Website Design and Your Brand: Does it Entice Customers?
Would you take branding advice from a website design Santa Rosa geek? And, what does branding have to do with your website, anyway?
As a business owner, no doubt you are keenly interested in acquiring new customers. You hope and assume your website does a good job of enticing them.
But does your website actually support—or hurt—your brand?
Properly done, branding helps attract your ideal customers and supports your overall business and marketing goals. It helps with website conversion—people doing what you want them to do on your site. Yet tragically, many local business owners have little understanding of what a brand really is.
The result: your website fails to support your brand. Or worse, it damages your brand by sending mixed messages, perhaps even the wrong messages.
What Your Brand is: a “Promise” to Your Customers
To understand how your website affects your brand, let’s start with a brief discussion of what your brand is.
According to Wikipedia, “Branding is a set of marketing and communication methods that help to distinguish a company from competitors and create a lasting impression in the minds of customers.”
As an ad agency executive and former corporate marketer, I learned the importance of branding as a PROMISE. It literally defines what a customer can expect from a product or service provider. It is the value or experience (the benefit) customers can expect to receive when they interact with your company.
If you think about some famous brands, consider the promise behind the brand. This is not necessarily the company’s slogan, and it may or may not match the ad agency version.
- Coca-Cola: crisp, cold refreshment “to inspire moments of optimism and uplift.”
- McDonalds: inexpensive, familiar, consistent meal delivered in a clean, family-friendly environment
- Nike: “To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.” Motivating athletes to “just do it.”
- Walmart: everyday low prices. “Save money. Live better.”
- Apple: feel empowered with cool technology made simple, “think different.”
- Corona Beer: “find your beach,” relaxation
As you can see, each brand “promises” something that its customers want and expect. The marketing for each company expresses and reflects that brand promise. Yours should, too.
Website Design Santa Rosa Customers’ Expectations and Your Brand
When it comes to website design Santa Rosa-based prospective customers are getting a taste of your brand when they visit your site. This means the images, message content, colors, “feel” of your site, etc. should reflect your brand.
Depending on how you (and your web designer) handle these, the impact on your brand will be:
- Positive– The right customers will “feel” that your business is for them. They will want to read more content on your website and are more likely to initiate contact.
- Neutral– The right customers feel “iffy” about whether your business is for them. They may or may not move contact you. Or, you may attract customers that are not a good fit. You will lose some leads to your competitors.
- Negative– The right customers take a look at your website and move on because something doesn’t feel right. It may be at an unconscious level, but they perceive that your business is not a good fit. Large numbers of them turn away. Or, the “wrong” customers are attracted to your business.
Keep in mind that a brand impression is typically formed at an emotional, subconscious level. This is why images, color and shapes matter—and why the tone of your message is important.
For example… If your brand is all about people and passion—no matter what kind of business you’re in—then show people. You may be selling cars or real estate or cookies, but include people in your images. Don’t just show the product. That does not engage your prospects, and it does not differentiate you. Anybody can put up a product image—and it’s probably what all your competitors are doing.
Let’s say you own a funeral home. You probably want your brand to impart dignity, reflection and serenity. Your website should avoid bright colors and lively images, and it should perhaps feature pictures of flowers and quiet scenes.
Or, imagine you sell personal cooling products. The tone of the website should be cooling as well, with blues and misty (icy) colors. You get the idea.
Set the Tone on Your Home Page
A good place to make that first impression of your brand is on your website’s home page. Most websites feature either a:
- Hero Image– The hero is a large banner image, prominently placed on a web page, at or near the top. Or…
- Slider– WP Beginner.com defines a slider as being able to “run slideshows automatically without user input by moving slides on pre-defined time interval.”
In either case, you can use the Hero or Slider to include images of your product or service. But don’t just stop there! Choose these images well, since they will form that all-important first impression of your brand.
Closely related to your brand promise is the promise of benefits. Many people don’t understand the difference between benefits and features. Features are what your product or service has or does. Benefits are what it does “for” your customers.
If you’re selling liquid soap in a pump bottle, features include the pump, the bottle and perhaps the color of the soap product. The benefits, however, include getting clean. And, in the case of a pump bottle, it’s easy to use and eliminates the mess associated with bars of soap.
Make sure you consider your brand promise, the feel of your brand and the benefits you offer when thinking about your website design.
For more thoughts on website design Santa Rosa read other posts by marketing consultant and web designer Tim Smith.