Lately we have been working with a couple of really great professionals, who work in various industries, but have come to us with a common theme: they're sophisticated and have excellent style in their offline life, but their online presence just doesn't look sharp.
The problem that most of our clients face with their visual brand is that it doesn't do them justice. In their offline life, they're polished, professional, hard working and bring loads of personality to their clients. But their brand is underwhelming. Jenni here, and I feel geeky admitting that I get almost a visceral sense of satisfaction when we can create an online aesthetic that is in sync with who someone is in their real life.
I love helping clients get buttoned up online, and defining a client's "visual" voice is one of my favorite kinds of projects. If you're feeling like your brand is underwhelming or doesn't really do you justice, here are some simple design tips that you can use to get you looking "prim'd!"
Pick 2 to 3 Fonts
Font have personalities, and you're already starting to tell your dream customers a little bit about yourself simply by the fonts you choose for your website and branding. There are some standard bits of wisdom to consider: Serif fonts are more classic and traditional, san serif fonts are cosmopolitan or modern, and script fronts are usually an elegant choice. But what I want to focus on here is number of fonts in your brand suite.
When you're choosing these fonts, you don't need many. In fact, we try to stick to two or three. Often times the body font and some of the headline fonts are exactly the same, we've just bumped up the thickness and size when we're working with headlines. This combination of minimalism and consistency gives a feeling of legitimacy. Also, simplicity in your font choices helps boost readability or scanability, making it easier for your customers to read more of your content.
Pick 2 or 3 colors
If you poke around our site and our marketing materials, you will notice that we use three colors: black, white and gold. With the exception of our blogs (which I think you have some creative leeway) you won't catch any blue on our website. You won't see our call to action buttons in red or purple. We did that intentionally. Creating a signature look and feel isn't about including every single thing that you love or inspires you — it's about centering on a few key colors, and honing that simplicity to communicate elegance or sharpness. Also, as we mentioned above, a great design will begin to feel like your "visual voice" and sticking to a handful of great colors will make it much easier for your customers to become familiar with you, and begin recognizing you around the web.
Less is more
I'm sure you're starting to see a common theme here: but when it comes to creating a sharp online brand, less is really more. And that means a couple of different things:
- Use white space. Give everything (on your website, in your marketing collateral, email newsletters) more space than you want to. Things need to breathe, and giving white space around images and text will help you do that
- On your website, consider one stellar, full bleed image instead of 4 or 5 smaller images. Focusing on 1 visual message will allow that story to ring more loudly and true.
- Say half as many words as you want to. This might be more rounds of revision to get your copy really sharp, but it's worth the investment of your time
Consistency is key
The most important thing that you can do when it comes to your online look and feel is to be consistent. Get your 2 or 3 fonts nailed down, write down their names and use exactly the same ones everything. Get your colors really clear (I'm talking Hex Code or RGB Color Code specific!) and use exactly the same ones on everything.
Your dream customers are going to need to see your brand around the online space lots of times (as many as 12+ times) before they consider buying from you. Each and every one of those times, they need to recognize your visual personality. If you "introduce" yourself with a stylish and sharp look and feel every time, you're going to be sending the most accurate message of who you really are.
Real Client Example
Let's take a look at a real client that just wrapped up a project with us. Karen is a real estate agent in the Bay Area who had an online look and feel that didn't communicate who she really was. She wanted to update her branding to a new "visual voice" that told her clients a couple of things:
- She's incredibly warm and approachable (a must when you're helping people with an emotional and expensive purchase like buying a home!)
- She's super professional. Even though she's warm and friendly, she knows her stuff inside and out.
- She's a really hard worker. Karen is the kind of agent that is going to do everything in her power to help her clients buy or sell their house. She's sharp.
When we created her branding, we wanted to center on those things: warm, professional and sharp. We specifically chose colors and fonts that were going to coordinate with her parent brand, as well as tell the story of who Karen is in her offline life.
Take a look at what we created:
We did a little more for Karen, including her social media assets and helping her get a great headshot (If you're thinking of getting your head shots done, check out Part One and Part Two of our series on headshots).
If you're looking to get your visual personality looking as great as your offline personality, get in touch with us! We're always excited to help.
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