Please upload Version 1 of your Graphic Standards Manual. We can share our experiences in creating this branding element.
Final Project Overview
Review the requirements for the Final Project.
Your web site must deliver your brand’s positioning statement, starting with your descriptive headline. Your logo and your tagline should be the primary representatives of your branding position. The web site layout, images, and copy must support your position.
The following elements of your web site need to be consistent with your brand’s position:
- Brand logo
- Brand name
- Key messaging
- Positioning statement
- Body copy
- Graphics – the look and feel
Your web site visitor needs to know immediately where they are. If they don’t know you, this is your opportunity to introduce your brand in a manner consistent with the rest of your marketing.
Focus on the Customer
Your messaging and overall branding, as reinforced by your web site, needs to focus on your paying customers. This is true even if your audience includes media, investors, employees and competitors.
It is easy to spot a self-absorbed company that has lost its way, by witnessing the 30-second Flash intro that features the amenities of their new building. If you want to increase sales, make sure your branding message is customer benefit-focused, and consistent across all of your marketing.
Brand Building with Web Design
Here’s a summary of the 9 tips in the article linked above:
- COLOR. Select a color palette which stimulates emotions, and exudes a personality, which are consistent with your branding message.
- CHARACTER. Design a visual metaphor which reflects the personality you have developed for your company.
- EMOTION. Deliberately craft the overall emotion elicited by your design so that it creates the associations with your brand that you desire.
- CONSISTENCY. Project a consistent image throughout your site: repetition reinforces your branding message. This is where your graphic standards guide is critical.
- REUSE CODE AND VISUALS. When possible, use the same stylesheets and many of the same images across the site; this speeds up the loading of your pages and supports consistency.
- LOGO SIZE AND POSITION. Place the logo in the upper-left corner (where people are most likely to look,) make it large enough to be a focal point, and link it to the home page.
- VALUE PROPOSITION. Place a customer-centric short statement in a prominent position (ideally near the logo) which tells visitors why to stick around.
- TONE OF VOICE. Develop copy which has a tone of voice that is suitable for your company’s personality and its audience.
- UNIQUENESS. Stand out from your competitors.
Brand Building with Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
All your hard design work will suffer in anonymity if people can’t find your site. The most common way people find websites—unless you’ve run a costly marketing campaign—is likely to be through search engines. It pays to understand how search engines respond to various coding practices, and code your site in the most SEO-friendly way possible.
Here are some time-tested coding practices which have a strong positive impact on a website’s page ranking in search engines:
- DOMAIN NAME. Select a domain name which is relevant to your brand and to the content of your site. If there is a possibility of misspellings of your domain name, secure the most likely variations as well and have them redirected to your main site. If you can, also register your domain name with all the common extensions: .com, .net and .org.
- FILE NAMES. Create file names which are descriptive and relevant to the content of the page; hyphens help separate words. On any given site page, the URL displayed in the browser’s address bar should be in ordinary language which gives a clue about the page content.
- TITLE TAGS. Craft title tags which are descriptive and contain key words which are relevant to your branding message and content.
- HEADINGS. Use heading tags (e.g. <h1>) correctly to indicate the hierarchy of your page and to help users quickly scan your content for what’s important to them.
- CONTENT. The actual content of your page should be well-written, informative, and consistent with the headings. Write for people, not search engines, and you will find that people will link to your site. Search engines favor sites with well-written, original content. Update content on a fairly regular basis—fresh content improves page rank as well. Use proper spelling and grammar.
- EMPHASIS. Emphasize keywords and phrases within your text with text modifiers such as the strong (<strong>) and emphasis (<em>) tags.
- IMAGES. Use an alt attribute for every single image which describes it succinctly—otherwise search engines have no idea what the image is (not to mention blind people.)
- LINKS. Write the label for each link within your site so that it is consistent with the page heading of the destination page. Link in a hierarchy: the home page should link only to your main site categories, and those categories link to subcategories, etc.
- VALID HTML. Writing valid HTML not only improves cross-browser consistency, it improves the chances of a search engine making the most of your content.
- META DESCRIPTION. Write a meta description that describes your company directly and without jargon; it may include vital keywords but should be in a natural tone of voice rather than keyword-packed. It will likely appear in a search engine result and should compel real people to click the link.
- SITE STRUCTURE. Failure to have a properly structured site can make it difficult for search engines to properly index your site; this can lead to a search engine simply omitting your site from search results because you are not considered an authority on the subject matter of your site. Keep all your related site content grouped into categories, and keep these categories in descriptive folders within your site structure.
- SITE MAP. Create a site map which illustrates the inner organization and navigation of your site’s content.
- ABOUT PAGE. A company information section enhances your credibility. Include content about your business’s history, management team, and notable accomplishments which support your brand positioning.
- HOSTING. Select a web host with near-100% up-time, so users and search engines are never faced with any errors. Look for a host which also provides customer service around the clock.
- BROKEN LINKS. Use software to check for broken links on your site. You can be penalized by search engines if too many broken links exist.