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9 Tips For Brand Building With Web Design

Branding, Web Design | May 18, 2009

First of all, what is a brand? A brand is a symbol. Symbols are designs which represent something else, and a brand is meant to package all of the associations, experiences and characteristics into an abstract construct.

This construct can be evoked using consistent imagery, sounds, phrases and logos with which people come into contact.

Brands are very important as they help you win customers and they also help you to keep them.

They do this by awakening the associations and experiences you previously had with the brand, or have seen through advertising, when you come into contact with the brand at key stages. For example, when deciding what product to purchase out of a selection of similar items.

Here are 9 tips to help you to build a brand with web design.

Brands set expectations, and when faced with uncertainty people tend to pick the safer option. People know what to expect from a brand they know.

Branding is a complex process that is performed across all types of media, from product packaging, TV commercials and magazine ads to interior store decoration and logotype design. Of course branding also applies to web design.

It doesn’t matter if you’re building a website for a multi-million dollar brand or a personal blog, branding still matters for the reasons outlined above. In the case of a personal blog, branding will help set you apart and make your site memorable.

 

1. Color

The choice of a good color palette is very important in branding. Color isn’t just aesthetics — it stimulates various emotions and carries with it subconscious associations to various things and characteristics.

For example, the color red may actually increase blood pressure, pulse and respiration. It’s a color that symbolizes passion, energy, power and excitement. Because of this, it’s usually a good color choice for brands in the entertainment industry.

Other colors carry different associations and effects. Green symbolizes nature, environment, profit, money and health. It’s also a calming color, which is why hospitals usually paint their walls pale green.

When picking a color for your brand, research its effects and associations to see if it is an appropriate fit for the type of things your brand represents. Also note that different cultures may associate the same colors with different things, so it’s a good idea to check that your colors mean what you think they do in the markets you operate in.

Logitech use teal as the brand’s main color. Various shades of teal are used around their website, from background colors to headings and links:

Logitech

 

2. Character

Does your brand have character? Infusing your brand with a little personality can help you define what it stands for.

Is the brand all about stability and safety so that your customers can be sure to rely on you? Is the brand fun and down to earth?

Many people in commercialized societies use products and brands to define themselves, so shape your brand’s character towards something which your audience will like to associate themselves with.

Anthropomorphism is the attribution of human qualities and characteristics to other things, like animals or objects. Infusing your brand with anthropomorphic elements is a good way to give it character.

Think about the icon for the “Finder” application on Mac OS X. It’s a blue square with a distinctive smiling face drawn with a few black lines.

The program it represents is a file browser, but by giving it human characteristics the designers give it a soul.

Another great example is the Outlaw Design blog which sticks to a strong Wild West theme throughout the design with a unique mix of wooden textures and flat illustrations, branding itself very effectively:

Outlaw Design Blog


Twitter’s little blue bird mascot has proven very effective; all of the custom media and websites that Twitter fans create usually feature their own variation of it. They may all look a little different, but are still instantly recognizable:

Twitter Birds

 

3. Emotion

Emotion is another factor to consider when building your brand. What feelings and emotions do you want people to experience when they visit your site? What sort of things do you want them to associate with your brand?

Crafting the aesthetics of your site shouldn’t be about following the latest design trends, it should be about deciding on the emotions and ideas that you want your brand to project, and then working on a design that will do just that.

Studio 7 Designs uses vibrant colors and beautiful imagery to create a rich and exciting brand, which is very important for a design agency:

Studio7Designs

 

4. Consistency

To build a successful brand you need to make it memorable. What do you do to make people remember things? You repeat them.

Consistency throughout your web design will build on the choices you’ve made earlier regarding selecting the right personality for the brand and evoking the appropriate emotions. Keep consistent colors, visuals and typography throughout to ensure your website projects a uniform image.

Skype consistently integrate several branding elements throughout all of their marketing media, which include the color palette with a dominant blue, white 2D clouds with illustrations sitting on top of them and multicolored rainbows:

Skype

 

5. Reusing code and visuals

Consistent visuals and layout allows you to reuse more of your content, be it stylesheets or images. This means that your site will load faster as the user’s browser doesn’t need to download as many things — old images and CSS are already stored in its cache.

Apple.com integrates their logo with the navigation bar, infusing their brand into the page design:

Apple

 

6. Size and position of the logo

The accepted norm when positioning your site’s logo is to put it in the upper left area of the page.

That’s the area where most people will look at to see what site they’re on. Additionally, it’s best practice to link the logo image to the site’s home page. But position is only one element — size is also important. Ensure your logo is big enough to be the second or third thing that people will notice when they arrive on your site.

UX Booth has a nice, large logo in the top left area of the page, which is one of the first things that you notice when you arrive at the site:

UX Booth

 

7. Value proposition

When a visitor arrives on your site for the first time they take the first few seconds to orient themselves. Is this the right site? Does this look interesting? What is this all about? To answer these questions you should provide a clear and concise value proposition to your visitor.

This value proposition should be a short statement in a prominent location on your page. It should preferably be located next to the site’s logo so that when a new visitor reads the title of the site or business they’ll follow on to the value proposition.

In a few words explain exactly what benefit your site provides to the visitor, so that they’ll know not only what your site is about, but why they should keep using it.

Rob Sartain’s Prime Cut Design has a great value proposition in the header of their site. It’s highly visible, concise, and clear; and it covers both, the ‘what’ and the ‘why’:

Prime Cut Design


The ReportBox website features a clear value proposition underneath the logo and navigation. The large font size ensures that it’s one of the first things that you’ll read:

ReportBox

 

8. Tone of voice

The language you use on your website needs to reinforce your brand’s character and personality. If your brand is a friendly and down to earth, and your audience are young, tech savvy people, then informal and fun tone of voice may work well for you.

On the other hand, if you’re making a website for an investment bank, the tone of voice should reflect that by being much more formal.

It’s not just about what you say — it’s about how you say it. You can say the same thing in different voices and get the same meaning across, but the personality that this voice emanates will be different; so choose a tone of voice that suits your brand’s character and audience.

Matt, a simple web app that helps you use multiple Twitter accounts, features hand drawn illustrations and a friendly tone of voice, ideal for the young, tech savvy audience:

Matt


37signal’s Basecamp website takes a more formal, yet simple and concise tone, focusing on their business audience:

Basecamp

 

9. Uniqueness

Getting all of the above elements will only get you so far though, because there is another very important thing to consider when building your brand: uniqueness.

If your website looks just like the competition, then is it really memorable? How would potential customers differentiate between the two? By putting in that extra effort to create a unique image you’ll not only stand out from your competitors, you’ll be more memorable, and that means a better chance that your visitors will come back for more.

Carbonica’s website features many recycled paper textures, hand drawn fonts and cut-out style illustrations. This earthy imagery helps promote the sustainable image that Carbonica strives for and is different enough to be memorable:

Carbonica

 

Conclusion

Building a strong brand is important not only for big corporations, but also for small companies and even personal websites and blogs. Branding helps people differentiate between competition and quickly judge quality.

The web is an excellent platform to build your brand, so it’s important not to ignore branding when working on your website. Make sure to utilize all the various techniques to make it powerful and effective.


Written exclusively for WDD by Dmitry Fadeyev. He runs a blog on usability called Usability Post.

Which techniques are the most effective for brand building? Please share your comments with us…


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  • http://www.webdesign-ne.ws Web Design News

    Great article as always

    Thanks

  • http://www.webcoursesbangkok.com Carl – Web Courses Bangkok Instructor

    Really enjoyed this post as it not only highlights some fantastic sites, but it really gives one a clear idea of what makes these successful sites, well, successful.

    Take 37 signals, not only is their site concise, easy to use and intuitive; so are their products. So its important to reflect your branding in everything you do. Branding is more than just using the right shade of green, but about your whole company ethos.

  • http://www.abrishca.com.au Craig

    Great post. I am really enjoying the articles of late (from many blogs) concerning the theory behind great designs – its refreshing for a change from the regular tutorials. Thanks.

  • http://www.heavygiant.com Kevin

    Great article with regards to branding a website. You have some great general branding tips that go beyond the web. I also like the way you describe a brand as representing a “construct”. Branding has come a long way from the act of simply placing a physical mark on something to represent value, ownership, etc. It is a company’s image and reputation in a broader sense. Here is an article that gives a brief history of branding…
    http://www.brandingstrategyinsider.com/2006/08/history_of_bran.html
    It’s actually pretty amazing that people have been using branding for “at least 5000 years” (according to the link).

    Kevin
    http://www.heavygiant.com

  • http://www.jeffpaulproducts.com Jeff Paul Internet Business

    Hi, Great post! I felt great reading your blog post. I’m working with my friend in a small internet marketing business as a web developer. When I’m free I go around for some IT info

  • http://www.aledesign.it aledesign.it

    Post really good! Colour, character is important, the position too. Nobody says how much work is behind a logo.. Sometimes is very difficult explicate a client which is the correct way for a good branding…especialy in italy all people don’t spend not time and money..Is a difficult for every designer..

  • http://www.pixelstudioworks.com/ Pixel Studio Works™

    Thanks for good post.

    Great Brand Design Collection.:(

  • http://www.sportlogoday.com Avirto

    Great post.
    Some time ago I’ve written a short post about color psychology at my blog, it can be also helpful:

    http://avirto.wordpress.com/2009/05/06/color-psychology/

  • http://www.dailyseoblog.com Mani Karthik

    Good article there Walter..Nice read.

  • http://www.egracecreative.com Brandon Cox

    Wonderful tips. We can sometimes see these things but you’ve helped point out their meaning. Awesome.

  • http://www.india-designers.net/ India Designers

    Great post. You have explained every thing very clearly & in details. Very very informative.

  • http://briancray.com Brian Cray

    The only way to build brand equity is to make branding an essential part of any and all communications, including websites. Thanks for promoting these practices to our industry!

  • Rob H

    A great post, I think you have some good ideas

  • http://blog.jakerocheleau.com/ Jake

    Really great tips, and awesome examples to go with them. Keep it up!

  • http://www.elysiumdesigned.com Paula LeBlanc

    Excellent post, good reading and put together well. Thank you so much for sharing. Will certainly keep this post. Thanks again.

  • Justin Christensen

    You always deliver such high quality content. I can feel the passion you have for this topic (web design). Thanks so much!

  • http://cahcepu.com Tukang Nggame

    GREAT post. now, i love my blog
    my blog is my branding and my spirit
    i can share to other from my blog
    i think, content and design is really important for online branding

  • http://www.cyphas.org Devereaux Harry-Barnwell

    Excellent post. I always knew / heard that psychology and design play vital roles in any website’s effectiveness (conversion). You have certainly reiterated this and draw my attention to some areas I did not quite grasp or overlooked. I’ve also noticed some other related articles which will definitely help me in my business. Everyone has something to gain here. Keep it coming!

    All the Best.

    Cyphas

  • http://www.armeda.com Dre Armeda

    Great post. All crucial components to a strong presence!

  • http://marielydelrey.com/blog Mariely

    Interesting post, thank you for the great tips. Webdesign is a group of details.. Details that make a big difference.

  • Gaille

    sorry but this was a really lame article in my opinion and not up to WDD standards
    i come looking for stuff that is really useful info and this did not seem up to par
    just my opinion but not the kind of article I want to read

  • Aran

    Thanks for the great article Walter, some great points. Esp liked the tone of message one.

  • http://www.viteb.com/ Jacob

    Very well written article indeed! All nine tips mixed with web design can really help one to enhance their brand value. I am bookmarking this one!

  • http://samacreation.com sama creation

    Great post. thanks

  • http://samacreation.com sama creation

    Interesting post, thank you

  • http://www.misty-blue.net Sarah

    Well-written and concise article. You really sum up the most important points of branding in a single blog post. Consistency is so important when marketing yourself or your business. I think a lot of people forget that their blog/website should fit into their brand, both aesthetically and content-wise.

  • http://www.crearedesign.co.uk Laura Godfrey

    Web design requires many components to make it successful. Colour, typography and imagery are just some that can either make or break the final design. As a designer, I think it is extremely important to complete market research beforehand. Acquiring tips and tricks from other websites, will give you ideas and inspiration towards your own. In terms of usability, the navigation needs to be clear and functional, as well as having appeal. If you develop a website that is difficult to use, then the site will cease to exist and your users will search elsewhere.

  • http://www.medyamanset.com medya

    i love this post thxx :))

  • http://www.theimpulsedesign.com/ Impulse Design

    Great article,thax for sharing

  • http://www.usabilitypost.com Dmitry

    Thanks for the positive comments everyone. I’m glad you liked the article.

    Gaille: No problem if you didn’t like it :) What sort of content would you prefer to see on WD?

  • http://www.sumudra.co.uk/ Krishna Reddy O.V

    Its really a great post, thanks for providing “9 Tips For Brand Building With Web Design”. Sumudra.co.uk a Web Design London company provides web designers london, Web designers based in UK, offering web design, website development, brochure design, logo design, flash design, web application development, php web development, asp.net web application development.

  • http://www.joysavannah.com JOY

    Word to the wise and talented…

    There are more than just nine points to great brand building on the web.

  • http://www.oxford-creative.co.uk Stu

    Nice post. There’s obviously much more to take into account when building a brand, but these are key points worthy of consideration. Very useful article – thanks!

  • http://www.blog.exxcorpio.com Luis Eduardo

    Great way to see webdesign I think a great example of a brand is this site thank to its header and footer, incredible recognizable.

    Thanks for the post

  • http://www.illuminz.com Sanchit Thakur

    Very well written. Everything true.
    Missed a point or 2, but its a great article.

  • tato

    thank you very much

    I think, now I can say that I know “something” about web-design succedness (sorry for my English)

  • Thomas Anderson

    I disagree with #6. Big logos are annoying. A website is not about a logo.

  • http://www.ThijsVisser.nl Thijs Visser

    First of all, a brand is not an symbol.
    A logo or any other stationary represents the brand. It is not the brand itself. It represents the message and core values the company wants to cummunicate.
    If you want to design a brand, you must first understand what business, marketing and branding means, which you clearly do not.

    The tips for building brands are OK, but lack fundemental understanding of why each of the tools work.

  • http://www.nitroxt.com Tim

    yes, big logos are really annoying.

  • http://www.j2studio.com JJ Spelman

    Good reading covering some obvious and, perhaps, not so obvious points. Thanks!

  • http://www.usabilitypost.com Dmitry

    Thijs Visser: Thanks for your comment but I must correct you :) A symbol is not a logo, or stationery, or a picture. A symbol doesn’t have to be a material object. For example, think about the branding for Intel: they have the blue color palette, their logo, and they like playing that bell ringing sound during their commercials. All of these things are symbols for the brand, and all of these things combined is also a symbol. A symbol is a construct which stands for something else, and in this case, stands for the values, personalities and associations that company wants to have with their brand. The symbol is used to access these associations at the right times. A symbol is something that stands for something else — it’s useless on its own.

  • http://www.ebizgraphicworks.com/ Logo Design

    I’m new in the internet business field. I’m skilled in the graphics side, but I need info to learn about this business. I was going through your post and got a few pointers.

  • http://www.ThijsVisser.nl Thijs Visser

    Dmitry,
    I mistakenly thought you were talking a symbol as something visual.
    And thereby assumed as well that you meant a brand is also visual, instead of something representing values, personalities and associations.

    But I don’t think it was entirely my fault to assume so, since the first think you tell us about symbols is that they are designs. And also you seem to contradict yourself since you first say that a symbol is not a logo, or stationery, or a picture. And afterward you call “All of these things are symbols for the brand” refering to “blue color palette, their logo and ringing sound”.

    You seem to add the word symbol to the mix just trying to exmplain the definition of a brand. Why don’t you just leave the term and 1. Explain what a brand is and 2. how we can use that knowledge to communicate the brand in forms of visual matters.

  • http://www.crearedesign.co.uk Adam

    Some great tips there – every one of them is essential when building a new site. I love that outlaw design blog btw, I’ll be checking that out!

  • http://www.usabilitypost.com Dmitry

    Thijs: thanks for the response. I think it would be wrong to get rid of the word symbol as in my opinion it’s a pretty good explanation of what branding is. So for example, the different business values and associations by themselves are not the brand — i.e. “fun and youthful” isn’t a brand, just as “high performing and reliable” isn’t a brand — they’re just associations or values as they stand — they may be things your brand wants to have. The brand is what combines all of these associations and says “This is my business and these are all the things I represent”, which is why I think symbol is such a great way to describe it.

    The symbol is used to reinforce existing values that you’ve built, e.g. after all your advertising you would play the same sound, or show the same logo. People seeing the ad would associate what they’ve seen with the symbol. Then when they see the product on the shelves of a store, the symbol, in this case the logo on the packaging, would hopefully bring those associations back and make the product stand out. So as I see it, these are the two parts of a brand: 1) the associations/values and 2) the symbol(s) used to package/invoke them.

    Now, I can see where you’re coming from: if you have these two parts, I should not state that a brand is merely a symbol — the brand is all the stuff that goes with it as well, which is just as important as the actual media/logos etc that you build for it. I’m going to be pedantic here though and defend my ground :) The word symbol isn’t the same as a ‘mark’ or ‘logo’ because those things are full entities in their own right. A ‘symbol’ always stands for something *else*, so when I describe the brand as a symbol, of course what the symbol stands for is also implied as that’s the definition of a symbol.

    Hope this is a little clearer. I’ll be happy to read your thoughts on this if you still disagree though :)

  • http://www.ThijsVisser.nl Thijs Visser

    Dmitry,
    I agree with you now.
    I thought you ment a symbol was something visual, and there thought that you believed a brand is something visual. So I felt correcting that, thought it didn’t need to be fixed (merely explained).
    Now you’ve explained to me that you ment a symbol is something more than something visual, but I didn’t get that from the original article.

    Thanks for having this conversation,
    Have a nice day

  • http://www.usabilitypost.com Dmitry

    Thijs: Thanks for the reply and feedback — should have definitely spent more time talking about this in the post :)

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    Excellent content… keep up the good work!

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    Great site and its a good thing to share such a nice information with us. I hope this will help me a lot.Keep up the good work.

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    Outlaw design blog is my fav. Great article!

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    Great post

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    These are solid tips; thanks!

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  • http://www.afowr.com/digital-entertainment/ digital entertainment

    I am a new in the web developing field…And when I searched in google to find building with web design keyword then I found your website in the rankings of google …
    It is a nice and informative post…

  • http://www.shopfordesigns.com ShopForDesigns

    Excellent posting. The branding tips that you provided are out of the box. Some are very original and deserves applause.

    Branding should convey the idea of the brand. A hospital logo cant be funny… also its a wrong notion to use the symbol of a house to portray a real estate company.

    For example the nike logo does not use any related symbol. So it is for mercedes…

    Anyway it was a very nice and informative article…

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    Such a nice and interesting post..
    I liked the style you represent the content on the post..
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  • Birdzilla

    Bluebirds make a nice logo for TWITTER after all theres the BLUEBIRD of HAPPINESS and many like having BLUEBIRDS around especialy gardeners and farmers OR JUST ABOUT ANYONE ELSE

  • http://howtojumphigherplyometricexercises.com Vertical Jump

    Great site! I think that color is the most important part of branding.

  • http://www.racunovodski-servis-fidelius.si/ Računovodske storitve

    So many great points! verry good info you give there. great article! It is a useful article for web designers and programmers. Thanks.

  • http://www.shopfordesigns.com Web Design

    I totally agree…..

    Building a strong brand is important for both big and small companies alike. It shows your credibility and promotes sales.

    Website is the front face of any company on the internet. Surveys reveal that people are now spending more time on the internet than on TV. So your brand on the internet should in no way be ignored.

  • http://www.tishanclarke.com TC

    Dude! I’ve been searching for this article, this website…for like 2 days since my computer crashed! I needed this info for my essay. Got another of my computer up and running though…

    So happy I found you ;)

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    Yes I agree that color and consistency are the most important parts of branding.

    Thanks for the excellent post :)

  • http://creativrglance.com Charlene Fin

    greate tips and good looking website thanks

  • http://www.chotrul.com/design/design-showcase.html Chotrul Web Design

    Excellent post of design and brand building. I particularly liked the example designs you showcased, which truly brought out the points you were making.

    Just to address the comment that there are more than 9 things to build a brand … of course there are more, there are always more than any one post can cover … it’s only a post after all, not even a whole website on brand building! Aggh!

  • http://www.lyonssolutions.co.uk Web Design from Lyons Solutions

    I think a Brand is a image of the representing company, something that would differentiate a business or a service from the other and people can by a glimpse of it know what the business is all about!

    Brain Wash may be? lol

  • http://www.kaplang.com/blog Michelle

    great article, thanks

    Merry Christmas

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  • http://varsitypixels.com Aaron

    thanks for this guys…this one helped me get refocused after a pretty slow first day back after the holidays!

    Cheers

  • http://www.squiders.com Maidstone Web Designer

    Some very nice examples, never liked the logitech colours though!

  • http://cheap-accommodation-hongkong.blogspot.com Sam

    Your information help me a lot with my blog. Thanks for the tips.

  • http://www.firemart.co.uk Fire Extinguishers

    I agree it important to build a strong brand and also to test multiple things and see which works best for you and the business you are trying to promote.

  • http://www.bococreative.com/ Joanna @BOCOCreative

    I am going through this exercise with my brand new website right now. It’s interesting to see how I got some things right but still need to tweak few issues that have to do with brand building. Thanks for great post Dmitry.

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    Thanks for the excellent post, these are definitely idea’s that I will apply to my websites and use to brand my stuff effectively.

    Thanks again :)

  • http://howtoincreasevertical.com How To Increase Vertical

    You know, as I was reading this I was struggling to really see if I agreed with what you were saying…

    From my point of you, a “brand” is slowly but surely dying in our society and we are moving more toward doing business with people again (or at the very least feel like we are).

    In a society that seems so disassociated from person to person contact, it’s nice to be able to feel like you can put a face to the person that you’re doing business with.

    But I see your point. You are kinda in the same ball park as my beliefs…kinda… :-)

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    Cool post. I like the part about characters. I think a good rounded character can make all the difference, it adds a touch of something to a website and can make it look more professional and better designed. Off to dig this post now.

  • http://www.miamiagenda.com Anderson

    Great article. Right on point, and a great refresher and informative perspective on delivering quality. I’d like to mention that continuity is also an important factor in keeping brands strong. Even if there is an extensive change, smoothing the transition reminds your clients/customers/fans that the spirit is still there.

    Thanks. Kudos and keep ‘em coming #

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    Thanks. Kudos and keep ‘em coming #

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    Awesome Article, i really enjoy it.
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    Thanks ~ ~ I will come back.

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    i will underline Consistency because branding is not like a one day done jobs, anothers great article for me, thank you dmitry :)

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    Thanks for the tips. Very useful information.

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  • http://www.m-w.co.uk web design agency london

    Nice article. I think colour is so often overlooked when creating a brand. It is so important that it worked into the design and development of the site and the off line print materials. Make sure your colours don’t clash!

  • http://www.reddy2go.com Ritesh Reddy

    It’s imperative to build a brand, even if it isn’t a stiff upper lip biz establishment. It could be a grungy skateboard company for all you know but the idea of a brand is ancient. Even religions as we know them use the concept of a brand and logo very successfully. For example the Cross in Christianity is repeated every where from the churches to talismans and even the swords of the Knights Templar were modeled to resemble crosses. Such is the power of a brand and thank you for highlighting the various aspects that make a bold brand with recall in the fickle minds of today’s information overloaded brain.

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  • http://www.vainfotech.com Nirmik

    Its really nice article.

  • http://www.craigfordham.net Lisa Thomason

    Excellent article, you covered the importance of branding well! LT

  • http://www.benstokesmarketing.co.uk Ben Stokes

    Great post! I really enjoyed reading this, especially:

    3. Emotion
    Emotion is another factor to consider when building your brand. What feelings and emotions do you want people to experience when they visit your site? What sort of things do you want them to associate with your brand?
    Crafting the aesthetics of your site shouldn’t be about following the latest design trends, it should be about deciding on the emotions and ideas that you want your brand to project, and then working on a design that will do just that.

    Rings so true . . . thanks guys

  • http://www.cardsoftware.net Amanda Smit

    Yes fantastic article on building a brand, fantastic tips! agreed the emotion is really important, and this puts the big brands above the competition, Thank you!

  • http://www.websitefacility.co.uk Website Facility

    This is really good, thank you very much for sharing.

  • http://www.highervisibility.com/ HigherVisibility

    This is a great article on brand building! Thanks!

  • http://i-c-g.pl/fisch_instruments.htm fisch instruments

    A few really good tips here! I would add them to my website as soon as I will get my PC from repair ( writing from laptop )

  • http://www.brettwidmann.com Brett Widmann

    This is a very helpful article. Building your brand is so important so you can display a certain image image to clients. It will also help spread the news about you and people will not hear conflicting ideas. Thanks for sharing.