There’s way too many websites out there for which there is no connection between the brand - in terms of logo and values, and actual look and feel of the site. The website really needs to be an extension of the logo to work well in connecting with and motivating your target audience. For instance, if your logo is sharp and square-edged, you should frame it in a complementary fashion - picking up on values and styling cues from the logo. If your logo is not fit-for-purpose for your website for any reason, you might need to redesign your logo, or at least evolve a version which works at 72 dots per inch.
The image above depicts 4 of the very best websites within a specific look & feel type - that type is minimalstic, professional, modern and elegant - which has the added bonus that it tends to lend those sites an extra degree of quality. Nearly every website brief we get makes some reference of one of these sites. I’m certainly not saying this style is perfect for all sites, but if you look at the logos and typefaces of each of those brands - BBC, Apple, Audi and John Lewis, you will see that they are exceptionally well matched. Even the slight nuances in each site design brings it closer to the individual logo that inspired it. In the case of Apple for instance, there is a unifying approach to design which is carried through from the product design through store design, packaging and interface design - which is totally reinforced by the website look and feel.
I have come up with the following 10 point checklist in order to help keep you on track, and ensure a best-fit outcome for your final website design.
Colour are such an emotive element, it is critical to get this right - choose a metallic colour and you have a technical look, choose an earthy colour and you are in ’organic’ territory, red is warmth; it is also the colour of love, blood, and attraction, but it can be quite stark on a website. The most popular colour tends to be ’Corporate Blue’ - which is quite cold and alienating actually. Some colours have religious or funereal overtones in certain cultures. Just because your logo is screaming pink, your site does not have to be, for some sites this will be perfect for the target audience, for other site you will need to tone down the brightness and use complementary shades or even complementary colours. Pastel and Candy colours can often infer a certain cheapness, to invoke luxury you need to use richer and more jewel-like shades, think of the colour of royal velvets, deep green, carmine red and glossy black.
Language is also critical - how you label your Site Channels, Sections, Articles and Menu / Navigation labels can have a profound effect for the website visitor. Always look to Neuro Linguistic Programming techniques to deliver positive motivational message which continually underline and reinforce your brand values.
Your most obvious ’Symbol’ or emblem is you Logo, on any website, you also have myriad of additional devices and icons that should fully be influenced by your logo design. At Comrz we have a technique called ’Brand Echoes’ which extracts design markers from the logo and uses them in the website framework to connect back to the logo and remind a website visitor exactly who’s website they are on.
We briefly mentioned this above - if your logo is very square, then it follows your design should follow suit; same goes for a sharp, angular and edgy logo - you cannot stick it in a smooth rounded-corner design, as the visual cues will stick out and clash - like a punk at a white wedding.
Even brand new companies can introduce ’Heritage’ markers into their sites, by using a variety of heritage motifs and props - much like Ralph Lauren and Abercrombie & Fitch do - with riffing off a traditional preppy heritage image, even though the latter brand is relatively very new. It’s marvellous what a little Oak Panelling can acheive!
Pedigree and Provenance can be very important for certain types of sites - again this means bringing in those cultural markers which reinforce your narrative of Pedigree. Pedigree usually requires some degree of actual history - a new company can have history by way of the individuals or products or processes involced - so you don’t necessarily need several years of company history to be able to show Pedigree.
This is more general than Pedigree, as it involves the entire narrative of the brand, and its ongoing relationship with its audience. Mythology, much like Heritage is very often an introduced element - particularly if you are an alcoholic drinks brand, as you will likely ’invent’ a place of mythology - the location of the origin of one of your ingredients, a person involved in the process, or even the Mythology of how the process itself was invented / innovated / evolved. You can introduce all manner of narrative effects - culture clash, persecution, ’Eureka’ moments to pepper up your narrative. A lot of it is about how evocatively you present (or dress up) the facts.
Philosophy puts you square on the landing of Corporate Social Responsibility, Equal Opportunities, Ethics, Environmental and Ecological considerations and Business Transparency; you migh very well find yourself Carbon Neutral to boot.
Simply put - the vision is where you’re going and how you plan to get there. Heritage, Pedigree and Mythology all have a foot in the past, Philosophy is the current status, and Vision is the future - this can be another side of Corporate Social Responsibility - giving back to the community, recycling goals, care for the environment etc.
The best brands are based on personality and personalities - often the people in charge, the leaders of the business, or else the advocates and endorsees who speak on behalf of or represent the business in some way. The ’Holy Grail’ of branding and marketing is always to get to the position of being an aspirational lifestyle brand - at this level personalities tied to the company, infuse the company with their own character and belief systems.
Digest and use all of the above, and you should see some considerable success; there is just a slight proviso that your initial branding and logo needs to be somewhat up for the task as well, or else it will buckle up and collapse under the responsibility heaped upon it.