Improving Your Branding Online
As the time of the printed phonebook slowly nears an end, business of all sizes are joining the web to make their presence known. The internet, for many, has become the first place they go to find information about the products and service they want; so it's only logical that you should want to build your brand online.
The first step in establishing your brand on the internet is usually the development of a company website. In order to build a successful web presence, it's important to understand that your brand's site is more than just a few pages featuring your company name, logo, and contact information. The most successful brand websites are a direct reflection of their organization's philosophy, way of doing things, and culture.
This is not to say that you need to spend a fortune building a fancy new site. There are many things you can do as a business owner to establish or upgrade your website's branding that won't cost you a dime.
Here are a few simple suggestions to get you started:
While branding can be a tricky concept to grasp, it's essentially about repeating a consistent message, over and over again, to establish an idea in the mind of potential customers. This is not to say that you should plaster every page with the same hard sales message, but rather utilize the same type of language (professional vs. humorous), voice (formal vs. casual), and visual elements (logo) across your site.
If you're in need of an example, woot.com does a great job of this, especially with their FAQ section.
Keep your design relevant.
While it's not necessary to constantly redesign your website, an outdated site may send the wrong message to potential customers. If your existing design is more than 5 years old, you're probably overdue for an upgrade. For brands that need to be easily accessible by mobile devices, this may mean considering a responsive site (link).
Ditch the stock photos.
Though not always possible, it's preferable to use pictures of your actual products, employees, customers, or organization whenever you can. However, they need to be high quality images in order to achieve the desired result. Poorly lit, blurry, or pixelated images should never make it onto your site.
Show off your team.
If you're a small to medium sized business, it can be nice to give a face (or several) to your brand. Adding team member bios humanizes your brand and plays into sharing your company culture.
Add a custom favicon.
What's a favicon, you ask? Favicons are small square icons, usually about 16x16 pixels in size, that appear in the tab of your open website. While literally a tiny detail, they add consistency to your visual branding and make it easier for viewers to spot your website when they have multiple tabs open in their web browser.
Link to your social media accounts.
If you utilize social media, your website should feature links to those sites. No excuses. While you're welcome to take things a step further and integrate your social feeds directly with your site, it's not a necessity. As a side note, many of these same tips can be applied to the rest of your brand's online strategy, including social media.
When you're building your brand online, keep in mind that your goal is to have customers instantly recognize you through all aspects of your website and any other points of interaction. This will not only help you build a stronger brand, but also help people find you on the web. Because today, if even basic company information can't be found online, it might as well not exist.