By Elizabeth Jackman
As we think about creating and placing content –picking photos, drawing graphics, writing copy – we are always consciously weighing how our images and text will be perceived by our website audience. Clients and web marketers alike constantly ask the following questions when making content decisions:
- Does this copy align with the company’s messaging?
- Do these colors match the company’s colors?
- Is this style representative of the company’s look and culture?
- Should staff be wearing suits in their bio shots?
What we are really asking here, is: Does my website reflect my BRAND?
In web design, this is THE MOST important question. Your website is more than a label, more than an advertisement – it is the first part of your company that many of your consumers will interact with – and in some cases, especially for ecommerce sites and other web-based services, it is THE ONLY part of your company with which a client or consumer will engage.
So, how do you consistently express your brand across your new website?
Key Website Element #2 – Take an OBJECTIVE look at your brand
Step 1: Ask Yourself: Do I want my NEW website to reflect my CURRENT brand?
We all know web technology changes quickly. Even daily Facebook users cannot always keep up with how quickly the social networking site updates their interface. But, not all of us have the web development budget of a $50B company, so how do we create a site that appears new and clean, even when it is “old”?
Before you instruct your web design team to come up with website mockups that “go with our logo,” take a long, hard look at your current logo, tagline and corporate colors. Next, take a look at the logo, tagline and corporate colors of popular websites in your industry. Contrast and compare. Ask for several opinions. Ask your web design team for their input.
History is important, but so is evolution. A talented designer may be able to give you a spanking-new logo that blows your socks off and impresses your clients, but he/she will also be able to give your brand a gentle “face-lift” to help modernize your logo. Brand-lifting will give your logo greater adaptability in the digital medium, without losing the meaning behind it.
This process also opens you up to new color schemes and palettes. Have trouble getting your business card logo to be the same color as your signage? Start fresh and work with a graphic designer to nail down your color combinations. In this era of printing, color matching has reached a whole new level of precision.
Step 2: Use keywords in your tagline.
Taglines, by definition, should briefly summarize your brand or product. In website designs, the tagline is typically placed near the company logo and name. This placement is considered prime real estate for website content by search engine bots, and is widely believed to be a factor in the magical and mysterious “relevancy formula”.
Historically, taglines are witty and memorable. However, consumers don’t typically “Google” taglines when they are looking for a product or service. They search for a specific need or want, or for your competitor who provides similar products or services. So, why not consider optimizing your company tagline, which will be indexed by search engines in your title tags, description tags, etc… by including RELEVANT and TARGETED keywords?
Step 3: Segment your messaging to better target your consumers.
Unless your company only has one consumer-type, with one personality, with the same expectation every time he/she visits your site, you may want to consider re-packaging and redistributing your company’s key messages to a variety of use-types, visitor expectations and search behaviors.
For example: Do you have a Mission Statement? If so, does it clearly state your corporate values in a passionate and meaningful way? Great, that’s truly important – both to your constituents and to your employees. But what does it mean to a busy researcher who has to find and report on 10 companies who do the same thing that you do? It means he/she spends 30 seconds to 2 minutes on your site, copying information most relevant to his/her search parameters.
The point being, your consumers and your potential consumers should be analyzed and segmented according to their web-searching behaviors and capabilities. Appropriate messaging should be placed on your site in both a manner and a position that will be easily found and absorbed by each group segment.
We all understand how important our brand is, but we also need to consider how our brand translates on the web. Taking these three steps, or even thinking about taking these steps, will increase the power and longevity of your web design, maximize the work your brand can do for you on the web, and help you prioritize and distribute brand messaging to the right constituents.