#Sponsored by Verisign
By Rieva Lesonsky
Since your business brand represents your business’s image, it’s important to make it distinctive. What’s your business brand? Is it luxurious, hip, irreverent, dignified or cutting-edge? Whatever it may be, building a strong online brand can help distinguish your company from the competition, making your business more memorable, and laying the groundwork for future expansion.
If you’re using your social media presence to build your brand, that’s great — but it may not be enough. A website could help anchor, reinforce, and grow your business’s brand.
Why? On a social media website, the primary branding that visitors may see is that of the social media website itself. The social media platform selects the design of the layout and even determines the size and format of the images your business can share on its pages. Your social media page cannot be completely customized.
On your own business website, however, you’re in charge. You can use any layout, colors, images and elements you want to — whatever best conveys your business brand.
Here’s how to use visuals to turn your business website into a real “image maker.”
What colors are associated with your business? Typically, a business logo incorporates two or three colors. Use the same colors throughout your website. While a social media platform may allow some color choices, the palette is generally limited. With a website, you have more flexibility and can generally match colors much more closely.
Use your logo on every page of your website. Visitors should see your logo in a consistent location at the top of each page to remind them where they are. You can also have a designer develop a “favicon” (the tiny icon that appears next to a website URL in the search bar) from your logo. It’s another way to brand your website.
A website that uses dozens of different fonts can give the impression that the owner of the website doesn’t know what they’re doing. To reinforce your brand, limit your website to two or three fonts that are associated with your brand and consistent with the fonts in your print marketing materials. Choose one font for body copy, another for titles or headlines, maybe another for captions.
The photos, graphics or other images you use on your website should be consistent with your business brand. If you own a rough-hewn, farm-to-table restaurant, for example, the photos and graphics on your website should reflect that earthy, farmhouse style. Images should appeal to and reflect your target audience. For instance, if your website sells cosmetics for women of color, show that audience in your photos. While it’s tempting to just search for images and use them, be sure to check licensing terms for any content that you find online. Another great solution is to use a stock photo service.
When developing your website, make sure it is “responsive” to maintain a consistent end-user experience, Whether the user is visiting your site on a tablet, smartphone or laptop, the site should have the same look. Visitors should be able to tell at a glance that it’s your website. It should also be easy to navigate on any device.
Keep it consistent
To ensure your website remains consistent as it grows, create a quick “style guide” that specifies the colors, logos, fonts, and style of images to be used. When an employee, website designer or outside contractor is working on your website visuals, give them this document to refer to.
Keep it fresh
Once every two years or so, go over your print and online visual branding with a critical eye. If you’re using outdated fonts and colors, take the time to update your visual identity, both online and off. Whenever you change any element of your business brand, from your logo to your tagline, update it on your website as well.
While you need your website to look great, you also need it to communicate accurately about your business, so it’s also important to do a review of your website whenever revising or introducing business offerings. High-performing businesses also incorporate customer feedback about their website to improve its content and usability.
Your business website is a valuable tool, and you’ll want to find a name for your website that also fits with your brand. Creating a consistent visual identity across your online and off-line marketing materials can help boost awareness of your brand among your target customers.