GO! Network members Relative Marketing discuss the importance of branding and design and what to consider before starting a branding project.
Let’s be honest, you can have the greatest strategy, technology, product or service in the world, but it’s creative branding and beautiful design that really gets you noticed. Sure, it has to work in conjunction with all those other elements and it certainly has to be in-line with your vision, values, and ethos as a company/business. But it’s the presentation that your audience will really remember. And really great creative can stand the test of time. Do you know how long Stella Artois has had the same logo? Since 1366!
Download: The (Re)Brand Workbook
Of course, design and branding aren’t just a logo (a mistake that a great many people make), it incorporates colour palette, photography or illustrations, icons, fonts and typography, copy and tone of voice – amongst other things. It’s these elements that should help you to define and promote your brand, and really stand out from the competition.
Your brand should be an accurate visual representation of your business. It must illustrate quickly and simply, at a glance, everything that your company embodies and how it wants to be positioned in the marketplace, as well as attracting the relevant audience and demographics. That’s a lot to take into consideration!
In an evermore image-led world, the struggle and need to be noticed in an increasingly crowded arena is more essential than ever. And you only have precious few seconds to make an impact and impression.
Design is what gets you noticed, but branding is what gets you remembered. One must always work in conjunction with the other. Branding must be consistent and cohesive – the worst thing that you can do once a brand is established is to confuse your audience with haphazard changes and deviations from what they have come to expect and have bought into. Of course, there are many ways that you can get your brand out there and many customer touch points to consider – website, social media, leaflets, brochures, letterheads and stationery, business cards, presentations, event materials. Consistency and familiarity create a trustworthy, reliable, and accessible perception.
Before starting a branding project there are a few things you will need to ask yourself and consider, things such as:
· What products or services do you produce/deliver?
· What is your sector or industry? And what is the usual perception?
· What are your vision and values?
· How do you want to be perceived?
· How are you currently perceived?
· What are your competitors doing?
· What is your USP (unique selling point)?
Firmly knowing and answering these questions with confidence is important to ensure that designs accurately reflect the company, your wants and needs. Once you have positively established these ‘big picture’ ideas, then you can start to look at the finer details.
Psychologically, your choice of colours can subconsciously express many things. Colour choice can establish a specific tone, attitude, and gravitas in a brand. Pale colours are calm and relaxing. Bright colours are playful and friendly. Monochromes, blacks and whites are classic, traditional and stoic. Green is natural, yellow is warm, and red is passionate. Each colour choice makes a unique statement, and colour combinations can say numerous things at once.
Choice of font, typography, weights and sizing – like colour – can also express different sentiments and meaning visually – before your audience ever even has to read a word.
Imagery is where a lot of brands fall down. The ease of using stock photography, icons and elements has meant that a lot of companies are using ubiquitous imagery that doesn’t fully represent them and isn’t unique. Of course stock photography has its place, and in some cases is necessary. But you should always choose carefully and make sure that it denotes exactly what you need it to.
We would always recommend regular, bespoke photoshoots or custom illustrations and graphics to really bring your brand to life.
Once all the elements have been agreed upon, a brand guidelines document can be produced. This is often referred to as a ‘Brand Bible,’ because it’s the must-have and ‘must-refer-to’ document when it comes to all things branding. It will encompass all designs elements, styles, touch points, layouts and uses (ensuring that, as emphasised earlier, your brand is cohesive, consistent, and correct.)
Great design and branding are more than just making things look pretty. By investing time and effort to get it right, it can boost your connection to your audience and in turn improving awareness, leads, conversions, sales, and ROI (return on investment).
A strong and successful brand is one of a company’s most valued resources. From start-ups to large enterprises – design and branding truly maters.