Brand Building with Web Design

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Image1 Image1Samantha Martin is the founder and ceo of Media Maison, a New York City full-service public relations firm. As a third-generation toy industry specialist who works one-on-one with Hong Kong’s top toy manufacturers, she has a deep grasp of the ever-changing toy business, and is uniquely qualified to provide her clients with the benefit of her industry knowledge, expertise, and far-reaching personal connections both in media and the toy industry. Sam can be reached at samantha@mediamaison.com.

PR strategies and scopes of work have shifted – companies must be in tuned to traffic driving web designs in order to build their brand. The design of a brand’s website is not just indicative of a company’s online presence – it is representative of the brand online and offline. Brands must build an online presence and create conversations with customers on channels never before deemed necessary. Unfortunately, as companies are adapting to the cultural transformation, many are leaving their most important tool behind – their webpage.

Without an up-to-date, relevant, and transparent webpage your brand will be beat by contemporary competitors. Webpages are the backbone of your brand – if you’re looking for lifestyle media exposure, then create content that caters to a similar style and beat.

Credibility: The website is where many of your customers will begin to build their first impression of your brand. Brands that want to catch the attention of editors at lifestyle magazines must consider how their website will promote or demote their product. Your website must be reflective of the product you’re pitching. Unprofessional, unorganized, under-construction websites are not conducive to building your brand or creating consumer trust. Why waste your time or money on a marketing strategy if your website is going to be detrimental and dilute interest?

Content Creation: Marketing content must be micro-managed, compelling, and cater to the current trends of your brands’ target market. A webpage designed primarily for wholesalers will not catch the eye of an editor of a lifestyle publication. Companies with a diverse audience must market to each sector individually. Web design is not “one-size-fits-all.” Companies must consider who the website is targeted at. Is your website for consumers or wholesalers? Focus on your target market – if you’re trying to promote your products to parents and kids, then invest in lifestyle photo shoots. Consumers shouldn’t be forced to use their imagination – don’t tell consumers that your product is perfect for them, show them.

Relevancy and Consistency: Companies must have a main message that is clearly expressed on their website. Websites are where customer conversation is created, so consistency is key. Be creative – is the content on your website compelling for consumers? Adjust content in order to remain current and up-to-date on the trends of your target market. Are you sending out an email newsletter promoting a product launch? Your website should reflect this message. Special events or offers should be easily conveyed to consumers. Consumers should not have to dig through your web design to find what they’re looking for.

Dos and Don’ts:

Do:

1. Be meticulous and detailed oriented. Websites are the face of your brand — you want to make sure that you’re making a great first impression and readers get who and what you are immediately!

2. Be yourself. Websites allow brands to cultivate their own cultural context and creativity. It’s a space where you can show some personality, alongside your product. Introduce the people and personalities behind the brand.

3. Keep content up-to-date. If you would be embarrassed to pass out an old business card, then you shouldn’t be okay with leaving irrelevant information or outdated designs on your website.

4. Manage a separate press page. Press pages should be updated and organized. Since URL’s from other sites can change – it is often better to create a PDF of your press mention and include it on your press page.

  5. Keep the design simple. Well-designed websites will highlight your brand as an innovative, industry influencer.

6. Include social networking buttons. If you’re on Facebook/Twitter/Tumblr/Pinterest, then consumers will be able to easily connect with you on the platforms via your website.

7. Keep contact information clearly visible. No one – not an editor, producer, wholesale retailer, or a consumer – will dig through design overload in order to find an email address or a phone number.

8. Utilize mixed media. The typical day-to-day copy on websites is boring – don’t blend into the competition. Photographs and videos – when appropriate – allow you to make a stronger statement.

    9. Redesign to stay in tuned with trends. Use your website to showcase your brand as being one-step ahead – taking the leap before the competition will catch the eye of consumers and media.
    10. Create SEO-friendly headlines.

Don’t:

  1. Write content yourself. It’s noticeable and unprofessional – sloppy content doesn’t build brands to be industry experts.

2. Use a blog or blog template as a website. Blog templates are not creative – we’ve all seen every template out there. Your website is a blank space that you can create and mold with your unique message. Resembling a blog will not portray your brand as an established company.

3. Keep content static. Have you redesigned the company logo? Relocated? Created a new slogan? All changes should be reflected on your website.

4. Cater content to connect with just one sector of your audience. If you are promoting a toy or game, create sections for kids and parents.

5. Be anonymous. Consumers want to connect – it’s a turn off if there is no sign of an original personality on your brands’ website.

6. Create clutter. Brands should design their website so it’s easy-to-use. Editors trying to feature your product should not get lost in a sea of photographs while they’re looking for the “About” section.

7. Update copy the same way you update your blog. If your brand has a blog, then create a social networking button so people can connect. Content should stick to the basic, essential information.

8. Include long drawn out copy. Keep it short and to the point. An “About” section that includes each and every detail of the company will not attract attention. Content should be creative but concise.

9. Blatantly create SEO keywords. Use keywords for your website’s unique page titles, but packing your content for SEO isn’t natural. Looking like spam is never in style!

10. Ignore the competition. Monitoring your brands’ competition will allow you to analyze their strategy and style. Analyzing the opposition saves time and money, allowing you to seamlessly restructure branding and messaging, as needed.