Zachary Wood Talks Branding: The Face of Your Online Business

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Have you ever landed on a website and wanted to stay a little longer and shop around? One of our clients’ sites, StyleTrendClothiers.com, makes me feel that way. As a fashion lover, their website makes it easy to shop with their large images, fun font and clean design. What is it about your favorite store that gives you that warm feeling? You may not realize it, but it’s the colors, the fonts, and the overall messaging that makes up good branding and gives us that warm and fuzzy feeling.

Whether you are redesigning an old site, or bringing life to a new one, branding is the most important part. While working in our hip new Austin office, I’ve asked one of our designers, Zachary Wood, to pull up in this new IKEA chair and give us some expert advice.

COLOR

Color plays a huge role in your branding. In the article How Color Guides Consumers, you’ll see that there’s more to color than just what meets the eye. At Cart Designers, once you select us to do your web design, we send out a lengthy design questionnaire which asks detailed, strategic questions about your online business.

L: “How do you choose a color palette when you receive creative leeway from a client’s design questionnaire?”
Z: “With color palettes, I will start with the logo if they have one and colors that compliment that. If we are starting from scratch, then the color palette usually follows the creation of the logo and I will design that first. A strong color palette is usually limited to three to four colors, one typically being white or black. Depending on what people sell and how the personality of the brand is affected, that’s when color theory comes into play. The color palette is going to support and compliment the icon of the main theme: the logo.”

LOGO

LOGO - MICHIGAN

L: What is the best way to go about designing a logo?
Z: “A rule of thumb is that your logo should look good in both black and white, and color. If you are going to be printing marketing materials, shirts, or business cards, you would have a huge problem on your hands. Less is more. Limiting your colors to three or four will make it easier for your business to grow when you expand to print media. If you are selling apparel or something is handmade, you may want a softer palette that includes tint tones of a color. ”

FONTS

L: “Is it best for the designer or the client to choose the fonts?”
Z: “More exotic fonts can create a problem if the client’s computer can’t read it. That’s when Vector fonts come in, but not for the body. You may want to use that for promotional graphics, menu items, etc. Ultimately, typography is a science and if you haven’t studied it, then you are at a disadvantage when trying to choose them without some knowledge of how it works. For example, the eye works differently on the computer screen than it does on paper. Normally, font sizes that would work on a book or on a page, wouldn’t be as legible on a screen. The best thing I can recommend in creating a strong brand is that if a client wants to use a font from a logo they already have, then they need to have those files available to the design team. Alot of times typeface(s) can cost significantly more when used in other places such as headlines, etc because the design team will have to find a suitable replacement or buy the original if the client doesn’t provide the original files.”

L: “Where is a good place to get online fonts?”
Z: “Acceptable fonts for online would can be found here. They are specifically made for web viewing.”

LAYOUT

L: “Since we work primarily with eCommerce sites, the layout of your products visually is very important. What techniques do you use when coming up with the layout for their store?”
Z: “One big thing is keeping the fold of the screen online and that’s where the webpage is cut off once it is loaded, without scroll. We try to limit clicking and scrolling to make it easy to navigate and that relies on graphics to guide the eye to certain places. Both graphics and text play a part of that. The big trend in design now, is more negative space and padding. This lets things breathe and makes the webpage more open and inviting. When you have a page that looks sleek and professional, you don’t need to hit your webpage viewers with tons of content right away. Less is More. You can guide a customer visually with the right webdesign layout.”

L: “Any advice you would give someone working with a designer?”
Z: “Branding is more than just colors, fonts and layout. It’s almost like thinking of your business as a person. You want to develop a personality that people can relate to and establish trust and an emotional tie to the company or business. Even if your colors and fonts aren’t the most modern, cohesion is key. If everything fits together across the board, you’ve effectively created this whole package. Everyone’s a critic nowadays and they have their own opinion so when something is out of place it’s easy to see the mistakes. But when you have a cohesive website. Bam, that worry is out of the window. To me, that’s important with the face of the branding.”

L: “Who has been your inspiration for your passion for design?”
Z: “A lot of my inspiration is from mid-century corporate design and the Swiss design movement of the 50’s. People like Paul Rand and Alvin Lustig, with a focus on the minimal and seeing what you can accomplish with the least amount.”

L: “Last, but not least, what’s a weird unknown fact about you?”
Z: “I got my first degree in microbiology. Then I went back and got my degree in graphic design”

You can view the Cart Designers Portfolio here , here or here.

About the Designer:

Zach for BlogZachary Wood combines over 5 years of experience in traditional, digital and ecommerce design with a diverse education and design background. This unique blend enables him to identify, design and implement strategic online branding for e-commerce SMB websites.

A born and raised Texan, Zachary hails from the small town of Pleasanton. He has a Bachelor’s in Microbiology from the University of Texas and an Associates in Graphic Design.

His passions include typography,  playing guitar, reading, and making home-brewed beer.

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