The Basics: How to Brand Your Website
What is branding and why is it important?
Branding isn't just a term used to describe your logo. Branding is the mood... the feeling... the impression that is left on anyone who comes to your website. And if your website is lacking in quality branding, the impression left on viewers can be detrimental to your success.
No branding is actually bad branding. Here's why.
Imagine coming across a website during a Google search and click through to the home page. This website doesn't have a logo, there are no consistent colors, and the site's style is jumbled and all over the place. What do you as a viewer do? Click the 'back' button on your browser and continue on with your search. That website's lack of professional branding just lost you as a customer.
Now imagine the same scenario where you're searching in Google, but this time you come across a site that has their act together. This site is organized, eye catching, professional and lets you know immediately how they can help you. You stay a while... browse through the information page, mosey on over to the about sections, maybe even view the 'shop' and find yourself in the checkout. This website invested in quality presentation and branding so that YOU, the potential customer would want to stay. Both parties benefit from this investment; you find a great new resource, and the site makes a sale or gains a loyal follower.
Since your website will be the first impression for those interested in your product or service, the branding you implement (or lack thereof) will be a critical component to achieving success with your marketing strategy.
1. KNOW YOUR PURPOSE
Communicating who you are to potential customers begins with a crystal clear vision of your website's purpose. Make it easy to understand what you're offering, what promises you'll uphold, and why your site is worth their time. Through appearance, content and organization, your website can successfully portray your unique brand to potential customers.
Just as you wouldn't meet up with a client in your pajamas, don't let your website portray a lack of caring and professionalism either.
For example, simply saying, “My website is about health and fitness” won't cut it. With so many subcategories under health and fitness, you need to figure out exactly who you're targeting. Is it the vegan crowd? Body builders? Paleo fanatics? Your goal is to get people to associate that category with you.
Decide which angle you're using to convey your message. Will it be an opinion-based blog? Or maybe you're focused more on the latest research analysis? Become synonymous with this category so customers come to view you as an invaluable resource in that niche.
2. STICK WITH YOUR TAGLINE
A tagline helps to communicate succinctly to your potential customers what it is that you do. Using one isn't mandatory, but it can help to establish a quicker impression of how you can help your customer. For example, Dapper Fox Design employs the tagline, 'a creative resource + blog for entrepreneurs'. This tagline is short and to the point, allowing my potential readers to quickly understand the mission of Dapper Fox Design. Your tagline isn't something that you should be changing up from time to time. Choose a solid tagline that accurately represents your mission, and stick to it. Your tagline becomes part of your brand, so maintaining consistency will reinforce this brand to your audience.
3. CREATE AN 'ABOUT' PAGE THAT SPEAKS TO YOUR AUDIENCE
If you're a blogger, solopreneur, or similar, viewers of your website will want to know about you. Having a well-written 'About' page and bio will give readers an opportunity to feel as if they know you, giving insight into your background, credibility and personality. Creating a relatable 'About' page also gives potential clients a chance to understand why they can trust you. Remember, your brand is about your company, including you and the entire image that you present.
In this inspiring TED talk, Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, says, “Your brand is what other people say about you when you're not in the room.” Since you can't personally explain your objectives, goals and offerings to each individual that visits your website, make sure your branding does it for you. Effective branding will give precisely the feeling, presence and objective you want it to, without needing to chat directly with every viewer.
4. UNIFY YOUR VISUAL PRESENCE
Your website should include a unified brand identity, bringing together your logo, favicon, colors, fonts and overall concept.
What is a favicon?
The favicon is that little icon at the top of your browser next to the title of the web page. Mine is the little aqua fox next to the title, 'Blog – Dapper Fox Design'. Many webmasters ignore this vital branding element, but don't underestimate this subtle attention to detail. Using a custom favicon allows viewers to see a bit of your brand even when they're in a different browser tab. It's seen alongside your title and URL, as well as when readers bookmark your site.
How to make a favicon: Favicons can be created in PNG or JPEG format, and then converted to a .ico format. When making custom favicons, I simply create a 16 x 16 pixel image in Photoshop, then save it as a PNG or JPEG to my file documents. After accessing the file document, I just click and rename the file to 'favicon.ico'. I then upload it to the website via the back end on Wordpress, or through Squarespace's logo section.
Unify your font and color choices.
Maintain a consistent brand feeling throughout your website by using no more than 2 or 3 fonts. You can read my blogpost "How to Pair Fonts Like a Pro" here. Specify which fonts will be used for headers, paragraphs and accents and stick with it. Color choices should be decided upon before you begin the website design so that the mood and consistency of your site is maintained throughout new pages and blog posts.
5. HAVE THE DESIGN MATCH YOUR CONTENT
The colors, font choices, and overall look and feeling of your design needs to match the content you're offering. If you are a CPA firm, or a bank, you're not going to want pink florals floating around your site. But if you're a creative writer or an artist, a few floral elements could make your site more attractive and portray your fresh personality.
Identify who your target market will be. What will appeal to them? Younger crowds tend to appreciate bolder, brighter visuals, while older populations and professional fields lean toward a calmer, muted palette. Merge this insight about your ideal audience with elements from your own personality to create an effective brand identity.