Having a strong and cohesive visual brand can help your business gain a bigger audience and more clients.
On the flip side, a business with no consistent branding can give off an unprofessional feel and make it difficult to build recognition and trust with people.
So you want to create a distinctive and profitable brand for your business – but if you don’t have any formal experience in the branding industry, it can be hard to know exactly what you need to have in place in order to create a cohesive brand.
With each of my brand design clients, we work through a detailed process to make sure we develop all of the essential visual brand elements. In this blog post, I’ll list each of those elements and explain why it’s essential to your brand’s success.
As you read through the post, jot down notes about which elements you have squared away, and which elements you still need to develop (or improve on) for your brand.
#1 – Logo suite
The logo is the most obvious and well-known element of a visual brand. It’s one of your biggest tools when it comes to building brand recognition because it’s a succinct, easy-to-remember icon that people can learn to recognize quickly.
In addition to your primary logo, you may also have an alternate and abbreviated logo (or sub logo). Having these alternate logo versions allows you to adapt to the application your logo is being used with. For example, if your primary logo is tall, you may need a horizontal version to fit nicely in the header of a website.
#2 – Brand Color Palette
Color is a powerful way to communicate emotions and ideas. It can be used to trigger specific associations and actions in your audience and is a very important element of your overall brand identity.
Choosing the right colors can help you reinforce your brand’s key attributes and help set the overall tone.
When designing a color palette, it’s important to familiarize yourself with some color psychology so you understand how colors generally affect emotion and action.
#3 – Brand Typeface / Fonts
Consistency is key to a strong and recognizable brand – and even the small details like the fonts you use on your website and marketing materials can play a big role.
Choose the fonts you will use in your branding and make sure to stick to them anywhere you use type. Choose a web-friendly font to make it easy to stay consistent on your website.
Also, note that sticking to just a couple typefaces is best. For my branding clients, I generally select a typeface for headlines and a typeface for body text (sometimes I stick to just one typeface and use different font weights within that typeface to add variety).
#4 – Brand Photography
Not every brand relies heavily on photography, but images do play a major role for most businesses. If you aren’t using photography in your branding, then you’re likely using another type of imagery (like illustrations or digital drawings).
Being consistent in the photography/images you use is just as important as staying consistent with your colors, fonts, and logo.
Even if you don’t have the budget to have custom brand photography taken for your business, you should set guidelines that you will use when sourcing free or affordable stock photography (or taking photos yourself).
Will you always have bright, natural lighting in your photos, or will they be darker and moodier? Are your photos natural and candid looking, or curated and styled?
#5 – Brand Style Guidelines
This is the part of creating a fully developed brand identity that often gets overlooked. Once you have the major elements in place – like your logo, colors, typefaces, and photography – it’s easy to put your new brand elements in place and neglect this last, important step.
A brand style guide will include instructions on how to put your new brand out in the world and include “rules” that help your new brand elements appear consistent and polished.
These guidelines vary from brand to brand, but here are a few examples:
- Are there specific visual accents you use throughout your branding? For example, will you place a solid bar of color across the bottom of printed documents, webinar slides, website pages, and social media images? Will you always leave a certain amount of white space around your logo?
- Will your logo appear in different colors depending on the background? How about when it appears over a photo?
- What style guidelines will you use for icons and graphics? Do they look hand drawn or precise? Are they rounded or squared? Do illustrations use thin lines or thick lines?
Taking the time to define these guidelines will give your brand an extremely polished, professional feel. Without these rules in place, a brand can easily drift and become inconsistent. Take the time to create your own Brand Style Guide and refer to it anytime you create something new for your business.
How did your brand do? Do you have each of these 5 elements set up for your business? If you’d like more free advice on how to polish your brand and make it even more irresistible, grab a free copy of the guide 7 Secrets to a Profitable Brand and Website here.