Main Branding Trends for 2015

branding, branding tips, branding trendsThere are all sorts of ways that brands will try to establish themselves in 2015, some of which will be a bit different, novel and even bring a bit of fun back into the equation. However, some ideas will undoubtedly establish themselves as trends, usually led by the innovative minds at top creative agencies and taken up by the most forward thinking of marketing executives. But what are the trends to look out for in 2015?

Honesty Around Big Data

One of the big trends of 2014 was big data capture. The brands that have it will possess a marketing edge over their competitors for years to come, so long as they use the data wisely to predict what it is the customer really wants. Customer retention is something will be easier for those who have made a significant investment in data capture, although 2015 is likely to see more openness from brands about how data is captured, how it’s stored and how it’s used. Any branding company should be recommending greater transparency in this area to allay customers’ fears over identity fraud and data security.

Greater Empathy

Brands certainly need to demonstrate an understanding of their clients’ needs, but only those who truly put themselves in their customers’ shoes will get to the heart of the matter. So often, empathy is reserved for post-sale customer service issues, largely when things go wrong. In 2015, empathy will be increasingly shifted to a pre-sale customer experience, so expect advertisements to focus on greater and more in-depth customer focused and understanding. For smaller brands this will be driven by their Youtube channels and online presence, but larger businesses will also focus on greater empathy in their above the line campaigns; TV, press and outdoor marketing activities.

Brand Empowerment

This year, many brands will throw over their identity to their customers and clients in a way that we’ve never seen before. From crowd sourcing to logo interpretation and social media engagement, empowering stakeholders, rather than shareholders, will be what it is all about in the next twelve months. The idea is that corporate identity will be increasingly humanised and, for the most successful brands, this will lead to a personalisation of the relationship between brand and consumer. Empowerment will be the byword for any brand that wants to be a ‘friend’ of its customers.

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Top tips to improve your brand on-line

branding, how to build brand onlineThe majority of businesses have an online presence that allows potential customers to interact with the brand in some way; the most successful ones certainly do. To stand out from the competition, you must embrace all the tools at your disposal. When you approach a brand consultancy to help raise your profile, there are some key points they will consider.

Celebrate achievements

Highlighting your awards or accolades gives people confidence and adds credibility to your communications. If you’ve been praised for customer service, innovation or quality, it’s always worth shouting about.

Customer satisfaction

Potential customers want to know that your former customers have been satisfied with your service. This can be achieved through customer testimonials, as well as by allowing users to review and rate their customer experience.

Free content

Place additional resources at your visitors’ disposal to give them more reason to return to your site, making it more likely that they’ll use your services. Resources to consider might include downloadable information, document templates or links to other resources.

Plain speech

It’s important to ensure you communicate your proposition in a clear fashion; try to avoid jargon or technical terminology that might be a barrier to some. A website shouldn’t be used as an opportunity to demonstrate how many of your industry’s buzzwords you know, but rather as a place for you to demonstrate what you can do for your customers.

Social media stats

Social media channels can be really effective communication tools. Including links to your social media accounts can encourage engagement through a number of different platforms. It’s important to be smart with social media tools, they need to be used productively — there’s no point in having a Twitter account that’s inactive.

If your business works with a digital agency, it is important to consider all of the points above. Having a clear understanding of the essential tools for brand communication will give you the confidence to engage with an agency that can help you to achieve your vision.

5 Elements of Web User Interface Design Best Practice

ui design, design servicesWhen a user visits a website, certain elements will make them feel comfortable about using it. Potential customers will make a judgement about your website within seconds, so your chosen website design company will follow a number of key rules to optimise the user experience.

Clarity

All elements of the user interface should be clear and intuitive. If the user is unsure what to expect from any of them, such as a misleading or obscure icon, they may not have the confidence to click — they’re more likely to move onto another site, that has an interface that seems more familiar or easier to navigate.

Action

The user needs to be guided toward the action you would prefer them to take. For example, if that action is to provide some information then the text field in which you would like them to type needs to be clearly labelled. It sounds obvious, but explaining exactly what’s required from the user will only improve the overall user experience.

Guidance

In much the same vein, a direct invitation to do something is likely to yield greater results than simply presenting the opportunity. If you would like the user to enter their comments, a simple instruction such as ‘Enter your message here.’ will encourage that action.

Context

An important part of the web designer’s role is to ensure that user interface elements are clear; any functionality should always be intuitive and obvious to the user. For example, placing controls close to the element they affect makes good design sense.

Feedback

If the interface provides feedback on interactions, the user will feel confident they’ve achieved the desired outcome. An example of this might be a message such as ‘Your email has been sent’; this provides clear confirmation and the user can continue.

These five steps are vital elements in user interface design. An agency offering professional design services should adhere to these principles in order to provide you with the best solution, allowing you to do the same for your own customers.

From innovative to overused: 5 design trends to avoid in 2015

web design trendsTrends in website design change from year to year. Yet in an age of unrivalled digital creativity there are many elements and styles applied by creative design services which reappear in hundreds of places; what was once an innovative or new take on web design can become omnipresent and stale very quickly. In this article we take a look at 5 of the main design elements which were used – and overused – in 2014.

1. Dull typefaces

In the good old days when websites were in their infancy, everyone used the same two or three typefaces, and there’s been an unfortunate return to those days – whether it’s seen as good practice to throw some Arial or Courier fonts at your homepage, it is dull to view, dull to read and definitely lacks both creativity and imagination. Sure it may look functional, but often a website is used to generate interest or lead to a purchase – and few things are less appealing than dull blocks of text that look like they’ve been reproduced from a technical manual!

2. Use of stock photos

Few things are as big a turn off as seeing the same imagery used across hundreds of websites. In an age where digital photography is ubiquitous and cameras and phones can deliver great images in seconds, why pay to use the same stock photos as everyone else?

3. Making your site compatible on all systems

Internet usage on mobile platforms has now grown to the point where it has started to outstrip conventional desktop or laptop browsing – from smartphones to iPads and other tablets, users are accessing content in increasing ways. Any good website design agency will push its abilities at making sites compatible on all devices, yet sometimes websites that have been optimised to work on all platforms can lose that extra sparkle. There are lots of ways to scale and deliver content; don’t dumb down your site simply to tick the compatibility box.

4. Full screen photos

Full screen images on specialist photography sites can look incredible, selling a product or an ethos most effectively. Using a full screen photo on your law school page or a site advertising accountancy services – perhaps not. This is one growing trend that really ought to be restricted to where it works best.

5. Load screens

Broadband and network access has generally become faster year on year; with ever more savvy designers and programmers who know how to write efficient code, why on earth would a website take so long to load that you’d need to show the visitor a loading screen? Sort out your code, optimise your imagery, and get back to basics!

With a little care and attention, it’s easy to produce a dynamic, exciting website which not only adheres to correct standards and good design principles but doesn’t simply become another formulaic web presence. One or two of the elements discussed here are appropriate for certain types of website, but think carefully before incorporating them on a site which could be better served with other designs or features.

How good is your mobile site? Quick health check

mobile website, responsive design

Statistically speaking, there’s every chance you could be browsing this article on a mobile device, like almost 60% of today’s Internet users. And with on-screen real estate at a premium on mobile devices, there’s literally no room for site-design errors where tablet and smartphone access is concerned. So here are a few of the defining attributes of a mobile site to discuss with your brand design agency:

Micro Design

Simply downsizing your desktop website is not the answer, you need to modify your approach to work in the smaller environment. There’s often a need to streamline your content, you might also need to redesign navigation systems, consider the volume of copy and the size of your text. Remember too that users experience variable loading speeds and many people won’t even bother with a site that places heavy demands on mobile resources.

Touch Navigation

Unlike desktop machines, most handheld devices use touch-screen navigation, so your site must be optimised for this feature. Menus, buttons and other touch targets must be well-spaced to ensure your visitors can access the features they want, and thus give you the conversion rates you anticipate.

Searchable Solutions

Some sites cram in too much content, which can make the information you need tricky to find. If your website is an information resource that’s heavy on content, it’s far better to have a prominent search function that is highly visible and easy to access. And if it’s a ‘sticky’ menu that remains on top during scrolling, that’s even better. Having a search function can not only frees up valuable space on in your navigation, it can also save your visitors valuable time and effort.

Mobile-optimised Functionality

You will know the most common features your mobile customers are looking for. Therefore your design should aim to make these high-profile items on your site which are both unmissable and extremely easy to execute.

Review and Refine

Accommodating your mobile customers must remain a business priority, which in turn means your mobile site should be fine-tuned to behave predictably in order to serve this purpose. So, test frequently to assess cross-platform reliability, as well as speed and convenience.

The handheld digital world is moving rapidly so a digital agency represents the quickest and most efficient way to translate your real-world ideas to the small-screen digital domain.