People commonly use the word “brand” to talk about logos. However, a logo is not a brand. Branding is an appearance for your business, a memorable face to attach reputation to. Put simply, brand identity is how your business will define, create, and share your brand with customers.
Having a clear plan of action as to how you’ll market your business keeps you and all your employees on the same page. A clear direction helps all of you to have a sense of purpose at work, and increases your productivity.
Memorable branding doesn’t create reputation. It does help people remember your reputation so that it’s possible to raise your awareness effectively.
People have bad memories and won’t remember Dan the contractor or his phone number, and there are a lot of Dan's out there.
Even if you don’t have a logo, your business still has a brand.
Remember, every interaction you or your company has with a customer develops your brand’s identity for better or for worse.
When you send your customer to a Facebook page with a blurry cover photo and an over-exposed shot of you from your last vacation, you’re sending very clear messages. Without intending to, you could be telling them that looking professional isn’t important to you or that you’re behind the times.
Remember that your brand is developed through an entire customer experience and needs to be reinforced consistently through your website, social media profiles, sales tools, promotional items, customer service, messages and other aspects of doing business with you.
Consistency Of Your Brand
Consistency sends a mostly subconscious message to your audience that you know what you’re doing.
Fortunately it’s easy to achieve: Never stray from your brand's colours, font or images.
Your restaurant menu, billboard signage, website, and marketing materials all need to feature the same brand design.
Burning Your Branding Into Their Minds
Once a customer has left the company of your firm handshake and warm smile, it’s up to you to help them remember you.
All that’s required on your end is a physical representation of your brand to find its way in front of your clients’ eyes frequently enough to keep the spark of your first encounter alive.
Your customer service in combinations with recognisable branding helps build a strong brand identity. And by ensuring you always under promise and over deliver, you can achieve those positive reviews that can propel your business to enormous success.
Branding Your Marketing Materials
In the same way that restaurants put their names on to-go boxes, matches, and pens, businesses should go beyond their website with these tools. Social media pages, business cards, company vehicles, signage and even pens and matches, are good ways to spread brand awareness.
People tend to do business with companies they are familiar with.
Remember that the entire goal of these materials is to become unforgettable, and the more you get them out there, the easier it is to reach that goal.
But first, you need a standard process of styling your branded marketing materials...
Your Business Brand Style Guide
A style guide (or Brand identity kits) is a set of standards, principles and rules every developer or designer should follow in order to improve the physical and digital presence of the product. It is made up of instructions on your brand colours, logo fonts, and images.
Brand identity kits come in all shapes and sizes. From one page digital documents to printed booklets.
The idea of a brand identity kit is to stay on brand, therefore it includes all the company’s branding details.
Core Colour Palette
Pick a colour palette – and stick with it.
To keep brand recognition intact, it’s more important than ever to make core brand colours well known and consistent.
You can get colour ideas from images using this free tool Canva Colour Palette Generator
You will need a combination of:
- A primary colour - For headings, buttons, links.
- A secondary colour - For supporting information, important CTA backgrounds - (Optional)
- A font colour - Pure black is not the best colour on websites for fonts.
- A general background colour - A faded white/grey (Optional).
It’s important to give the exact hex code for web use as well as CMYK values and Pantone colours for items that will be printed.
Shifts between RGB and CMYK can be severe, so be sure to manually check any conversions to make sure they’re accurate, which saves both time and money if printing.
Ideally, there should be one primary colour palette and one other complementary palette.
Your colour combinations should pass WCAG 2.0 guidelines for contrast accessibility.
Note which passes and which combinations should not be used.
This dictates your logo size and placement.
Your logo is an incredibly important part of your brand, and you want it to be reflected consistently along the way. In your guide, you can dictate exactly how to use your logo.
Remember, to make a logo instantly recognizable, it has to be used consistently!
It’s also important to show how to not use the logo. Designers are creative by nature, and it’s important to show them what they’re not supposed to do alongside what they should.
There are some great logo generators out there to get you started:
You should be able download a few free small resolution logos for ideas to share with friends to get feedback.
Choose fonts that reflect your unique identity. This means outlining what fonts are used for what purposes (in print and on the web).
Fonts are a large part of any collateral you produce, and it’s essential to be consistent with your typography throughout in order to look professional. Often you’ll have many different typefaces each for a different purpose. In your guide you can dictate what typeface goes where and how to use it.
Specify your font hierarchy with respect to font sizes (big for headers, medium for subheaders and smaller longer paragraphs) and font weights (light, bold, heavy, etc.)
You can find some great font combinations here:
Usually, you will only need one to two fonts.
Image and data visualization guidelines
Set a style for your photography. Create some guidelines for imagery (photos, illustrations, charts, infographics, etc.) to include in your brand style guide.
Photography can also be a reflection of your brand. Specific styles evoke certain responses, and people can recognize a brand based off of a photo. While photos are necessary for all brands, if it’s an important part of yours it’s something you should include in your guide for any photographers you work with to reference.
Keep in mind that photographers are visual people. If you’re going to provide them with specifications give them some examples they can reference as well.
If a photographer is out of the question, there are heaps of free stock images you can use:
And there are great paid stock images as well:
Sonic branding refers to the sounds or songs associated with a brand, product, or service. The association isn’t created organically by fans, followers, or consumers. Instead, it’s developed or adopted by the brand as part of an intentional strategy that helps its audience associate those sounds with the brand.
In short, sonic branding is the sound of your brand. It’s the default ringtone on the Apple iPhone. The McDonald’s “I’m Lovin’ It” ditty. It’s the “Intel Inside” jingle or the XBox 360 startup sound. It’s why (if you’re a Millennial or older) you won’t be able to stop singing, “Call Goldberg! 800-600-6014,” for the rest of the day. (You’re welcome.)
Sonic branding is another layer of your brand experience that draws in potential customers and helps make your brand memorable. It’s most effective when utilized uniformly across all marketing channels.
Note: Not all businesses need "sonic branding"
Create an Inventory of All Your Brand Assets
It helps to create an inventory of all your current brand assets which can be used.
These can include internal digital assets like our Brand Style Guide, logo image files, eBooks, and featured blog images. But they also include external digital assets like social media accounts, as well as any physical assets at your disposal.
If you have a small company, you can easily set it up yourself. On the other hand, if your company is large and the team spans the globe, you will need a specialist to make a design system or brand booklet. Either way, the most important thing is that your brand is depicted in the best light, no matter what new content is created.