how customers think, what they need, and how your brand makes them feel. It’s part of a data-informed approach to demographics and market research, ensuring key strategies are backed by pertinent data. And while that data is vital for determining keywords and SEO on a detailed level, it’s still just one piece of the puzzle.

Design that Reflects and Inspires Passion

Before work begins on any aspect of a project, we sit down and speak with the client to get a better sense of their organization’s identity. Who the organization is just as important as what they do and who their audience is, after all.

IPA icon details with SEO TWIST.
A closer look at the icon design for IPA.
Our design lead for IPA, Tina, already had some keen insight into the world of flight and aviation: her boyfriend is a pilot and flight instructor, and she’s spent plenty of time in the air as a result. Right away, Tina had an idea of what would work and what wouldn’t. IPA’s approach stood out in her eyes: become a pilot on your own terms. There are countless flight schools across Canada and the globe, so why would international students from Cégep Heritage College choose that program and IPA in particular? The answer: the agency and empowerment they felt taking their education into their own hands. This message had to be communicated throughout the site. Icons and imagery are important. Tina had an idea that icons and layouts on the site had to be primarily visual. After all, pilots rely on their eyes and clear indicators to assess information at a glance. The site’s refined and straightforward style used these images to grab the eye on the page. Simultaneously, any visual identity had to retain relevance for hobby pilots and professionals-in-training alike. Instead of grand images of massive Boeing airliners, we opted for something a bit more familiar. In-cockpit views and the human element gave users a quick reference point for something they themselves had done or would be doing. That familiarity breeds trust and promotes a positive user experience. And, of course, we had to get a few airliners in there for the wow factor.

Words on a Wing

The majority of the website redesign and creation projects SEO TWIST handles include a research-informed SEO set up. This means fresh, original content to ensure optimization; content is a package to deliver SEO, after all. A brand must speak to its target market. There’s a fine balance between a client’s needs and the needs of their customers. At the end of the day, the client wants results and a site that reflects their needs. However, the true purpose of design and content is to communicate with the user and provide a meaningful user experience. The content team approached the redesign of IPA with an almost blank slate. The project warranted considerable research and detail, but the challenge came in presenting it effectively. Essentially, all users visiting the site are students. They’re here to learn, whether they’re just starting out or they’re coming back for their final lessons. We presented the information cleanly and clearly, avoiding overly long stretches of content in favor of quick, evocative images and ideas that left an impression: “Have you dreamt of a career as a commercial pilot? Earning your Commercial License lets you make a living doing what you love.” Content thus strove to match the clean, evocative images and graphics created by the design team.

Dual Audiences

Cégep Heritage College's branding is present as an IPA partner.
Highlighting IPA’s partnership with Cégep Heritage College meant appealing to two similar yet distinct audiences.
The inclusion of Cégep Heritage College’s partner program for Private and Commercial Flight Training meant we had to ensure that the site’s visual identity reflected the College’s branding considerations. We included their logo, and also worked to ensure that their identity remained consistent without compromising IPA’s approach and focus. While IPA’s focus was very much about taking charge of your education and piloting your career with your passions, the College was promoting a program that gave students the foundation they needed to make their career ambitions a reality. While not exactly alike, the two approaches are congruent and complimentary. Both give students a tremendous sense of control and capability, providing them the means to make their dreams come true. Design and user experience reflect this key message.

Closing Thoughts

Website design affects a user’s feelings, emotions, and attitude. Seen any websites with Commodore 64-level quality design? Hopefully, the answer is a resounding “no” but if you have, then ask yourself, how did it make you feel? You probably felt uninspired, skeptical, or flat-out bored. Ultimately, design is a significant factor in visitors deciding whether they stay on your site and act or leave. Design should be clean, professional, and up-to-date on best practices; it should promote branding and brand equity, maintain a consistent style and theme, and finally, remain congruent with your message. Don’t clutter pages with unnecessary designs, text, or imagery. It can overwhelm users. Our design experts know how to reach your target demographic through the look and feel of your website. It’s their passion to know what looks good all the while understanding your target market, their needs, and how to reach them through design. From the top of the hill down to the finish line, the entire design process is exhilarating for our team.


Using PPC to Amplify Your Message


Paid Ads Aren’t Just About Making a Sale

As a business owner, do you ever feel that all your efforts to get your brand out there are hopeless? Let’s face it, we all have those moments of self-doubt. The constant grind of running a business adds up, and when those moments of self-doubt arise, it can be hard to unburden yourself. It happens to everyone. You pick yourself up, you shake off the doubts, and you get back at it. But still, running a small business can feel like shouting to be heard over a huge crowd of raised voices. You just want to be heard! What do you do? Obviously, if you want to be heard over a crowd, you need to amplify the volume. You need a megaphone, or better yet, a microphone hooked up to huge speakers that’ll make sure you’re heard clearly over the din.

An animated image of a hand turning up a stereo to max volume.
Crank it up!
Your brand and business are no different. You need a way to amplify your brand, a way to get noticed by more customers. That’s where PPC comes into play.

PPC Basics: Pay Per Click Digital Advertising

You might already be familiar with PPC—pay-per-click—digital advertising. If you’re not, it’s pretty easy to understand:

  • You pre-pay a budget that depletes every time a user clicks on your ad.
  • Your ads run on one of many platforms, Google Ads and Facebook Ads being the most common.
  • Ads will show up in user searches and feeds, based on targeting parameters and keywords you choose.
  • Ads typically promote products or services and clicking on one links users directly to what you’re trying to promote.
  • Once the budget is used up, the ad deactivates. You need to set a new budget to run it again.

Simple, right? Need some help setting up a campaign? Would you like to speak to somebody about the best strategy for your business? Click here! As with most things in life, these ads are easy to learn but difficult to master. Depending on the targeting options you choose, your chosen keywords, and your ad copy, you could have wildly different results from running ads on the same product or service. So how does PPC support your brand, then, if it’s something that’s so sales-focused? Branding can be a frustratingly vague concept when you’re trying to move the needle on your marketing efforts. But the bottom line is that branding supports your bottom line. It’s what makes the difference between a user choosing you and going elsewhere. Branding builds lasting loyalty with your customers and helps you retain your audience. As such, your ads aren’t just a way to push what you sell, but a way to highlight who you are.

A cashier processes a sale using an Interac machine.
Not everything is about the sale – but don’t ignore sales outright!

The Importance of Messaging

How well do you know your audience? As a business owner, you’ve already got a fantastic understanding of what your customers are looking for and what they expect. Still, there’s always room for improvement, and a huge part of that is finding ways to refine the message and identity you present to your audience. Think of it this way: your products and services get a customer’s attention, but how you present them and yourself are what make customers loyal. With PPC, the most direct example of this is ad copy.

Nailing Ad Copy

At SEO TWIST, we spend a lot of time working and reworking ad copy to ensure optimal results. Paid advertising is an investment, after all, and we always want to maximize what we’re offering to our clients. So, while running an ad for a specific product or service is a great way to stimulate your sales, it’s always worth thinking about ways to offer additional value.

A freshly sharpened pencil sits in pencil shaving on a sharpener, all atop a notebook.
Write and rewrite ad copy until you nail it.
For example, say you have a plumbing business and you’re trying to promote the services you offer for dealing with frozen pipes. Obviously, your ad copy’s going to highlight this—but what else can you include to entice people who aren’t looking to thaw frozen pipes right now? Think about the buying cycle or the buyer’s journey. Ad copy so often focuses on people ready to buy that they forget people in the research stage. A user who needs frozen pipes deal with yesterday probably won’t care about prevention; they’ve got more pressing concerns. But your ad copy can mention additional services you offer – “Frozen Pipe Thawing & Prevention.” Maybe a user searching for winterizing tips for their home will find your ad and click through for your expert advice. It sounds incredibly simplistic, but it works and is worth the effort. Don’t just highlight one thing you do, find ways to mention what else you offer and why you’re awesome.

Pushing Relevant Content

We just discussed the benefits of highlight your expertise and other things you do in your ad copy, but another amazing way to amplify your branding through paid advertising is to push out your expert, high-quality content. Yes, that’s right—using PPC to support content marketing is one of the best ways to amplify your message. Think about this for a moment: You’ve created an amazing blog post on the hottest topic in your industry. You put it up on your site, you share it to your social accounts, and you get a few friends to do the same. And… nothing happens. What gives? You made some amazing content, you did the smart SEO things, you even got a few shares. Why isn’t it working? The fact of the matter is that good content takes time to gain traction, and every helping hand and push you give it makes a difference. If we go back to our metaphor about plugging into a sound system, using PPC to boost amazing content is like plugging a guitar into a wall of cranked up amplifiers in a stadium.

A woman holds her head in shock as she stares at her laptop.
“Why is no one sharing this amazing content?”
Promoting your high-value content through ads that target common search queries can take your content and make it ring out loud and clear for your audience at every stage of the buyer’s journey. This means you can push content that:

  • Attracts customers
  • Helps customers convert
  • Makes the sale
  • Delights users and keeps them coming back

Don’t Forget Reputation Management

This is a bit off the beaten path, but using PPC campaigns can even help support ongoing reputation management efforts. As you’re no doubt aware, reviews carry a lot of weight. At its most basic level, using PPC can help you research and monitor negative search trends—for instance, “brand x complaints,” “brand x widget defects,” and so on. This can help you spot potential issues your customers or prospects have before they even get to you as complaints. Alternatively, it’s also possible to target some of these keywords to help your brand get out ahead of the competition. You could run ads around keywords that target complaints about your competition, which means your brand would show up when customers are voicing their displeasure about another product or service. This is a bit tricky to navigate, though, and it can easily come across as gloating or bragging. Remember what Kendrick Lamar said—be humble!


Did you know PPC advertising can target users who’ve already bought your products? It’s true! This remarketing option can help you retarget customers who’ve already used one of your ads, delivering a smart follow-up down the road. Say you sell pet food, and you know that a standard bag will keep a pup fed for around three months. Users who’ve clicked on your ads and purchased are a prime opportunity for remarketing as that third month rolls around. The ad could read somewhere along the lines, “Time to Stock Up on Dog Food?” with additional copy promoting a shipping or sale discount. This is a great way to use what could otherwise be incredibly invasive marketing tactics to offer genuine value and help to your customers. It’s not pushy, and users will feel like they’re finding the right deal at the right time. Win-win!

It All Starts with a Plan

No matter how you slice it, there’s a way for PPC to help your brand get the word out. Thinking beyond simple buy-sell binaries can help you reach new heights using tools that you’re already employing. The big thing you need to remember, though, is that paid advertising is a highly competitive, highly detailed process. You can’t just wing it, and you can’t guess your way through it, either. While you’ve probably already got a solid understanding of PPC under your belt, experimenting with additional branding opportunities without a plan in place is a guaranteed way to waste your ad-spend. Remember, it’s about turning up the volume and getting the word out. It’s not hopeless, and you can crank things up to support your business goals and efforts, no matter your size.

An animated gif of Hannibal from the A-Team.
So do we, Hannibal, so do we!
If you’re looking for ways to build your brand’s identity and amplify your messaging, PPC is one of the best options out there. Need a hand? We’re ready to help!

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