Corporate Eye

Website Branding and Usability

I’ve been thinking about website design and branding this week, so I thought it would be a good time to talk about branding and website usability here on Corporate Eye.  Having come from a large corporate background, I’m well aware of the struggle between the marketing and IT groups when it comes time to create a new website.  The process begins by putting two groups of people who think completely differently in a room together and forcing them to create an end result that not only works but also drives business.

A critical component of the “drives business” part of the website development process is branding.  Naturally, a corporate website must include the expected branding elements such as logo, nomenclature, colors, fonts, etc., but branding messages are equally important.  From a branding perspective, a website needs to communicate who the company is, what they do and what they stand for in an instant.  Information must be readily available and easily accessible to ensure the user experience is seamless and customer expectations are met every step of the way.

That leads us to the “works” part of the website development process.  Believe it or not, the usability aspect of website development does not fall solely in the hands of the IT team.  Instead, usability should also encompass the aforementioned user experience and customer expectation components.  Your brand message is communicated not just through the words on your web pages but also in the experiences people have on that website.  If they can’t find the information they need, get error messages or leave frustrated, then that experience doesn’t bode well for your brand.  Those visitors are apt to leave your website with a negative impression of your company and brand, which they are likely to share with friends and family.

Bottom line, don’t think website usability lies solely in the hands of your IT department.  Usability reflects your brand.  When you develop your website, ensure your brand messages and promise are communicated clearly through words and design, but also take time to ensure the site functions as visitors would expect it to.  Doing so will create a comprehensive and consistent branding experience.

Image: Flickr

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.

I think I know what you’re trying to say here Susan. I wrote a similar article for Precision Marketing recently.

My point was that people who think they are protecting the brand should care about usability. It has the potential to impact the brand in a far deeper way than using the wrong font.

My angle came from the fact that usability issues are often not rectified because the required course of action contravenes brand guidelines.

David Hamill

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