WHEN deciding on your new custom website design, it can be tempting to focus on using the latest glitzy visual effects to make your site “pop”. There are numerous online pre-made templates that you can use as starting points for your new website. You could simply pick one of them and superficially change some of the wording and pictures. But by doing merely that, your website likely won’t emotionally connect with your customers and showcase the unique value your business brings to the table. You need to define your brand personality before you even start to build your website.
What is your brand?
If your company is called “Acme Heating and Cooling”, and your logo is simply a capital “A”, what image are you conveying to your potential customers? You haven’t given them a reason to choose your company over your competitors.
Research has shown that people tend to associate one of 5 main attributes or “personalities” to brands (Aaker, 1997):
- Sincerity: down-to-earth, honesty, wholesomeness, cheerfulness
- Competence: reliability, intelligence, success
- Excitement: daring, spiritedness, imaginitive, contemporary
- Sophistication: class, charm
- Ruggedness: masculinity, toughness
Which of these broad categories do you want your customers to most associate with your business or brand?
Let’s look at some examples of small business that have well-conveyed personalities.*
This website connects people who are looking to buy insurance with independent insurance agents. The creators of this website clearly chose a brand personality of “Sincerity”.
Here are some of the specific elements that convey that personality.
- Website domain name. The name of the actual company is “Consumer Agent Portal, LLC”. But despite that they chose the domain trustedchoice.com that better reflects their brand.
- Logo. Their stylized bird, colored in blue, conveys as wholesome, light, and cheerful image.
- Color. The website uses primarily calming down-to-earth shades of blue, with whimsical orange buttons to grab your attention in a playful way.
- Font. The site uses a san-serif, clean font that conveys straightforwardness and transparency.
- Imagery. The drawings echo the color scheme, and are simple and playful.
- Visual design. The website has visual appeal even though there aren’t a lot of fancy visual scrolling effects, flyovers, fade-ins, etc. The site has well spaced out sections to direct the viewer’s eye and better achieve legibility.
- Text copy. There is a clear slogan “Get the best insurance with a trusted independent agent”, and the site clearly articulates in a nutshell how it works and the value it adds (“Multiple Companies”, “Best Price”, “Local Service”)
Why can't my website designer just figure out all that stuff?
To be a successful business owner, you have to establish a clear understanding of what your customers want and how to provide it for them better than your competitors. You may have that knowledge in your head, but have you written down your core “value proposition” in a few sentences?
You need to share that with your website designer before you even get started with contemplating how, say, the navigation structure on your site will look. It is tempting to just pick a competitor’s website and say “make it look like that, just better”.
Some of the brands that are often thought of having a “sophisticated” personality are jewelry or apparel companies. For example, Gucci, Tiffany, or Rolex. But what if you are a fencing company? What if you want to tailor to a more upscale clientele. Say, equestrian facilities.
Let’s consider another example.
The logo choice is simple and elegant. The choice of a script font choice reflects the theme. And the colors and imagery clearly go together and complement the theme. The visual layout is clean and flowing. And the text copy concisely illustrates their value proposition and what makes them unique. Potential customers coming to this site quickly get an idea of what value the company can bring to them.
Once your designer has a sense of what you are going for, it becomes much easier for them to work with you to create something unique and relevant to your brand. You’ll get a much better result if you can say something like “we provide sophisticated and durable fencing solutions to high end equestrian farms” than simply “we build good horse fences”.
The choice of general brand personality, such as “Sophistication”, will help guide your choice of the necessary content building blocks of your website, such as font, color, and logo choices. A good designer will be able to work with you to iterate and come up with something that suits your business and that “feels right” to you. But if you don’t provide a starting point, you are leaving it up to guesswork on your designer’s part and that may not place your website in the best light. You want your website, and your brand to stand out and the necessary first step is to define exactly what your brand is.
Examples of the other brand personalities
Here are a few more examples of websites that demonstrate well the other 3 kinds of brand personalities.
The Bottom Line
If you want an engaging and successful website, you need to articulate what brand personality you want your site to convey. Give some careful thought to this and write some ideas down. Once you have a general idea, start thinking about what kind of logo and images could convey that image. Do you already have a logo that matches your desired brand? Great. If not, your website designer can work with you to develop one.
The key thing is to ask yourself throughout the development process of your website, “Does this convey the brand personality I want”? You’ll get a much better result if you consider your brand early on, before work on the website has even begun.
What do you think?
How do you formulate your brand? Is your new or existing website “on brand”? What made it that way? Please share in the comments below.
* Disclaimer: Fflying Llama LLC has absolutely no association with the websites or businesses shown in this article, and we aren’t trying to endorse these companies. We’re just using their websites to illustrate some ideas.