The importance of branding in web design
When a user visits your website for the first time you have a very little time to convince them the website is credible. It’s a lot like first impressions. When you meet someone for the first time like a client you want everything to go perfectly. You don’t want anything to be out of place or to give a poor impression. You want yourself to be presentable, professional, and give your client a sense of comfort about you and how you do things. A lack of consistent branding is something users will pick up on this in turn can create an underlying sense of mistrust about the website. A lot of websites today don’t really follow basic branding principals. There are many examples online of website with poor branding, inconsistent styling, and a fragmented nature. If you want to have a website that is as successful as it can be in every way, it has to have a successful underlying brand driving it. A brand shouldn’t be just a name or a logo, it should be something which instantly makes someone either consciously or unconsciously think something. Associate yourself with your values. If someone said the name ddmseo I would much prefer it if it was followed with something like “great articles about the web”. Branding re-enforces the ideals and qualities of a company and makes these transferable across different media. Visual style is very important. A choice of colours, type, and visual style for you brand can mean it’s recognisable from one of these aspects even if it doesn’t have the others. Many brands today can be instantly recognised by simple icons, Apple and the apple logo for instance. If you see a piece of text in the Google logo colour scheme, you would instantly know its Google. But if you look into both these brands, the brand identity they have built is very far apart from anything else out there. They are incredibly unique and they really communicate what both these companies are about. If you are building a brand think about how you can set yourself apart, incorporate your values into a distinct identity, and make a real impact on and connection with your target audience.
Building an identity
Branding is building an identity. Throughout life we build our skills and we acquire personal traits which define us and makes us unique in our own way. We gain values which define how we act and what actions we take in situations that arise. We are our identity and building a brand is a lot like building a persona, a set of traits and values which clearly define it and that make it instantly recognisable. In life we always remember the characters, people who are unique and set themselves apart. People who have personal traits and qualities that come together make them a real character. A brand has to be something more than just two dimensional, it has to be seen in a human way to connect with an audience and to form a real bond. Apple can be looked at as a company which is more than just a name, it has become a way of life for many people. The human connection is there, and Apple has built on this connection with consumers in a very successful way. Why do these kinds of connections matter, because it leads to loyal customers who may be more forgiving to your company when things don’t go to plan. Customer satisfaction should be a key driving force behind every business. Unhappy customers are never a good thing but you can negate some of the issues that can arise from this with clever branding. If a customer feels like they are dealing with someone they know and they can trust then some of their negative emotions such as anger and apprehension can be alleviated. This is the power of branding. When you bring the visual style together and you define a clear brand then you can build your website.
Branding and ecommerce websites
Any website that has transactions or takes details will always suffer from the same problem with users and that is trust. Most people won’t want to even enter their email into a website unless they know they can trust that website and how it handles their information. PayPal has worked hard in building an image of something which puts all these negative aspects to online purchasing at ease. If a new payment provider started up and you came across it online and you never heard of it before but it promised the same set of core functionality as something like PayPal, would you be comfortable leaving your card and bank details with this company?... maybe but maybe not. Now if we look at PayPal for instance, would you be comfortable leaving your card and bank details with them… absolutely. Now the argument could be made that PayPal is an established company which everyone knows and this argument is quite valid, but it’s the PayPal brand and its set of core values which has helped build this sense of trust with people all over the world. What makes PayPal unique also is the way is sets itself apart from other company’s within the same line. Banking for decades has been something where it has been all about the suits and the corporate lifestyle. Because of this banks have been left with a very poor image. The last few years and the financial crash have not helped and even after trying to re-brand themselves as something more human banks are still seen as just an unforgiving entity. PayPal however although it offers financial transactions is not seen in the same light. It does not have the same corporate image and through clever branding connects with people on a more personal level. From its website to its TV advertisements PayPal has in all fairness pushed away from everything within its own and similar industries and created a brand people can trust. Many websites will have a PayPal logo featured prominently if they accept PayPal payments. While a user may not trust the website in question when they see the PayPal logo they will trust the Payment option. Ease of use, security, and flexibility are 3 things I would see as values of the PayPal brand and if you look at the branding of the company you can see this reflected in the colours, tone, and visual style. When you are creating your brand think about these things. Be specific in what you want to achieve with your branding and think about how to communicate this within your brand identity.
Establish your brand
Your website doesn’t have to have a global brand. For many people there will always be the misconception that branding is for big companies. In the UK over 99% of the 5 million or so businesses are small businesses. A clear brand is something every business whether it has 1 employee or 1 million employees should have. Within whatever locale you operate you brand name should be synonymous with your values and you should aim for it to become an established and trusted part of any industry or location it is part of. Establish your presence through clever branding and advertising mediums. You can build marketing campaigns that work with your core values. If you define what you are about early on you can set a blueprint for what you want your public perception to be and you can tailor things like visuals to play on these qualities. Branding is an exciting thing to work with. You can create almost any identity you want and it can be done through great web design. Getting it right is the hard part.
Branding and web design
The design choices about a website should be directly influenced by the brand and what it stands for. Large corporations and companies spend vast sums on branding and building a credible public perception of the company. Its not just about a choice of colours, it’s about setting a tone, communicating values, and reaching out to the specific audience you want to reach. While a lot of companies may just sit down, pick a few colours, build a new logo, and slap these on the website, a design process such as this isn’t branding. Before you think about touching a computer screen or building anything you should be looking at the fundamentals about the company, the industry it is in, the competition, and the end users of the website. All of these factors will place an important role in the direction of then branding. For instance looking at the competition will help you define a clear brand which sets the company apart from everything else out there. Differentiation is always a good thing. Most successful things in life today whether they are products, services, and website or similar usually are this way because of the fact they have differentiated themselves and they have done unique things. Building a successful brand takes time. From initial brainstorming to conception to a final brand is something that should not be rushed. When you build a great brand look to applying it consistently across your website. Keep all your layout elements such as the header and footer consistent throughout pages and keep the branding consistent within these elements. If you use icons have a consistent style of icons. These should be developed as part of the brand initially. The typeface is another key element. Look to consistency across mediums and platforms. Whether digital or pint make apply your branding effectively and consistently. When building a branded website always work out as much as you can beforehand. Icons, buttons, typefaces, link styles, form styles, all the little aspects that can have branding should be developed initially as part of your brand strategy for your website. When you work out all this beforehand you can build your website fairly quickly. Planning should always be the hard part and implementation should be easy.