By Julia Mulcahy – Strategist
When we think about powerful branding, it’s almost a reaction to think of McDonald’s golden arches or Nike’s ‘Just Do It’ slogan. But these types of concepts are just the tip of the iceberg in today’s digital era. Right from the very beginning, branding is about creating a universal concept strong enough to form an emotional connection that people will remember.
While the traditional branding concepts to build recognition and reputation are still remain just as important today, the digital era has revolutionised the opportunities we as consumers experience a brand and develop impressions. There is literally nothing worse than seeing promising brands failing to showcase their unique quality because of poor execution online. And that road to failure can almost always be guaranteed by the absence of UX in the digital environment.
While elements like functionality, typography and usability play a key role in the experience of your brand’s interfaces, these are the three elements that are absolutely crucial when demonstrating your company’s unique characteristics in the digital space.
The look and feel of a website is the main driver of your customer’s first impressions. There are so many visual elements that determine whether users will like your site or not, such as the structure, colours, spacing, symmetry, amount of text and fonts. One thing is for certain, poor visual design results in quick rejection and mistrust of a website. If users don’t like the look of the first page they land on, it’s likely that they won’t even both exploring the rest of what you have to offer. The profitability of your website relies on visual appeal. My advice? Don’t ever try and save money on web design. People form an opinion of your site in a matter of milliseconds. Make sure that the first few seconds of your site inspire users to make an impressive, lasting impression.
No matter how brilliant your design is, if the content is bad or inconsistent in voice, style, and quality, you’re going to lose. Make sure that every piece of content on every page reflects the universal values of your brand. This doesn’t just mean executing a similar tone in your social media posts, this extends to everything on your landing pages, product pages, sponsored ads, and even the smaller (but just as important) call-to-action links. One really effective way to keep consistency is by creating a company-wide digital branding bible. This manual should focus solely on describing your brand’s character as a person. Is (s)he a young helpful entrepreneur? What about a wise professional with 20 years of experience? How would they speak to consumers? Get your team in a room and create the ultimate brand persona.
Site architecture or ‘information architecture’ is a little difficult to explain compared to content strategy, but at the end of the day, it’s comes down to helping people understand your website’s ecosystem and make it easy for them to find what they’re looking for. Here are some questions to ask when reviewing your site’s architecture:
– What is the typical user flow through the site? What do we want them to do?
– How does the site help users identify their next steps as quickly and easily as possible?
– How is that information presented back to the user?
– Is that information helping the customer, and driving decisions leading to profitable action?
To answer these questions, there are countless research tools to lift the curtain on how users are behaving on your site, and what these user’s desired goals are to craft an experience they remember.
It might sound like a lot of work to get your website back up to scratch, and there may be a couple of internal people pushing back with the ‘not a top priority’ spiel, but that’s just fear of change. Spending just that little bit extra time and money on your brand’s most powerful marketing channel will help people differentiate you from the competition and help you signal the unique qualities of your offerings.
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