Branding Your Website

branding your website

Branding your website will help you develop a memorable experience for your visitors. Branding can include your font and color choices, your website and domain name, the tone or “voice” you write with, etc.

What’s in a Name?

Picking a name is one of your first challenges.

Some people concentrate on their SEO and pick a name like “Best Widgets” with a matching domain name: www.best-widgets.com. A name like this may help you get a higher rank on the search engines for your main keywords.

Other people pick crazy nonsense words like: Yahoo!, Google, Kleenex, etc. All of which are proof that a name will not make or break your brand. It’s also about personality and the quality of your content. You can make a bad name work if your website it good enough – but it will take a little longer to get started.

Your best bet is probably somewhere in between. Using a name that clearly says what your site is about helps you get traction in the beginning – and that’s important. But having something unique will help you in the long run. A compromise might be something like. Widget Daddy at www.yourwidgetdaddy.com. This helps your visitors know right off the bat that you are all about widgets, but also gives them something with a little personality.

Most people recommend that you keep your domain name short, memorable, and avoid hyphens and creative spelling. This is particularly important if you plan to use radio advertising because people may try to find your site and get one with the correct spelling or without the hyphen because you can’t “see” how it’s spelled. If your advertising will all be online links this advice is less important.

Using the .com extension is still important. I built a .org website and 10 years later I sill type in .com every now and then. If I can do this with my own website just because I’m tired or distracted, what will your visitors do?

Identity is More Than a Name

Just like a person, a website has a personality. It may be “all business”, or “sleezy salesman”, or “fun and games”. Think about who you are and how you want your website to be perceived. The template (or theme) you use on your website should match the personality you want to project.

Logos and Branding

sample logos

Take a look at the logos above. What does each one say about our imaginary website, “Widget Daddy”? You can see how the logo can create a first impression of what you are likely to find on this site. What kind of widget do you expect to find with each of these logos? Do you trust the author? Which will be fun to read? Which will give you the answers you are looking for? Chances are you already have a gut feeling just from the logo.

Choosing a Theme for Branding Your Website

Sample WordPress themes that came up for the search term “widget”

If you use WordPress you will pick a “theme” for your website. A theme is a template that keeps a consistent look and feel throughout your website. You can probably already match up our sample logos with the matching theme. The layout and colors you use on your website contribute to the site “personality” as well.

Finding Your “Voice”

When you write your articles you will develop a voice over time. Are you the expert? Or a friendly neighbor? A grumpy grandpa? Do you like to write lots of lists and tables, or use lots of inspiring images?

Even if you end up hiring writers on your website, you will want to give them some guidelines to ensure that they write articles that are consistent with your brand. Don’t forget to look at your guidelines when you are editing your own articles! They may even help you push past writer’s block.

About the author

WCD

Karen Freeman-Smith currently makes a full-time living from a small portfolio of websites. She has 25+ years of experience in programming and web development for companies like Lockheed Martin, PBS, Daimler and many others. She has a BS in IT with a minor in Business Systems Analysis. Karen lives near Portland, OR with her partner, two grown children (in and out of the basement), and a cats: Havoc and Shiva.
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