As a designer, I get a lot of requests for help with developing a company’s brand. But, I’m a designer, not a brand strategist. I can’t help you define your business’s brand, but I can design a visual identity that proclaims your brand loudly. I discuss the difference between brand and identity here. The following are the most popular visual elements used to define your brand, and some tips on how to employ them.
The logo is generally the cornerstone of a business’s visual identity. It is the one element that customers and clients can look at, and know without a doubt which business it belongs to. Logos are generally one of three varieties: text only, a graphic or symbol, or a combination of the two. In fact, many businesses have multiple versions of their logos, used for different situations.
These are just a sample of the different versions of my logo. I have versions in each of my brand’s main colors, as well as black and white. The square version and the “flat” versions are suitable for different situations.
Your logo should be usable:
• on your business card
• on your website
• as a social media avatar
• in an email signature
• in black and white or grayscale
COLOR & TYPOGRAPHY
Unlike your logo, your color scheme and typography scheme are not immediately identifiable as belonging to your brand, individually. It is when combined with one another and with your logo, as well as your tagline, social media handles, etc., that they become a visually identifiable element of your brand identity. They should be used consistently across all of your promotional materials, social media networks, your website, and any branded documents or courses. Consistency is key. It is seeing all of your visual elements used together that makes your brand identity identifiable as belonging to your business.
Being consistent doesn’t mean you can’t use different colors and fonts alongside your brand’s color and typography schemes. Accent colors and fonts make elements more visually interesting, provided you don’t go so far off-brand as to confuse your customers.
I love my business cards! And I’m not just saying that because I designed them. I think they fit perfectly within my brand. They utilize my two main brand colors and my logo in a consistent manner. They contain pertinent information about my business – namely, my website and various social media contacts. And, they imply that which I want people to think about my business: creativity, hands-on design, and a funky vibe.
When you start thinking about your brand, and the visual identity that goes with it, think in terms of adjectives to describe your business. Adjectives like creative, hands-on, and funky.
Your website is one of your most important marketing tools. If there is one place to be certain you are consistent with your use of colors, typography, logos, and wording, it is your website. If your business has a brick-and-mortar location, you probably go through a lot of effort in making sure what the decor communicates is in line with your brand’s image. The same should be true for a website, which, in many ways, is the digital equivalent of a brick-and-mortar business locale.
It is important to remember that brand is not about how your business “looks.” Before we can start designing your brand’s visual identity, you have to define your brand’s personality, always keeping in mind that brand is an intangible concept. If you feel like your brand’s visual identity isn’t coming together, revisit the adjectives you use to describe your brand, and how your want your business to be perceived.
The best way to keep track of all of your brand identity’s elements? Branding guidelines: a one-stop reference for information on your logo, color scheme, typography, and brand personality for you and your employees. If you don’t have one yet, you should definitely get one.