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Ideas & Inspiration \ JAN 26th 2011

Branding your Website I: Re-Inventing Yourself Online

Re-Inventing Yourself Online: Website Branding

So you finally clicked ‘Publish’ and your Wix website is live; but is it alive…?
Did you brand your online business? Does your brand exude character, flair, and confidence? Brand management is important not just for products and companies, but also for websites as they struggle to stand out among the masses.

Some Background: A Brand is Born!
The marketing term “brand” derives from the branding iron cowboys use to mark their cattle. Unlike with a cow however, a hot brand is not applied suddenly. Instead, it seems to emanate naturally from within the product itself. One of the earliest instances of branding occurred at the turn of the 20th century. Shortly after several independent bakeries joined to form the National Biscuit Company, the word “Nabisco” was first used as a stamp on the company’s sugar wafers. As consumers grew more familiar with the wafers, they would ask simply for the Nabisco ones rather than the generic. Thus – the brand name ‘Nabisco” was born.

Brand Name Recognition
The name recognition effects of branding don’t show up overnight. Depending on the industry and speed of consumption, some brands, such as Cadillac, take years to shape their reputation. Others, like Zappos, take just months. Companies such as Apple, Coca-cola, Nike and Ferrari, all have strong brands, but what they actually have are clearly associated character traits – cool, joyful, victorious, and powerful to name a few. The companies are personified, and their products reflect and project character traits just like people do. When it’s time to determine marketing projects, a brand’s traits influence everything from the tone and script of a radio commercial, to the color, shape, and composition of a new package or store.

Branding & the Web
Since we’re talking about websites, branding in this realm affects many components: content, the actual text, titles, and pictures, as well as layout, the theme, color choice, and the site’s overall usability. Imagine if Apple’s website was a nightmare to navigate it would be a poor reflection on their brand, negating their core values of ease of use and going against the character trait of “friendly”.

Today, perhaps the most famously branded website is Google. The search engine has become so synonymous with online search that it has become a verb. It’s the ultimate indicator of success when a brand name replaces the product name: searches “Googled”, copies “Xeroxed” and micro-blogging messages “Tweeted”.

Stay tuned for Part II, when we’ll go over the next steps to developing your website’s brand: character and language.

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