Branding can be a tough thing to define. Is it your logo? Your tagline? Is the products your sell or the services you offer? Or is it the way you present all of those things to your target audience? According to BusinessDictionary.com, branding is defined as:
"The process involved in creating a unique name and image for a product in the consumers’ mind, mainly through advertising campaigns with a consistent theme. Branding aims to establish a significant and differentiated presence in the market that attracts and retains loyal customers."
In our digital-first society, your company’s website is likely the main hub for all customer engagement — from education and information gathering, to sales and customer service. As this article from WP Engine notes, “Today, the website is sometimes the first interaction a brand has with a new customer, and often the thing existing customers interact with most often. It’s not just another form of billboard, it is the brand.”
If your website is essentially a digital extension of your brand, then you need to understand exactly what your website is communicating to your visitors. Does it do the job of telling your brand’s story to your intended audience? Does it reflect your brand’s image, values, and goals? Or is it singing a completely different tune than the rest of your branding efforts?
To get a better idea of what your website is telling visitors about your brand, it helps to look at some examples of companies who do an awesome job of digital branding through their websites. The following websites effectively communicate their brand’s story to their core audience.
Patagonia is a high-end outdoor clothing retailer with a strong environmental ethos. This is evident throughout the company’s messaging and branding, form their “buy less” mantra to their B Corporation Certification. Patagonia does a great job with their digital branding as well, conveying their mission statement of “Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis” with a website that focuses less on their products, and more on their environmental and community engagements.
You see a lot less “Buy Now!” and much more “Restore,” “Take Action,” and “Fight to Protect” on Patagonia.com than you will on most other outdoor clothing websites.
Who would have thought that shaving, a daily task that most men loathe, could be turned into something both convenient and fun? The team at Dollar Shave Club has made a name for themselves through their quirky and comedic marketing content. When you get to their website, that same messaging is carried through with digital branding that communicates simplicity, convenience, and irreverence to the old, tired institution of shaving.
From your first interaction with dollarshaveclub.com, you know exactly what you’ll be getting, the precise steps to take, and you also get the feeling that you’ll be having some fun as well.
Porsche straddles the line between luxury and performance perfectly. On one hand, they have deep roots in the auto racing industry and offer a full line of high-performance sports cars. On the other, they’ve also successfully entered the market of SUVs and sedans, offering buyers a family-friendly alternative that still looks sleek and sexy.
While I could do without the “Find Dealer” drop-down menu in the upper right corner (I find it a bit distracting), Porsche’s homepage does a great job of communicating the duality of their brand.
As “America’s First Craft Brewery,” Anchor Brewing in San Francisco, CA is focused on placing their rich brewing history at the forefront of their digital branding. Their website communicates this beautifully with rich sepia-toned images of golden lagers and traditional copper brewing equipment. The “old-timey” feel of the site conjures images of San Francisco during the Gold Rush, and brings to mind words like “handcrafted,” “artisanal,” and “craftsmanship.”
Spend a few minutes on their website, and you get a strong sense of how proud Anchor Brewing is of their long brewing history and the traditional methods they still use today.