One of the most important things when planning your website design project is making sure you have a well thought out branding strategy. This includes your branding assets such as the logo, typography, colour palette and the look, feel and positioning of your brand. However, website branding is so much more than just your assets.
Company branding strategy is a much wider concept than just choosing the typography and colour palette for your website.
You need to know how you want your clients to feel when they visit your website. Emotions play a much bigger role in buying decisions than we realise, especially for the creative service business sector. For example, when a bride visits your photography website she needs to feel that you’ll understand what she wants or that you will be able to create the dream for her wedding day that she has visualised. This is all based on the visual messaging that your site feeds her imagination.
(The words on the site also play a big role here but we’ll look at Website Copy in a later chapter).
Target Market/Ideal Client
There is no way that your site can speak to everybody. That is you must pinpoint your target market when formulating a branding strategy.
If you’re an interior designer, you must decide whether you want to work exclusively with corporate clients or private homeowners.
If opting for corporate clients, take your branding strategy a step further by focusing on the type of corporate client you wish to reach.
Remember, in the corporate world there will always be only one individual who will be your closest working ally. Who is this? Will the individual be a trendy millennial or a more mature and traditional CEO?
If you have chosen to work with brides, do you like collaborating with high profile well-known brides-to-be, arty and creative brides, or the more traditional bride?
Always keep your chosen individual in mind when implementing your brand strategy.
Besides speaking to your “Ideal Client”, your brand strategy should also include your brand personality. There are a few options when determining your brand personality.
One method is to use a personality quiz like a Branding Archetypes test. One of my favourites is the Cerries Mooney Primary Archetype test.
Or you could try the Fascination quiz by Sally Hogshead. The Fascination quiz will give you a better insight into yourself or your brand.
A good brand personality is usually a conglomeration of all of the insights found here PLUS you or your company’s back story, vision, mission and values. This should also include the solution you offer your clients.
You can use these insights to determine the personality you want to portray through the use of colours, fonts and other elements.
Make sure to dedicate sufficient time and attention to this aspect of your brand personality.
Now that you have decided on the clients you want to reach and the personality you want to portray, you can focus on the assets that are usually thought of when talking about branding
As previously explained, while your logo is not your brand, it nevertheless sets an important foundation for the branding of your company. Your logo is much more than just an image; it is a point of recognition for clients.
Your logo should be easily recognised in small or large print. This applies to all advertising avenues, whether it’s digital, on your website, on someone’s phone, on a billboard, or swag like T-shirts or key-rings.
Your logo should encompass all the work done using the above-mentioned exercises and put it into one awesome image. Once you have established a clear image, a good designer will be able to create this for you.
When it comes to fonts, it is again very important to choose a font that will both fit your brand personality and which will target your ideal client.
When developing a brand identity, your company must use the same set of fonts – each with a specific purpose
There are six basic font classifications and each of them has certain qualities that will suit different environments, personalities and feelings.
Here are six of the basic font classifications: Serif; Sans-serif; Slab serif; Script; Handwritten; Decorative.
The different personality traits associated with these classifications are:
- Serif fonts are classic, traditional, and trustworthy
- Sans-serif fonts are modern, minimal, and clean
- Slab serif fonts are bold, quirky, and confident
- Script fonts are elegant and unique
- Handwritten fonts are informal and artistic
- Decorative fonts are stylized, distinctive, and dramatic
When it comes to choosing your fonts, you have to decide whether, when put together, the different fonts work in harmony with one another. This is known as font pairs which work together to express your identity. Consider the weight and size of each font, in addition to the style.
NO matter what font pairs you choose, make sure that they have the following qualities:
The fonts must all be legible and easily read in different sizes and Text cases.
They must be flexible for use in every medium. That includes print, web and mobile mediums.
Fonts have different weights
Multiple font weights (i.e. light, regular, semi-bold, and bold) are critical for building a clear text hierarchy.
You’ll need to use the different font weights to differentiate between headers, sub-headers, body text, callouts and quotes in both print and online media.
Nothing cultivates a stronger emotional connection with your customers than the colour palette you use for your branding message. You’ll be using your branding colours in your logo, on your website, your print materials and even in your storefront or uniforms, if that’s applicable. So it’s again very important that these colours complement your brand personality. When doing personality tests, the outcomes are often associated with specific colours.
That is a very good starting point when selecting your colour palette. This applies to the smallest details, like an accent colour. Also, look at colour theory and what emotions the different colours invoke. Think about your ideal client and if this is the type of emotion or emotions you would like them to feel about your brand.
By repeating the use of the same colours, you will strengthen your brand’s association with those colours and, by extension, strengthen the overall brand awareness.
Images are a necessary tool for developing your brand.
Icons, specifically, are an easy way to bring your own creativity and brand identity to the forefront of your website. The more unique your imagery, the easier it will be for your customers to remember your business and recognise you when you’re up against your competitors. As previously discussed, you must make sure that you’re icon choices complement your brand personality, as well as the colours and fonts you’ve already selected.
Brand imagery is such an important aspect that we will dedicate a whole chapter just to imagery and Website photography. This is a good time to start thinking about your website images and/or photos, and how they will work in conjunction with the rest of the assets when doing your brand strategy. For some brands, using illustrated graphics might be a better option. In that case, you will need to follow a different strategy other than using a Brand photo-shoot or a Product Shoot.
Bring this together on a Mood Board or Brand strategy guide.
Organising everything we’ve already discussed into something useful and turning that inspiration into a more cohesive base for creating a design can be a massive task. That is why it is very important to have something simple as a start point which everyone can use. Enters the Mood Board.
Mood boards are digital or physical collages which arrange all the design elements – images, materials and text etc. – into a format that represents the final design style.
A brand strategy guide or a Brand guideline is a more formal document. It serves as a play-book for your team or outsourced partners. It helps them to understand how to use your brand, specifically in the content and communication you create.
The final thing you need to know is how to share all of these assets with your Website developer if the company is not the same as the one that did your branding. The best practice is to follow whatever process the designer or developer is requesting. That strategy makes it easier for them to do a great job. Be sure to have all your assets ready in Web-friendly format or whatever format is requested.
Your website developer will most likely want you to share it through DropBox, upload it onto your Client Project in DropBox, or on your Client Portal.
In this chapter, we looked at the different aspects needed to formulate a brand strategy, not only for your website design project but also in general. You can ensure that things run smoothly from the get-go by having the strategy ready and the assets in place when starting your website design project.
Although it’s very possible to DIY your brand strategy, it can sometimes be very challenging to tackle this on your own. If you are interested in talking to us about your Brand Strategy, or any of the specific requirements needed for your website project, you can book a free discovery session. You can even book a Brand GPS if you know that this is something you need help with.