How to Build a Website That Reflects Your Core Values

If you have a business in this day and age, you pretty much have to have a website. The first thing a potential new customer is going to do when they hear about your company is look you up online.
But just having a website is not enough. Your website needs to immediately communicate who you are to your customers.

It is their first impression of you, and as the old adage says,

“You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”

Over the past few years, it seems like sites have taken on a characteristic of sameness. They offer the same buttons, and even the same look and feel as other sites.

But there is no “one-size-fits-all” when it comes to websites.

You need your company, your brand, to stand out against your competition. At Metacake, we work hard to help clients develop a site that’s tailored to their brand and to the experience they want their customer to have.

Here’s a glimpse into what our process for creating a brand-centric site looks like:

1. Why this website?

The first question we ask clients is, “Why this website? What do you want this website to do?” We want to establish the rationale behind the website we’re building.

Asking a lot of questions about why our client wants to build the website helps us understand their brand and their company. We’re getting them to tell us the story of their brand, and while they talk, we can begin to get a picture of what they’re like, what their staff is like, and what kind of products or services they have. This allows us to create a picture in our minds of their brand.

And newsflash: Your brand is important.

In fact, it may be the most important and valuable thing about your company. It is what differentiates you from others.

Successful companies define the core elements of their brand, and convey those elements at every opportunity. From the tone of their Facebook posts, to the way call center employees interact with customers on the phone, to the way people are greeted at their offline store.

Your brand should carry through to every single customer touch point, giving them the same experience every time — that’s how you build something really valuable.

These days, it’s so easy to do damage to your brand. Social media and internet access in general leaves plenty of opportunity for customers to shout about a terrible experience they have with your brand, which may undermine a lot of the hard work you’ve done. These types of interactions make your website even more important, as it provides a reinforcement for the quality of your work and the services you provide.

Your Website = Your Persona

Like we said, your website is likely the first place people will visit when they learn about you, and the first touch point they’ll have with your brand, so your site should offer the definitive autobiography of your brand.

This is your chance to set the tone and control how people perceive and interact with your brand. It’s your opportunity to provide a curated experience for them from the moment they hit the home page. In fact, it’s the only place you have this opportunity. At a call center, or in an online store, there are any number of undefined variables. But on your website, you control the experience. At each and every scroll and click, you determine what the visitor sees.

With this power, you can communicate your brand message clearly, and interact with customers in a way that engages them with your brand.

But with great power comes great responsibility. Creating a seamless user experience across your entire site is no easy feat.

So, we’ve established that your brand is important. But, what is your brand?

Step 2: Defining your brand

The first step in defining your brand is a clear understanding of what your company is and what it stands for.

What distinguishes your company from others like it? What are the most important values, and how do you communicate them to your customers, partners, and employees?

What are the core elements that really define who you are?

The trick here is you have to understand your brand well enough to be able to communicate it. You need to be able to describe it in just a few short sentences, and you have to really believe in your brand and embrace the ideals it represents. It sounds easy, but sometimes it can be difficult to strike just the right note.

Design that meets your brand objectives

If you really want a website that reflects those core values, it’s not enough just to have a designer or developer put together your site – you need someone who actually understands branding.

Your mark. Your logo. Your brand design. These are the visual representations of your brand – they need to represent your core brand’s attributes and your brand values. Once these key elements are defined, the site design should then flow logically from the brand.

The key elements may include the look and feel, colors, maybe even the font, or type treatment, the visual or graphic elements. Having a team that includes a brand manager, developer, and a designer working together to blend all the elements together is essential to a brand-centric website.

Step 3: Now that you look good – say something!

We find that we get much better brand-centric designs when content is primary, not secondary. From the wireframe stage, it’s important to populate each page with the core content. This is where you nail down your brand voice and your site really starts to come alive.

Being able to provide a visual designer with copy in conjunction with the wireframes makes for a much more brand-centric design. If your wireframes are simply populated with lorem ipsum, the designer doesn’t have very much inspiration to go off of.

If you think about it, you can dress someone up to the nines and put them out there, but it’s that first “hello” that makes a first impression complete. That’s what the copy is for us – the voice of the brand.

Don’t just throw a website up because you have to and call it a day. Figure out who you are as a company, define your brand, and follow these steps to design a website that reflects your core values.

Your website is your best opportunity to develop a relationship with your customers and to sell. Don’t let it go to waste!


Need help creating your brand-centric website?

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