Some brands need no introductions. When you see the signature yellow M for McDonald’s, for example, or the Google G with its red, yellow, green, and blue, or the bitten white or silver apple for Apple, or the Windows logo for Microsoft, you automatically know not only who these companies are but also what they represent to you. Their logos are their brand. Their brand is more than a company; it’s a concept. You may have positive or negative associations with each brand or simply indifference. But, either way, you know who they are. Ultimately, it’s the goal of every company to have as much brand recognition as these companies; however, whether you’ll be internationally known or not, understanding the importance of branding and building your own brand is key.
Here’s why branding is just as important as SEO and web design and why they go hand-in-hand.
How pervasive is brand?
Before we go further, consider the shoe company Toms. Their signature white and blue flag logo is their brand. The brand stands not just for shoes–and now other goods–but for charitable donations. After all, when you buy that lovely-yet-perhaps-overpriced-fifty-dollar-per-pair canvas shoes that may last a year of good walking (if that), then you know that one pair will be donated to a child in need. Now, Toms has expanded; they help more causes.
The brilliance in branding is that Toms has managed to be associated with good-happy feelings, charity, good-will, yet they are a billion dollar for-profit company. That’s right. Billion is not a typo. No judgment here. That’s the power of branding. They do good with their money. They aren’t simply a for-profit company; they use some of their wealth to do what they promise. Not all companies do that (really, how many companies do that?). Companies aren’t in the business of losing money, sure, but how much do you think improving your brand will improve your overall ROI?
Web design and SEO
You already know how important web design is for SEO, but did you know that branding is also part of the mix? Once your on- and off-site SEO considerations are fixed (or you’ve had a website redesign with SEO in mind), then your agency should discuss your brand strategy with you. Some of these elements will be discussed inadvertently such as PR and content marketing but you’ll need to consider what your brand should say long term. What do you want to associate with your brand? But, more importantly, when someone is Googling to find a product or service, does your website explain who you are and what you do? And how you can help this person with your product or service? If not, you’re going to miss out.
What is a brand exactly?
So, if you’re this far in and you’re still unsure about what exactly a brand is, then let me explain. Your branding is more than just a logo. Your brand is your logo, yes, but the colours, name, tagline, slogan, identifying marks, stock imagery (or unique photography), graphic elements, wording, content, length of content, tone of voice, everything that is associated with your company wrapped up into a package.
Finessing your brand messaging
Brand messaging are the visuals and words, using in combination, to communicate what you do and who you are. Your web design, your content, the words you use in your URLs, even, all contribute to your messaging. Keep in mind that when designing your website and using good SEO practice, your website design should not distract from your messaging and your messaging should not overpower your design. Everything should be balanced and harmonious to establish both authority and recognition. Each element should work in conjunction to create a cohesive, well-rounded brand.
Well, how do you create the best brand messaging? Your SEO agency can help.
You want to consider what and how you want to explain what you do to the world. Do you want a fun, bold tone? Think Dollar Shave Club. Or do you want something more serious? Think IBM or Microsoft. Or do you want something a little out there? Think Woven Magazine or Rock Wechter. Every single one of these companies would fail if you clicked that link and had no idea whatsoever what those companies did within the first minute on their website. 75% of web users judge a company’s brand and credibility based on their web design.
Again, the most important element is that customers know what you do. Even if your design is simple and your messaging is simple, you pass the test if your customers know what you do and what you have to offer. That’s easier for the restaurant industry, retail, and, say, legal services, but more difficult for creative industries and more intangible services like SEO, web-based marketing services, and cloud-based services, for example.
However, it’s up to you to work with your SEO agency to figure out your website, branding, and messaging because it’ll all tie into the website’s SEO, which affects Google rank and if you can’t be found, then does it matter if you have a wonderful website with the perfect branding and spot-on wording?
Many companies, too, make the mistake of focusing on not only what they do but also why they are the best at it, and why they are so awesome. They spend time writing a love song to themselves but miss out on the concerns (pain points) of their potential customers. Your potential and existing customers have to connect with your brand.
You need to strike a balance between being an industry expert and communicating what value you have to your potential customer. What is your target audience looking for and how can you reach them with your message?
Creating brand consistency
Have you ever looked at a company’s website and it looks one way and then you go to their social media accounts and it looks another? Then you see their email marketing and that looks completely different? Are these even the same company? You have to dig quite deeply to find out that, yes, yes they are.
What message is that sending to you about this hypothetical company? Not every customer will mind, but subliminally, it’s saying that they aren’t very cohesive, they don’t pay attention to detail, and they may be remiss in delivering their goods or services to you. Brand matters.
And if you’ve gone to all of that trouble of branding your website, but haven’t branched out to your off-site branding, then, again, you’re missing the boat. Every piece of material you have going out into the world should have a consistent message–and that goes for everything from your name, address, and phone number to the exact pantone you use (color) on the left hand side of your logo to your email marketing and especially to your social media. Google likes consistency when it comes to ranking.
Getting a helping hand
Overall, the biggest take away I hope you learned is that web design, branding, and SEO go hand-in-hand and they all matter. However, although you do have to consider some of these elements yourself (or be coaxed and helped along by your agency), there is help out there to ensure your branding is consistent, your messaging is on point, and that your design is cohesive.
Need help with your branding?
Elaine Frieman is a UK-based professional editor, freelance writer, and former marketing agency content writer where she wrote articles for disparate clients using SEO best practice. She enjoys reading, writing, walking in the countryside, checking images for alt text, spending time with other people’s cats, and going for afternoon tea.