The brand as a concept is actually quite straightforward and can be reduced down to one core idea: consistency.
The consistency within a brand is paramount to creating the cohesive unit that is going to define your outgoing message. Your brand is largely built from many components or touchpoints that your business controls. When creating a brand, each touchpoint should be sending a similar message through its various avenues of communication: think of the five senses. Your brand is how people will experience your business via the various sense we have, then come to be familiar with those experiences through repetition in their message.
A note on consistency for anyone who will be challenged with using a brand creatively. Consistency when building or growing a brand should not mean a restriction in your creative freedoms. The brand should stay true to a few core ideas, but should also be allowed to live and breathe, expanding its own borders.
An example of this can be found when a business may branch out typographically. Trying new display fonts for main headers, to add spice and character to their brand image. In this case, all other brand type choices would remain unchanged to underpin the brand’s typography standards.
The goal of this article is to communicate how to effectively control your brand via its various touchpoints. Items like your company name, logo, website, and social media. I hope to highlight key decisions and elements that exist in the creation of each of these and illuminate the details that will ultimately best communicate your brand’s message.
Keep in mind that the order you create each touchpoint will not necessarily be the same for each branding project. The company name is usually going to be made early on, that is obvious but as for other touchpoints like the logo or typography, their order of creation will vary.
In most cases a designer won’t get many opportunities to influence the brand’s name, generally being given this in a brief from a client. However, for you creatives that do get to participate in the making of a new business’s name, the process can be very fun and rewarding, especially when performed with a group.
There are lots of engaging exercises you can do alone or in a team to generate name ideas. However, prior to venturing into these, you should have a direction in mind for the business name, and preparing a small brief to solidify this direction is a good idea.
Cover items regarding why and how your business operates and who are the primary and secondary consumers. This will help prime the participant’s creativity into the correct area of focus and produce better results. Get some good insight into the name-building process in this article on business names.
Here’s where we step in designers, and for your non-designers who might be overseeing the development of the logo, these pointers will still apply.
Developing a logo is an important step since in many cases this is the first visual touchpoint you will be creating and will often be the frontline of your brand strategy. Decisions made about the logo can permeate the rest of the branding project, and elements from it can be echoed across other touchpoints to solidify the message.
I won’t go into extreme detail about how to successfully generate a logo since it has been written about at length several times before. However what you should be aware of is that your logo is going to somewhat be the heartbeat of your brand, so do not take this task lightly. If you are little more than a hobbyist at graphic design, seriously consider letting a professional work on your logo. What you are looking for is a logo designer that takes the discovery or research portion of the project as seriously as the creating stage.
A successful logo is an informed logo.
Read “5 Keys of Successful Logo Design” for a good overview of what to consider when building a logo for your business.
For anyone not familiar with the term, this is what fonts your brand will use. Avoid going to defaults here, since the typography can underpin your entire brand. This is an opportunity to control the feeling or impression someone may have with your brand when interacting with any touchpoint you may have that contains words.
Take into account how they make you feel before you even read the message they are communicating. What types of brands would you see using these two font families, and how do they differ. What community or demographic do you think they are the best speaking to? What product do you see these being on the labels of?
Explore typography as though each different font is a unique billboard, loudly trying to get its message to you. Which fonts are going to carry your text messages the best?
Especially on the web, imagery is a growing norm for brands to engage their customers. The hero sections of websites are a testament to this new design style. Using images to create experiences and emotional connections to anyone willing to stop and look. This should come to as little surprise to anyone in marketing since imagery has been used successfully for centuries to sell products and services.
Focusing more specifically on how imagery can affect your brand, consider your entire image catalog as a single Instagram account. Now picture all your images in a grid, viewing them together will help illustrate the point I want to make. When you are viewing all the images that your business produces together in this imaginary scenario, try and consider how each image works together. Is there a similar tone or note between each image? Perhaps there is a reoccurring color or model?
What you should see in your imaginary grid, is that each image is sending a similar message, best communicating your brand and educating your consumers. Take this example for consideration: a company will use the photography technique of knolling to craft its images. Being consistent with the knolling theme in their images, will tighten their visual brand and allows consumers to more effectively identify their products.
The Brand Guide
To further concretely pin down your brand, you should create a document that outlines how to use your brand in dynamic scenarios. Often referred to as a Brand Guide, you should create this as though you are passing on your brand to another individual whom you won’t get a chance to directly communicate with, aside from the guide. Make it comprehensive, but digestible to anyone, especially those outside the design community. “Ultimate Guide to Designing Brand Guidelines” is a great article on the necessary components of any business’s brand guide.
Additional Touch Points
There are many touchpoints beyond the few I covered here that will also contribute to maintaining a brand. However, the key takeaway is that from one to another you remain consistent with the messaging your brand has set out to communicate.
A few additional touchpoints to consider are
- Your Copy
- Video Productions
- Sound Bits – think radio
- Verbal Engagements
- and so on…
Ultimately, to reinforce my main thought behind any brand is just to be consistent. We can find Waldo in the crowd of variety because Waldo consistently wears the same red and white clothes; we have come to expect this. Create your Waldo and let your consumers know how to identify you.