A brand and a website go together like two peas in a pod, right?
You can have a brand without a website, and I guess you could get by with a website minus a strong brand behind it. But when these two peas are paired as a cohesive force—like a match made in business heaven—your brand and website can be a powerful workhorse for you in business, as well as a firm foundation on which your brand can grow.
Your brand is a representation of what your business stands for. And a website is a continuation of that reputation by presenting your brand in a space online that is all your own.
But when you are pairing the two, how much of your “brand” should you include on your website? How are the two effectively melded? How should you be strategic in this to make the biggest impact with your website?
Whether you are creating a new website, redesigning your current space, or simply diving into the planning stages of your business idea, here are three must-have brand elements to build into your website.
VISUALS: hey, good lookin’
Visuals are the obvious: logo, icons, color palette, typography, graphics, and imagery.
These are typical elements that most people equate with a “brand.”
Since visuals are the most well-known elements, it goes without saying that they are a must-have on your website. Highlight your logo. Find aesthetic space for your secondary logo or icons. Permeate your website with branding in subtle ways to guide the reader through your content.
Use your distinct brand colors to complement your content (there is nothing more distracting than a website with a billion colors going on!). Three primary colors, and three accent colors, is a good rule of thumb to follow if you are DIYing your branding. Include your brand typography—one font for main body/paragraph content, one font for headers and headlines and sometimes a special script or character font if you have one included in your main logo (sprinkle throughout your content like a little salt for taste, though, not like confetti—as much as you’ll be tempted!). Maintain stylistically similar photos and imagery.
Bonus: to maintain brand consistency across all online platforms, utilize your logo, color palette, fonts and image style on your social media platforms as well!
DIFFERENTIATION: what sets you apart?
Differentiation is a marketing term. What sets you apart in your particular niche or market? How can you include this branding tactic on your website?
Differentiation is the way that your business is different from any other. But before you start to panic that your brand is too similar to every other brand in your niche, let me encourage you that as a creative individual, you have your own flavor which is—in and of itself—its own differentiation for you! There is no other individual on this planet exactly like you, so you bring a unique perspective to everything you do in business.
Still, differentiation is something to keep in mind, especially if you take the time to identify and promote that one thing that makes your brand unique. This is referred to as the “only I” statement. It is something that your brand can say “only I” deliver this kind of experience, or “only I” offer this product this particular way. A part of the brand experience, differentiation is huge for your business!
How are you using your brand to position yourself differently from others in the same industry? Are you being memorable? Is there an “only I” edge on your website?
MESSAGING: your voice, your mission
Brand messaging is the way you communicate to your audience, and this is one of my favorite elements of an effective brand.
Messaging is primarily the words that you use in your content but also by the way you make your audience feel about your brand.
[bctt tweet=”Messaging is the words that you use in your content and the way you make your audience feel about your brand.” username=””]
Messaging is what you talk about. Are you a handmade shop? Then you announce new products, run promotions, share satisfied customer photos and market the heard behind your handmade business. Or maybe you are a business coach for creative entrepreneurs. Then you share you can bring your clients from point A to point B in their business life, and how coaching can help them gain clarify, confidence and focus. This overall message is bone structure of what you and your brand are about.
A brand voice is diction, or word choice. This sounds like a given, but take a moment to think through the kinds of words you find yourself using. Are you drawn to flowery language, or are you a plain-and-simple kind of writer? Do you find yourself heading to the thesaurus for that perfect word or are you a fan of short-and-sweet?
A brand voice is tone, which is not what you say but how you say it. Not just word choice, tone includes the elements of rhythm and even pace. The tone expresses heart and personality. Are you full of southern charm? Sarcasm? Or use a matter-of-fact voice? The selection or combination of words you choose to use is also an element of messaging.
In conclusion, make the brand content of your website content consistent and convincing. Coming from personal experience, this can be tricky. When creating our messaging, it can feel like we’re repeating the same things over and over again. It’s like we are a broken record, and *gasp* we feel like we’re boring our audience to death.
“Certainly they must know by now what I do, or what I’m about, or how I feel about you-name-the-thing. If I keep telling them, will they get sick and tired of me?”
In moderation, repetition is one thing that makes prospects loyal to you. They know without a shadow of a doubt what you are about. They know your brand is consistent by what they see and read on your website.
Finally, make your website about your prospects. They need to hear how you can help them. People aren’t necessarily interested in your opinion on something or how wonderful your product is—the truth is, they want to know how your brand can help them.
To say it another way, these three brand elements can work so harmoniously together that your website is not a haphazard collection of elements but rather one beautiful whole. Seamless.
The pulse of your website is all about the people you serve.
[bctt tweet=”The pulse of your website is all about the people you serve.” username=””]
In conclusion, consider one of my favorite quotes from Marc Ecko:
“A brand is not skin-deep. Labels are skin-deep, but a brand—a true, authentic brand—is made of blood and bones, skin and organs. A brand has a heartbeat.”
Does the heartbeat of your website reflect the beauty of your brand? Build it around consistent visuals, differentiation and messaging, and it certainly will.
Lindsey Johnson is the small business cheerleader, designer and strategist of Verity & Co, a web design & brand strategy boutique. A small town girl living next to Lake Superior, Lindsey believes your brand deserves beautiful visuals and a functional website and takes a collaborative approach to handcrafting brands. When she’s not working with passionate creatives, you’ll find her chasing her three kids, keeping house and raising her growing family on faith & grace. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.
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