Branding is where your visual identity and your consumers meet. Today, design is so important in building a digital brand. Here are five elements that your consumers directly interact with and your business.
Okay, this one is obvious. This is the foundation of a brand’s visual identity. Logos are a graphical mark, emblem, or symbol that promotes the identification and recognition of your brand. This can be anything from an abstract design to a figurative one, also is known as the logomark. A logo can contain the text of the name of the brand it represents, known as a wordmark.
We all associate branding with logos because it is the most recognizable of visual elements. Think of your logo as the north star of your brand that will dictate the rest of your visual identity. This is just one reason why it is important to invest the resources to ensure the design of your logo is done right.
Ensure your logo has flexibility, commonly known as having a responsive logo. The use of alternative logos (or secondary logos) is a great way to ensure you have variations for different applications. Consider how your logo will look applied on a business card versus a billboard. If your logo contains small text, using a simplified version could make it easier to read when used in a smaller application.
Pro Tip: Great logos are simple yet distinctive. To test how distinctive your logo is, ask someone to draw it after seeing it for only 10 seconds. It is also important that your logo is appropriate and conveys the right feeling your brand emits. For example, choosing a luxury typeface would not align with a brand that does not sell luxury high-end products.
Next to a brand’s logo, the colour palette might just be the most important element of a visual identity. Faber Birren, a famous colour theorist, wrote extensively about the link between colours and our emotions. Not only do words like “love” or “car” elicit different emotions, but colours like blue and red both create different human responses as well. Therefore choosing a colour palette will provoke similar responses for people interacting with your brand.
Here’s a quick summary of a few brand colours and how each has a different meaning and effect on people:
Red: energy, action, passion, love
Orange: creativity, adventure, happiness
Yellow: energy, intellect, fun, youthful
Green: growth, harmony, success
Blues: knowledge, trust, calm, honesty
Purples: imagination, spirituality, royalty, luxury
Pinks: intimacy, calm, love, nurture
White: purity, virtue, health, simplicity
Black: power, sophistication, luxury, modern
Not only is there an innate feeling associated with colours, but keep in mind the possible colour combinations as well. There is no one right way to choose a colour scheme for your brand, but here are some things to consider.
Plan on choosing three colours: a base, accent, and neutral. Your base colour should be a reflection of your brand’s personality and appeal to the target audience you’re trying to reach (refer to the summary of brand colour meanings above). Your accent colour will be harder to choose. Not only will it have to match a brand personality trait, but it also must pair visually with your base colour in order for it to appeal to your audience. Lastly, choose a neutral colour that will not take any attention away from your base or accent colours. It will most likely be a background colour like a shade of grey, beige, or off-whites.
Black is an option, but keep in mind it tends to dominate the colour palette it is a part of.
Check out our blog on Design Tips For Non-Designers to learn more about choosing colour palettes using the colour wheel.
Choosing the right font for your brand is fun. Fonts can convey a specific mood, tone, and attitude. Keep in mind the different personality traits your brand identifies with because you want the typeface you choose to mirror that. Typography can elicit the same emotional response we are able to relay to our customers using brand colours.
There are six basic font classifications to choose from and they each fit different personality traits:
Serif: classic, corporate, traditional, trustworthy, mature
Sans-serif: clean, modern, minimal, sleek, elegant
Slab serif: bold, quirky, confident
Script: elegant, unique, warm
Handwritten: informal, artistic, soft
Decorative: stylized, distinct, dramatic, diverse
Set strict guidelines for how to use your brand’s typography to keep a consistent look. Play around with different typeface treatments, like using all-caps for headings or italicizing sub-headings. Ensure there is a contrast between each type of text, to ensure they are recognizable every time. Pairing different font classifications, for example, a decorative font for headings and a sans-serif font for body copy will create a distinguishable contrast between elements.
These visual elements can be anything from photos to illustrations to graphics. It could be true that some brands use all three, but not every business does. Our customers are highly visual and using imagery to share ideas and information will help your brand stand out.
Consistency with your imagery is key. Whether your brand speaks to light and airy or dark and moody, ensure your photography is consistent and uniform. Set strict guidelines to apply the same style and line-weight across illustrations and graphics, like patterns and textures.
Now that we have covered a logo, colours, type, and imagery, let’s review how to tie all of these elements together using layout treatment. Layout is a big part of graphic design and it refers to the way we organize different visual elements and content to make a composition. It is an important factor in how we present information and how well it is understood.
If we looked at the classic newspaper layout example, the intention for that layout is to inform. It uses large bold headlines to grab attention and the justified columns of text are easy to read even at a small size. Always remember what your intention behind the layout is. This will dictate your choices in designing a logical and legible piece of content.
Think of these five visual elements as requirements when creating a brand. Of course, there are other visual elements to consider when it comes to branding, but we wanted to focus on a logo, colour palette, typography, imagery, and layout treatment.
Create a brand guideline to ensure designers creating on behalf of your brand are on the same page when it comes to these five elements. Remember, consistency is key!
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