Great Branding Makes Bank
A brand is the complete representation of your business. It’s every visual element, product presented, and experience given. Your brand should be how you want clients to perceive your business – it’s your business’ personality.
A brand identity is a guide to your visual position and acts as a system to present a cohesive identity that’s representational and adaptable to different forms of media. A well-established system ensures that your brand can be recognizable when presented on its own as well as standout when presented with other elements or used on various mediums.
Because a brand is the first impression a client gets from a company, it’s important to take the time to do through market research and develop a solid brand. By having a well-established brand, that first impression can lead to memorability. Your brand should connect the dots between your mission and your target audience.
Elements of a Brand Identity
A logo can be a standalone graphic symbol that signifies your company or a combination of a graphic with text. Brands that utilize strong logo symbols include Apple, Nike, McDonald’s, and Microsoft. When using a graphic symbol, it should be easily identifiable and make your brand unique and stand out.
A wordmark or logotype is the text component of your logo that’s set in a specific or fixed way. Generally, a wordmark is the company or product name. Some brands will choose to forgo having a traditional graphic logo and use only the logotype. In most modern cases, it can create a cleaner, more minimal look, and convey professionalism. Brands that utilize a well-crafted wordmark include Google, Coca-Cola, and Disney.
Logo Variations/Logo “Lockups”
Logo lockups are the different ways your company logo can be validly presented. As previously mentioned, logos can come in the form of a more traditional form with all elements – both text and graphic, as well as standalone as just a graphic symbol. When it comes to the application of your logo, it’s good to be versatile but equally important to set usage guidelines within your brand identity guide. Your logo and its variations should always be presented consistently. In all variations, the essential qualities should all be the same. Instagram, Facebook, and Google are prime examples of brands that have clear logo usage guides can be found online.
That being said, the final lockup version of your logo should be the main/primary representation. For example, the Nike logo’s final lockup version consists of both the trademark “Swoosh” and “Nike” text. However, you can also often see the “Swoosh” on its own in merchandising, digital media, and on promotional material. Although it is not the official logo, it is an approved use set by their brand.
Color Palette/Key Colors
The main, and arguably the most important, colors in a brands color palette are the ones used in the logo. These colors should be what your clients use to associate your business to your brand. Additionally, it’s also critical to consider establishing secondary colors – i.e., what other colors compliment them.
Depending on the tone you are trying to establish for your brand, different color schemes can elicit different feelings. Are you looking to be serious? Playful? Smart and professional? Should you use bright and bold colors? Pastels? Neutrals? Warm tones or cool tones? Successful brands utilize color intelligently in ways that add to the brand and brings it together.
For example, when branding a daycare, using pastel or bright colors has a fun and inviting feeling whereas using an entirely cool tone palette consisting of greys and blues will make it feel distant and unfriendly. Once you have your palette established, it’s super important that your brand identity defines the color swatches in CMYK, RGB, and Pantone to ensure consistency when used across mediums.
Typefaces & Typographic Treatments
Similarly to key colors, the primary typefaces for your brand will often come from the logo design. This however, is not always the case as sometimes the type styles used in logos are more decorative – e.g., Coca-Cola. In instances like Coca-Cola, the brand must instead choose typefaces that either compliment their logo or help further define their aesthetic. When choosing typefaces, it is important to choose a couple of fonts to be used for both print and web materials. By identifying complementary typefaces you can create a unified brand identity for all generated assets and marketing materials. When working with an external designer, printer, or marketing firm, it is important to ensure they not only know your corporate typefaces, but have access to them should they need them.
Typographic treatments refer to the standard ways of handling key sets of text. On a website, this maybe be your H1, H2, H3’s, or the way you style your headers, sub-headers, and body text in a word document. By having a consistent way of identifying and styling these headlines, you can further elevate your brand and create a cohesive look when used across applications.
Consistent Image Styles & Graphic Elements
Depending on your company needs, it can also be beneficial to maintain a consistent style for images and graphics. This doesn’t necessarily mean limiting yourself to the same set of photos over and over again, but instead by utilizing imagery that is similar in look and feel. Like your brand colors, imagery can set a tone for your brand. For example if your brand is more retro in feel, you may choose to use low saturation images, or edit photos to have a sepia hue. Graphics and illustrations can also be branded to be similar in appearance. For charts and graphs in a annual report for example, you could choose to use a line art style or flat icon style to convey your data.
Establishing a texture or pattern for your brand can also be beneficial in creating a unique look or establishing your tone. By pushing small details like using textures or patterns, white or negative space, line style treatment, or color blocking, the function of these elements can push your brand one step further and help give it a lasting impression.
By considering these 5 main things, you can develop a strong representation of your company. Establishing your brand identity is fundamental to ensuring consistency and success as it gives your company a visual representation to align your values to. Before creating anything, it is important to do your due diligence by researching what works and what doesn’t work within your industry.
You want to make sure you stand out among the completion. It is equally important to envision what message your company wants to convey. Depending on your answer, your brands tone should be reflected in its design. Don’t be afraid to draft and test out your designs and thoughts. Visualizing in your mind is one thing, but having your thoughts laid out can help you test and compare what may work for your brand. In time, depending on where your company values align, it may be useful to refresh and revisit your brand or to change its direction entirely.