I had an interesting conversation this week with a client about website branding which made me realise how easy it is to miss something that I always regard as self evident. That is, the whole concept of consistent branding.
Marketing thought is very clear on branding: keep it consistent even if it isn’t perfect. However, if you are running a small business and are constantly trying to make a bold impact on advertising and literature it can be very tempting to vary the look in order to make an impact – this time.
Bold colours can make real sense if you want something to stand out in a relatively bland world ( eg. in a phone book) and varying those colours also makes sense if you want the attention that can come from constant surprise.
This may make sense in attracting customers up to a point, but of course if you want prospective customers to remember your business name as well as the message you are presenting, it is better if you always present the name in the same way. A colour scheme is one form of consistency, but so is form, or structure.
This does not mean that advertising has to be bland, but it does mean that it should carry with it a constant theme of a company name presented in as near the same way as possible. All anchored in the most persistent and available presence of all – the website branding.
Website Branding is More Than Just a Logo
Branding is often thought of as the company logo, but it is so much more. It covers not just how the website appears, but how the business operates and is perceived. However a well designed logo can form a good key stone to build the rest of the brand around.
Logo design is a specialist job and good logo design is a really difficult job. One very good way to understand the challenge is through one very simple concept:
the logo should work as well in black and white as it does in colour.
If you take this idea and run with it you start to understand very well that simplicity is very important. The best logos always carry this concept of simplicity, think Virgin, Coca Cola, Nike etc.
This need for simplicity also informs the colour scheme. You cannot achieve this simplicity with complex colour schemes, drop shadows, bevelling, embossing etc. Flatter, one or two colour, solutions often work best; even better if some visual message about the business can be incorporated into, or around, the name. This is much easier to write than do of course.
Once established, the core colour scheme and logo should then be used consistently across all media: advertising, web literature, stationary, livery, business cards and whatever else is being used to communicate with the external world. This makes it easier to remember the business name as people will remember the picture (logo) better than the name. It also presents a message of consistency – an important underpinning when making a buying decision for many people.
Although it all seems simple enough, this whole idea is often compromised by money and the affordability of expert design. However, consistency is relatively cheap. If the branding is well thought out and planned at the outset, everything else is just incremental. It only really gets expensive if you keep switching things around.