What is a brand?
Noun. A type of product manufactured by a particular company under a particular name.
When you visualize your client, what kind of emotions would you like for them to feel when thinking of your business? What kind of adjectives would you like for them to use to describe you?
Successful businesses have an impactful, recognizable brand that clearly communicates the emotions that want to convey to their clients. A brand can be created by any combination of factors, such as product design, mission (the “why we do what we do”), ethical standards, communication style, advertisements, etc.
The key to a successful brand is creating a coherent visual identity. Success is found when clients can identify your business just from looking at your logo or other type of visual element, and when they feel that your visual brand matches your product.
Elements of a Visual Identity:
· Logos: Possibly the most standard element of a visual brand is the logo. Make sure to define a standard for your graphic designers, such as size, whether or not they can change the color, and if they can alter it in any way. Read this blog entry on logos for more tips.
· Colors: Select several colors that your business will use for printed materials, graphic and web design, photography, etc. It is best to use colors that complement each other, and evoke the emotions that you are trying to convey. (E.g. If you are going for a sleek, professional and serious look, choose blues, grays, whites, etc. If you are going for a fun, girly, gentle look, choose pinks, creams, purples, etc.) You should also select a spectrum of darker and lighter colors to offer some design flexibility.
· Fonts/Typography: Select one to two fonts that are easy to read both in print and web format. Typically, try to avoid overly decorative or busy fonts, unless they serve a unique design purpose.
· Photography: Standardize your image quality, format and size. Make sure that photographs convey emotions that match your company message. Also consider if you prefer staged photographs using models, or candid, “man on the street” types of photographs.
Putting your Visual Identity to Practice:
· Website & Blog: Integrate your logos, fonts and colors when creating your blog and website.
· Products: Place logos on packaging, mugs, t-shirts, pens…virtually anything!
· Letterhead: Create a template that is to be used by all employees. The template should at least include a logo, address, and some sort of graphic element (using your company colors) on the top, bottom or both.
· Mailings/Printed Materials: Make it so that if a client receives something from your business, they can easily identify you.
· Business Cards: The template should include the logo and a standard font. It is also fun to make use of your company colors! Stay simple, but don’t be boring if you want to be memorable. What is amazing about business cards is that as they get passed out, your business and visual brand are being marketed. See our previous post about business card basics.
Media and Design Kit for your Business:
To ensure that employees utilize the graphic design standard, make sure they have access to it. It is most helpful to create a downloadable media kit, or one they can access on a shared server or site.
An example of what a media kit should include:
· Logos (both with taglines and without, different sizes, layouts, colors, etc.)
· A cheat sheet showing standardized colors
· Stock photography
· Templates for letterheads, business cards and memos
See an example of a style guidelines that I created for my client here.