By Lauren Donnelly
There is nothing worse than seeing a business with a great idea and concept fail to communicate successfully to their audience due to a lack of consistent branding. Visually, a brand personality should shine through at all times, appealing to your target audience without having to speak a word. Colors, fonts, logos and graphics all help to do this by communicating a brand’s personality immediately, before a potential customer even knows what is it that your brand does.
For example, a bright and colorful color scheme could denote a fun, young brand with a teenage demographic, while a rich and conservative coloring could speak to an older, more traditional audience who would be interested in a brand of the same connotations. What I’m trying to say is: your brand personality should match its image, which should entice your target audience.
So, first thing’s first: what actually is your brand’s personality? An easy question on the surface but there are a lot of elements you must first consider before defining your brand. To make this a little clearer, answer these questions to yourself.
Is your brand:
• Serious or fun?
• Reserved or outspoken?
• Modern or traditional?
• Premium or accessible?
• Feminine or masculine?
• Large or small?
• Fresh or established?
• Calculated or spontaneous?
• Corporate or friendly?
When thinking about the answer to these questions, you should feel a nicely rounded brand personality begin to take shape. From here, establishing an image to match the personality should be your next port of call.
Establishing consistent branding is key here. The logo, font, color scheme and overall graphic style of your image should ideally tie together seamlessly, with no conflicting elements.
The key to a great logo is to make it memorable. What says McDonalds more than the golden ‘M’? Who would Nike be without their legendary tick logo? The simpler the better, logos should be easily recognizable and not too fussy.
Want to include your brand’s name? Great, throw it in. Just remember that while ‘Connolly’s Graphic Design Company’ might be a perfectly fine brand name, trying to squeeze that onto a logo is not advisable. Do not be afraid to abbreviate your name on your logo; it makes a longwinded title more digestible, and leaves a lasting impression. You can always communicate your company’s full name somewhere where you have a little more space.
This would also be a good time to decide on the typography of your visual branding.
The font of your brand image can be a really simple and subtle way to send your target audience a message about your brand personality.
Serif typefaces: There are a few variations of serif font. There’s the traditional ‘old style’ (think Times New Roman), with a slanted serif style, the neoclassical style, with a more flicked or curled serif for a slightly more fancy appearance, or the slab serif, with a typewriter-esque look. Use these for a look that is:
Sans serif typefaces: Again, there are multiple variations of the san serif font, too. Generally, it boils down to a more angular formation of the letters vs. a more curved, all with blunt ended letters. Use sans serif if your company is:
Script typefaces: Obviously a fancier way of communicating to your target audience, scripts can be seen in a few different representations. There are formal scripts, which derive from historical formal writing styles. Then there are the more calligraphic script fonts, which are slightly less ceremonial. You could use a Blackletter script for a brand image that is reminiscent of a historical manuscript, or go for an entirely casual feel with a looser brush script. Use these for a brand that is:
• Generally upscale (not so much with casual scripts)
Then there are of course the decorative scripts, which come in all manner of shapes and sizes. These should generally be limited to logos and signage, where a strong statement is required.
Next on your branding tick list should be choosing the color scheme of your visual branding. Colors are a great way of communicating your personality without actually having to say anything whatsoever.
Choose warm colors for a happy, optimistic, confident and cheerful company (McDonalds, Virgin, Coca Cola).
Cool colors should be reserved for strong, dependable, calm and balanced businesses (Facebook, HP, WordPress).
An in-between coloring like purple or pink tends to resonate with a creative and imaginative brand (Cadbury’s, Barbie, Yahoo!).
A logo that incorporates primary colors seems to be diverse, accessible and impactful (think eBay, Google or Microsoft).
No color at all speaks for a simple and straightforward brand that has a singular purpose (Apple, newspaper logos, Mercedes).
Other Visual Elements
Obviously, your visual graphics are going to consist of more than a colorful font and logo, so here are some final elements to consider when composing your brand image:
Rounded elements: Easy, fun, casual, modern
Space: Simplicity, corporate, streamlined, professional
Square elements: Formal, authoritative, mature
Patterns: Attention to detail, fun, young, quirky
So, now that you have got the basics, go forth and create your perfect visual branding campaign! You now have the initial facts needed to create one that will successfully speak to your target audience, whatever that may be! You are sure to make a lasting impact on all those who come across it.