Six ingredients to a healthy brand
Here are some simple and easy tips for optimising your existing brand or developing a new one.
- Don’t try to do everything in one logo
There are many things I love to eat. I love a great, thin crust pizza with a simple range of ingredients. I also love big, fluffy waffles covered in chocolate ice-cream and one thing I can never go past is my mum’s pumpkin soup. However, just because I love all these individual foods doesn’t mean I can cram all the flavours together to make a super food. Indeed, quite the opposite. What I would end up with would be confusing to look at and unpleasant to eat. The same applies to your branding and logo. You need to work out the few distinct attributes about your brand and celebrate them. Avoid trying to cram every single attribute or value of your company into a logo. Too many elements can do more harm than good. Do one thing and do it well.
- Use colour
Chances are if I show you a certain shade of purple you will be subconsciously reminded of a certain chocolate company (or perhaps a fantastic news site). Even while walking through a shopping centre, without looking directly at a logo, the corner of your eye will tell you which supermarket chain you walked past depending on whether it was green or red. Colour can communicate a brand extremely well, very quickly and very simply. You don’t pay any more for ink when you get something professionally printed and coloured pixels cost the same as white ones. Don’t be afraid to use big bold blocks of colour instead of white to convey your brand – unless, of course, your brand uses white.
- Use the right fonts
Does your designer always use fonts you don’t have? Good. They’re doing their job properly. I’m sorry to break it to you, but the default fonts on your computer are boring. Very boring and overused. And the ones that are “interesting” are possibly the last ones you should use. I recommend Comic Sans for writing comics and Papyrus for typing the star signs in local newsletters… and that’s about it. For Word, PowerPoint and email it’s okay to use your default fonts. That’s industry standard. But don’t limit your brand to these fonts. Most designers have access to a wider range of fonts which can bring personality to your brand. Where it’s possible, use these fonts. But then also prepare yourself to be OK with substituting where you can’t. Your designer should be more than happy to help you work out which ones are best to use.
- Have some kind of styleguide
It may be slightly ironic of me writing this, because we don’t have an active style guide for our own brand. With an in-house team, we haven’t had to commission any designers to do design work and all our fonts, colour palettes, styles and common objects are saved in templates. However, most companies don’t have their own in-house design team. They may have a designer here, a printer there and a web provider they approach from time to time. Chances are each has their own folder of assets for your brand, they’ve based everything they’ve done off your logo and as a result your brand doesn’t look too cohesive. I’ve seen brands where absolutely nothing matches apart from the logo. Save money in the long run and have a consistent brand by investing in a simple style guide early on.
- Language is important
Often overlooked and usually very important. If your brand needs to communicate to consumers this is not something you can easily ignore. How Boost Juice talks to its customers is very different to how David Jones does. Even within the same markets brands differentiate themselves with different tones. Take note of the direction you think is best for your company and educate your staff and communications team on what tone is expected: from answering the phones to formal written communication, social media posts and advertising.
- Have a bit of fun
There are enough white pages out there with small black text and a logo in the top corner. If you have the chance to do something fun or different with your brand, then do it. A brand is more memorable and engaging if it is interesting. Give your designers a bit of freedom to do what they do best and create something that communicates boldly and clearly. Big photos and big colours rarely fail to give an impression and often say more than you think.
Cameron Jones is the Art Director at leading strategic communications consultancy Cannings Purple. If you have any further questions or enquiries feel free to contact him direct at firstname.lastname@example.org
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