So you have a website. You’ve invested time, thought and more than a little money in its design, content and programming.
But is it bringing in the numbers you were expecting? Does it convey your message clearly and immediately? And most importantly, does your website match your other brand assets?
If we ask the average Joe – branding is glowing apples floating in midair, timeless icons on giant billboards, and money – a lot of money.
In actuality, branding happens every single moment, whether you create it or not, whether you invest in it or not. It doesn’t matter if your business is big or small, the branding is there. This is because branding is the collection of other people’s thoughts and feelings about you.
Nike? That’s an easy one: quality, speed, showing-off.
Google? Power, intellect, craftiness.
Coca Cola? Energy, the taste of life, perseverance.
It may be true that these feelings are costing giant companies billions of dollars a year (and counting), but so what? The importance of accurate branding has been internalized by the higher-ups from day one. And both we and they know very well that the investment has paid off.
What we really wanted to say is that branding is your most precious fixed asset. It is what determines whether your brand will stand out from the crowd, whether it will last and how much profit it will bring you.
As you well know, the first place people look for you is your website. It is one of the best tools in your branding arsenal.
Unfortunately, many brands tend to miss out on this opportunity, because they think in terms of “building”, instead of “branding”. They spend all their energy perfecting the technical elements, waving about fancy programming languages and implementing negligible trends.
What they should be doing instead is focusing on the “why”, the “how”, and the “how much”: adjusting their messages to the needs of their audience and creating a unique, catchy brand vocabulary; in other words, investing in the elements that make-up a good branding strategy.
After all, a website that does not meet the needs of its target audience, present the company values and tell the story with clarity and precision is sure to be forgotten.
In order to create an effective website that boosts the brand, you must first understand that a website is just one link in the chain that is a solid, harmonious, timeless brand. Here are some of the ways make sure it’s a strong one:
Rule number one: the website must communicate its purpose to the user immediately and unequivocally. To achieve this, you must first ask yourself what the purpose of your website is, and whether it fits in with your branding processes. This rule exists because the patience of today’s users is almost non-existent. Their fingers rest lightly on the “back” button, and they are ever eager to see their investment, namely, their precious time, returned.
Are you selling something? State it clearly. Are you giving out free information? Make it easy to understand. Why? Because the overarching goal of all branding processes is to form associations that spring to mind at the mention of your website.
ebay: a vibrant marketplace.
YouTube: cat videos and president gags.
Zap: a million opportunities, one good price.
Define your purpose, and tell it to the world
Despite the heart-wrenching eulogies on the slowly fading world of content, good content is still a website’s most solid foundation. Successful brands are those, whose textual style is easily recognized, even without the reader knowing who’s behind it.
Accurate content – the kind written after an in-depth research – will greatly strengthen your brand and provide your readers with a sense of consistency.
(It is highly recommended to maintain content consistency between your website, social platforms, offline materials and everything else related to your brand on the web and out in the real world. If you’ve elected to use a formal, informative style – do not veer from it. If you’ve chosen an open, personal, eye-level tone of voice, stick to it everywhere you go.)
Branding is often thought of as nothing more than your logo, your dominant color and the look of your business card.
Although effective branding processes go far beyond these, the importance of a good design to the success of your website, and your brand in general, must not be underestimated. A logo is often the first thing users see. Combined with a meaningful tagline, it is an element that strengthens your message. Your website’s color palette is also an important factor in the creation of its look and feel.
But most importantly, the visual content of your website must fortify the message, not mock it. (Thus, for instance, a website promoting a financial brand should go with dark colors, or possibly silver hues. Add a happy rainbow and a logo with butterflies and you are bound to generate confusion and mistrust.)
Simply put, branding is a psychological process, in which you try to get into someone else’s head. A blog, a brochure, a stand at an expo, a TED talk, a social network profile, and yes – a website, are all different tools of branding, different means to the same end. An effective, recognizable and attractive website is one created as an integral part of the branding process, not as a side project.
Want to have all that? Use the services of a branding company.