In the first post of this series we talked about what a branded website is and why it’s important. Now we’ll get into some guidelines for creating a branded website.

A website provides the opportunity to communicate a lot about a company. While products and services may be the first things that come to your mind, the essential components are actually:

  • Personality
  • Overall Feel and Experience
  • Consistency
  • Quality Content

Express Your Brand’s Personality

Your brand should communicate what’s different about your company. To develop your brand essence, conduct an analysis internally. Analyze customers, competitors, and trends in the industry you are in.

  • How are you perceived? What are you great at?
  • How are you different?
  • What do you do? Is the purpose clear?
  • Why does it matter?

Once you know the answers, you’ll be ready to develop your mission statement and state your values. Be sure to avoid using phrases like “what sets us apart is...” or “we are different from our competitors because...” You don’t need to use these not-so-subtle hints if your message makes you distinctive.

Then develop a logo design, tagline, messaging, and the copy for your website that expresses your unique personality. This is where you’ll begin to find and create a “visual voice” that is focused and targeted.

Create an Overall Feel and Experience

Your visual voice will inform the graphic design of the site itself. The overall feel should be consistent with the brand personality. The details of the site will contribute to the experience as well. The graphic designer will look at the usability, functionality and navigation.

A user-friendly site will have balance - a clear prioritization of information, clear hierarchical communication. The color palette and balanced use of color will support the brand and again express personality and perhaps convey a theme and/or emotion.

Make sure that the use of the logo and tagline are effective. They should be appropriately placed and sized. And, be sure to include a clear call to action.

Be Consistent to Achieve an Expectation for Your Brand

You want to be sure to convey that your organization is professional and credible. Therefore, throughout the site, it’s important to consistently use quality images, quality copy, and attention to detail in the way it’s put together.

There are other important aspects of the site to consider as well.

  • Is the site functioning properly?
  • Are there any broken links?
  • Are there any grammatical or typographical errors?
  • Are we providing outdated information?
  • Do we have browser compatibility issues? (You need to be sure your site works properly with Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Internet Explorer.)

By being consistent... continually consistent, you create a uniform expectation.

Provide Quality Content

While you may be able to provide a huge amount of content, there are a few items that really need to be part of your branded site. Make sure these items are accurate and well written.

In your About Us or Company section give details to establish trust and transparency. Include who the principals are, who is on your team, or who your partners are. Make sure that where and how to contact you is clear and easy to locate. Also include your mission and values to create loyalty.

Provide some history about the company. Do you have an interesting heritage? Is there a compelling story to tell? This is a great place to engage your audience, give them something that’s perhaps more intimate than the rest of the site.

Make sure there’s a clear way to get in touch with your Customer Service. The way your brand is experienced has much to do with how your customers feel when they interact with you. Direct them to get the help they need.

Publish news. Keep your audience updated and informed. Whether you have news items about your company and what it’s been up to or industry news, it’s important to keep the site up-to-date and fresh.

And last but certainly not least, give some educational content. If possible, write content that establishes thought leadership for your brand.

Remember, all of these components – personality, overall feel and experience, consistency, and quality content – work in concert to create an online experience for your users. This online experience is your branded website.

Join us next time when we’ll get into some of the tools available for branding your site.