When you think of a brand, most people think of a company’s logo. However, a brand is much more than a logo. True, the logo serves as a central hub and baseline for the visual brand, but there is much more to it than that. Don’t get me wrong, a company’s logo holds a lot of weight as it is the first thing most people will notice. The logo also sets the tone for the branding of a company as well, so it is a very important piece of the puzzle. Let’s run through all the elements that compose a company’s visual brand.
Logos can quickly say a lot about your company and what you do, so it is important for your logo to mirror your mission in some way. Logos should always be rendered consistently, but you can have variations based on placement and usage. For example, you may have a default orientation but offer an alternate orientation for certain circumstances. Another common variation example would be a one color version of your logo. It’s important that all variations have the same essential qualities and not be dramatically different from one another.
You must be explicit about the usages in the brand guidelines so the logo is used appropriately at all times. Scalability is also a key component, as a good logo can scale up or down and be easily identifiable. If details are easily lost at smaller sizes, you might want to think about simplifying your logo.
Another large part of a company’s visual brand is color. Colors evoke feelings and emotions that work at a subliminal level. You want to make sure you use a color palette that illustrates your core company beliefs and directives so that you communicate that to your audience. You would not only use these colors in your logo, but also in other brand materials such as your website, business cards, promotional materials, presentations, documents, printed materials etc. When creating your color palette, you’ll want to choose 2-3 key colors to use. Too many colors can be overwhelming and can make the branding muddy. Once the color palette is determined it is important to be consistent. You’ll find that consistency is key when it comes to branding. Inconsistencies send confusing messages to your audience and make you look unprofessional as well.
Believe it or not, but the typefaces or fonts you use communicate personality and set tone for your audience. A study called the Aesthetics of Reading even found that good typography induces a good mood. First, it is key, that you choose fonts that are legible for obvious reasons. Second, you want to use fonts that fit the tone of the brand. Serif fonts, which have letters with short lines coming off the edges, are view more as formal and traditional. Sans-serif fonts, which have no serifs, are viewed as more informal and playful. Sans-serif fonts are also more suited for digital media like website and applications. Script fonts resemble handwriting which can make them hard to read. Lastly there are decorative fonts, that are highly unique and very informal. Decorative and script fonts can be used for headings or in logos, but aren’t best used for body copy. When creating brand guidelines, you’ll also want to determine the proper letter spacing and line height for text as these also important factors your audience will be influence by.
Visual branding creates consistency, trust, credibility and familiarity. Making the wrong choices with your visual brand identity can be disastrous. Think about your company’s message and mission and make sure the logo, colors and typography reinforce them. Create a brand style guide that you can share with all your employees so that they have a reference to maintain consistency. If need be, police the usage of branding elements to make sure everyone is being compliant as not everyone respects or understands the value of consistency. With a harmonious visual brand your company will have a loud and clear voice that speaks volumes to your audience.