TECH SUPPORT: Creating captivating content and business branding beyond your logo

By Ken Richman - Teddington Web

29th Mar 2024 | Local Features

Ken introduces branding and why it matters for your Teddington business, big or small (Photo: Oliver Monk)
Ken introduces branding and why it matters for your Teddington business, big or small (Photo: Oliver Monk)

My last article dealt with what you should think about before you register a domain name (i.e., what people will type into the address bar of their browser to bring up your website, for example, teddingtonweb.com).

A great domain name is one thing you must consider if you want a website to promote yourself or your business. What else do you need to look into?

Well, let's start with your brand. A brand isn't just a logo.

Before you brief your web designer, it will help a great deal if you've given at least some thought to your brand. 

People have written massive amounts about this topic. 

Companies of any reasonable size will appoint a brand manager (or a whole department) whose job it is to ensure that the company brand is properly reflected in all communications (which they sometimes like to call 'brand touchpoints'). 

But just because you may be a small company – perhaps a company of just one – this doesn't mean you can overlook this for now. 

Unless you are lucky enough to have a product or service that's totally unique, the experience the customer has with your brand is going to play a major part in keeping them coming back – or keeping them away if you get it wrong!.

As the first 'brand touchpoint' could well be your website, it's vital to make a good first impression. Let's look at what that entails from the point of view of a website.

The very basics of any brand should include these strands:

Your promise

What do you offer? What's the minimum your customer should expect from you? 

Perhaps you offer one product and your promise is what your product does. Like a skin cream that has no animal products, or a bicycle frame that's the lightest on the market. 

But more likely, the brand promise will be more abstract. 

If you sell beauty products, then perhaps you offer 'beauty products that are good for the planet as well as for you'. 

If your bike frame business blossoms into selling all sorts of bike accessories, then maybe your promise is 'high performance bike accessories without compromise'. 

You know what your business stands for. Your web designer doesn't. Let them know. 

A good designer will keep this promise at the forefront of the design, so it comes across on every page.

Tone

Is your brand serious or fun? Is it fast-paced like a news channel? Or can it afford to be more relaxed? 

Are you a ski holiday company for people who love the thrill of a black run challenge? Or are you a totally different type of ski holiday company for people who love to glide down at a leisurely pace? 

Try and come up with some brand values that reflect what you do and how you want to be portrayed. You probably already know these, but again: your web designer doesn't. 

Write down a few phrases that sum up what your brand is, and maybe also write down others that say what it is not. 

Don't be lazy about this. Be focused. 

Remember, much as you may hate to turn away customers, you can't be all things to all men (and women). 

Let your brand highlight what you are best at. You can't specialise in everything.

Visual identity

There is a lot to this, but the basics come down to a few design elements and decisions.

  1. Your logo
  2. Your brand colours
  3. Your brand typography (i.e. your fonts)
  4. The style of your images

You would do well to appoint a brand designer to help you get your visual identity right. 

Your designer will need the other aspects of your brand before they can do this – that is, if they care sufficiently about what they do.

I've studied this at college, and have been lucky enough to work in creative agencies alongside some very talented designers and had the opportunity to create a number of brands from scratch.

As a result, I know enough about the art of branding not to brand myself a brand design specialist.

However if you are on a tight budget, I can help you get going.

Images

Aren't you glad you developed your brand before you took your product photos? 

See how nicely they reflect your brand values – the locations you chose, the lighting, the colours, the other items carefully selected in the shots, the choice of model, the model's clothes… 

Oh you didn't? You just took the photos yourself in your back room? Oh well.

As a web designer, it's a delight to be given quality photography to work with. 

Even just two or three high quality shots, or perhaps even some video snippets, makes such a difference to the overall impression. Some do's and don'ts:

Do give the designer the original photos 

They may be quite large files so you can put them on a USB stick or if that's not convenient, you could transfer them using the website WeTransfer.com.

Do not paste them into a Word doc, WhatsApp or an email. This will reduce them in size and quality.

Do get a variety of product shots 

You'll also need some shots not just of the products themselves but some that show them in use. 

It will help a great deal if you can come up with some 'lifestyle' shots that show what your brand is all about. These may not feature the product at all.

Do know what your photo's 'job' will be

Now this may sound obvious but experience tells me it's not obvious to everyone: before you take any photo, or video, please do think 'landscape or portrait?' 

For instance, if you take a photo for use as a banner across the top of your website, think landscape mode i.e. hold the camera so the photo is tall, not wide. 

If it all sounds like too much work then you might be thinking about copying a few suitable photos from the web. Don't do this. 

Just because they are on the web for all to see, does not mean you have any right to do that: most images are in copyright.

What's more, it's remarkably easy to track down users of an image by doing a reverse image search. Tin Eye is my favourite for this

It's also possible to watermark images, either visibly or invisibly, with a digital code that's hard to remove. Just don't risk stealing pictures. 

There are online picture libraries where for just a small fee – sometimes no fee at all – you can obtain some images to enhance your website. 

One such library that offers completely free pictures is pexels.com. 

Having said that, it's very hard to find photos that truly reflect your brand values. Nothing beats original photography.

If you are dead-set on DIY photography but don't know where to start, consider the age-old mantra of photographers everywhere: follow the light.
While you don't have the strobes and studios of the pros, you do have sunlight, the best light there is. Natural light, especially towards sunrise or sunset, will always be more flattering than flickering office tube lights.

Content

Content includes the images, already discussed, videos if you have any, but mostly it's what we used to call 'copy' back in the day: the stuff you have to create by scratching your head and writing. 

By all means, have a go – but if you're no good at this, then enlist the services of a professional copywriter. 

Unfortunately, they'll need a detailed brief from you. However, by the time you've written the brief, you'll have a better understanding of what it is you are trying to write. 

With the clarity that this brings, there's a good chance you'll then feel confident enough to write the copy yourself!

Well, now you have your brand all sorted out and your content (kind of) ready to go, it's time to talk to your web designer. You know where I am.

     

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