If you’re an entrepreneur or blogger, you’re likely aware that you need branding. But what exactly does that mean? What the heck IS branding anyway? Sean Adams, world renowned graphic designer and the Acting Chair of the Graphic Design Program at ArtCenter states:
“A brand is the promise, the reputation and big idea. It is a highly valued asset. A brand creates emotional connections, good or bad.”
A good brand stands out from the crowd and helps create that tribal connection that we all desire. So before you dig into your branding (or re-branding) process, we’re going to break it down for you to ensure that you truly understand your role in the process as well as the components.
Yep, you read that right. YOU, as the entrepreneur or blogger, play a vital part in developing your brand. It’s up to you to communicate all the information that is required by your designer or branding agency. It’s the branding agency’s job to ask critical questions in order to find out what is unique and compelling about your business, so that they may develop a clear communication strategy (i.e. what you’re saying, to whom, and how) for effective branding that will fuel your business growth. This communication happens via all of the components of your brand.
Let’s be clear. Branding is NOT just a logo. There are so many components to a brand such as visual collateral, product quality, customer service, brand voice, social responsibility…just to name a few. All of these variables are important, but for this blog post, we’re going to stick to a breakdown of the six elements commonly referred to as the brand identity system.
Repeat after me, “My logo is not my brand.” We can’t emphasize this enough. A logo certainly is the entry point to a brand and the foundation of the visual system, but it is not the entire brand. The purpose of a logo is not to describe the business or the product it makes, but to help the viewer identify the brand. Ultimately, it should also help reinforce the brand message.
2. Color Palette
Color choices are underrated. When developing a brand, it is incredibly important to do your research about color theory and the psychology of color to ensure that your color palette is in line with your brand message. For example, green communicates nature, growth and money. Black communicates elegance, authority, strength and power. Yellow communicates happiness and optimism. Also note that pastel color palettes are pretty but rarely do well for branding, so bolder hues are a wise choice for increased recognition.
3. Type Faces
Type faces are commonly called fonts. We won’t bore you with the details of why those terms actually describe different things, but instead, we’ll give you some tips for when it comes to making choices for your brand. Your primary typeface should complement the logo but not match exactly. Avoid super generic fonts like Times New Roman, and also fonts that are too trendy as they will surely become outdated. There are tons of type faces to choose from, so don’t be too hasty. Take your time and figure out what’s right for your business and your brand.
4. Image Style
Believe it or not, image style is also part of your brand identity. Maintaining cohesive imagery allows you to effectively tell your brand story to your customer upon first sight. If you’re a product-based business, will you use solid white backgrounds or lifestyle shots of your product in use? If you’re a blogger, will you use the same filter or utilize your primary brand color in each photo? Ultimately, the goal is to determine the image style that will best communicate your brand message, and also how to consistently achieve it.
5. Materials and Collateral
Now that you’ve got a solid foundation, it’s time to design your marketing collateral. You may need business cards, letterhead, stickers, apparel, signage…you name it! In doing so, continue thinking about the brand message to help determine which materials and patterns to use. For example, you may need to consider using recycled materials to convey an eco-friendly living, or gold foil elements to communicate a luxury lifestyle. Whatever the case may be, also keep in mind costs and quantities needed so you don’t end up with a design that blows your budget when it comes to production.
6. Copy Style
You can have incredibly beautiful visuals, but if your copy doesn’t measure up, the whole brand identity could fall flat. At the end of the day, you’ll have to use words to tell your story, cultivate your tribe and deliver a convincing call to action. Think about your audience as if you were speaking to them in person, because knowing your audience is the key in determining your copy style. Would you speak casually or more formally? Do you have a tribe full of dope ass homegirls, or are you working with an esteemed group of white collar scholars? Determine who you’re speaking to, how you should speak to them, and keep that consistent throughout your website, social media posts, email marketing, etc. Establishing the right copy style will help your audience relate to you, understand your purpose and increase conversion rates.
Your brand identity system is the combination of ALL of the pieces that work together maintaining a singular voice for the brand. It contains several unique components that should appear to be cut from the same cloth, and must support and maintain the brand message for easy recognition by the audience. Seems like a lot? Well, it is. (You know we keep it 100 around here!) This post is a high level overview of the components, and there’s so much more thought that goes on behind the scenes of this process. This is precisely why there are designers and agencies, like House of 334, who specialize in branding. If you’re ready to take your brand to the next level, holla at your girls! We’d love to learn more about you, your business and if we’d be a good fit to help you boss up.