Branding for Authentic Experiences
How to tell a story online while staying honest to the brand and creating genuine interactions.
True to the Brand
The Internet is made up of many common and similar experiences. We use the same social networks, blog templates, and tools to connect with each other. We embrace trends and find ways to start using new technology right away. However, there is something special about a letter that someone wrote, there is the human touch. This human touch can also be created and experienced online. It’s the authentic experiences that truly succeed.
The key is to tell stories that are true to the brand and its message. The design and feel of the site should be unique to what the site is about.
Making This Happen
It’s much easier to tell the story of your own brand online, than someone else’s. But when working with clients, it becomes more of a challenge. The most important thing is to understand who they are and what they represent. Immerse yourself in their product or service and be sure to ask lots of questions. The best thing is to do a careful study of their existing design system. Ask them for copies of their business cards and brochures, see how their signage is displayed on the storefront, and anything else. Typekit has opened doors by allowing brands to continue to use their typography systems on their websites and thus the last year we have seen lots of interesting results produced.
Remember, social media isn’t always the best answer and its not necessary for everyone. In order to create an authentic social media platform, there has got to be a solid understanding of the system along with lots of hard work and dedication to sustain the conversation.
Creating an authentic web experience, also doesn’t mean that you have to use textures, ribbons, and hand drawn type. It simply means to stay on brand or further develop the brand in the same direction. It isn’t at all about the trends, but if those trends fit the brand then they can work well.
Some Quick Case Studies
Gene’s Sausage Shop and Delicatessen
This site just feels right. When viewing the photos of their actual shop and reading about their story, the design of the site and the language used match their brand. The typefaces used are mixed and similar to the actual signage in their shop. Furthermore, the paper bag texture and jagged lines in the sidebar and the footer replicate the way you would expect to be taking your sausage and goods home with you.
The Whale Hunt
Jonathan Harris has developed a website completely unique to one story. He incorporates every detail of his own real life experience into the navigation and overall interface. There are different ways to navigate through the story, metadata that provide context, and unique typography that allow you to navigate through the thousands of photos. Read more about the interface design of the site right here.
Another example in terms of portfolio websites is Gage Salzano. He takes the opportunity to just not show the finished project but to bring you along with him through his process.
Websites can’t be just about page views and advertisement conversion rates, it’s got to be about creating interactions that are honest and beautiful. These authentic experiences simply work the best. They allow people to connect and get excited.
They leave people wanting more and engaged which leads to an audience and following being formed. It’s also important to remember that by simply having an amazing website doesn’t mean everything. The authentic experience must be continued through the printed design work, the physical spaces, and the business model itself.
Have examples of your own to share? Post a comment below and share with the rest of us.