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What is Branding?
Firstly, what do we mean when we talk about “branding?” Branding uses consistent imagery, sounds, logos, and phrases to represent the associations and characteristics of a company. Brands set expectation, and through exposure to your branding, customers are likely to choose your product due to the familiarity they have with your brand. Branding is crucial to winning new customers and retaining old ones – people know what to expect when they see your name and your logo.
To maintain this consistency and exposure, branding needs to be used across all aspects of your company – from product packaging, to TV ads, to your store fronts, and, of course, your web design.
No matter what your business, developing a brand identity that reflects your products, services, and mission statements is essential.
Why is Web Design So Important for Branding?
Your website is not a place to simply put your contact details, slap your logo on, and be done with it. Your website brings together all aspects of your brand identity. Far more complex than a TV ad or a store-front, good web design can highlight all kinds of aspects of your brand identity, from the text in your blog to the images in your gallery. Every single aspect of your website can support your brand identity.
How to Establish Brand Identity through Web Design
One of the major tools in your branding toolbox, your logo is the visual representation of your company name. You can’t think of Coca Cola, Google, or Apple without the logo automatically appearing in your mind. On your website your logo should appear on every page and be prominent on the first page.
Logo size and position is important too. The top left hand corner is the most common position for the logo, and you should aim to have it big enough that it’s the second or third thing that the visitor’s eye is drawn to. It’s best practice to make the logo link back to the home page, too.
Keeping your logo consistent across all forms of media is important, but to bring it into the digital age you may need to think about how you can make a “short hand” version to be your icon. Think of the Facebook “f”, the Twitter bird, or the SnapChat ghost. Small, simple icons are used everywhere these days, from bookmarks and tabs to thumbnails on tablets and phones. Having an icon makes your logo quickly recognizable and portable across the web.
Colors and Fonts
If you’ve already got fonts and colors used consistently throughout your offline branding, it is best to continue using them on your website too. They should complement your brand identity – green colors and earthy tones for a gardening company, sleek san serif fonts for interior design firms.
It is a good idea to keep in mind that colors can elicit emotional responses and subconscious reactions. Red symbolizes energy, power, passion and excitement – it can quicken viewers’ heart rates and respiration. Therefore, red is probably not a great choice for a dental clinic!
Similarly, green represents money, profit, nature, health, and the environment. It’s a calming color. Great for a lawn care company or even accounting firm, probably not the best choice for a sky-diving business!
Colors can represent different things and elicit different emotions in various cultures, so it’s best to research these things before you settle on a color scheme for your web design.
Tone of Voice
It’s not just what you say, it’s how you say it. Tone of voice across your website demonstrates the character and personality of your brand. Think about your target audience. Are they millennials in the entertainment industry? Are they executives working in commerce? The language you use in all of your content should reflect this.
This could range from being informal, fun and entertaining, to formal, concise, and business-oriented.
Here is where websites can offer so much more when it comes to branding. The multiple page, updateable nature of them means that there are a multitude of places where your branding can come to the fore.
High quality photos and images should reflect the meaning and feeling you want to portray. A regularly updated blog that utilizes the aforementioned tone of voice demonstrates all of the characteristics of your brand identity while providing information for the visitor.
Naturally, every gardening company will have a green-and-earthy-tones color scheme, because they’re the colors which represent the company’s service. If you’re a gardening company, it’s not a good idea to change your color scheme to red and black purely to stand out from your competitors, however, finding a unique angle in your branding and web design is critical.
Incorporating some unique design features will make you memorable and allow your customers to differentiate between you and the competition. Cementing your brand identity in your customer’s mind will have them thinking of you next time they need your particular product or service, rather than your competitors.
On your website next to your logo there should be a value proposition. This is a short, concise statement which tells visitors what this site can offer and why they should stay on it. There’s a dearth of information on the web and when people are looking for answers they don’t want to waste time on sites that aren’t useful to them. With an eye-catching statement that tells visitors what your site can provide them, they’re likely to keep reading.
Incorporate the colors, fonts, and tone of voice from the rest of your web design. This value proposition may be what sticks in people’s minds as a description of what your company offers.
Good Web Design IS Branding
Done well, web design and branding becomes a chicken and the egg situation. If your website is easy to navigate, provides the information the visitor is looking for, and adds value to their experience, that is sending a message that your brand is helpful, useful, and valuable.
Delivery of Information
When someone lands on your website, good web design should convince them that the website will deliver the information they want; through the text, the logo, the layout etc. However, if the information they are looking for is not easily found, they’ll leave.
Make the information simple and easy to find. Just like a traditional TV ad – grab attention, deliver the message.
Then, when you have their attention, give them more than what they came to your site for…
Your visitor came to your site looking for one thing. You gave it to them, then led them on to another one of your pages that gave them extra information, or information on a different topic. “Wow! What a useful website! So glad I visited!”, is what that person is thinking. Your website, and therefore brand, is cemented in their mind as valuable.
Even if they don’t buy from you in that very moment, they’ve been exposed to your branding, they’ll remember your name, logo, and website, and you’ll be at top-of-mind when it does come to purchasing.
Adding value through providing lots of useful, free content, you’re establishing an affinity with your brand identity. So you have to make sure that your visitors are easily led to this added value content…
Easy to Navigate
A website that is easy to navigate is the first rule of good web design regardless of whether you’re talking about branding or not. You’ve got good, valuable content, you’ve got visually appealing pages, but they don’t lead to each other easily? Then they’re not reaching their full potential.
You want visitors to naturally be lead from one page to the next. You want them to easily be able to find what they’re looking for and more. No one wants to get lost on a website. The way you get un-lost from a website is to simply leave it. And that’s the last thing you want your visitors to be doing.
With these three elements of web design in place, your website will contribute to your brand identity, rather than just be a place where it is demonstrated. A website where sought information is delivered, extra valuable content is provided, and all of these pages are easy to navigate through will cement your brand in visitors minds as being useful, valuable, and professional.