Templates: The Good, Bad, and (Sometimes Very) Ugly
When you pick a stock theme or website template you could be making a big mistake in terms of your company’s branding. Read this post to learn why.
We’re living in a DIY world, and many small business owners, especially new ones, start with one template to create their website, add another for their email marketing, and finally, another to make a logo and put it on a business card.
Now you have not only one, but maybe multiple, unrelated, completely generic, and cheap-looking pieces that define your organization’s essential identity.
While there are good templates and benefits to using them, it’s vital to create a unique look that aligns well with your branding.
Entrepreneur.com had an interesting article called: 4 Crucial Reasons You Need a Custom Website which included this quote:
“While many people tend to go for a template website, the truth remains that using a template designed to suit many users for your website prevents you from designing a website that truly captures your need. On the other hand, a custom website provides you with a system where almost anything is possible; codes are written from scratch. Hence, they can be moved, adjusted or replaced totally.”
Templates Suggest a Cheap, Uncreative Business
Many do-it-yourself website tools offer website templates that you can use. You may be able to insert your logo and choose a dominant color scheme, but the overall design—graphics, layout, typography, etc. is not branded for your business. This is also how e-newsletter templates and business card templates work.
Your Brand Is Too Unique To Be Properly Represented By A Template
This is something Branding Compass counsels business owners to avoid. Choosing a stock template to build an online presence does not allow you to build your brand identity. You’re building one of your most valuable branding elements with a look that may not be unique to you, and you may not even own the rights to it.
In contrast, a custom-designed and custom-branded website is as unique as your business and helps keep your company top-of-mind with clients. And, importantly, you own the site.
4 Reasons to avoid templates when building your brand
The point here is that when you just pick a stock theme or template for your website (and other items for your brand and marketing), you could be making a big mistake for several reasons:
1-Other people are using it, and one could be a direct competitor.
When you choose a predesigned business card, website template or newsletter theme remember that many other businesses are choosing it, too. While you may be able to swap out your contact info or logo, there are elements that will look the same.
2-It may not even properly align with your brand.
You really should start with how you envision your brand, your benefits, your ideal clients, etc., and then design to connect and elevate this (e.g., the Branding Compass way). Just because you like a color or design doesn’t mean it reflects your distinct brand traits or would be appealing to your ideal customers.
3-You may be unable to use the imagery outside their initial application.
If a website template has a graphic element, you may not have the right to use it in a print piece. Read the fine print, you may not own the design assets. If you decide to purchase a WordPress theme, for example, or use a prebuilt Canva email template, you may not own the copyright to that design.
4-It’s difficult to transfer from one application to another
Even if you have the rights, you may need help replicating the design on other marketing collateral like business cards, brochures, etc. For example, if you create a website that comes with a unique photo or design treatment, you may not be able to export that into something that could be used in a printed brochure –it may not be high res or it’s in the wrong format like HTML & CSS. So now you have a website and brochure that don’t match.
Differentiation and consistency are key in building a brand identity
Lack of differentiation causes confusion and waters down any distinction between your company and the competition. If your competition selects the same template you did, then you’d look just like your direct competition; which can cause confusion and weaken all the hard branding work you’ve done.
The bottom line is that all of these businesses relying on a stock website template are not unique. If you’re trying to build a brand it needs to be distinct.
The second <tenet of good branding is consistency>. It’s better to start with one design idea and apply it everywhere–your website, business cards, social media channels, e-mails, etc. This is hard to do when you use different templates created by different suppliers.
Branding Compass never uses templates. You’ll get personalized advice that’s unique to your business situation. We can help you create a brand (and a website) that’s as unique as your business. Get started with Branding Compass.
Branding Compass can help you review your competitors
Branding Compass will guide you through listing and reviewing your competitors. You’ll have one place where you can look at them together and review your most important differentiators.
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