How a web project can help you discover your brand

At the start of this month I was asked to produce an article for the brand issue of the North East Times. Knowing that this would be read by a lot of people in businesses, including design agencies, around the North East really made us want to produce something that gave a different perspective.

One common theme we always come up against is clients coming to us with the attitude of ‘we just need a website’, ultimately to find that their brand isn’t setup to simply undergo this process. No, I don’t just mean they don’t have a logo or some business cards, I mean they don’t know enough about things like their offering to their messaging; or the structure to their audiences, all absolutely integral to understanding your brand.

This month, we’re talking ‘brand’. Surely a simple task for a design agency to talk about, right? Unfortunately not; one page isn’t anywhere near enough to cover this vast area, but we have a few experiences we’d like to share which may get you thinking.

As a creative digital agency, our relationship with a client often begins when tasked with the design and development of a new website. During the early stages of this process, a key area we explore early on is whether or not the client has content or an existing brand to implement across their new online home. A ‘logo’ is often a starting point for this, and sometimes maybe the only element of an identity that some clients have. We’ve all heard that a brand is much more than a logo, but this is easy to say and much harder to put into practice. So, how does this all fit together, and at what point does your website become part of your brand?

Websites and digital solutions require structure. By exploring this we discuss elements such as hierarchy of information, messaging and imagery to name a few. More and more often, when carrying out website discovery workshops, our clients uncover and therefore develop a deeper understanding of their brand when being challenged to give structure to their business. Will a user understand that terminology? What message does the content on this page convey? What is your tone of voice? These are a few questions that spring to mind.

Our most recent project, launched last month for business development agency Generator, is a great example of this. Prior to embarking on the web project, a marketing review had been carried out and a suite of logos with usage guidelines had been established for us to use. However, by working with the team to establish their website, the renewed Generator brand came to life – not only in the aesthetic of the site, which has now been applied to a range of printed material – but also in understanding the complex positioning of the array of services and programmes they have to offer. Through this process the team themselves coined the phrase ‘Garage to Global’, a mainstay of the key messaging that is now promoted.

With a scalable site and marketing strategy in place, Generator is now well positioned for growth in 2018.

Jodie Balmer, marketing manager at Generator, says: “Our old brand was simply that; old. Generator was established in 1991 as a music development agency but has since evolved and branched into other sectors, providing a whole host of services to businesses within creative, digital and tech. A solid brand that fits with the nature of the work you do is vital for business development, this is something we regularly tell the businesses we help but had neglected to turn that mirror onto ourselves. The team at Cargo were outstanding in helping us develop our understanding of Generator’s online offering. With their help, finally we feel we present a true reflection of not only our business but of all the people involved, this will help us continue to expand our reach in the North East and further afield.”

Your brand is much more than a logo and by undertaking a web project you can discover and learn far more about your brand than you might think. We have helped a range of clients establish and develop a consistent brand both offline and online. However, we often see a project that starts as ‘we just need a new website’ develop into a branding exercise – a discovery around how their identity, website and content all come together to form their true brand.

This article was initially posted in North East Times Magazine for Cargo Creative.