Building a website isn’t hard these days. Designing one that really makes your brand shine, and which converts visitors to loyal customers, however, takes a little more effort. Allow us to hold your hand along the journey.
In this article, we’ll talk you through the process of going from plan through action to finished product when it comes to a business website branding exercise. We’ll cover:
- Developing a strong brand identity
- Refreshing your existing brand
- The importance of a good web host and a strong domain name by IONOS
- How to think about content and make sales happen
By the end of this article, you’ll be familiar with all the most important steps to cover when you embark on that branded website creation journey.
#1. What do I need to think about when developing a brand identity?
If you think that branding is all about logos, colours and fonts, think again. Before you get to that creative end of a branding exercise, you need to cover the business side of things.
And sure enough, you think you’ve got that covered; after all, you wouldn’t need a website if you didn’t have a business already. But taking the time to carefully consider and answer a few key questions will pay off.
Ask yourself what problem your product or service solves. What does the problem look like, and how would you describe the solution? Consider the elevator pitch: the simple, no-frills one-liner that explains clearly why your business does what it does.
Write down your mission, vision and values – and do it in such a way that you’d be happy for potential investors or customers to read it.
Then consider your target audience. Find out as much as you can about them: where they live, what they like, what their values are. What other brands do they like, and what are their web and social media habits like?
Once you’re perfectly clear on all of the above, it’s time to choose a brand name, if you haven’t done so already, and then move onto the more obviously creative aspects, including a logo, colours, fonts and graphic elements.
If you’re not a branding expert or copywriter yourself, hire one to help you with this as well as the brand tone of voice and the implementation of the same. You can read more about this and some other brand identity tips here.
#2. I already have a brand – won’t that be good enough?
So you’re almost there – great! But a website branding exercise is a good time to consider whether your brand might need a refresh. That’s not to say that it isn’t holding up to scrutiny or that what you’ve done before wasn’t good enough – but all brands change, and rightly so.
There are many reasons why your brand might need a brand refresh. Your industry might have changed, and so you might need to consider where your brand fits into it. You might have grown rapidly since your brand was developed, and your customers’ impression of you might have gone beyond what you had originally imagined.
Perhaps the cultural or political climate means that you need to consider and tweak your tone of voice. Or maybe your logo is just starting to look a little tired and lacklustre.
Remember, this is not the same as rebranding. We’re talking a brand audit to determine what’s working – and what isn’t. If you think your brand could potentially do with a facelift and you want to read more about the steps and considerations, check out our brand refresh guide.
#3. I’m ready to create my website – where do I start?
Before we get to digital assets and content work, you need to find a home for your website. This means that you need a reliable web host and a strong website domain name.
The former is a space that stores all your information and files and serves it all up when a web user clicks on a link to visit your website. The latter is the URL you see in the web browser, the digital name of your site, if you like.
When choosing a web host, do a little bit of research and read reviews about reliability and security. Hacks and attacks are on the up, so you need a trustworthy supplier with strong security credentials. Also consider what your needs might be in a year’s time, or more.
Find a host that offers scalability, where you can buy more space and a spike in traffic won’t cause the website to crash or slow down significantly. And finally, do your research on tech support. There’s nothing worse than looking at a confusing error message, not being able to access your site, and realising that you’re on your own.
Your domain name, meanwhile, is more than a digital home. It must do what it says on the tin, naturally, but more than that, it must communicate well with search engines. Here’s where some of your target audience research will come in handy.
If you know how they behave online and what they are likely to search for, you can be clever with your domain name to make sure to include an SEO keyword or two. That said, simplicity is key. It should be immediately clear when looking at the URL what it says, and what it’s all about.
Search through the available domain names from a trusted supplier such as IONOS, and you’ll see that your domain name doesn’t have to break the bank.
#4. Now to make it sell!
When you’ve figured out the back-end logistics, find a website builder and a template and let the fun begin. Using what you learnt during your brand creation or refresh phase, think about what your website needs to do, covering everything from UX and e-commerce to important information and SEO.
A well-researched SEO strategy along with sensibly keyword-dense content will help potential customers find you; good UX and a user-friendly navigation will give them a good experience when they get there; clear and engaging content will help them understand what you’re all about and find the things they’re looking for; and the right e-commerce tool will bring home the sales.
Remember that the idea of a finished product is only half the truth. You should be producing content continuously to make sure that the search engines know that you’re still an active, relevant site. Moreover, you should put systems in place for monitoring usability and traffic, in order to keep making necessary updates and tweaks.
There are consultants who will do this for you, but equally, your CMS and web host likely offer a range of statistics and monitoring tools as part of your package, so why not take a look and see for yourself? It could help you understand your audience better and consequently improve your products and services.
A huge part of any website branding effort is about understanding your audience and the problem you solve for them. The nitty gritty of domain names and hosting is all very important – but once you know what you’re looking for and you get reliable systems in place, you’ll be able to sit back, relax, analyse the stats, and enjoy the exciting journey of getting to know your customers even better – and hopefully watching the sales come in.