You've outgrown your branding- what next?
"Hey! Nothing fits anymore! This is too big. That is too small. What does this say? And was I drunk when I picked out these colors?!"
This is not an excerpt from the wardrobe epiphany you experience on a powerful episode of TLC's What Not To Wear- though that would probably hurt less. This is your reaction as you review the once impressive, now lackluster website serving as a major representation of your brand. No wonder passersby seem uninterested in picking you up, prospects seem to be dropping off after the first round of courting, and you can't even seem to get a text back from clients who promised they'd be in touch. You've got value and personality for days, but when was the last time you updated your fonts? See, you probably weren't drunk when you made the decision to use that ghastly neon color or plaster overly used, under styled stock images all over your site. You were just new- new to business, new to design, new to establishing a brand. Keeping costs low while trying to get your business off the ground was your ONLY objective, so you did it yourself. But that is not working anymore.
As your business grows, so does your need for cohesive, timeless design that properly positions your message. If you're feeling a little unfulfilled when you type in your URL or you're struggling to convert clients after they stumble upon your site, try these tips on for size:
- Edit, edit, and edit some more: One of the most common issues present in DIY brands is the overload of design elements in an attempt to make the website look less like a theme or to garner visual impact. The over incorporation of varied design elements can quickly overwhelm the eye and detract from the value of the business. If you find that people are having trouble interpreting what you do or simply losing focus when they visit your site, consider editing. Simple design is by far the most effective way to communicate your style and message.
- Professional trumps personal style almost every time: As a website designer who focuses on authentic branding, I know that statement seems a bit hypocritical. To showcase your personality and avoid becoming unsatisfied with your look you should certainly incorporate some of your personal design preferences into your site. That being said, under no circumstances should your brand aesthetic be entirely a reflection of your style without any regard for your target audience or industry. Allow your love of lime green and rustic wood elements to influence your home decor, but keep your website design as palatable as possible while sprinkling bits of your personal style in a tasteful manner. If this poses a challenge for you, no worries- there are tons of skilled designers (like me!) that can marry your personal style with the professional standard to create a gorgeous site and unique online experience for your customers.
- It's not always what you're saying, but how you're saying it: Your visual impact gets clients to slow their scroll, but your website copy is what keeps them on the page. Your message needs to be informative and engaging. Clients should have a great understanding of your purpose, your process, and your value, but positing this information yourself can be rather challenging. If your'e stumped developing killer copy that converts your clients, but you're not quite ready to invest in a copywriter, try simply unloading everything that you'd like to say into a word document. Don't worry with phrasing or polishing your statements, just get them out of your head. Once you have an outline of what your website should say, go back and begin restructuring your message to appear professional and persuasive.
- Being trendy is awesome, except when you're creating a brand: That script font is gorgeous, gold foil is EVERYTHING, and millennial pink slays- for now. Sure, you'll get tons of praise when you launch your contemporary approach to branding, but what about next year when Onyx is the color and silver serif lettering is all the rage. Comprising a brand of trends is branding to become obsolete. Instead, focus on longevity, timelessness, and simplicity. This is not to say that you will never rebrand. Just this year, heavy hitters like Calvin Klein, MasterCard, and Subway decided to adopt sleeker, cleaner versions of their logos- but guess what? They didn't incorporate any "trendy" elements. They stuck to their established color stories and brand identities, while simplifying and enhancing their appearance.
In short, finding that you need a redesign shortly after launching your DIY brand is not uncommon. While delegating the enhancement of your branding to a professional will likely yield a more informed and withstanding design, editing yourself and remaining mindful of your industry and choices can have a quick and substantial impact on your branding today.
All the best,
I hope you enjoyed the very first blog post on my new site! Feel free to comment below or connect with me. I'd love to chat!