Making a website memorable is not an easy task, competitors are everywhere and everybody wants users to remember their brand. That’s the most logical reason why every website would need a brand with its proper logo. But that’s not the only reason.
Including branding in the whole website design could also improve usability, making a particular website a more comfortable place to surf through. Many companies are taking advantage of this, Apple, for example, is not only successful because of a beautiful design but they also combine easiness and first class interaction design to the whole branding and marketing strategy on the web.
In this bread crumbs example the Apple logo shows the user the safe way back home:
Adding a tag line to the logo is another way to improve the overall website usability and could also have a direct impact on visits. The message to deliver here is called the “value proposition” and the aim is to tell users what the goal of your site is (e.g. what you are selling!). If the user is not able to figure out fast what the site is about, he or she might leave to never come back.
The tag line is usually placed below the logo or very close to it. It should be a short phrase explaining in a very easy language what the website has to offer. It also has to be precise and should not use estrange words, like site-related ones.
Wikipedia makes very clear what the website is about. The free encyclopedia.
Is Safari a website about trips in Africa or is it one dedicated to a web browser? This tag line does not confuse users, it tells them straight away that this site has online books.
Sometimes the tag line is integrated into the website functionality. For example, del.icio.us places the logo, the company name and the most meaningful link of the website together. "Your bookmarks" gives a strong message.
Logo position is another example of how branding could improve usability. There is a tendency to place the logo on the upper left corner, but that’s not the most important issue regarding the logo position. The key is to place the logo in the same place website-wide. That will orientate users and remind them that they are still in the same website.
At Amazon, the logo stays in the very same place through the entire website.
The user experience as brand
More is less, right? This is true for many fields but specially for web design as adding links, buttons, features, information and pictures is always tempting. More than designers, [many] programmers have the opinion that if a feature is available it should be presented to the user. User tests prove that that could be dangerous.
The aim of any product should be to create a positive user experience, something that users will consciously or unconsciously notice and appreciate. Usability has a strong impact on the user and that’s why it could be used as a branding approach. Branding is the packaging for a particular idea, like an easy to use and effective search engine could be. The following pictures show two websites offering basically the same service. But which brand has more value for the user? the one filling the page with features?
Emails, usability and branding
Emails are part of the website design and they could improve the overall user experience, here the brand could also be an important tool to help users. A key issue is the brand (the company name) included in the sender field of every email sent by a website. It seems to be obvious but many websites send notifications with the sender field "mail robot" (notice that many users would label that as spam.)
In this email client screen shot it is possible to see the sender field in the first column and the subject in the second column.
Germanwings, an airline, places the company name in the sender field of each email. But they have variations:
Germanwings > This means "advertisement", it could be deleted,
Germanwings Schedule Cha. > This means that the email contains very important information,
Germanwings Booking > Meaning that this email could be saved (and retrieved) for later reference.
The impact of using these techniques could be huge as they could prevent user from deleting important information and save a big amount of money in live customer service.
Giving users a feel of trust is something that could be done through a good design and attaching the idea of trust to a brand something usually desirable. One approach is to encourage trust through security features shown on a website.
A good label for the login button could improve a website and brand trust. Like at Amazon.com:
If a person knows that undoing a buy is easy (and possible) the trust a customer has for a service will be increased. For example at Wal-Mart deleting products from the shopping cart is easy: