One challenge every website design company faces during the exploration phase of a web marketing project is how to visually communicate certain brand qualities. Take, for example, the very popular quality of leadership. We all want to be leaders in our areas of expertise but what things come to mind when you think of leadership?  What colors? What shapes? If we think about Halloween as being a brand, you would naturally associate the colors black and orange – right? This is what I’ve often referred to as ‘cognitive relationships’ – and forgive me if this is used to describe some horrible affliction.

Cognitive relationships can be really important in website marketing – not only do they help communicate your brand but they make your brand more accessible. Let’s take for example the latest trend in the banking industry. Over the past decade, the banking industry has taken a real beating for a variety of reasons and lately, it seems that new banks are popping up as quickly as other banks are failing – but what’s evolving are the brands.

Wells Fargo Logo

The square shape suggests strength, but the red and yellow colors may also make some people angry or even hungry – for a Royale with Cheese.

Back in the late 80’s – the banking industry relied on communicating a brand of strength and power. Their logos often consisted of square shapes with tall uppercase lettering, perhaps one of two brands even went so far as to incorporate marble columns in their logo. Banks appeared to be trustworthy and strong, sometimes powerful and ‘in charge’. But look at the banks today – purple ovals, blue circles, lowercase names – even round, bouncy fonts? What’s changed? Are these banks or coffee shops?

Emporiki Bank Logo

We associate ovals and cool colors to be more friendly, even passive or ‘service oriented’ – and the same for lowercase typography. These cognitive relationships have a positive response with the public – and therefore consumers are more willing to hear the brand message.

What is your website communicating? Chances are if you’re selling organic sunscreen and not Halloween decorations or Harley-Davidson products – your black and orange design scheme is most likely creating some uncertainty in the minds of your customers, slowing down the sales cycle or worse – driving prospects away.

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