Olivia M Design

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What is Branding?

What do you think of when you hear the word ‘branding’? Maybe you think of brand names like Nike or Chick-Fil-A. Or maybe you think of iconic logos like the Olympics rings or Starbucks mermaid. While logos are a big part of branding, there’s a lot more to it than that.

If I asked you to describe your best friend, what you would you say? Would you tell me their hair color, eye color, height, and weight? Or would you tell me how funny they are and how much they love french fries? When it comes to branding, it goes far beyond just looks. It’s the personality of the brand, the way it acts, thinks, feels, as well as looks. This is called brand identity.

Brand Identity

Brand identity includes things like logo, color palette, tone of voice, style of photography, and how the company advertises. All of these things should be first influenced by the brand’s core values and mission statement, and second by their target market. Eco friendly companies usually have neutral colors in their palette and they probably wouldn’t be handing out hundreds of paper flyers. Restaurants usually lock down on their style of food photography and target their advertising to people searching for local restaurants.

When it comes to target market, you want to make sure that they people the product or company were made for are seeing and loving it. If it’s a company who wants to sell to millennials, advertising in the newspaper isn’t a good choice. If it’s a company selling to the elderly, Instagram probably isn’t the best outlet. Same goes for look and feel. If your company’s brand identity looks old and outdated, the kids these days won’t give it a second look.

What is included?

So if someone comes to you and asks you to design their branding, what does that include? Well, a lot. But here’s a list of things they might be asking for:

  • Logo
  • Secondary logo (maybe just an icon or simplified version)
  • Color palette
  • Font
  • Photography style
  • Letterhead
  • Business card
  • Social media logos/icons
  • Branded collateral (t-shirts, pens, stickers, etc.)
  • Website design

Obviously this all depends on the company/person that hires you, so make sure you ask for clear direction. There are also so many other things that could be added to this list. But a logo and color palette are usually a good place to start.

When someone comes to me with their new business asking for a logo, I always ask them to give me an overview of the whole company - why they started it, what they want to accomplish with it, who they want to reach - to get an idea of their goals. It really helps turn a somewhat generic logo into something really unique and tailored specifically to that company’s mission.

Some clients will come at you with a color palette and a lot of these things already figured out and just want a logo, but some clients just have an idea, and it’s up to you to craft this brand identity for them. Something that is really helpful for the client to have is a style guide, or brand guidelines. This weekend’s Saturday Skills blog will be all about creating one, so make sure to read that!

Style Guides

Basically, a style guide is a package of the brand identity. When things are being made for a company, they should line up with the guidelines. If the style guide says that you use Futura Bold for headlines, then anywhere there’s a headline it better be in Futura Bold. If the logo can only be in black or white, then you better not ever make it yellow. This keeps everything looking consistent across all platforms, and it makes it easy to have new things created because there’s already a baseline established.

It’s so much easier for me to create something for someone who already has a style guide. For example, I created some packaging for a client, and she sent me her style guide and logo files ahead of time. Not only did this give me a color palette and font, but it made it so easy to design her packaging because I felt like I understood the brand.

Make sure to come back this weekend and read my post about creating a style guide! I’ll break down each section and walk you through a style guide I’ve created myself.