Digital marketing has to be part of the brand creation process in 2021
Julaine Speight, Director of First Internet, argues that digital can no longer be an after-thought - it's where the majority of consumers first engage with a brand.
When it comes to brand creation, the website and online presence now need to be front and centre when decisions are made.
A company’s brand is so important. It’s the business philosophy, its culture and ethos, its products, its team, the customer service, its corporate reputation.
The logo, colours, fonts, and design detail are the visual representation of that brand. They need to work together to grab the customer’s attention, ignite recognition and develop loyalty.
Getting it right is vital
So it’s natural that creating a brand often involves so many people. It’s a fantastic process and not something that can be done in a short space of time. A brand and its visual representations will hopefully be with a business for some time, in various guises, so it’s important to get it right. The trouble with lots of people being involved though, is that the water gets muddied - and they’re not always the right people.
Sometimes, there's a tendency for us marketers to get a little bit too caught up in the creative side of things. Most people don’t work in marketing. They might not appreciate the time it’s taken to decide on the background, the choice of colours, the font, or the symbolic way that crest rises above the dot on the i.
Instead of getting caught up with the design, perhaps the main focus of any brand creation should be the audience. Maybe it’s best to keep it simple and focus on what the branding really needs to achieve.
It needs to be memorable and work across a range of channels. According to Forbes, presenting a brand consistently across all platforms can increase revenue by up to 23%. If your product packaging, social media posts, website, and promotional material send a uniform message about your brand identity and its core values, the better things are likely to be for your business. Look at Amazon. Their logo is hardly Van Gogh, and their homepage isn’t at all “pretty” - but it’s definitely working.
Digital: The first port of call
It’s 2021. We live in a digital age. Most people interact with brands online, through websites and social media. So the branding needs to work online - and it needs to guide the audience to take the desired action. Features like white space, placement of calls to action above the fold, prominent shopping baskets or logins, are where the focus of website design really should be.
It takes 50 milliseconds for someone to form an opinion about a company based on its online presence. The brand could look wonderful, convey an ethos, tell a story and prepare a four-course meal - but if the calls to action are missing, whether that’s a contact button or an easy-to-find “add to basket”, then that story becomes irrelevant.
The role of your website, quite simply, is to drive enquiries or sales. It’s a business tool. And if those CTAs are missing in the interests of a “clean design” or similar, then it’s not performing as one, as you’re actively standing in the way of the user journey.
This is why brand creation meetings must include the digital marketing team. The website cannot and should not be an afterthought: It’s a hugely important part of a business operation.
A brand creation meeting needs to include the client, the brand designer, a technical developer, a UX specialist and a digital marketing specialist. That design will no doubt be used across several other applications too, but a billboard, newsletter or piece of copywriting will not be stopped by these branding decisions. A website will.
Inter-agency meetings can be brilliant creative sessions - as long as everyone remembers the end goal. This cannot be an ego trip. A website has to look good, please the client, and convey the business message, but it also has to impact upon the bottom line by being functional and sales or enquiry focused.
Style over function is meaningless. The brand needs to work for your business - otherwise, it’s just a pretty picture.