1. Start with Competitor Research
When it comes to setting a brand up for success, pure creativity is only a single piece of the puzzle.
I start by rolling up our sleeves and delving deeply into what makes your organization stand apart — your history, challenges, competition, audience, and opportunities. We can also conduct a competitor analysis to create an independent view of the landscape. Ultimately, what I are going to figure out is: What is your brand strategy? The answer will help guide every decision made from this point on.
Because Sutter Group also provides market research services and marketing strategy plans, I offer clients a chance to supplement our brand audit research with in-depth research reports. I can also conduct surveys through social media to collect additional consumer insights before beginning the branding process.
2. Build a Brand That Works in Multiple Mediums
In the digital age, we are designing for more mediums than ever. Print has always come with its own set of requirements, but now we need to make sure our designs work on web pages, online ads, and more.
Because of this multi-medium requirements, be sure that your branding uses fonts and layouts that translate to all of them. This means designing a brand that is adaptable, a brand with options.
How do you do this?
Think of all the places your brand will be used and start there. Don’t just create your brand with one layout. Design different layouts, a stand- mark, stand-alone typography.
For instance, if you are going to use your branding for Facebook ad campaigns, you must keep in mind the text size limitations that Facebook uses. In this case, a longer style logo or stand-alone mark would work better than let’s say a stacked logo. The layout allows for better use of ad space.
It is now more important than ever to adapt your brand to fit the mediums you are working with.
3. Less Is More
A lot of designers tend to get carried away when working on branding design. Adding more design elements doesn’t always make for better results. In many situations branding that is overdone can detract from the message you’re trying to get across.
That’s why your branding should try to convey as much as possible in a simple design.
Time and time again we have worked with clients that have elaborate ideas of what they want their logo and branding to look like. More often than not those ideas would lead to some seriously over-the-top (and less than effective) branding design.
If you start off by coming up with some over-the-top ideas, that’s O.K.
The solution in these scenarios is to take that initial idea, simplify the concept, rework it based on your creative expertise, then you’ll likely work to deduct even more until you have created a simple, memorable brand.
The brand doesn’t have to say all that you want in just the logo, it can be conveyed throughout the use of your branding and tell a story as a whole and throughout various campaigns and usages.
Remember, your branding will evolve with your company.
Some of the best brands in the world have extremely simple marks that represent them. Take Starbucks, McDonald’s, Target, Android, FedEx, and Nike as examples of simplistic, effective branding design.
You can likely picture what at each these brands look like without needing any visual reference. This is because they are explicable, easy to recall, and have been built to prompt emotional reactions that trigger your memory.
While these examples are of large corporations (and you may not intend to establish your brand on such a massive scale), the principle of simplicity should be at the forefront of your new branding design.
4. Speak to Your Ideal Buyer
Another thing that tends to get in the way of effective branding design is when designers try to appeal to the client or the business owner (you).
For example, since the gym owner client really likes the color red and icon of an eagle, do they make the logo a red eagle?
The MOST important thing to consider when designing your new branding is the company’s ideal buyer!
Who are they and what sort of brand will appeal to them?
This may be an extreme example, but there is no mistaking who the ideal buyer for this restaurant is. While it’s not ticking many of the boxes in the quality branding design checklist, it’s certain to get their ideal customers excited and makes a clear declaration about who they serve.
Once you understand this key element, you will have a clear picture of what direction your branding should go in. This step is so very important and will really determine your brand’s success.
8. Keep Things Cohesive
Another important aspect many brands and designers miss is developing a cohesive brand across the board.
Every aspect of your branding should work together to tell a piece of the same story. While it doesn’t all have to look exactly the same, it should fit together like pieces of a creative puzzle to form a complete picture.
Each of the print items is slightly different, but they adhere to a coherent theme that helps our customers feel like everything is connected. This trend is followed by our web design and digital branding as well. How do you keep it cohesive? Here are 5 rules to live by:
1. Color Palettes:
Make sure you establish a primary color and secondary color palette. This allows for your brand to be used as you originally intended it and opens up design opportunities for creativity with different mediums and future campaigns. Both palettes should be listed in CMYK, RGB, and Pantone.
Purchase and or download the fonts for your company. If there are different fonts for web and print it is important to define that.
All illustrations should be in the same style. If you start with a pen-illustrated set of icons on your website, all illustrations should have similar pen-illustrated characteristics.
Professional brands set the tone for their photography by doing a brand shoot. This shoot would then be emulated with all future photography used throughout the branding.
5. Brand Guidelines:
Take #1-4 + more and put it in a pretty little book called Brand Guidelines. This is your FOOLPROOF PLAN for COHESIVENESS! (I talk more about this in the next section.)
From website to Instagram ads to printed brochures, cohesiveness is going to really create a sense of familiarity and trust with your ideal buyers!
11. Design to Catch the Eye
We already talked about designing to stand out. While standing out from your competition is important, it’s also important to stand out visually.
You should work to create eye-catching branding that gets people to stop scrolling through news feeds or to pay attention when your video ad plays.
The way consumers interact with brands online has changed. People move faster than ever and attention spans are shorter than ever. Test your branding with the scroll test.
Does it make you want to stop scrolling across your desktop news feed? How about mobile? If your branding just blends in with the rest of the noise, consider adding a design element that will help capture the attention of online users.