Whether you are starting from scratch, or simply freshening up your brand for the new year, it is very important to understand how your brand looks visually. Sure you have your logo and maybe a business card design, but do you really know what your brand looks like? What is your color palette? What shapes and patterns are associated with your brand? If you were working on a postcard what would it look like? Follow these rules and read on as this might just help.
The 4 Rules
1. Use a consistent color palette
These should be colors that complement the colors used in your logo, but not overpower it. If your logo contains bright pink, don’t use bright colors for your fonts! Although most of us can match well enough to dress ourselves, it’s worth the money to consult with a professional designer who can design a color scheme that will work well with websites and printed material and advise you on how to use it.
2. Stick with a handful of fonts.
It might seem fun to choose a different font for each page or project, but it can come across as amateurish. Choose fonts that are easy to read and work well for a variety of purposes. You can be a bit more creative with fonts used for headlines but again, pick one or two and use it consistently across all of your materials.
3. Use custom design elements.
All of your buttons and icons should coordinate with each other and not be randomly picked. One of the best ways to do this is to have them custom made for your sites by a graphic designer. This way they can be styled to complement your logo, color scheme and the general impression you are going for.
It it’s not possible to get custom design elements, then at least take care and time in picking a set of graphics that work with your site and use them consistently.
4. Use a theme when choosing art/illustrations.
Some sites use only cartoons to illustrate their pages, others use black and white photography or line art or pictures of dogs. You’ll want to choose art that fits the impression you wish to give of your site (whimsical, serious, artistic, etc) and use it consistently.
Having half of the pages on your site illustrated with corporate stock art photography and the other half with clip art drawings is jarring and looks slapped together, not crisp and well thought out.
Why does it matter?
By having the same look and feel across all print and digital materials shows customers your identity, and leaves them with a sense of professionalism.
Look at this image above. I will give you 3 guesses as to what company it represents and the first two don’t count….
Coca Cola has their red, their font, their designs that are so iconic you just know what it is. Building up this sense of identity to your brand is something a business should strive for so people make no mistake ask to what they are looking at.
How do you define your brand identity?
Branding boards are how many companies put an graphical outline of their brand in one place. No matter if you are making postcards, packaging, a new cover photo for social media, or something else, one could look at the board to ensure everything is in check. The colors are correct, the logos are laid out correctly, the right fonts are in use, and more.
A branding board should include:
- Secondary Logos (variations of your logo)
- Color palette
- Patterns/textures to be used across materials
By having all of these elements on one document you can hand the board off to any graphic designer and they should be able to recreate your brand without much back and forth. More importantly though, you can ensure you have a strong brand identity your customers won’t soon forget.