Identity and Branding
... an essential for the music industry
Branding and identity are so important they should become the designer's top priority. In the entertainment business you've got to "sell the sizzle" and paint a picture in the reader/viewer's mind that identifies your product as unique and desirable. This web design can never represent Thomasina no matter how hard it tries.
An example of brand confusion is seen at right. We click to the "download a demo" page to find this. What is that? Here's Zapf Chancery in ALL CAPS. So which "name plate" do we believe? The Helvetica Compressed at the top? Or the very badly set Zapf? Not only is it a jolt to the brand, it's an ugly jolt to the brand.
Notice there's no meaningful content in the arrival window at all. 60% of it looks exactly like the previous page. And, why repeat the name a second time? Why not get into the reason the reader came to this page in the first place?
Open Diagram: "Critique Points" Keep it open in its separate window while reading the following:
Design, Step by Step:
1. Identity & Feel: Blue is the wrong color. Some vocalists may be appropriate for blue. Not Thomasina. Her music is strictly show-biz, bright, and up-tempo. Blue is simply the wrong color. Kill the blue. The gray "marble" effect is also wrong -- and just adds to the cold, hard feeling. This looks like the interface one might use for a bank. Everything about it is cold and hard.
Page Banner: You cannot sell a young, female vocalist with Helvetica compressed. We would strongly suggest some custom typography here to represent the artist or the web site. If you're going to stick to the singluar "Thomasina" name branding, then it should be designed and lettered in such a way that it cannot be duplicated in any typestyle. The design should reflect the personality and vocal qualities of the artist. You would NEVER represent a vocalist with Helvetica Compressed. Well, maybe you might if Arnold Schwarzenegger were singing.
2. LOGO and Alignment: What are those things? Is that a "J" in the diamond, or a "T" ... the reader doesn't know. In fact, they're so cryptic, we have no idea what they mean. They don't line up either -- and if it's intentional, it looks like a mistake. If it is not intentional, it still looks like a mistake. They really don't contribute to the design nor the mission of the site. Get rid of them.
3. Slogan / Tag Line: While we're up in this corner of the screen, what's that line of type stuck over there to the far right? "Vocals that inspire" is certainly an honorable phrase however we have to ask is it important? If it is important then make it so. If it is not important, then you don't need it. Right now it's exiting the page.
That statement (we assume) is meant to tag or define the name. If it belongs to the name, then put it there. (Major design rule: isolation separates. Similar or closely related visual elements should be close together.) In this setting, that phrase is given less visual importance than the buttons. The reader may not see it.
4. Navigation: Again, wrong look, wrong position, wrong emphasis. The laws of navigation dictate: a. navigation should be ever present; b. must always work; c. must never overwhelm content, and d. be hierarchically ordered.
This site has broken all but one of these laws. The navigation is so obvious, and positioned in such an undeniable place the reader can hardly look away. The space above and below the button bar makes the bar the most important thing in the window. That may be okay, except arriving on any other page presents the same rude button bar.
If the owner of this site could send ALL readers to one page, which page would it be? (We would assume the demo/listen pages.) So that's the place where the reader should click next. But you see, we have no way of knowing which button might be more important. We are not compelled to go to any page in particular. So, we're left to wander at our leisure, or click out of the site.
5. Content Typography & Position: Typography in the site is haphazard, inconsistent and in most cases difficult to read. At the higher resolutions it's impossible to read because it's a serif set in bold. In the right column it's even centered -- definitely not recommended. In a lot of places the text is either poorly written, inappropriate or empty words. "Other Resources" ??? Are they as important as hearing Thomasina's voice? Didn't think so. But why is it visually more important?
At right we arrive on the Biography page. Where's the biography? Note the scroll button for the frame is at the top. And, why the huge blue bar for the title? Get us into the text quickly, please. And, if there was text there, shouldn't she be facing into the text, rather than away from it?
Enough bashing. Time to be a star
Thomasina, we loved your voice and your vocal presentations. That's why this critique is so harsh. The web site is doing you a huge disservice and we feel badly about it.
Simon might say: "People will come to this site and they won't even want to listen to you. They won't be able to get past the garish design!"
Donald Trump might say: "You're fired..." to the web developers.
We agree. Fire them and let's get your voice heard so you can move up to where you should be in the music business! Let's sell some music!
Fred Showker, Editor / Publisher of Web Design and Review
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