Within consumer and B2B markets there are thousands of brands vying for our attention, so it’s important to get your messages through to your target audience. To do this effectively, a brand needs to be distinct enough to stand out. There are various elements within branding that will help to achieve this, and not just the logo!
Whether starting a new brand or evolving an existing one, all the elements below will help to evaluate the success of your own brand in relation to your business, and more importantly, your customers.
Brand - What is it?
The process of creating a recognisable brand is a creative and delicate process, but initially, it’s a strategic process.
Within the strategic decisions that need to be made, you need to ask yourself some important questions, such as “What is our mission/vision?”, “What are our values?”, “What do we promise to deliver?”, and “What makes us different?”.
Then the more well-known elements of branding follow. These may include the name, logo, imagery, strap line, tone of voice, packaging etc...the list goes on and on.
Combined, these statements provide the foundations for your brand identity. Your brand identity is very important, because it defines who/what your business is compared to the competition - it’s differentiation visualised. And above all, this is what will help you gain valuable, loyal customers.
Think of an iconic brand - Coca-Cola for example. Their brand identity is so memorable because they’ve put a lot of consideration into every element of their identity. From their name/type face, to their strap line, and most memorably, the shape of the bottle. They even helped to develop the iconic image of Father Christmas that we’re all familiar with today.
The graphic elements explained.
From a creative perspective, a brand can be divided into primary and secondary elements. Together they form your visual identity.
Think of your logo as the company flag. Visually it’s one of your most important assets and so should be distinctive and memorable. But more importantly, it’s a unique mark for your business. Also bear in mind how versatile the logo is, it should always be designed to be clear and legible at a variety of sizes, when reversed out of a colour or used in black and white.
Let’s be clear, this does not mean the process for thinking of the name, but rather how the name is represented in a visual sense. In Coca-Cola’s case, their name and logo are combined. The initials for General Electric set within the blue circle are instantly recognisable, and without the name this wouldn’t be the case necessarily. So many other brands wouldn’t have their iconic logo if it weren’t for the name.
Now let’s talk about the secondary elements. When put together and applied creatively, these elements provide the highest degree of visual brand differentiation.
San serif or serif, classic or contemporary, cursive or stamp effect? Despite the thousands of different typefaces available, there will always be one or two which successfully demonstrate visual distinctiveness and reflect the brand personality. With thoughtful use of typography, marketing communications are made clear and engaging.
As a matter of best practice, it is considered acceptable for your brand to incorporate two different typefaces. One is chosen as a main typeface because it has a comprehensive font family, which means the different font weights are ideal for use of body or headline copy. Another may be chosen for its unique properties and used specifically for promotional messages.
As with the choice of typeface, colour palettes are designed to be distinctive and to differentiate your brand from your competitors. When choosing brand colours, consider whether they reflect some of the brand values, or are sympathetic to the industry/sector in which your business operates. e.g: green for environmental, dark colours for industrial.
In contrast, sometimes selecting colours which are diametrically different from what people would expect is a bold and confident way of setting yourself apart.
There is no real limit to how many colours a palette should include, but as a guide six to seven is usually acceptable. This should be ample to deliver consistency and variation into communications without creating an over-powering rainbow effect.
Imagery is an important way of telling a story, delivering emotional messages and engaging people. Be it photography or illustration, image style should help capture ‘the spirit of who you are’. Finding a specific style of which you can take ownership is vital to help you stand out from your competitors.
Tone of Voice
Tone of voice is fundamental as it allows your audience to engage with the brand. Using a brand voice expresses unique personality, but always keep your audience in mind. Look at the different ways Virgin Atlantic and Emirates talk to their customers. One is very tongue-in-cheek, whilst the other is much more serious. Now imagine if they were to swap this around - would their customers relate to them in the same way? Probably not.
Once the primary and secondary elements have been established, a successful brand must appear consistent across all forms of media. Hence the importance of brand guidelines. They ensure anyone involved with the brand respects and champions the visual representation of who you are. They should also inspire rather than feel rigid and inflexible.
More than a logo.
So from proposition, to visual execution, through to implementation, your brand really is about much more than just a logo. Your brand is the very core of who you are.
Post written by Nicola.