3 Practical Reasons To Brand Your Company’s Intranet
Intranets. Can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em. Amiright?
Seems like every day, we get a new cry for help from folks who find themselves in one (or more) of these three dreaded intranet scenarios:
- The Eyesore: Let's face it, some intranets have a design that screams, "Welcome to the 90s!" Outdated visuals, walls of text and clunky design elements transport you back to the days of dial-up. It can feel like you unwillingly stepped into a time machine.
- The ‘Missing’ Information: It's a comedy of errors when people can't find what they need on the intranet. They start doubting the very existence of the information they're seeking. It's a treasure hunt without a map.
- Rogue Stakeholders: Internal stakeholders going rogue, ignoring brand guidelines, and launching disjointed campaigns and mismatched pages. It's a recipe for frustration and inconsistency.
These problems might seem colossal and too hard to wrangle. You may even consider bulldozing your current intranet for a shiny new platform. But what if there was a more immediate solution? A solution that doesn’t demand your entire annual budget or – dare we say it – require IT approval? What if there was a solution that you could implement no matter which intranet platform you’re using today?
Well, friends, there is: a new intranet brand.
Now before you click away from this post, hear me out!
When we say an “intranet brand” at Brilliant Ink, we’re not talking about just slapping a new name and a generic logo to the top corner of the homepage and calling it a day. And we’re not talking about just “making it pretty.”
We’re talking about creating a brilliant intranet brand that is built strategically using three design principles that will create a positive impact on the user experience and the utility of your intranet:
1. Packaging Can Surprise and Delight – and engage
One-third of a user’s decision-making is solely based on how the product is packaged. And even more, 75% of users admit to making judgments about whether a company is creditable solely based on a company’s website design. 😨
Now, picture your company’s intranet. Maybe you’re using one color that isn’t even a brand color. Maybe there is cringe-worthy stock photography. Maybe you have iconography that looks like it just walked out of the days of floppy disks or Clippy.
When a user lands on a page within your intranet, you want the information to feel connected, cohesive and well-packaged. Because when it’s not packaged, it’s not just cringey and hard to look at. It can truly have a negative impact on the user experience, and ultimately on your site’s overall adoption and performance. Creating an experience that feels well-designed and intuitive will create a frictionless experience for your users.
When we build intranet visual identity packages at Brilliant Ink, here are (just a few) things we take into consideration:
- An approachable name and recognizable logo: a name that feels reflective of the organization and a logo that sets the tone for the entire experience
- Iconography: a correlative use of icons to help users navigate and skim through information quickly and easily
- Image/photography styles: a combination creative direction including lighting, composition, color, and contrast that work together to create a cohesive aesthetic
- Templated graphics: a consistent use of design elements to package content and images
After we’ve developed those items, we then think about how to apply it across the site – from the navigation that strategically leverages the color palette all while following the natural framework of the organization.
👉 BOTTOM LINE: Packaging your intranet experience into a polished and cohesive brand is critical to driving adoption and ensuring that your employees are having a delightful experience (aka – they’ll want to come back for more!).
2. Page Templates CAN Reduce Friction
Inconsistency is an experience killer and 88% of users are less likely to return to a site after a bad experience. 😧
Keep picturing your company’s intranet. Now, imagine that you’re a new hire trying to familiarize yourself with different functions across your organization. You land on HR, scan the page and find a link to the department org chart at the top right of the page. This inspires you to go check out the org chart on Operations’ page.
But when you click over to Operations, you discover that their page is structured completely differently from HR. The Org chart is nowhere to be found – or if it’s there, you can’t find it. It even looks like it’s a part of a totally different company!
If your pages have inconsistent layouts that demand more effort from the user’s brain to process and navigate, you not only break the user experience, but you can frustrate and confuse your users and inherently lose their trust. Because if a user finds themselves on a page that feels unfamiliar, chaotic or confusing, they are most likely not going to buy into what you’re saying and click away from your page. The solution? Page templates.
When we build page templates for our clients, here are a few basics adjustments that can move the needle:
- A list of quick links to the top-visited pages are in the same location on each page (try the left or right rail!)
- Hero images have a similar layout, but a different flavor to reflect the personality of specific teams
- Iconography is used in the same way and representative of the same concepts (AKA – a phone icon represents the HR Help Desk information while an org chart links to well, an org chart)
- Page lengths are similar for consistency when it comes to scrolling and navigating the content
👉 BOTTOM LINE: A well-templated, branded intranet can provide visual structure and functionality that enables your employees to trust that they will be able to find information more quickly and more easily, reducing friction, clicks and frustration.
3. Sub-Branding Can Connect the Dots
According to a study by Adobe, 38% of people will stop engaging with a website if the content or layout is unattractive.
Picture this: The Sales team is driving you bonkers using Canva to produce their communications and publish them to the Intranet. Despite your best efforts, they’re going rogue. The comms are off-brand AND feel random. A true double whammy.
Convoluted and disjointed messages with off-brand visuals can create a lot of confusion for your users. It can diminish their sense of trust and familiarity with your content, and it can make them feel like your intranet overall is simply unreliable. The solution: sub-branding.
One of the most valuable aspects of branding that we offer at Brilliant Ink is sub-branding that we apply to different sections, teams, company values or content areas within your site. Sub-branding can give your users clues about where they are within the site, tie different initiatives together by providing visual reminders, and it can reinforce broader key messages by rolling up to the overarching brand.
Our biggest word of advice for successful sub-branding is to plan for it at the beginning. If you don’t have a strong, overarching brand for your intranet paired with a clear visual identity guide, it can be hard to pull off impactful sub-branding. Each sub-brand should roll up to the larger brand and provide visual cues that connect the dots between different company initiatives, values or teams.
👉 BOTTOM LINE: A strong overarching brand gives you a springboard to be a better storyteller and create cohesive campaigns across teams that keep your content fresh, your users engaged and everyone aligned.
You’ve Got This
You can begin tackling those frustrating problems commonly faced with intranets today – we believe in you! Just remember, (and remind your stakeholders) that it’s not all about just making your intranet “look pretty.”
It’s about packaging your information with a sleek visual identity to build a connection, using page templates for consistency, and implementing sub-branding to connect the dots. Implementing these three strategic design principles will boost your user experience, make navigation easier, and, most importantly, keep your employees coming back for more.
And of course, if you need an expert to help you create your dream intranet, reach out and let’s chat! We’re here for you. For more bite-sized brilliance, subscribe to our monthly employee engagement newsletter, the Inkwell, and follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter and Pinterest!