A lot of company websites present mixed brand messages, inaccurate brand messages or no brand messages at all. Some of the most common reasons:
- The company doesn’t have a clear brand strategy.
- The company’s objective in building the site is purely lead generation or e-commerce revenue.
- The company speaks with multiple voices.
- The company has had its brand strategy on autopilot since the 1970’s.
Assuming a company has a coherent brand strategy, conveying the brand through its website is simply a matter of implementing some basic techniques.
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Rinse: Remove the Unnecessary
A 2012 Google study revealed that simple websites are greatly preferred to visually complex ones.
Instead of striving for simplicity, which they should, companies too often overcomplicate messaging and clutter up design with unnecessary elements. The result is a brand message that gets lost in the shuffle.
Creatively, the questions most important to ask are:
1. “What is the least we can say and still have site visitors grasp the essence of our brand?”
2. “What is the least we can show and still help visitors visualize our brand?”
To see simplicity in branding executed to perfection, look no further than apple.com.
Companies tend to get caught up in their own business. They are itching to tell visitors every last excruciating detail about their products, services and company.
This is almost always a mistake. Site visitors are interested in finding out as quickly as possible whether a company can help them, or whether its site sells what they are looking for. Extraneous details put barriers in front of visitors.
A simple, powerful brand message does more to generate leads and e-commerce revenue than all the product specification in the world. If visitors believe your company is innovative, sophisticated, compassionate, or whatever it is, they will want to do business.
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Repeat: Keep Saying the Necessary
The importance of repetition is obvious when you think about the way visitors use a website. They do not read it like a book, starting at the Home page and working their way through every page in hierarchical order, ending with the Contact page.
Rather, users enter the site on the Home page or an interior page they discover through Google searches, social media shares, etc. Once visitors arrive, they skip around the site in a mostly unpredictable manner.
Any page of a site is potentially a visitor’s first impression of the company’s brand. This being the case, the branding message must be everywhere on the site.
If a core component of a company’s brand is simplicity, every page of the site must be simple, whether it’s this page, this page or this page. No matter how deeply visitors dig into the Apple site, they experience easy-to-digest content, uncluttered page layouts and minimalistic design elements – simple stuff.
Bottom Line: Rinse away design elements and content that conflict with your brand message or do nothing to advance it. Repeat your brand throughout your site. The faster visitors figure you out, the sooner they will do business with you.