Why you need to build your brand BEFORE your website
As a brand & web designer, I work with so many wonderful clients to build their brands and sites. One decision I made in my business is to not accept web design clients who have not been through a branding process.
WHA! You're turning away clients?
Yep. I am because I LOVE my clients. I want them to make a smart investment, to connect with their audience and to build a brand identity, not just a site. Here's what you should know about why you NEED to build your brand before your site.
UNDERSTANDING YOUR WHY
Building a brand is about building an experience. It's not just a logo. You know what... fuck the logo. You can have a killer brand without one. (yeah... I said that). Your brand is a combination of color, font, images, voice and style. The logo will become a piece of the brand, but it doesn't MAKE the brand. Before you can create an online environment that reflects your brand identity and reasons for being epic, you have to know what that is and why it matters. You have to know your audience, your brand personality and the visual elements that match that personality. This is the focus of the branding process- creating visuals that reflect your goals and audience. Pretty visuals are not enough. which brings us to....
MAKE YOUR MONEY COUNT
Yes, you need a kickass website... I totally agree. But if you build a site without first knowing the WHY behind your brand, you're wasting your money. Your designer needs to know your brand personality to help your site connect with the goals of your brand and your ideal audience. Websites are not one-size-fits-all. You need to have a site that helps you build your brand experience. If you pay a designer to build your site without this, you'll end up with a site that isn't connecting. Eventually you'll have to have the site redesigned, because it didn't meet your brand goals or personality. Wasting money as a blogger or entrepreneur is not an option. My goal for my clients is to give them everything they need to start building brand personality and recognition. I don't want to waste their money... even if it's not what they want to hear when they reach out.
STAYING 'ON BRAND'
If you don;t have a brand style guide to follow, you're just hoping and guessing at what your brand style and personality is. You need a concise guide to follow that helps you pick colors, fonts and style across your site and social. If you are doing it without the style guide, you're just pulling that style from your website... and that's a piece of your brand, not THE brand. Essentially you're watering down your brand.
Think of it like a cocktail- You have an infused gin (yum... this is your brand, the essence) and a few mixers (brand elements, patterns and color). So you add the gin & the mixers, garnish it and make a cocktail that people LOVE. This is your site... it's awesome and people love it. This all works... but what about your social media... you want to start with the same ingredient list and mix it in a new, fresh way. You wouldn't want to use the first cocktail and just add more shit to it. It would be diluted.
Your site is not your brand, it's brand collateral.
The same as business cards, packaging and signage, a site is a representation of your brand that helps develop your personality and brand environment.