Branding lessons from a design agency: Continued

By The Owen Agency | 25 May 2016

Ok, let's talk about logos (and fonts and images and tone of voice and everything else).

You know what your business does, and you know what you stand for. Tying it together with a series of aesthetic choices will cement this in the mind of your audience as being one, cohesive package. Let's touch on the elements you’ll need to consider:

Your logo is the face of your brand. On your packaging, your adverts, your website, on all that you do, your logo is a seal of approval. It needs to be memorable, reflect who you are, and go beyond just being something you think looks nice.

Your favourite colour might be blue, and you might like ovals more than other shapes, but would that fit in with what your brand is all about? We hear it all the time: “I don’t like this colour, or shape, can we use something else?” It’s fine to have opinions, but unless there’s a customer-focussed reason behind wanting to change something, it won’t help your brand. Step away from your personal preferences and think about what’s best for the business.

Fonts have so many implications for your business. If your business dealt with a sensitive subject, you’d want to show your customers you work with the utmost professionalism. In which case, a more traditional, serif font will work better than a bright and bouncy, bubble typeface.

The images you use also reflect your values. You should consider what each picture you put out there says about you. Sports brands often use imagery that appeals to your innate desire to be better. Imagine you're selling running shoes that will help competitive athletes run faster. You're more likely to show the guy crossing the finish line in first place, than the sluggish one at the back, catching his breath.

Would you trust the authenticity of a restaurant claiming to offer the ultimate fine dining experience if it used words like 'yummy' or ‘value’? Tone of voice needs to be right across all of your messaging. There are words you would use, and words you wouldn't. Make sure you know what they are. Or risk looking like something you’re not.
Consider the impact of your design choices and the words you use, and whether it all makes sense. Doing so will help you convey the right message to your audience with consistency. If you’d like to read about design in more detail, we have a paper on the psychology of design.

Your brand extends so much further beyond the examples listed above. Things like the building you work in, the dress code (or lack thereof) for your staff, and your social presence are also important. Everything people can see or access contributes to your brand capital. Which brings us to our last point:
Be consistent. Read the next section to find out how.

Guardians of the brand

Two identical men stand side by side at the edge of a cliff. Their faces paint a picture of panic and sincerity as they try to convince a girl holding a gun that the person stood beside them is, in fact, the impostor. It’s a Sci-Fi trope as old as the genre itself. And you know how it ends: after some internal conflict, the girl raises the gun and shoots the pretender based on some seemingly insignificant blip in their mannerisms.

People notice when something’s different. If your brand isn’t consistent with its representation of itself, people will find it jarring. Many businesses have made mistakes on social media or have sent out an advert that is way off the mark. Once it’s out there, it’s out there, and it’s part of how people will think of you.

It’s harder to fix a brand’s reputation after a slip up than it is to maintain it in the first place. So, once you have your brand worked out. You need to put the time into developing a set of brand guidelines. These will cover all of the criteria we outlined earlier and, if they’re well put together, they’ll help you to avoid misrepresentation of your brand.

These should include:

· Instructions on how to use your logo – think about sizes, margins and alignment.

· Clear rules for which typefaces should be used.

· What your brand’s colours are, and their acceptable uses.

· Examples of the types of image which are suitable, and some examples of those which aren’t.

· Guidance on your tone of voice – include some examples of words you’d use over others.

These guidelines can be as in-depth or as simple as you choose. But, the less you leave to the imagination, the lower the chance of someone making a mistake with your brand.

Bringing it all together.

Put the time into establishing who you are, who your competitors are and what values are at the heart of your business. Be wary of jumping straight into designing or naming your brand without having meaning behind it.

Do whatever it is you do, but do it with consistency. Erratic behaviour and messages that contradict your values will undermine your brand. People notice when you're off, and they will point it out. Repeatedly. Make it so that whatever you do is unquestionably in line with your business by always relating back to the rules of the brand you've built.

Because nothing is more valuable to a business than a bulletproof brand.

The Owen Agency
The Owen Agency is a web development design and marketing agency located in Hampshire, UK with over 45 years experience in creating memorable marketing campaigns.