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19 January 2012

Marketing

Importance Of Website Branding

Good branding is vital both to both online and offline activites. Companies that do it well turn simple products into something even more desirable (and valuable). Just look at Innocent Smoothies, one of the strongest brands of the last ten years. A common theme of fun, social responsibiltiy and a sharp sense of humour runs through everything that they do - to back up a clear product proposition.

branded websitesA bad brand on the other hand, means at best you fade into the background or at worst, harms sales. It's not fair I know, but as a child of the 80’s I can’t ever see myself buying a Skoda, no matter how wrong that is to say. Those playground jokes I grew up won't ever leave me. (Just for old times’ sake… why do Skoda’s have rear heated windows….to keep your hands warm whilst you’re pushing them? Boom boom.)

Brands In Serps

For the purposes of clarity, I’m not talking here specifically about big multinational brands. That is a specific topic all in itself and only applies to a small segment of online search traffic. Google algorithm changes certainly help give big company brands higher prominence in serps results (eg Vincent Update) and there are good reasons why this is the case (and plenty of reasons why it is bad too). This leaning to brands affects a small amount of relatively badly performing big names in the SERPs (search engine results pages) and what we’re interested in here is smaller companies, still developing (or re-developing) their brand and their website strategy.

Why Branding is Important For Websites

For businesses that don’t have internationally recognised brands, there are significant reasons why building a good web branding strategy is important. It’s an area where the offline and online worlds collide and the continuation of offline branding into a website helps develop trust, recognition and delivers a constant experience. What works in print doesn’t always work digitally (and vice-versa) and a brand needs to follow through on all platforms – not just from print to their website but also social media and email so that every time you “touch” your audience you are building recognition.

Branding WebsitesIt is more than this though - there is a lot of "noise" on the web and your competitiors are only a click away. Considering that a lot of visitors are coming into contact with your company for the first time (assuming you've SEO done the right way of course), if you don't grab and hold someones attention within seconds (7 seconds according to research) you've lost them. Weak branding equates to a weak proposition - You need to stand out and getting the brand right on your website is vital to do that.

Sidestepping Competition

There is another, more subtle reason why branding is important when it comes to earning visitors. The fight for organic search traffic has been hotting up every year since google went live. In the early 2000’s it was pretty easy to make a website rank for any old phrase and not every business had a website. SEO was in it's infancy and SERPs manipulation was easy. These days, not only are the search engines better at weeding out crappy SEO techniques, but the level of competition is many times greater. It's hard work getting to the top for generic sales phrases and invariably companies need to hire people like me to help them do it. (follow me on twitter to get helpful resources for free! ) Not only does a good brand help you convert the visitors your do get, it helps deliver people to your site without ever having to compete!

Strong brands stick out in the mind – they permeate our consciousness and when it comes to searching online, a good brand will alter a user’s behaviour to look for it, rather than a more generic phrase. There is nothing in the world easier to rank for than your own brand – it’s the perfect way to sidestep the competition entirely, allowing you to concentrate on delivering your message. It also raises the visual impact every time your company has an impression on social media or PPC channels.

Why Does It Matter

One word - conversions. Converting "surfers" into visitors, visitors into customers and customers into spokespeople. Offline they’ll talk about you to their peers and online they will share your content. There are things that online marketing does that all other forms of marketing cannot – and it's your online or website branding which ties it all together.

Clear and confident brands are vital to differentiating your website and your business from the competition. We all want to work with and buy from companies we can identify with and with inbound marketing now being the main activity of most companies advertising efforts, getting your web branding right has huge advantages to businesses.

I'd be interested to hear and respond to any questions you have below - otherwise, why not speak to one of our graphic design team for help.

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