Digital marketing has to be part of the branding process in 2021

Julaine Speight, director of First Internet, argues that digital can no longer be an afterthought – it’s where most consumers first engage with a brand.

When it comes to branding, the website and online presence must now be front and center when making decisions.

The brand of a company is so important. It is the business philosophy, its culture and values, its products, its team, its customer service, its corporate reputation.

The logo, colors, fonts, and design details are the visual representation of that brand. They need to work together to capture customer attention, ignite recognition, and develop loyalty.

Doing it right is vital

Therefore, it is natural that creating a brand involves many people. It is a fantastic process and not something that can be done in a short time. A brand and its visuals are expected to be with a company for some time, in various forms, so it’s important to get it right. However, the problem with the participation of many people is that the water gets cloudy and it is not always the right people.

Sometimes marketers have a tendency to get too caught up on the creative side of things. Most people don’t work in marketing. They may not appreciate the time it takes to decide on the background, the choice of colors, the font, or the symbolic way the ridge rises above the point on the i.

Rather than getting sucked into the design, perhaps the primary focus of any branding should be the audience. Maybe it’s best to keep it simple and focus on what the brand really needs to achieve.

It must be memorable and work on a variety 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 consistent message about your brand identity and core values, things are likely better for your business. Look at Amazon. Their logo isn’t Van Gogh, and their homepage isn’t “pretty” at all, 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. Therefore, the brand must function online and must guide the audience to take the desired action. Features like white space, placing calls to action in the top half of the page, prominent shopping baskets, or logins are where the focus of website design should really be.

It takes 50 milliseconds for someone to form an opinion about a business based on its online presence. The brand could look wonderful, convey a spirit, tell a story, and whip up a four-course meal, but if calls-to-action are missing, be it a contact button or an easy-to-find “add to cart” then that’s the story becomes irrelevant.

The role of your website is simply to generate inquiries or sales. It is a commercial tool. And if those calls to action for the sake of “clean design” or the like are missing, then it doesn’t work as such, as you are actively getting in the way of the user journey.

This is why branding meetings should include the digital marketing team. The website cannot and should not be an afterthought – it is a very important part of a business operation.

A branding meeting should include the client, the brand designer, a technical developer, a UX specialist, and a digital marketing specialist. That design will no doubt be used in various other apps as well, but these branding decisions won’t stop a billboard, newsletter, or copywriting. A website will do it.

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 customer and convey the business message, but it also has to impact the bottom line by being functional and focused on sales or inquiry.

Style over function is meaningless. The brand must work for your business; otherwise it is just a pretty picture.

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