Your website is more than just a shop window, it’s the digital flagship for your entire business — nae, your whole brand identity. For the majority of people, it will be their first real introduction into who you are, what you do and how you do it. And we’re not just talking about your customers; everybody from potential employees to key competitors will be eager to get a glimpse.
With that in mind, it’s no wonder brand identity is such a crucial aspect of any effective website. If visitors are unable to grasp the bigger picture fully, then why would they want to work with you? Invest their talents in working for you? Or, in the case of those nosey competitors, envy you?
Sure, it’s important to have a website that looks and feels objectively brilliant in every sense of the word. Still, it’s equally imperative that it truly reflects all facets of your organisation in ways that are unique and wholly representative of your brand.
If things are still a little unclear, then don’t worry. We’ve compiled a few best practices that every website should adhere to when incorporating brand identity.
First and foremost, you need to make sure your website aligns with your offline branding. This is really the bedrock of any successful website — ensuring a seamless and coherent experience across all forms of communication.
Think of your website as another customer touchpoint for those who are already browsing through your literature, visiting your premises or speaking with your staff. This is especially important for brick-and-mortar shops and businesses that rely on in-person connections as much digital ones. If everything is visually and tonally uniformed, then it not only reinforces identity but also instils trust.
This is what’s frequently referred to as ‘bridging the offline / online gap’. A great example of a website that does this effectively is Lacoste. If you’ve ever stepped into one of their retail stores, you’ll know exactly how closely they’ve stuck to the same aesthetic, providing online shoppers with a coherent and familiar experience.
However, if you’re looking for something geared more towards driving customers in-store, then Asian restaurant chain Wagamama’s website perfectly captures the spirit of its food with its combination of high-spec photography, clean space and deliberate use of colour.
There’s nothing more jarring than a website that uses imagery that’s totally off-brand. Okay, that might be an exaggeration — but it’s still a bad thing!
When it comes to photography, graphics or illustrations, they should always serve to reinforce brand identity, and NEVER be used just for the sake of it. Stock photography can come across as disingenuous, while graphics can appear glaringly out of place if not stylistically congruent with the rest of your brand.
Many brands have built up familiarity around the way they use imagery. Mail Chimp is widely known for its use of quirky, hand-drawn illustrations, which feature just as prominently on the company’s website as they do across its other marketing channels. The result is a website that is immediately recognisable while also standing out from the crowd — and not in a way that feels clumsy or discordant.
Brand identity isn’t always at the forefront of people’s minds when thinking about the words that go on their website — often focusing on a commercial or technical viewpoint instead. But the tone of voice and language you use are just as important as any other brand signifier.
What you say and how you say it will engage people on different levels, but that all depends on who you are and who your customers are. Apple’s website is a great example of how to use words in a way that exemplifies the products they sell and services they provide, with clever, creative and simple messaging that ultimately seduces with its tone and style. Rather like a premium smartphone made of steel and glass.
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