Branding is a word that gets thrown around a lot. Branding may refer to your name, reputation, marketing executions, appearance and more. While all these things are part of your brand, the most instantly recognizable part is how you represent yourself in design – particularly your logo and mark.
But no design or new branding considerations should ever take place without understanding the overall marketing strategy required for that particular client.
Who is the target?
When and how is the target exposed to the brand?
What mediums will be most used?
What impressions do we want a viewer to walk away with?
These questions and more have to be answered before we even think about design. Once we have, we can get into the details on design and branding.
As HS regularly takes on brand design and brand “refresh” projects, we thought we’d ask our designers what elements to consider as they create guidelines for a brand’s design.
Building Your Brand Identity
How well does your brand communicate who you are? Is it reaching the right audience?
How do you outshine the competition? Does it align with your goals moving forward? Is it future proof? If you are not sure where your branding sits right now, keep reading.
When it comes to your brand, it is not about what you want, it’s about how you want to be perceived and connect with your audience. Do you stand out on a shelf, on social media, on a flyer or mailer? Our HS team works in collaboration to represent you professionally and accurately in all executions.
Each one of our designers below shares insight and questions they ask to clients who are looking to build their brand or rebuild their brand.
If it’s time for a new logo, a great place to start is to search for logos you like, research colors and type styles and engage a professional designer to understand what design mistakes to avoid.
When visualizing your logo, there are a few things to keep in mind. It should be simple, but not so simple that it’s considered generic. Don’t over complicate it or it can easily become confusing. It must be true to your business philosophy and distinctive.
Jordan’s approach to logo design:
- Ask fo 2-3 highlights the client wants to communicate (i.e. open doors, high tech, approachable)
- Research the competition and understand what’s being done
- Combine client highlights in simple sketches
- Bring these sketches to life on the computer
- Make sure logo ideas work in both black and white
- Once the above is done, start adding color
- Mock logos up to understand what it may look like on apparel, signage, and ads
- Create a full presentation for our client
Color palette is extremely important for brand longevity. There are a few factors to consider when choosing your color palette:
Mood: When choosing your primary color(s), keep in mind the tone that the brand should carry. Do you want a bright, energetic brand? Or a grounded, sleek, and professional look? Having the goal in mind can help make color decisions purposeful and impactful.
Web/Print optimization. Most brands have an online presence in the modern age, but print is far from dead. Whether it’s postcards, posters, business cards or letterheads, you should make sure that your brand colors will work on and off the screen. Avoid “neon” colors as they will need a second, duller, version for print.
Develop a color hierarchy. If your brand has more than one color, establish your Primary and Secondary colors.
For example, Delta Sleep Coaching uses dark blue as a primary color, light and medium blues as secondary colors, and finally beige as a tertiary or “accent” color.
Typography: Choosing the right font pairings
Fonts can be overwhelming with the abundance of options available. Typically, you want to choose 2-3 fonts total to work together and form a cohesive brand. There are a few things to consider when choosing fonts:
Is it Serif or Sans Serif? Serif fonts are more “traditional” feeling, and will lend a bit of credibility to your brand’s look. Sans serif fonts are cleaner, easier to read, and more modern. Many brands will pair a serif font with a sans serif font to get the best of both options.
Is a script font right for you? Script fonts are cursive lettering, and increasingly popular with brands looking for a fresh and approachable look. Scripts work best with restraint: use the script font for pieces of copy one sentence or less. That’ll help the headline really stand out and allow your serif or sans serif pairing to carry the weight in the body copy.
“Getting an audience is hard. Sustaining an audience is hard. It demands a consistency of thought, of purpose and of action over a long period of time.”Bruce Springsteen
The “C”-Word’s Relationship with Brand Standards
One of the most important tools to build brand consistency is to develop and use brand guidelines in all aspects of marketing your brand. CONSISTENTLY.
So…what do Brand Guidelines have to do with CONSISTENCY?
Typically, a Brand Standards Guide is a set of guidelines or “rules” that, when applied to your marketing efforts, will help develop continuity and audience connection to your brand.
Depending on your needs, a Brand Standards Guide can be simple or complex. A straightforward guide would demonstrate how to use the following in your marketing materials:
- Preferred uses of the logo/tagline and any variations
- Brand colors
- Suggested fonts
Comprehensive reference guide could contain additional information:
- Origin of the company/logo
- Business’s mission/vision statements
- Rules of use of the logo
- Color palette
- Design elements and templates
- Photography style
- Promotional items
- Social media
Some brand standards also include recommendations about writing styles and the voice/tone of the content.
The need for what’s contained in a guide depends on the size of the company, the type and volume of creative materials produced and the people involved.
Brand Standards for Large Companies
For a large team developing content and creative and/or using outside vendors, an in-depth standards guide provides distinct direction and may be warranted to keep creative minds on the same page.
Brand Standards for Smaller Companies
On the other hand, for a small group who operates with the basics—perhaps a website, business cards and a minimal amount of creative materials—a simpler guide should suffice.
Consistent use of brand standards helps drive a brand’s personality and easily communicate who they are and what they stand for, resulting in building and sustaining relationships and loyalty with their audience.
AND, if you’re looking for a famous quotation about “consistency,” you’ll find that about 98% of them show that consistency = success!
Hierarchy of Information
Tips & Strategy by Creative Director Lynell Weeg
Can people navigate your content easily – on a brochure, on your website? Layout your content using headers, subheaders, body paragraphs and blurbs.
Part of effective communication design is helping the viewer know where to first put their eyes, and then guiding them through the content in a logical manner. This requires that certain headlines and graphics – those you want to highlight – are more dominant on the page than others.
This can be done through font size and weight differences in headlines, subheads and body copy, and in color block vibrancies, photo croppings, and beloved areas of white space in graphic layouts.
If all content is clamoring for the viewer’s attention at once, often nothing sinks in and the viewer moves on.
Today’s consumers have less of an appetite for lengthy paragraphs of copy, so, when possible, it’s beneficial to use:
- Bullet points
- Shorter sentences
Guiding the Eyes
Remembering these tips to dish out smaller portions of important information throughout your layout will help your audience not only find the information sooner, but help understand it better.
Oh, and that old saying “a picture is worth a thousand words”…? It’s kinda true. If you find or take that perfect photo to communicate your message, you can quickly connect with your audience on many levels.
Do You Need to Connect Your Brand?
HS designers and our full team are ready to help, no matter where you are at in your business journey. Let’s talk.