Your website should visibly demonstrate mastership in your industry. To be perceived as credible, your online brand should project authority and professionalism both visually and experientially. In other words, a professionally designed layout isn’t enough. Interactive elements (like shopping carts, web forms, and downloads) all need to function flawlessly.
Applying the following strategies will help you build an authoritative web presence that will command respect (and sales) from your visitors:
Continually refine and simplify your visual branding
It’s wishful thinking to believe you can hire a graphic designer to create the perfect logo and other imagery on the first try. Graphic designers aren’t mind readers to start with, but even when they capture your vision, your vision might not be spot on – yet.
Developing a brand image in terms of your logo takes time and requires multiple revisions. No matter how much you love the first logo you use, always be open to improvement and even complete change.
Consider that major brands including Shell, AT&T, Kodak, Apple, and IBM all changed their logos dramatically over the years, and continue to refine them into simplicity. For example, Shell recently dropped the word “Shell” from gas station buildings and only the image of a shell remains. These brands have become iconic, and everyone knows what the simple images represent.
Phase out details for simplicity
You might start out with a detailed image, but eventually you’ll move toward simplicity. A detailed logo is hard to recognize, and difficult to print on custom materials like t-shirts and canopies.
Don’t compromise on your domain name
A variety of factors contribute to a user’s perception of your brand. Your domain name carries significant weight. Your domain name should be a seamless extension of your brand and should be a .com extension whenever possible. For instance, Apple’s domain name is simply apple.com. Microsoft uses Microsoft.com. The .com extension is the most widely known domain extension. Even years of introducing fancy extensions, .com is still the first extension to come to mind.
Create a budget for a good domain name
If you haven’t obtained a proper domain name for your brand, make that your top priority. In your search for a good domain name, you’ll probably find that all simple domains are taken. Those listed for sale often have outrageous prices.
Don’t let high price tags dissuade you from obtaining a proper domain name. Much of the time, those high prices are negotiable.
Hire a professional domain broker to help you get exactly what you need. You’ll get more than a good deal. A broker will also research potential domain names to get a complete history of its use. Many domain names have been severely penalized or blacklisted from Google due to unscrupulous activity. You don’t want to buy a domain that Google has banned from its index.
Your domain should be an exact match
You need a domain name that exactly matches your business name. Suppose someone hears about your products from a friend and that friend only knows your business name. They can’t tell their friend your website address. However, their friend will probably try to access the domain name that matches the business name just to see if it works.
For instance, say you sell bug spray called “Goodbye Bugs.” A person who has just been introduced to your product might open a web browser and visit www.goodybebugs.com to see if you have a website. They’re going to assume that domain name is yours. If it’s not, they’ll need to search for you in Google and unless you’ve committed to serious SEO work, you may not come up in search results.
Don’t be casual about your official stance on politics or social matters
It’s recommended that businesses carefully consider the consequences before taking an official stance on social matters or politics. However, many businesses are founded on specific principles and must declare a position.
If you’re going to declare a position on a controversial subject matter, don’t be lukewarm. If your business contributes a portion of profits to a controversial organization, make that clear on your website. Don’t allow anyone the chance to be misled by what you support.
Change your website’s design only when necessary
There will always be new themes and features in the web world, but you don’t need to change your design each time something new comes along. People will get used to the way your website looks and you want to maintain that familiarity. Once you establish yourself, changes to your website should enhance usability and improve presentation. However, remember the saying, “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.”
Video – What is a Brand?
Online branding is part of the umbrella term, brand management, which includes methods to improve a company’s, product’s, or service’s brand. This Market Business News video explains what a brand is (using easy-to-understand terms).