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Building your own business is no joke -- it takes time, dedication and plenty of patience. When turning an idea into a profitable business, there is one aspect of the process that you should never ignore: Always staying true to your brand's core values and creating a visual identity that is consistent throughout all your marketing campaigns.
Making sure your brand is recognizable in every instance -- be it website, social media or print -- will give your business credibility and a feeling of stability. Your followers and clients will feel like they know you, like they can be friends with your brand. Staying visually consistent is your best bet to growing exponentially and staying relevant.
The key to staying on brand is to have a good visual identity from the ground up. When designing a logo, picking colors and fonts, and setting up mood boards, there are questions that need to be answered honestly by you and/or your founding team:
Taking these things into consideration will help you not only create the perfect brand but also maintain the values it is built on. Remember that your brand is a medley of you AND your customer. When your brand resonates with your customers, you are on the right track to success.
When deciding on a logo and its variations, make sure that every instance is memorable yet not overly trendy. There are ways of grabbing the attention of your target generation without having to settle for that script font that will only be a fad for a year at most.
Your logo and its variations need to last without change for a few years; after that, you can look into a rebrand to grow along with your customers. You will need a main logo to be used everywhere, including your invoices, and at most two variations for watermarks or when you want to go for a more subtle look.
When it comes to deciding a color scheme for your brand, it is imperative to take into consideration the psychology of color. Each color has a different emotional value, thus giving the colors you pick great importance as to how your brand affects your clients emotionally. Color has been scientifically proven to significantly enhance memory performance and if you can tap into that, your brand will greatly benefit from it.
As to how many colors to pick, the main color palette should include three to four colors. Apart from the main color scheme, also choose another complementary color combo and one extra color palette just in case your designers (or interns) want to “get creative.” This is why branding style guides are so important! More on that further on...
Fonts and typography choices need not be overcomplicated. If your logo includes a novelty font, it does not need to be used all over your marketing materials as it may not only detract from your brand's message but also over saturate. Choose a font combination that will stand the test of time and outlast fads that come and go is key to staying on brand.
Your brand doesn’t just need a logo, a font scheme and a color palette, it also needs visuals! By visuals I mean: backgrounds, textures, icons, complementary elements and photography. Having a digital folder of all the kinds of visuals you need to use for your brand is a handy tool for when designing new graphics, brochures, websites pages, infographics, etc.
Backgrounds and textures should follow the color palettes, as should icons and complementary elements. Photographs can be sourced to follow your color palette as well: search stock photo databases by color or hire professionals photographers to create your own images. You can also commission illustrators to create branded art if your brand fits that style.
I mentioned earlier that you need a style guide to keep track of your brand and how your visual identity is portrayed. No matter if you are a one-man show or a team of 20, you will need a branding style guide at hand at all times.
If you are a small company, a simple branding guide that you can print out and paste on your office wall will be enough, but if you are a larger company, then you need a detailed branding style guide in the form of a presentation or PDF file. This way, every person involved with promoting your brand -- designers, marketing team, vendors -- will know how to stay true to your brand’s visual identity.
Your branding style guide needs to include everything about your brand, from the mission statement to the textures and color numbers for digital AND print. When a new employee comes on board to join your company, the first thing they should see is your branding style guide.
Follow the steps outlined in this infographic created with Visme to help you stay on brand and true to your visual identity:
Embed on your site:
The first part of your branding style guide is your background story and mission. This will be mostly text but if you include visuals, it will be easier to grasp and assimilate. Use the visuals that were chosen in the previous step to set a precedent. These guidelines will not only help create new visuals but also the accompanying copy:
The second part includes all the visual aspects of your brand and the tools needed to create any new marketing materials. Be very specific and descriptive: Explain every detail in its best light and offer options. Be sure to include:
The third part of your branding style guide will need to be a good practices guideline, showcasing “how” and “how not to” use the logos and other aspects of your brand.
Include your preferred sizes for social media graphics and a visual template of where each element should be placed. If all your graphics have the logo centered on the left hand side, create a rule about it, that way no one will create a graphic with the logo located on the top right corner in a different size.
Include side-by-side examples of how things should look and how they shouldn’t. There is no better way to explain this than by showing it.
At the end of your branding guide, include contact numbers and emails of the person in charge of your marketing, just in case the person following the guide has additional questions. For example, a freelance graphic designer may need to create a new event poster and the suggested size is not included in the guide.
If you are a one-person show or your business is still quite small, you might not have the funds (yet) to hire a branding strategist or graphic designer to create your brand’s visual identity and the branding style guide. Not to worry -- there are quite a few online resources that can help.
That said, investing is a way of showing the world that you believe in your business, so I don’t suggest you go the completely-free-and-DIY route, unless you yourself have some design chops.
You can create your logo yourself with a vector program or use an artificial-intelligence application like Looka, or LogoMakr. If you stick to the free options, your logo will be nice but it won’t look overly professional, so make sure you take into consideration all the information above on building a memorable brand. Both these applications also have paid options which will give you better and more professional results.
Believe it or not, you can build a brand with applications just like the ones I mentioned above, and they will provide a branding style guide to help you stay on brand. My favorite applications for this are Tailorbrands and Builtbyemblem.
Sourcing photography that fits your brand is also not too complicated. To get some inspiration, you can use kaboompics and search their database by color.Bonus Tip: If you have been using Instagram for a while and want to know how “on brand” your feed is, use colorkuler to check!
If your business is a bit larger and you collaborate with employees in different cities or even countries, you should look into a team organization tool for visual content creation. I recommend Visme for Teams.
With the growth of online design and DIY graphics programs, there are better ways to control how your graphics are designed and how to stay on brand. The Visme for Teams tool dissipates all confusion as to how the graphics and marketing material can be created and organized when working with various team members.
There are options to keep all files organized by topic or by project. Privacy can be toggled in projects until it is ready to be shared. Visme for Teams also offers analytics on the performance of the graphics created in the program, helping your visual identity grow in the right direction.
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