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With Web Design, the Meaning is in the Message

“Design in the absence of content is not design, it’s decoration.” – Jeffrey Zeldman


Believe it or not, the most ideal time to develop your brand messaging is before you start designing (or redesigning) your website. It can be tempting to jump right into the colors, pictures and functions of the website, especially with almost 1 million new users plugging into the internet each day. But without a clear and concise brand strategy, it is difficult to guarantee that the finished product will successfully meet your business needs and effectively speak to your consumer. Creating your brand messaging in the beginning helps ensure your website, and any other marketing materials created for your brand, will truly resonate and connect with your intended audience.

Think about it this way – your website will be used to communicate a very specific message to your customers. So, what will that message be? If you’re puzzled, hesitant or just need a little direction, keep reading to find out why it’s so critical to develop your brand messaging before your website and how to get started creating the perfect message for your business.


The importance of developing your brand message first

Your brand is the core of your business. Your message defines who you are, what you do and the values behind your brand. A successful brand message will not only distinguish your business from competitors, but also create a lasting impression in consumers’ minds.

Additionally, a strong brand message gives purpose to everything you create, from taglines in brochures to messaging and architecture and imagery of your website. Knowing your ideal client and who the site is intended for will help your designer have a better understanding of how the site should be crafted. Content strategy, navigation and even graphic design elements depend greatly on your brand messaging. For a user, navigating a website that doesn’t have a defined message is a bit like walking through dark woods with just a low-powered flashlight. You might arrive at your destination eventually, but it won’t be the most pleasant journey, and certainly not one you’d want to repeat.


See how these brands get their message across:

How your brand message influences design

So, why does the messaging need to come before the development of your website? To put it simply, execution should always follow strategy. With so many website-building platforms available today, it’s easy to create a beautifully designed website, but to what end? Converting website visitors into loyal buying customers or faithful clients takes more than just an impressive interface.

In order to build brand loyalty, you need to know your target audience. In this case, that means knowing who will be visiting your website. Once that is established, it makes it much easier for designers to tailor their work toward the end user when contemplating how creative or innovative the site should look as well as how it needs to be navigated. Knowing your target audience also makes it easier to tailor the tone and message of the site for copywriting purposes. Conducting some general research about what kinds of terms people search for that are connected to your brand or your competitors’ brands will help you write the type of content needed to enhance your website’s SEO performance so it’s branding plus science.

Yet before thinking too deeply about how you should be found online, take some time to focus on why you want people to find you and what you want to communicate to them once they do. This will greatly affect the direction of your website design and general message. In short, being found by a search engine doesn’t matter nearly as much as being positively remembered by a customer or making sure that they understand and are in alignment with your core company values. Keep in mind, a website is much more likely to be successful when the final design is distinguishable from competitors, and your brand messaging is consistent throughout your site. For example, you’ve probably noticed our copywriting is a little offbeat and fun, like our ducky personality, and is memorable for that reason. Mapping your message also helps keep all the different parts of your website such as copy, videos, photos and design elements consistent.

This process also allows the web designer to customize your site well. They can now offer your guests and future customers a more pleasant user experience because we understand their demographics and psychographics - what makes them tick and what will resonate with them when interacting with a website. Overall, establishing a brand message before diving right into web design ensures the website will serve its fundamental purpose, and all design decisions will be intentional.

How to define your brand message

So are you feeling energized about beginning the website development process but wondering where to jump in with your brand message? Here are some ways to get started:

  • Conduct a brand audit with a facilitator and key stakeholders to define your organizations core values and ideal customer/client base.
  • Poll your audience to see what they do and don’t like about your brand, messaging, service/product offering or website experience. This will help you gain a richer understanding of how you’re perceived in the public eye.


If you’re still having trouble defining your brand message or need some guidance along the way, give the ducks a call at 704-271-9555 or shoot us an email. And even if your brand message already looks spotless, we’re still happy to help take the next steps in developing a brand style guide or website for your growing business!