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If you want to build a successful website for your company, you need to have a strong, consistent brand at the center. The problem is, few new entrepreneurs understand exactly what a “brand” is supposed to be, or how to define it for their developing web presence. Identifying your startup’s brand elements, and how they’re to be executed, is a must if you want to effectively present your company, and even more importantly, be presented consistently across the web.
What is a brand?
Let’s start with a basic explanation of what a brand is. Your brand is the sum total of your company’s identity, including all visual elements and any personality-like characteristics associated with the brand.
The more consistently and coherently these qualities are presented, the easier your company’s products and communications will be to recognize (both online and offline), and the more acquainted with and loyal to your brand your followers and visitors will become.
Starting a website with solid branding gives you a foundation that carries over to all your other marketing, advertising, PR and customer relations strategies.
Brand elements to consider
Now, what are the most important parts of your brand to consider when building a website?
When most people think about branding, their attention immediately turns to the logo. This should be a symbol that defines what you do, sets you apart from the competition, and reflects your values at the same time. That’s a tall order, so don’t settle for the cheapest or fastest logo you can get. StartupNation offers logo design services catered to your startup’s unique vision.
Your logo may not be appropriate for every page of your site or extension of your brand online, so spend some time creating and solidifying some logo variations. For example, if your logo contains multiple colors, can it be translated to a single color, or to black and white? What file formats do you have available to you, and how easily can they be manipulated?
In addition to the colors on your logo, what colors best represent your brand? There’s a practically infinite number of choices here when you consider the precise shades you’re going to include in your navigation, individual pages and subsections of your site.
Another oft-overlooked element of branding is the primary typeface you choose to use, which will affect the readability and character of your website. You may have other, secondary typefaces for different occasions or applications, but your main fonts (including header and body fonts) will be seen by the majority of your web visitors.
What types of images are you going to have on your site? For example, will you seek artistic photography, or more candid everyday shots? Will they be sprawling, background-consuming landscapes, or packaged thumbnails? Your photos and images will speak their own language, so make sure it’s in line with your vision for the brand.
You’ll also need to spend some time ironing out your brand “voice.” In other words, when writing, what does your brand “sound” like? Does it carry the characteristics of a certain personality type? What’s the main emotion it conveys when it’s being read by your target demographic? Your headlines and pages are the most important here.
Finally, consider the graphic design elements you’re going to use throughout your site (and possibly in marketing collateral and advertisements). These can be things like apertures, patterns and other stylistic images that add flair to a design. Most brands end up producing an entire library of elements for internal or external use (over a period of years), but to start, you can define the style you’re looking for in these graphic elements.
How to present your brand effectively
You can define these brand elements in any way you choose, so long as they represent your company’s best interests and you’re able to define them clearly and concisely. Once you have a brand style guide in place, your next job will be making sure those standards are upheld, executed and displayed across your website and in all your future collateral.
- Choose the right web design. Your website is often the first thing a visitor will see when becoming familiar with your brand, so it needs to make an immediate impression. Make sure you review the latest web design trends, and incorporate them with the design standards you set for your own brand. Fortunately, most modern website builders are free, with multiple premium plan options; that way, you can choose a plan that allows you the design flexibility and hosting you need without venturing into unaffordable territory.
- Enforce your brand standards in ongoing changes. Your website won’t stay the same for long; you’ll add blog posts and images regularly, and you’ll go through periods of redesign as well. Make sure your original brand standards are enforced by all individuals making these changes.
- Nail the brand voice in all communications. Finally, make sure all staff members who will be sending external communications (including emails and social media posts) are well-versed in the requirements of your brand voice. It’s easy to let this slip, especially over a period of years.
The better you enforce your brand standards in the early stages of your company’s website development, the easier they’ll be to enforce long-term. Stay consistent, and maintain your image long-term for the best odds of success.