Sometimes you have to fake your brand a little.
Brands are not built in a day. It can take months of thorough research and testing to develop just a compelling brand promise. And that’s only a start of the whole process.
On the other hand, you don’t launch a business in a vacuum. There are already other companies trying to attract a similar audience. And, you may have no time to wait for the branding process to conclude.
Faking your brand might sometimes seem like the only option.
Perhaps your audience won’t accept anything short of a brand. Your competitors had got them used to it and that’s what they expect. Or you just lack confidence in an incomplete brand and fear it might reduce your chances on the market, regardless of your audience. You may want to present yourself the same way your competitors do.
But, a common mistake many new companies make is just trying to mimic big brands. Getting your website to look like a brand however takes more than having a logo on the page. It takes an in-depth understanding of what a brand is and which of its elements customers expect to find on your website.
So to begin at the beginning,
What is a Brand?
Even though the official definition by the American Marketing Association states otherwise, there is more to brand than a logo and few other graphic elements.
MJ Lanning, defines brans as a “whole set of experiences, including value for money that an organisation brings to customers”. Stephen Brown, a renowned professor of marketing described a brand as “a collection of all mental states we associate with it.” Whereas another academic, Lisa Woods defined brand as “a primary point of differentiation between competitive offerings”.
It is clear from the definitions above that a brand is more than just graphics but also includes various experience a customer has with your company or a product. This might involve your brand promise, USP, customer service, manuals, the tone of voice, the way you handle customer queries, your marketing message, words you use and many more.
Brand Elements on a Website
Brands are complex. They includes a multitude of elements, many of which which are hard to define. When your only aim however is to make your website look like a brand, these are the elements you should consider including in your design:
First of all, you should include a logo or a symbol that represents your brand as this is what most customers will expect to see. You don’t need a complex symbol but you should at least have some graphic representation of the brand you are building.
Cornerstone content use a very simple, typography based logo that quickly communicates the name of the brand.
2. Unique Selling Proposition
No business, website or any other corporate entity can exist without a differentiating factor. We are living in times of vast access to information. Today’s customers, regardless of whether they are just news readers or people looking to purchase very specific products, will research many vendors before they settle on one. This works the same for people trying to find their new favourite blog or news site and online shoppers. Therefore, you need to inform your visitors what makes your brand unique on the market.
There is a plethora of information about developing a USP for a business online. Check out this and this article to get started.
Everlane state their USP on their home page, clearly revealing the values they stand for and their differentiating factors.
3. Tagline / Slogan
Not every business has a tagline and it may seem that not every one has to have it. But lacking it is missing on a huge branding opportunity. A tagline or a slogan offer a great way for a business that’s not yet well known to communicate their unique selling proposition. You don’t have to use a slogan all the time if you’re not comfortable with it. Consider adding it beside your logo at least until your brand will become more known. Until then, it might be the only way for visitors to know what your brand stands for.
Make It Bloom are very bold with their tagline (“Expect Awesome”) and, it works!
4. Tone of Voice
Lastly, what you communicate with your readers is as equally important in building your brand as how you do it. When writing copy for your website, from general, static pages to your most up to date content – blog posts, you should at minimum consider what’s the average reading level of your readers. Unless you write for a highly specialised audience, you should aim for an average reading level (grade 6-7).
You should also try to convey the emotional state you want your readers to achieve. If you want them to be excited, happy, sad, anxious, make sure that this feeling comes across through your copy. Lastly, use jargon only if you are sure they will understand it. If you use too much of it, you’ll run into a risk ofturning your readers off as they won’t understand your meaning. However, if you’re building a technical website, using jargon may be one of the required elements that your more advanced readers will expect.
Coloud use a vibrant tone of voice that clearly shows what audience they speak to.
It takes a lot of time and work to build a solid brand. Sometimes though you need your website to start communicating brand values straight away. Your audience might expect nothing short of that or you lack confidence to launch a website without a proper brand behind it. Regardless of the reasons, the way out is to fake your brand a little by including some common elements every visitor will expect to see there.