The amount of brand strategy advice being cast about by web designers and developers can be mind-boggling and worrying. Much of it is sound advice; however, does it take your visual brand into account? What small business marketing advice would a professional, experienced branding agency add to the mix? Let’s find out. And you can also find great advice at howtobuildabrand.org/brand-brain-magazine/publications
A Branding Agency Weighs in
Great web development and design are essential to online success for your brand. Your website is, after all, your virtual storefront and your welcoming committee to new customers and loyal clients. It doesn’t stop there, though. For the health of your brand, it is crucial that all elements of your online presence work to build your brand.
Wondering what a brand strategy from a branding agency might add? Here is the advice you might receive regarding the design and building of your brand’s website and social media presence:
- Visual elements are essential to online branding. This is small business marketing and new start up marketing must! There’s a massive portion of the world’s population that learns best when visual elements are available to them. So not only to images and graphics contribute to users’ experiences, they will help to communicate your brand’s message.
- Be consistent. Consult a branding agency about choosing your brand’s colours and fonts. Work with them to design a logo and write a strapline for your brand. Use identical visual elements across all media – that includes your website, social media pages, and all other, more traditional, means of communication.
- Be original. Have you ever stumbled upon two different brands using the same stock image…whilst they’re claiming to be innovators in their fields? The best way to combat unimaginative imagery is to avoid generic photos (like those of people smiling for unknown reasons) and creating your own (or hiring a branding agency to create them for you).
- Keep it simple. A visual element might be beautiful – that doesn’t mean it’s effective or beneficial to your brand. In fact, images that are too complex detract from your message and frustrate your online audience. Any branding agency would agree – if your web design is simplistic, the most important elements, like calls to action and purchase buttons, become more prominent.
- Display only quality images. Large images can slow the speed of your website, affecting user experience as well as search engine ranking. Instead of simply reducing the size of the image, consider cropping it. Never enlarge an image for use on any branded page – the quality of the image will suffer, as will your brand’s reputation for quality.
- All visual elements should build your brand. No matter how stunning a photo or graphic may be, if it doesn’t fit in with how to build your brand, it will detract from your brand. Every colour, line, shape, font, and image should work toward building credibility and brand awareness for your corporate brand.
- Open your mind to recognisable evolution. You want your brand to endure. This means that even though a branding agency will recommend consistency, you still need to keep your mind open to subtle changes that will keep your visual branding current.
A good point and tip here to reiterate here is for the visual aspect of your website is images and the quality of them as well as the choice. Now if you’ve been to a website looking for something, you’ve been to a couple of competitors all providing the same thing, you might have found they’re all showing very similar photos and it’s because they’ve gone to iStock Photo, which is a website that provides images, or something else, or even Google Images, and they’re all displaying the same image. Of course, the visual attraction of the website, to take you in to start reading a page, if it’s the same on somebody else’s as another, then they’re going to start thinking that the information is the same or even they’re reading in the same place, and that’s going to happen to you, too.
One tip we have here about the images, is to be selective. Try and get original ones, if you can. Get your own done, if possible, but if not, try and find some on a website like, iStock, but when you buy it, you can see how many people have used it and when you purchase it, stop other people using it once you’ve got it. It might mean paying a bit more, but it means you have that individuality.
The second tip for brand strategy around images is the quality. How often have you been to a website where you’re trying to detect how good a product is and you can’t because the image when you zoom in is just pixilated or it’s just poor quality and it actually puts you off because if you can’t see what you want to see in an image, you might go elsewhere or just give up looking on the internet and just go to a local shop, in which case, you’re going to lose the business because it’s on the internet that they came to find you.
I have looked at small business marketing attempts many, many times. Sometimes it could be from motorcycling equipment or clothing or furniture, where the photo just isn’t good enough and I just cannot make my mind up to make a decision on buying that product because I just can’t trust what I’m seeing. Maybe you found that, too. When it comes to your customers, the last thing you want them to do is go away from your webpage because of an image. It’s one of those things you can really take control of and make a difference. So there’s your second tip, make sure your images are of good quality and make sure the images also are as unique as possible as you can make them.
Tip number three for the visual aspects of your site. Don’t underestimate the power of white space. What we mean is, it’s all very easy and very much a tendency, website developers and website designers, by trying to make it look pretty, that they clutter the page so that you really cannot tell what you’re trying to look for and they make it difficult by putting so many things on a page, you don’t know where to start. Maybe you’ve been to a website before where you go to find something and because there are so many things to look at, so many choices to make, you don’t actually make a choice, you just get totally flustered with it and move on.
Well, this is where you can make a massive difference on your website because in truth, they’ve come there to find possibly just one thing. Once they’ve made their mind up that that one thing is in the place that you provided it, they’ll come to you.
Here’s a couple of tips on how to make sure you get that white space right. First of all, line spacing of your content, paragraph spacing of your content, the way that your bullet points are actually displayed, make sure there’s a nice spacing between those lines, make sure the font is large enough as well so that it is a really easy read, both on a laptop or desktop device as well as a mobile device, it makes a massive difference. Make sure there’s good spacing around the images and good margins between the content and other elements that appear as standard on the webpage. So yes, white space is a massive thing and it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s white, it’s depending on what color your website is, the background is, it’s the space that’s around the features, the images, the videos, the content, the titles and things like that that are on your page. Anything else that’s on the website surrounding your content, make sure that’s really clearly out of the way of what you’re trying to get them to read, because that’s where you’re going to convert the most customers.
There are three great brand strategy tips on how you can from a visual aspect point of view, really simple things that can make a massive, massive difference to your business and how you build your brand online.
So if you’re confused about how you’re being advised within small business marketing to put your website together, what’s got to go where, what visual elements you should be using, then don’t necessarily just trust what the branding agency you’ve seen is actually telling you. Come to How to Build a Brand, because we’ve got lots and lots of advice freely given on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/BrandExpertTips and on our YouTube channel, YouTube.com/HowToBuildABrand. Of course, if you come to our blog at HowToBuildABrand.org, you’re going to find a whole host of advice and not just on website design and how you can employ the best visual aspects. There are a whole host of marketing strategies, branding advice, all sorts of things that you need whether you’re starting out as a new business, a growing business, or established business that just wants more sales or more interaction and more reaction from your prospects and customers.
I’ll be back with some more fantastic tips for you in our Branding Advice Centre.
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