Once I was asked what my brand colours said about my business and I suddenly felt all self-conscious that I'd been using the 'wrong' colours - the crap colours that everyone else knows you should NEVER use. Luckily, I didn't have to throw my entire business in the bin - my colours translate as: optimism, passion, social, trust, ambition and creativity. But this is when branding grabbed my attention and it got me thinking if I was sending out the right (or wrong) message to attract my ideal client - and then I thought this would be interesting for you too.
There's a ton of info (jargon) on the word brand but I have sifted through some fairly comprehensive articles and I've decided to focus on the fun part of your brand - the almost tangible part: Brand Identity.
Brand Identity: the creative and visual elements which represent your business
FYI about the word 'Brand'
Your brand is not your logo, it's your image. What you stand for. It's your business personality. It differentiates you from your competitor and it's the attention that attracts your clients. A brand is a big deal for small businesses and entrepreneurs because, depending on how you present yourself and what you say, it will dictate which direction your business goes in.
A strong brand is recognisable wherever it's displayed and consistently communicates:
what your company does
how it does it
who it does it for
This builds trust with people and will attract your ideal client, which establishes loyalty.
You start to build your brand when you refine and develop your:
Mission Statement - 51 Missions Statement from the World's Best Companies
Vision Statement - How to Write a Good Vision Statement
Company Values - 18 Core Values that will Shape your Culture and Inspire
Business Strategy - What is a Business Strategy
Unique Selling Point - Developing Your USP: step by step guide
Client Avatars - Create a Customer Avatar in 5 Simple Steps
You have a brand, whether you've intentionally created one or not, so if you've left it to the wind it might be all over the place.
What is Brand ID?
A well-designed brand identity represents your business, when you can't be there in person.
When you start a business you want to get your name out there, so you market your business (website, social media, leaflets, networking etc). All of these things need to visually represent what your business does accurately and consistently, in a recognisable way, as well as show your ideal client why you are unique from your competitor.
Wow. Welcome to your Brand Identity.
TIP: if your service is high-end then your visual brand needs to look high-end - you will need sophisticated fonts, elegant colour palette, quality imagery and the right tone of content. Presenting yourself as something you are not will be misleading, therefore draw the wrong clientele and imply you aren't trustworthy. I'm just saying.
The Design Elements of your Brand ID
This is where you need to communicate what you do, who you do it for and how it will add value to your ideal clients. You need to visually represent your service and consider each element mindfully because they come with hidden meanings and psychology profiles, so choose fonts, shapes and colours accurately.
Your design will need to be recognisable, memorable and likeable for your ideal client and unique from your competitors.
Once you have completed your design you will need to consistently display these elements of your brand every time you communicate on behalf of your business.
Here are 5 elements you should consider for your brand's visual appearance:
1. Typography - the size of characters, placement of text, spaces between characters and lines and the font style.
Choose a font that represents your business - here are the font variations you need to know:
Serif - sophisticated, luxurious, classic
Sans Serif - modern, minimal simple
Slab Serif - confidence, attitude, solidarity
Script - femininity, creative, elegance
Display - fun, unique, quirky
Light - delicate, simple
Regular - crisp, easy to read
Bold - powerful, attention grabbing
Italic - polite, welcoming, emphasis
lowercase - playful, fun, quiet
UPPERCASE - bold, attitude, loud
Condensed - modern, space-saving
2. Colours - you need 3-5 colours in your palette. Choose colours that “fit” your brand and evokes the right emotion from your clients. Remember there are many shades in between and your combination can be either bold, pastel, harmonious, monochromatic, analogous or complementary.
3. Forms and Shapes - all logos have a shape, even if it's just text, so consider what your shape communicates about your brand. Shapes fall into 3 major categories and each shape or symbol comes with it's own psychology:
4. Composition - typography, colours, shapes and symbols all need to be put together effectively, whenever you display your brand design - but your logo specifically needs some thought:
Large objects - these will draw the most focus and will seem more important
Negative spaces - promotes calmness but too much space can lack coherence
Irregular placement - suggests playfulness or chaos
Symmetrical arrangements - communicates formality and stability
Layering items - putting elements together creates visual relationships
5. Logo And Tag Line
Every business has a logo, whether it's a highly researched design or simply your business name in a certain font. Your clients should instantly recognise your business when they see it. You will need a 'primary' logo - the one you use the most often - but you will also need logo variations for different circumstances:
Horizontal or rectangle - for websites, letterheads and invoices
Vertical or stacked - for favicons and avatars
Icon or brandmark - for a subtle extension of your logo, like watermarking a client's work
Social Media - to be used for banners and headers
Single colour - your logo in one colour is good for printing stationery and packaging
Reversed out - change your logo to black or white for other printing purposes
Your tagline should be unique, simple, concise, and timeless. No pressure then! Coming up with a memorable tagline can be challenging and time-consuming but keep it focused on your client and not your business - for example, Finger Lickin' Good, Every Little Helps or Just Do It.
Where to Display Your Brand ID
Your marketing materials will be responsible for getting your identity out there. Look at each of the following items you currently have - do they say what you do and who you do it for? Do they all look the same and have consistency? Is your business name / logo / colour and tag line represented? Have you clearly communicated how you bring value to your ideal client?
Business Cards | Letterheads | Compliment Slip | Newsletters | Email Signature | Quotes and Invoices | Internal Documentation - reports and memos
Business Brochures | Advertisements | Bags and Packaging | Labels | Exhibition Stands | Banners and Signage
Email Address (firstname.lastname@example.org) | Email Signature | Email Content
Page Content - don't write in the third person | Imagery - does it reflect the image you are trying to convey?
Favicon and Avatars (logo icon)
Website tab | Social media profile pictures
Facebook page cover image | Twitter header photo | Pinterest board display image | Google+ cover image
YouTube channel cover photo | LinkedIn background image
TIP: This is free advertising and networking, so is your brand identity represented in every post? If a clients scrolls through your posts, do they all look like visually harmonious? Do all posts align with your identity? i.e. not a funny cat video that would, quite frankly, confuse your audience.
Other places to represent your brand
Clothing or Uniform | Vehicles | Building and Office
Is your brand identity consistent for trustworthiness and reliability?
Is your brand identity top quality?
Are all elements of your brand identity chosen purposefully to communicates your message?
Do you send a clear message of what your company does?
Is your brand identity instantly memorable and therefore recognisable?
Is it unique and stands out from your competitors?
Does it have likeability and attract good attention?
To avoid clients struggling to connect the pieces of your business together, consider the benefits of creating a Style Guide - this is a handbook for your brand identity and includes everything from the tone of voice you use, to your colour scheme and the way you'll position certain products or services.
21 Brand Style Guide Examples - examples and guidance for creating your Style guide.
Your brand identity needs to be consistent, honest and memorable.