Paul Rand, an iconic graphic designer, once explained, “Design is the silent ambassador of your brand.”
When people experience your brand for the very first time, they are going to be immediately impacted by the design. How you choose to promote your brand through design will leave either a lasting impact or a forgettable experience. If the effect is powerful enough, it will elicit either positive or negative feelings toward your brand. The design, signs, symbols, colors, words, and attitude of your company come together to form a persona that will help differentiate you from your competitors.
The immediate point of communication happens when a visitor sees any part of your materials or branding for the very first time. They then form an opinion that you will have to either live up to or break. So, it’s important to ask yourself – what am I saying with my branding?
Research Market, Audience, and Competition
Before you can build your brand, it’s important to do your research. Take a look at what other companies in your industry are doing – that way, you can craft a persona that stands out from the crowd. It’s equally important to research your target audience so you can be aware of what captures their attention and draws them in. Understanding your audience helps you create memorable messages that people can identify with.
It is during the branding process that you can really take a good look at your company and determine what values, policies, and priorities set your brand apart in the industry. Do you have a niche in the market? Do you offer something that no one else does? Determining how you want your brand to stand out is going to help push your branding in the right direction.
When deciding on a brand direction, a mood board can be beneficial in pinpointing what you want to encompass. Mood boards can include colors, words, and images that represent the company. A design team can help determine how to best represent the values and direction of the brand through the design elements.
Establishing Visual Elements for the Brand
Most often, companies start with a name and then work on the logo design. While the logo is only one part of the brand, it often helps set the tone for the visual elements. The logo of a company becomes its most basic form of brand identity. A logo should be simple, identifiable, and memorable. It should also adequately communicate the tone and purpose of the brand.
After the initial research is done to get to know the market, audience, and competition, choices must be made to determine the desired style of the brand’s visual elements. This includes nailing down the color palette and typography so that the brand can maintain consistency wherever it operates. Testing is going to need to be done to ensure the direction is going to sit well with target customers, partners, and stakeholders.
The strength, detail, flexibility, clarity, and stability of visual elements are the kinds of things that will speak to the viewers. Brands that want to seem down-to-earth, rugged, and hard-working are going to opt for a different persona than those that want to look luxurious, affluent, and rare. Everything from the language used in copy to the style of the product images should align with this directional choice. This part of the process is where the mood board of ideas turns into real sketches, color applications, and rough design concepts.
Set Branding and Identity Guidelines
Once you’ve established the look and feel of your brand, you must ensure that it remains consistent across various platforms. This is where a style guide comes in. A style guide spells out exactly how your brand should look, including fonts, color schemes, and more.
A brand’s design elements need to align with the identity guidelines no matter where they are present. There are a number of places you should consider when it comes to brand representation:
- Business Cards
- Website Pages
- Billboards, Signs, and Banners
- Newsletters (Paper and Email)
- Product Packaging
- Promotional Items
- Vehicle Branding
- T-Shirts, Hats, or Uniforms
- Flyers, Brochures, and Coupons
Permeate the Company Culture with Branding
Beyond the look of the company, the culture itself should be infused with the branding strategy. Companies that want to exude stability or honesty are not going to be able to do so unless their employees are also on board. While every brand should strive for excellent customer service, it is important to have key branding factors that help the company stand out from the competition. If leads are brought in because they like how the company is treating them during the selling phase, then they should not be disappointed by the experience during or after their initial purchase. In other words, branding should remain consistent even after a customer has begun engaging with the company.
Monitoring and Adapting Your Brand
The brand is a living and breathing part of the company. Keep your brand consistent by monitoring and revisiting the brand elements. Adapt as needed to keep up with expectations, stand out from the crowd, and remain appealing to your audience. Customers continue to interact with elements of your brand, so don’t let it become stagnant.
Every company evolves, and with that, you may find that your target audience changes. If you’ve reached this step, it may be time to rebrand. Maintaining consistency and familiarity during a rebrand is important to ensure current customers can still recognize you. Think of it as an opportunity to update without completely starting over.
Creating a brand involves thought, strategy, and research. To create branding that works for your company, you are going to have to go through a complex process that doesn’t always have clear answers. For results you can depend on, work with professional designers who can provide a solid portfolio of work they’ve completed for companies similar to yours.
Are you looking to build a unique, memorable brand? Contact the marketing team at Zero Gravity Marketing to get started!