The big decision has been made – you now have your logo and branding. Well done. This probably wasn’t an easy choice – there were so many things to consider when you wanted to represent what your business is and create a powerful brand that helps tell the story.
Well really this is just the beginning of the story – now you need to ensure that branding is the theme that runs through all your marketing material from this day forward. And the one marketing tool more likely to be seen by most potential customers is your website.
How Do You Brand a Website?
Did you know that research has shown you have 0.5 seconds to make an impression on your web visitor, a big enough impression that they will want to explore more, spend time on your site, enjoy the experience, find what they want and be left with an impression of your company that not only stays with them but keeps them returning.
That same research* tells that Visitors spent about 6.48 seconds focused on this most identifiable portion of a site – your logo. So this is where the rest of your website needs to match that expectation with your new branding making a good first impression.
* Missouri University of Science & Technology
So how do you guarantee that the logo and branding, so lovingly crafted, is represented in your website and in fact across any digital media. It needs to be done with clarity and consistency in a way that highlights your business personality and your unique standpoint in the market.
A good graphic designer should have supplied a Brand Guidelines Document or a Style Guide when they handed over your logo. This should include your logo in various digital formats, possibly in reverse colours and layouts with transparent options. As well, a guide to brand colours should be included – CMYK for print and RGB for digital usage. Very importantly the typeface used needs to be supplied with sizes, weights and complementary options available.
This is where clarity comes in – your branding clearly represents your product or service and that needs to be reflected in your website design. There is no ambiguity about who you are and what your business represents because good design will convey that company message. How will your customers recognise and remember your newly crafted brand? By one very important thing – consistency.
The message of your brand needs to be clear to your audience – confusion means rejection. If your website user comes to your site and is visually bewildered by the message your branding sends they are highly unlikely to stick around.
Your branding needs to be consistent across the board – when you use the same colours, fonts, image style, and message you build enormous brand equity, which leads to increased trust and credibility which converts to sales. If you want your brand to be remembered you need to apply it liberally but judiciously on every element of your website.
Each element such as Titles or Icons or Call To Action buttons need to look like they belong with each other – they should have the same or complementary fonts and colours and styles. For example if your logo is a soft and curvaceous style it makes sense to have buttons with rounded edges. Or if your font is serif (little lines at the end of each letter like Times New Roman) then using that style throughout the design reinforces your brand feel.
However sometimes it’s not quite so simple. Too much of a good things is not always good. There is a fine line between just enough and too much. So not every font on your website needs to be the exact font in your logo. This would be overwhelming. That’s why it’s a good idea to work with an experienced graphic designer who can suggest fonts and colours that will complement the core branding.
For your customers to be drawn to your website you need to display your brand personality – otherwise there is no emotional appeal. This is the visual voice that expresses your company and communicates what is different about the way you do business.
As part of your branding you should have developed a tagline – a short phrase that conveys the ethos of what you do. Make sure this is reinforced within your website. Use it in the header and where appropriate through the content of your website. You can use it as a watermark in the background or as the final statement on each page. But use it wisely, don’t sledgehammer it over your viewer’s heads.
One mistake often made is that a business will want a website that expresses the owner’s personality not the companies? You may be a dog loving weekend gardening enthusiast but flowers and puppies on your financial management website doesn’t represent what the company is selling. Don’t correlate your personal style with what your market wants to know and feel. The correct branding on a website assists the web browser to immediately know they are in the right place – I can trust this site, I am emotionally responding to its message, it’s what I’m looking for – don’t forget you only have seconds to attract and hold their interest.
You want to stand out from your competitors, not be their clone. So avoid designing a website that looks “just like theirs”. This is where clarity of your branding can shine. One of the most important reasons for creating your website is to make your unique brand identity memorable and creating a copycat website can confuse customers and not foster loyalty to your brand.
The Elements of Your Website
Often the images used on a website are almost a last minute thought – these are a powerful weapon in your online armoury. According to Content Marketing Institute: Content with images gets 94 percent more views than content without images.
Every image you use to market your products or service needs to feel as though they are from the same family having similar traits and style. So if your website has a vintage or retro feel to it then using a brightly lit isolated image may not look or feel right. It’s like putting on a white John Travolta suit a la Saturday Night Fever and going to an AC/DC concert – it stands out for all the wrong reasons.
Achieving this continuity can be challenging but it is worth investing time and sometimes the money to get the best result. This may mean employing the services of a photographer or if using Stock Images taking the time to edit the choices to fit with each other and your brand.
Your newly designed logo (or current one) needs to work as hard and smart as possible. You want recognition and an imprint on people’s memory so they think about using or choosing you when the time is right. The first place you will see your logo on your website is 99% of the time in the header, or top section of the site. Give it as much room to breathe as you can – the white space around your logo will draw attention to it and is the first reinforcement of your brand. It should appear in the same spot on every page. However it can be used subtly throughout the site to reinforce your branding. It can be used as a watermark in the background of pages. Perhaps elements of the design will be utilised in icons or design elements around the site.
There are very few times you can use a crayon box full of colours on your site – perhaps if it’s a child centric website or one aimed at a younger market. Or perhaps in an entertainment or fun-based industry. Generally your main colour palette would be no more than 3 colours – the base colour from your logo and one or two support colours either from your logo or chosen by your graphic designer to work alongside and enhance the branding.
The colours on your site are there not just for aesthetics, they have a role in conveying the emotion of your business, for example green is associated with: growth, stability, financial themes, environmental themes or blue promotes a sense of calm, safety, openness (lighter shades) and reliability (darker shades). Your web designer can use these colours to best affect to strengthen the branding message.
Graphics & Icons
A great tool for ease of use on your website can be icons – visitors to your site respond well and can directed to important information using icons. An icon is often a simplified visual representation of a service or product. Here you can incorporate the style, colours and even logo elements into the icon design.
A simple technique can be to create buttons using your logo or part of it so whenever you create a link to another part or your website or a form or pdf you use this branded button. Techniques such as inverting colours or creating a one colour version of the logo can be used.
Call To Action buttons are loved by Google and are essential to funnel your website leads to you. The “Call Now” or “Get A Quote” buttons need to stand out to be easily found so usually these would be done utilising the main brand colour and kept to a simple style so there is no confusion of the action required.
Favicons are the tiny icons seen beside your website url at the very top of the page. They are also seen when your readers bookmark your site. If possible, this icon should be the same as, or part of your logo. But keep in mind that they are very tiny and need to be created specifically to work at that size. The favicon is just another opportunity to make a visual association with your brand.
There is a great deal of work to bring all these ideas and elements together to design and build a website that works as hard as it possibly can to make your phone ring or fill your email box or create sale after sale.
A website that ignores branding will underperform. A website that embraces it’s company branding will realise its potential and convert website visitors to customers and customers to loyal clients.
Don’t underestimate the power of your branding – done well throughout your website it will result in sales. And don’t underestimate the knowledge a good web designer will bring to your brand so that your website works as hard as you do for your business.
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