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Website Design and the Brand Experience

Posted by Cary Baskin

March 07, 2013

Over the last several weeks I have received a flurry of content including e-books, blog posts and an infographic on website design advice.  Not sure if it’s because the topic is getting hot or because I am more connected to a network of bloggers and content developers, probably the latter. 

One missing element from the majority of this content is the role and importance of brand and branding on the website.

The dictionary defines a brand as a trademark or distinctive name identifying a product or manufacturer.  Kotler, in his book Principles of Marketing, extends the dictionary description by adding “which is intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those competitors.“  But I prefer the definition put forth by Alan Adamson in his book Brand Simple, “A brand is something that lives in your head.  It’s a promise that links a product or a service to a consumer through words, images or emotions, or any combination of the three.”  Branding, Adamson explains, is the process of executing and managing the things that make people feel the way they do about your brand. 

If you believe the inbound marketing thesis, and I do, more shopping and product/service research is happening online than in any other medium. Because of the power of inbound marketing, most consumers’ first interaction with a brand is through the company’s website.  This is especially true for the vast majority of businesses too small to advertise on radio, TV, in newspapers or magazines. 

For many brands, websites are the marketing engine where the brand experience is first encountered; where the brand is communicated to every viewer for good or for bad.  All too often I see branding disconnects on websites.  The lack of positioning statements or positioning statements that are not supported by content or visuals or tag lines that have no follow through are the most common.

Here are two examples of websites that got it right:

www.YogiChuck.com is a website that promotes and sells liability insurance to yoga studios and yoga instructors.  Strong positioning for one seller group as Kotler would say.  The website employs yoga’s chakra colors for visual theme, supported by photo images of yoga poses throughout, and creates a connection with the company and its yoga audience through YogiChuck, and a prominently displayed logo designed to appeal to the yoga enthusiast.

“Experience Matters” is the essence of the Info Solutions LLC brand (what their brand stands for).  On their website, www.InfoSolutionsLLC.com you can see the essence of their brand followed throughout the website in many ways including positioning statements that are visually reinforced and through website copy supporting the theme of experience.

Both of these websites used branding signals, one through their content to reinforce their tag line and the other to visually talk to their target audience.

Here are seven branding considerations to consider when developing a website:

  1. Is the theme and market positioning well defined before design begins?
  2. Is the essence of the brand incorporated into the theme and positioning?
  3. Is the brand promise weaved into the website experience in some manner?
  4. Are the needs of the target audience incorporated into website in a way that will emotionally or intellectually connect with the intended audience, and is there a plan to weave that insight into the brand experience on the website?
  5. Is there a plan to keep the graphics simple, so the potential consumer does not have to do too much analysis or searching to understand the benefits or value proposition supported by the related brand positioning statements?
  6. Does the website show why your product or service is different or why it is better without making the viewer search for this insight?
  7. Because websites create a visual experience, is there a strategy to bring the essence of the brand idea to life in some visually interesting way?

The more effectively you make the websites branding experience relate to the clients need (emotionally, intellectually, technically or visually) the more effective a tool the website will be for generating leads, and make your brand more memorable.

 

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Topics: Branding, Website Design

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