Online branding: Is Your Site Dressed to Kill?

By Greg Hudson on 2005/05/31

There are probably more branding books on the shelves than there are successful brands. The purpose of this article is only to point out a few simple things that could either help or hinder your online branding.

If you either have an existing website or are thinking about the benefits a new website could bring, the following are things to consider.

How does it look?

The nature of building a brand is something quite intangible. In many ways it's like a good looking woman. On a Monday she'll dress in a baseball cap, an old tracksuit and a pair of dodge slippers. But on a Friday, when she's going, out she'll look amazingly different . This difference is branding.

Online branding is about how the site looks (Design) and how the site reads (Copy).

Obviously, any brand would like to project the same brand image online as it has been projecting offline. But, there are a lot of brands out there that look good offline and sound like a PowerPoint presentation done by a mute, one-eyed monkey, online.

It is a matter of consistency, and these are a few points regarding online branding we think are worthy of consideration:

Off-Page Factors:

  • SERP - If you're the leading brand in your product category and your site only pops up on the tenth page of the search engine results page...boo boo! For some reason it makes your product look like the tenth best in it's category.
  • Page title - if the name of your company or product is not in the page title, you will lack visibility on the search engine results page for said name.
  • No page description - No copy in your page description shows a lack of effort and comes across as being sloppy. It is also a missed opportunity to highlight the unique selling proposition of your product.
  • Banner ads and PPC ads - that are inconsistent with the style guide you have laid out, disrupt your brand's equity with inconsistent design elements.
  • Positioning - worst of all, your advertising finds itself near a porn site or any other site with negative associations. How many people do you see loitering around the doorway of an adult shop?
  • SPAM - One of the best ways to have your site (A) knocked off the search engine listings and (B) reduce the effectiveness of your online marketing campaign to zero, is to use spamming techniques.

On-page factors:

How impressive does the design look?

On the Internet, your website is the face of your brand. From the moment your site is accessed, users begin forming an opinion about your site. How it looks is important for branding, the following are basic things your site needs to make a good impression:

Images

Pictures do speak a thousand words! Burgers are made to look better than they actually are for a reason. However, you would like the images on your site to be of good quality and situated near the copy relative to the image.

Layout

Websites sporting a dazzling array of links and huge chunks of copy, don't go down well with users. When users get to your site, impress them with a clean layout and easy navigation.

Font

Some brands have a font that is totally unique to them. Details aside, font is important to the look and feel of your site. It can add to the mood of the copy, playing a vital role in branding.

Colour

As with font, consistent colours representing the brand image, should conform to your overall style guide.

How appealing does the copy sound?

(s)he's hot, (s)he's sexy and (s)he's looking at you. You walk across the room and deliver the best line ever and you get a reply that sounds like a combination of Mike Tyson and an itchy and scratchy record player. Hot design, but it still matters how your copy sounds and what it's saying!

Tone

When it comes to copy, some say the secret ingredient is human emotion. The tone of the copy should convey a certain mood whether it be personal/formal, upbeat/serious or authoritative. Whatever your brand image is, your tone and style of copy should be consistent with it.

Choice of words

Why do people use pickup lines? Do they work? Does it really matter what you say? Off course it does! branding requires that certain words be associated with your product or service description. Choose a good copywriter, or if you use your own copy, make sure it's not too flaccid. Words carry weight, so choose them carefully.

Short and sweet

Online copy should be easy to digest. People go online to find information and most are loath to read unstructured, long-winded sentences.

Call to action

After all is said and done, your website's branding, marketing and the effort put into it should result in ACTION.

PS. Reasons why the Author spelled brand like this:

  • Memorable - This article may have a good chance of being remembered .
  • Differentiates - People notice the difference because it sticks out.
  • Curiosity - You may have wanted to know why from the very beginning, did you not?