McDonald’s has its signature golden arches, while Microsoft has its telltale Windows grid. These companies paid a lot of money to build a corporate identity that really sets them apart from the rest. But what if you’re a humble startup without much capital to spare?
Well, this is the 21st century. The aggressive McDonald’s approach is still very much the norm, but smaller businesses have a much cheaper and potentially more efficient avenue: their own websites. After all, a business in these times is nothing if it isn’t online. It takes time to build a corporate identity with just one website, but if you can make it work, the results are more than worth it.
A visual theme
People are very visual creatures. They may forget what your site is about, but they subconsciously keep a screenshot of it long after they click away. Start your website with a visual theme—a color, a logo, a recurring image—that your visitors can instantly associate with your business. Remember, consistency is the rule. Keep the same visual theme on every page to help them make the connection.
A fast message
How long does it take you to judge a company based on its front page? Most people take no more than five seconds. Blame the Internet and its ready supply of alternative content. Since there’s always another site to check out, they don’t feel like they’re missing anything by leaving yours. But you are. If you don’t grab them within that five-second window, you’ve lost a potential client.
An accurate portrayal
Your website should portray your company for what it is. Remember the five-second rule? People make all sorts of assumptions about online personas. If your law firm website is adorned with clowns and stars, you can bet no one’s going to come to you with their DUI charges.
A strong voice
So your smart design has drawn in your target market. But will they keep coming? That depends, for the most part, on your actual website content. Corporate identity relies as much on good design as it does on clear, readable copy. Adopt a consistent voice that tells your reader exactly what you do, how you do it, and why your business is worth their time.