In order to sell your company as a whole, you need to sell an experience rather than just a product or service. A major pillar of creating an experience for your clients is building a brand around what you do and how you do it. Reinforcing your brand everywhere that you may come into contact with your clients or potential clients is extremely important for building and maintaining a brand image. When a large majority of potential clients are learning about your company for the first time on the web, it’s important that you have a website that not only backs up, but enhances your brand to create an experience your clients want to buy.
Branding is often mistaken for slapping a logo on something and calling it a job well done, but really, it is much more than that. Branding starts with creating a logo that visually represents your company, and is often followed by creating a set color scheme, typefaces, graphics, wordmarks, etc. that together form an identity for your company.
But a brand identity is still not your brand, either. Your brand is what your clients come to perceive of your company. It’s a mixture of the aesthetic and experiences that your clients associate with your company, and it comes with expectations of what your company is and what it can do for them. At its core, branding starts with setting expectations by creating a visual identity and character for your company, but it flourishes when you begin to reinforce and fulfill those expectations through the experiences your clients have when they interact with your company.
You’ve probably already set expectations for your brand with a set brand identity that you stick to when create promotional materials or your business cards. The goal is to now carry that identity over to your website by sticking to the same color schemes, typefaces and other visual elements so that it maintains the same look and feel as everything else that you produce whether it be print, the emails you send out, your social media pages, etc. Custom web design allows you to put your brand first and design your website around your brand standards, rather than a template you found that allows you to upload a file of your logo and select one of their pre-made color palettes that kind of looks like yours.
Every brand has a set of human characteristics that are attributed to its personality, or brand character. The best brands out there have a character that they always adhere to – think Apple, sleek, modern, simple; or MailChimp, that literally has an anthropomorphic character attached to it, a monkey that makes the sometimes boring job of sending mass emails a little more fun. Whether your brand character is an actual physical character or just a tone of voice, it’s important that it is consistent and that it is especially prevalent on your website. What does the main heading on your homepage say about your company? Does it match your brand voice? It better.
Unlike the billboards that you place on the side of the highway or the print ads you take out in the local newspaper, your website is unique in that it has an inherent user experience you can design to carry out a message which is consistent with your brand as well.
User experience (UX) has to do with the ease of using a product, in this case a website. In the context of branding for your website, the UX of your website should reflect the same feel as when somebody comes into contact with your product or service. People should navigate through your website the same way that they would interact with your company. The user experience of your website will either reflect negatively or positively upon the experience of your company as a whole, and that user experience sets an expectation for your company as a whole. A custom website allows you to create your website not only around your brand, but around a particular user experience based on the functionality, information architecture, content, etc. that your company requires from a website. The more that your website is tailored to your brand, the better experience your clients will have with your company.
After you have set expectations for your brand and implemented them to your company’s website, it’s important to remain persistent and do everything you can to reinforce what your brand stands for.
The most prevalent way that you should be presenting your brand character is through the high quality content you are producing and sharing on your website. A great place to publish content regularly for your followers is on an in-site blog. Putting out content regularly that coincides with your brand character and standards helps reinforce what your brand stands for in your clients’ eyes. Producing high quality on-brand content is also extremely beneficial for search engine optimization. With persistent high quality content, you will start to see progress towards higher rankings on search engines.
Branding is fully realized once it is totally consistent across all channels whether it be your social media pages, retail displays, promotional materials, or in this case, your website. It’s all about building and maintaining a consistent brand everywhere your clients might come into contact with your business. It is important to always remain consistent from your color palette and font choices, to your brand voice and content you’re producing, in order to reinforce your brand. Consistency is the key to reinforcing your brand.
At the end of the day, clients are identifying themselves with your brand, not your company, and they are purchasing an experience, not a product or a service. The goal of having a website that reflects your brand is to create a consistent brand experience that your clients can identify and trust through the expectations that they have formed, that in turn leads to loyal clients. By setting and reinforcing expectations with a branded website, you are then given the chance to fulfill those expectations when they bring their business your way.