Business Brand in website design
Almost always when we’re talking to business owners about a new website development, we ask what work has been done on branding their business, as it is extremely important to understand what messages the website style and design need to project. However, this is usually interpreted as whether the business has a logo and graphic identifier for the business.
Brand and branding are different and understanding what brand is will help with the activities that are part of branding. I found an excellent description of brand and branding by EC (Lisa) Stewart on the website “Indie Creative”.
Brand is the sum of the perceptions that are held about you, your company or your products. This includes perceptions held by both external and internal audiences and stakeholders.
How does this translate? A brand is a person’s emotional response -a gut feeling about an organization, a product, or a service. In essence, your customers own your brand, you do not. You don’t have direct control of the perceptions held by customers.
Branding is the universe of activities you undertake that affects those perceptions. In order to effectively build a positive brand perception, you must engage in both internal and external activities which are aligned to deliver a consistent impression of who you are.
How does this translate? Branding is not about stamping a trademark on everything, but guiding and managing relationships with your customers. You’re branding yourself right now as an individual part of the family collective and your business. Realize that you only have partial control of the perceptions with your branding activities.
So why have all the visual aspects of a business, from store design to logos to sales collateral etc become synonymous with brand? Essentially, it’s because visual cues are often the most memorable and are used to trigger the sum of perceptions that are the brand. As an example, McDonalds has a memorable graphic for their logo, the twin arches, that is instantly recognisable, but the brand is not the arches but actually the sum of the consistency of their food, the familiarity of the environment, the standardised ordering process, the focus on kids etc. These are things that people think of when they see the twin arches, and that is the brand.
So when you’re thinking about building a new website, or redeveloping an existing site, what you need to convey to your designer is not just the logo design and company colours, you need to explain what the key messages are that you are trying to project to your customers that tell the real story about your business and will help to build your brand (what you are trying to achieve as a business, what are your products, the service that you provide etc.)
Not only is the website visual design important in getting these messages across, but just as important or even more so is the text that you write for the site. It needs to be in your own voice, not corporate speak. Remember, your customers’ emotional responses are an important part of building a brand and most people are pretty good at recognising if what’s written on a site is authentic or just rehashed generic text.
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