It is easy to think that you are a small or medium sizes business who is just developing an online presence and doesn’t really need to worry about something as complicated as branding. Branding is for the big, international companies that advertise on the TV right? Wrong – branding is for every business and every business can benefit from having a website that carries a strong brand. So how do you achieve this?
People often confuse branding with positioning but the two are fundamentally different. Positioning is fluid and can change at any time while branding is the core element, the unchanging part of the business that remains the same. The brand is the bit that will always be recognisable now and in twenty years. Branding is also about establishing and following rules for the business so that people remember you – it is creating a uniformed approach across all elements of the business that creates an impression for customers about who you are.
There are eight elements to a brand – name, logo or icon, colours, slogan and messaging, sound, overall look and feel (or position), packaging and the brand experience. So what does this mean in reality? Here are a couple of examples.
Firstly, look at Poppy Spend – this is the sub site of the Royal British Legion and is simple but effective, with a great user interface and a varying method of delivering content. All the time, it remains visibly true to the main website.
Another example is Something New for Dinner – this is a full website that has a lot of information being delivered yet looks as clean as the ideal kitchen and as healthy as the perfect meal. The images are colourful and bright with the message ‘we eat with our eyes’ the underlying concept – something they will be replicating on their Tumblr blog when it’s finished.
Finally, Land Rover – a sophisticated yet practical website for a vehicle that is much the same. The site nods to the history of the brand while being all about the contemporary vehicles and the technology they use. It also relates to the target market with the images used.
Creating a brand
So how can you create your own brand? Firstly, you need to answer some of the questions raised by those eight elements. For example, what is your brand’s theme and message, or put another way, what do you want to be known for? If you sell handmade vintage clothing, then you want to be known for authenticity and quality. If you offer dog-walking services, then you want it to be reliability, understanding of dogs and a genuine love of them.
Getting in a professional is always a good idea, particularly for elements such as creating a logo for the brand. You can also make your own, but give it plenty of study, as it is a crucial element.
Start targeting your blog posts and pages towards your audience and what they will want from them. For the vintage clothes people, talk about how the current fashions touch on past traditions, what colours are in for the season and so forth.
Finally, do a little spying (online of course!) and check out the websites of your competitors for inspiration. What works for them might work for you in an adapted form and if an element really doesn’t work, you know what to avoid!