It is very common for businesses to build an entire website without integrating their brand strategy and sometimes very common to integrate too much of the brand into the website and make it very costly to make simple changes to campaigns. These are common mistakes that we all make and I wanted to take a brief moment and share some thoughts that may help with your next website revision or campaign promotion.
A website and your brand must work together in unity to properly communicate a consistent image to your clients. Take a look at some of the larger and more successful companies that execute an excellent brand and website strategy that blend together perfectly. Let’s start with AT&T (formally Cingular Wireless). When AT&T purchased Cingular Wireless in 2004, it was faced with a unique brand integration challenge. To make a long story short, AT&T properly merged the blue and orange colors from both brands to make visually appealing elements that would make up what you and I both know as the new AT&T Wireless. I was actually surprised at how little the corporate website changed but that it is a perfect example of a website designed with growth and a maturing product in mind. Let’s dig into it.
AT&T didn’t necessarily hold a large margin of the wireless community at the time while Cingular was rising quickly to the top tier. A merge was obvious and I am confident Cingular built their company around this expectation. In fact, it is what made their company so much more valuable. To the buyer, integrating brands would be seamless and a website conversion almost effortless. Cingular branded their products with simple colors and concepts and did an excellent job building a solid brand. AT&T didn’t want just the millions of wireless customers and name, they wanted the brand and brand LOYALTY Cingular wireless had built, they wanted the website that was built with brand integration in mind.
If you haven’t visited the AT&T Wireless website you should. It isn’t overly fancy but it does the job. There are a simple set of navigation tools that stay consistent with every page, a great feature function on the homepage and several basic options that add to sidebar for helpful account management functions. This is virtually the same site structure that Cingular had built and AT&T knew brand integration would be easy. The process simply included adding the AT&T verbiage, slight color additions and simple logo placement. Now I am sure it required much more than that but what AT&T saw was a process that wouldn’t require a significant investment. The shift was easy.
This was the same case with their printed marketing collateral. The combination was exactly the same and made for a smooth and financially smart transition. The point is this. When building your website, keep a few things in mind. First, build it with what I call ‘corporate framework’. This means that you first evaluate how your site framework can be built that wouldn’t rely on your brand. After that, explore how you can integrate your brand strategy without changing the framework. This will provide you and your company with the groundwork for a successful website that can be integrated into any brand or marketing campaign you may launch. Simply change some verbiage, the feature images and maybe a color or two and it’s done! You will save a lot of time and money doing this (I know from experience) and your clients will appreciate it. There is nothing more important than brand loyalty; making large changes can shift clients in another direction quickly. While building your website, keep functionality top of mind. It’s like the old saying goes “measure twice, cut once”. Well here, you need to make it function first and look good second.