Your brand is the first thing that your ideal customer connects with, and it influences their decision to work with you or buy from you. Good branding communicates to your target audience before you even get a chance to whisper your elevator pitch in their ear. But like many other business owners, you’ve probably been focusing on delivering your product or service and haven’t thought much about branding.
Good branding communicates to your target audience before you even get a chance to whisper your elevator pitch in their ear.
Let’s start with clearing up the biggest misconception: your brand is not just your name or logo. It encompasses so much more. By definition, branding identifies and differentiates a product from the competition. It tells them what they can expect from your products and services.
Your brand communicates through visual language or its identity. It is what people see and feel when they look at your brand.
So, getting the identity of your branding right and feeling authentically you is a critical part of your business’s design strategy. It helps to define your brand so that it resonates with your customers and make them loyal to you.
Creating your Brand Identity
In order to uncover your brand’s visual language, you’ll need to develop a brand design strategy. Design strategy uses what you already know about your brand and creates visual connections through graphic design elements, photography, typography, and color. Once you have uncovered this, it will be easy to fall in love with your brand time and time again. And the more you love your brand, the more you’ll want to show it off to the world.
Research & Discovery
Gaining clarity about your brand design strategy starts with research. Who you are, what you do and WHY you do it are the driving force to a memorable brand. Understanding those key elements about your brand is what sets the tone to let you cater to your target audience. So many clients tell us that they don’t want a niche because they want to attract everyone and get the most profit. But if you’re trying to cater to everyone, you will attract no one. When someone feels as if your brand is speaking specifically to them, they will be the biggest advocates for your brand.
Ask yourself questions that will allow yourself and your team to understand the objective behind your brand, and get inside the mindset of your target audience. The journey of brand discovery is personal so it can be difficult, time-consuming and sometimes uncomfortable. But the answers to those questions will serve as an outline to build the foundation for the design moving forward. Here are some brand design discovery questions you can ask yourself:
- Who is your target market / demographic?
- What was the idea behind your business name? Where did it come from?
- What is the overall message you wish to portray with your brand? What should people feel when they see or think of your brand?
Choosing the right typeface for your brand identity is important. Fonts matter. It can create emotion, spark interest, add personality, and even convey trust. You should always carefully consider your typography choices because it can have a serious effect on how people perceive your brand.
Other factors to consider are the number of fonts you’ll use, the spacing and scaling of the letters, the font weight, and even if you should capitalize or keep the words lowercase. Because believe it or not – uppercase letters can create a more streamlined look, while lowercase can be more casual and friendly.
Choose Your Colors Wisely
Did you know? : Color increases brand recognition by 80%.
It’s important to understand how much of a major role color plays in your branding. Each color communicates your brand’s visual language differently because they have a different meaning. These meanings have a direct impact on the way your visitors perceive your brand, sometimes consciously and sometimes subconsciously.
Here’s a quick guide to the most common color choices and the feeling each shade may evoke.
- Red: High Energy, Passion, Stimulation, Danger
- Orange: Energy, Happiness, Vitality, Friendly
- Yellow: Happiness, Hope, Bright, Deceit
- Green: New Beginnings, Abundance, Nature
- Blue: Calm, Responsible, Soothing, Serene
- Purple: Creativity, Royalty, Wealth, Regal
- Pink: Playful, Charming, Feminine, Romantic
- Black: Strong, Mystery, Elegance, Evil
- Gray: Moody, Conservative, Formality
- White: Purity, Cleanliness, Virtue, Crisp
- Brown: Earthy, Rustic, Wholesomeness, Dependability
- Tan or Beige: Conservative, Natural, Piety, Dull
- Cream or Ivory: Calm, Elegant, Purity
Creating a Color Palette
Your brand’s color palette provides a customized spectrum for the visual language. It can be anywhere from three to seven hues, and includes your primary colors and the accent colors. Using what you know about your brand from the research and discovery session, then taking into consideration the feelings that each color evokes, you can create a color palette that reflects the brand that you love.
One of my personal favorite ways to create a color palette is to use a moodboard, or an inspiration collage. I then extract the colors from those photographs on the collage. Sometimes, we get our inspiration from physical products that may or may not relate to our industry, but they relate to the feeling we want to evoke with our brand. As you can see from the moodboard photo above, the dominant color on the collage is the dark green, the perfect shade for new beginnings. While the rose gold, selected by the client for charm & femininity, is the perfect accent color. Using accent colors can add visual interest and the potential for creating extra emphasis on certain sections within your designs.
A brand style guide is a document containing the rules and guidelines for the composition, design, and general thematic look-and-feel of all of a brand’s collateral. Once you’ve created a style guide, you will be able to define the tone you want to set for the brand and achieve a cohesive look. Whether you’re totally overhauling your brand identity or you’re just starting out, strive for consistency. Your customers should be able to instantly recognize a piece of your marketing collateral. Conflicting imagery and tone confuses customers and erodes your brand. Sticking with the color palette and the font variations you selected in your brand’s style guide throughout your brand’s collateral is an opportunity to create brand familiarity.