No matter what niche you’re in, there are hundreds or even thousands of other sites in cyberspace which you’re competing with. What’s going to make your site stand out? There are already plenty of great products out there and great marketing strategies for promoting those products to customers. There are plenty of great looking sites which are well structured and which apply the principles of SEO. Basically, all of these are things which anyone can duplicate with the right education and with a little bit of hard work. So if you want to stand out on the web, you must create something which NO ONE can duplicate: an unforgettable brand.
This article will give you some basic strategies which will help you create a unique and unforgettable brand for your company website.
What is a Brand and Why Should You Have One?
Your brand is the image or “personality” of your company. The more memorable your brand is, the more likely your customers will be to think of your company when they have a need that your product or service fulfills. They’ll be more likely to do business with you as opposed to companies which have a generic and less memorable brand. The concept of branding is so powerful and effective that people will spend three times as much for well branded products than they will for generically packaged products.
Elements of a Strong Brand
Creating an unforgettable brand requires you to appeal to as many of your customer’s senses as possible. This begins with the images, symbols and colors which represent your brand, all of which can be communicated in a strong company logo. For example, notice the company logo in the upper right hand side of the website below:
This logo has a color scheme of red, white and blue which is present everywhere on the website, communicating the specific image of the company. The logo also includes the symbols of a triangle and an arrow, both of which are common enough to communicate a sense of familiarity to the visitor. However, the arrangement of these symbols is also unique enough to make the logo unique and memorable. Finally, the company name uses a specific font which is used in the site copy, the header image and other places on the site.
These elements communicate an image which will also be present in the company email newsletters, information products, business cards, letterheads and anything else which represents the company. In addition to these visual features, companies also create “audio logos” and “jingles,” so that when the customer hears these sounds, they’ll recognize them as being characteristic of the company that created them.
Finally, your brand needs to communicate a promise to the customer in the form of a tagline which represents the goal of the company and communicates value to the customer.
Creating Your Company Brand
When it comes to creating a company logo, tagline and audio logo, the best move is to hire a professional designer, professional copywriter and professional jingle writer (or a design firm which does all three) and have them create you a few options to choose from. This is also called a (corporate identity package). Branding psychology is very detailed and it requires a lot of thought and design skill, so it’s best to outsource the task to someone who has a lot of experience and expertise. The investment for your corporate identity will run anywhere from $500 to several thousand depending on the quality you want and the amount of details involved.
Branding Your Site
Once you have your company image created, you have all the elements you need to create a unique and memorable website. Here are some ways to use your company image to brand your site and your online marketing:
- Your Site’s Design Features
If your company image is done well, you’ll have a few images, colors, fonts and symbols which communicate your company brand. All of these should be present in your site design, copy, header images, and colors. While audio and video can be distracting on a site if they aren’t used tastefully, it’s a good idea to use your audio logo or jingle if you have a video or audio presentation somewhere on your site.
- Your Site’s Copy
The basic message communicated by your web copy needs to clearly communicate and support your tagline or brand promise. This is very important because while symbols, colors and fonts make your brand memorable, your message gives them something TO remember. Make sure that this message also communicates the value of doing business with you and what sets you apart from your competition.
Creating Connections with Your Brand
Even if your site is unforgettable, you want your visitors to initiate an ongoing connection so that they can get back to your site easily or so that you can stay in touch with them. There are two methods for accomplishing this:
1. Using a Favicon to Brand Your Site and Bookmarks
When a visitor bookmarks your site, their browser creates a simple “point and click” way for them to get back to your website without having to remember your URL. However, when that visitor goes back to access that bookmark in their browser, the default image is a generic looking page icon. If you really want to brand your site, it’s a good idea to add a favicon. For example, in the image below, you’ll see that some bookmarks are branded by the company logo and some are not:
The small image that you see is the site’s “favicon,” which is also visible when you visit a website. For example:
Notice how the favicon is the company’s unique logo, which communicates the company image and creates a visual reference for the customer, making the brand more memorable. To add a favicon to your site, you need to have your company logo created in a 16x16 jpeg, GIF, PNG or ICO image and uploaded to your web server. Then it’s simply a matter of adding the following code into the header of your HTML code for your web pages:
<link rel="SHORTCUT ICON" href="http://www.mydomain.com/myicon.ico"/>
In the example above, the “myicon.ico” refers to the actual location of your favicon file.
If your site is built in Wordpress, you can add a favicon with a simple plug in called Shockingly Simple Favicon.
2. Email Marketing
When your customer visits your site, it’s a VERY good idea to collect their email address so that you can continue to market and promote your brand to them. See our Article on the principles of email marketing for more details on how to do this. In addition to the principles in this article, remember to use your company logo, colors, fonts and other features in your ongoing email communications with your customers.
Creating a strong company image and consistently communicating that image in your site, your email marketing and all of your online promotions is the key to building strong loyalty and cutting through the noise on the internet. Put these strategies to work and be persistent, the long term payoff will be well worth the effort.