BRANDE : Websites

April 11, 2013

Brandemix Bonus Reel: Authentic Employer Branding

How can a company offer an authentic employer brand even during negative publicity? Director of Interactive Branding Jason Ginsburg shows how it’s done.

August 28, 2012

Ready for a Mobile Site? Rethink Everything!

Based on a recent study by Mongoose Metrics, only 9% of all the websites in the world are optimized for mobile devices. And yet more and more people are viewing sites on smartphones and tablets. That means your site is probably failing a large part of your audience.
So you need to make your site mobile-ready. Think it’s easy? Nope. You have to rethink everything.
Rethink Design
A lot of clients I speak to think that “mobile optimization” means just shrinking their site to fit on a smaller screen. There’s much more to it. Because of the different needs of a mobile user and the different experience of a phone, the entire design has to change. This means bringing in your creative director (or using our fantastic one) to craft a new look and feel for the site, while keeping your branding. Seem like a big step? It’s only the beginning…
Rethink Navigation
Everything must be scaled down for a mobile site. Only the most important sections should remain, and they should all be prominently on the homepage. Compare the Famers Insurance website to its mobile site. The many options and documents have been reduced to just four items: reporting a claim, paying their bill, finding an agent, and browsing products. If you want to ensure users have access to more information, you can always include a link to your full site.

Farmers Insurance: From this…

…to this.
Rethink Text
There’s only so much room on a mobile screen, so try to keep text to a minimum. Most of the navigation should be done through buttons, large words, and clear icons. Look at AT&T’s mobile careers site. Notice how they divide their departments by icons, with very small text below. On a “normal” website, these options could be simple text links. But for a mobile site, you should never make your visitors squint.

AT&T Careers emphasizes icons over text
Rethink Experience
See? The mobile experience is very different from a desktop one. Big graphic files or videos, which usually aren’t an issue, must now be weighed against the time it takes for them to load. Avoid Flash animation, since most mobile devices don’t currently support Flash. And different mobile operating systems are like different web browsers; what looks great on an iPhone may not look good on a Samsung Galaxy.
A great example of a totally “rethought” mobile site is Loews Hotels. The site uses the phone’s GPS to find the nearest hotel and offers four simple choices: Visit, call, map, or book now. Navigation on the homepage is a simple scrolling menu with photos, short descriptions, and buttons large enough for a thumb. Choosing “Contact Us” at the top offers the option to “Click here to book through a mobile device,” in case users missed it. It’s a clean, simple, informative mobile experience. No wonder it won the Web Marketing Association’s award for Outstanding Achievement in Mobile.

Loews Hotels’ award-winning mobile site
 Want to learn more about creating a great mobile site? Use your smartphone as a phone (gasp!) and call us at 212-947-1001.

July 31, 2012

Brandemix Website Makeover Contest!

As Brandemix looks forward to the launch of our own new website (coming soon), it’s time to recognize and celebrate great website makeovers!

We’re holding a contest to reward the best refresh, revamp, and relaunch of websites (Click here for contest rules). Any organization, any size, profit or nonprofit.

Simply submit “before and after” images to website@brandemix.com and we’ll post it the top ten judged entries on our Pinterest board during the voting period. 
Feel free to post as a web designer or a fan, even if you weren’t responsible for the change. Don’t have the “before”? Use the Wayback Machine. 

The redesign with the most total likes, comments, and repins will win a free press release, distributed to hundreds of outlets, announcing both the design achievement and the victory. 

We’ll also capture the success and and those responsible for it on video, and post it here on our blog and 
our Facebook page. The whole world will learn all about the website and the brand.

What kind of things are we looking for? Here’s the Lindal Group, a manufacturing company, before their website refresh:

Not bad, but heavy on text, and with no real branding. Navigation is on the left, the top, and the right, making for a confusing interface. Now look at the current site:

Much more visually interesting! Plenty of images of the products that Lindal actually makes. Clearer navigation and a search function to make browsing easier. And you’ve got to love the branding: “Your Innovation Partner.” The previous website didn’t have a tagline.

This and other website makeovers are on our contest pinboard on Pinterest. Vote by commenting, repinning, liking — or all three! The website with the most total votes by Monday, September 17 wins the free press release, video interview, and eternal internet fame.

Submit your site, or any other, by emailing website@brandemix.com. Remember to include both a before and after shot.

Good luck!
April 16, 2012

The Creative Behind the Brande!

Recently we hosted a guest post by Kathryn, our Director of Client Services. This week we turn the blog over to our Creative Director, Clarissa Zorr. She’s an award-winning designer with more than 10 years of experience in developing and executing integrated brand strategies ranging from print to web to video. Clarissa is a member of AIGA, the professional association for design. Here, she tells us the about her branding process, her ideal client relationship, and when to break the rules. Take it away, Clarissa!

On my branding process:

Start With Trust
Whenever I begin a new branding project, I always like to have an in-person meeting with the project stakeholders.  This is how I establish mutual trust. They are entrusting us with their branding, their marketing, and their communications needs. How can they do that if they don’t know me personally? I am entrusting them to provide us with history, context and the business perspective that I need to help solve their problems through creative. In-person meetings provide real-time sharing and feedback that transcends telephone tag, and reigns high over email communications.

Assign Each Project A Clean Slate
Everyone has preconceived notions on just about everything, and I am certainly no exception. But when I approach any new branding project, I always begin with a clean slate. I try not to talk – I just listen. I let clients tell me what they need, what they think, what they like, what they don’t like. They might say something that will spark a totally new idea or creative direction, and I won’t get that freedom unless I have a blank canvas to start from.

The Creative Brief: Where Art Meets Science
Design is art, and therefore subjective; people may have different opinions but we all share one goal. That’s why, after that first meeting, my team and I put together a creative brief. The creative brief helps outline each project’s general information, its goals, objectives, and deliverables, helping everyone stay on track for the duration of the project. It’s the blueprint from which all things emanate, and it’s what we check our work against to make sure we’ve done our job well. I describe it as bringing “science” to the art of creativity.

Client Mood Board

On my inspiration:

Ideas Are Everywhere
When I start any new branding project, I look at what others are doing – not just competitors, but also other industries and trends, and even what aren’t people doing (and why), so I can always bring something fresh and unique to the client that’s meaningful and helps deliver their message. My inspiration comes from all sorts of places. I might see a texture in a wall that I could use as a website background. Or I might take a photograph of flowers and use it as the color palette for an identity. I also draw inspiration from many industry magazines and websites. One of my favorite publications is Communication Arts. They feature the cream of the crop in design, photography, illustration, typography, and advertising. Some websites I frequently visit to check out the latest in all things cool are FormFiftyFive,  NOTCOT, and AIGA.

On our mantra: “One Brand”

Employer Branding vs. Consumer Branding
I don’t see any creative or process differences between creating employee communications and consumer-facing campaigns. Design is all about problem-solving. In each case, there is a message to deliver to an audience, and it’s the designer’s job to make that message clear. As creative director, my goal is to build brands, creating emotional connections between our clients and their target audiences.  I seek to attract, educate, and inspire people with my work, and my approach doesn’t waver based on audience, geography, or medium.

Want to talk more about your branding? Write to me at Brandemix or check out some of our recent design work on Pinterest.

October 9, 2011

The Business of Design

60 Seconds - Things That Happen On Internet Every Sixty Seconds
Infographic by- Shanghai Web Designers

If you’ve seen my presentation on Social Media Marketing, you already know what’s happening every 20 minutes on Facebook. Today, have a look at what’s going on every 60 seconds on the web. Integrate that with real life and the more than 5,000 marketing messages consumers receive each day and you can understand why design disruption is the holy grail of the digital world.

In my homage to Steve Jobs, who the New York Times called a Designer first and a CEO second, lets look at some web design trends and how his genius has sparked them.

No Flash. Since Jobs banished it from the iPods, iPads and iPhones, HTML5 has replaced Flash as the simplest way to code interactivity and motion. According to Jobs: “Flash was created during the PC era — for PCs and mice… the mobile era is about low power devices, touch interfaces and open web standards — all areas where Flash falls short.”

No Fold. Speaking of falling short, remember when important web content used to be placed above the fold- the imaginary bottom of your 19′ computer screen, before you had to start scrolling down? Again, thanks to Jobs’ tablets and mobile screens, single page sites and massive images are a better way to make impressions that disrupt.

Beyond Arial. If you’ve been following the accolades and anecdotes this week, you might have learned that Jobs took calligraphy class during his brief stint at college. As such, the Mac brought fonts to the masses. Thankfully we are moving away from the handful of fonts that web browsers support into more glorious, custom typography that adds style and grace to a digital brand effort.

Just as you can’t move forward with an interactive strategy before having a business strategy, you need to capture attention to create buy-in. In today’s fragmented digital world, that gets harder and harder to do. Kudos to Jobs who through zealous attention to the details in design,  put the emotional connection into interactive.

“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” — Steve Jobs