10 Simple Guidelines of Branding & Identity Design
For your small business brand strategy
Small business Branding & Identity Design is a crucial aspect of building a successful business. A strong Brand Identity can support your business stand out in the market, connect really well with your target audience, and create a memorable impression that they remember. However, creating a strong Brand Identity isn’t always easy. There are certain guidelines that small business owners can follow to produce a successful Branding and Identity Design. Let’s go through them below :
A basic ‘to-do’ list :
Research Your Target Audience and Market Leaders
Before creating your Brand Identity, it’s important to research your target audience and big market players. Understanding your target audience’s needs, preferences & values, as well as what the market leaders are doing is key. This research can support you to create a strong Brand Identity that resonates with your target audience and sets you apart from the rest of the market. It also gives you a strategic roadmap of how to communicate, in what tone is working, how theyre engaging with the audience and what topics work for them.
Create a Unique Logo and Consistent Brand Personality
Your Logo is the visual representation of your Brand, and it’s important that it’s unique & memorable. Your Brand’s ‘tone-of-voice’ is the personality of the Brand, and the feel of it being consistent across all your communication materials is very important. Both your Logo and Brand ‘tone-of-voice’ need to directly reflect your Brand’s Values & Mission.
Use Colour Psychology Effectively
Colours can have a powerful impact on people’s emotional state and perception. It’s important to use colours that reflect your Brand’s personality & values, and again… that resonate with your target audience. The more they feel you are like them, the more emotionally entangled you both become. Then you are the first brand they think of when the topic cmes up and that’s the point. You have a great service, let them remember it with colour supporting that 100%. For example, green is often associated with nature & health, while red is associated with passion & excitement. Purple = tech & Blue = Corporate, among other things. The psychology goes deep yet working with these simple colour psychology guidelines s a great place to start in having a successful Brand Identity that works for the long run.
Invest in High-Quality Design Assets
Branding & Identity Design that has the vibration of ‘high quality’ can ask any price it wants. So invest in professional design assets so you fit the part, stand out in the market as a ‘quality’ Brand name and let the reviews do the rest. This includes your Logo, Website Design, Business Cards, and any other communication materials need to be consistent and use materials like matte vs. glossy papers, inks, printing methods, colour inks, varnish finishes, textures, materials, etc… all play a major role in creating that look & feel. High-quality design assets can make your brand look professional and supporting the audience to connect your Brand with being trustworthy. Then were back to the great reviews.
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A few guidelines to avoid entirely:
Blindly Following Trends
While it can be tempting to follow the latest design trends, it’s important to remember that trends come and go like the wind and will quickly fall away like last seasons fashion line. Your Brand Identity can be timeless and reflect the Brand’s unique personality & values by simply making the time & giving the energy towards building the necessary parts that can make it great. Following trends can make bring down the perception & vibration of the brand into looking generic, run-of-the-mill and part of the bunch, actually doing the opposite of what you had intended!
Be sure to research ‘great marketing communication campaigns on a budget’ for guerilla market inspiration and to keep it cheap. It will surprise you the major effect it can have when you go against the grain and show up where not expected, which can create that wow factor which were all looking for in our customers / clients minds. INJOY the research!
Use Cliches, Cheesy or Generic Images
Using generic images can make your Brand feel uninspired, dull and bring the worth of the Brand down. Definitely : PASS. It’s important to create a Brand Identity that is unique and memorable with an interesting authentic approach to image usage, colour, type, and all the building blocks of a Brand so your Brand shines it’s unique vibration in the market & attracts who is meant to work with you.
This you may want to leave up to the professionals. Hence why designers are a ‘thing’ in this world. We know, from experience, what works, what doesn't and with years built up, can offer great solutions, quickly & easily. Even better, when youve got a designer who can co-create with you, you are really onto something then. Thatswhat we call a ‘keeper’.
Use Too Many Fonts & Colours
This is one of the ways Brands visually can go sideways and off-the-rails. Trendy script fonts or cursive, hand-written fonts maybe all the rage, yet when everyones using it, it doesn't stand out anymore, it all goes to the background in a big blur. Its not seen anymore as unique. It’s trendy or generic. Like buying design on Etsy or Fiverrr. Cheap, run-of-the-mill, $5 solutions from desktop publishers that add very little value to the look & feel your Brand needs.
Applying too many colours create an experience or feeling that your Brand is cluttered, messy and confusing. Which is the opposite of what we all love. We want quality convenience & simplicity. So stick to a 1-2 fonts and a small group of colours in the palette and claim them as part of the Brand’s personality and values. Over time they can change yet set it in stone first, create for a while and over time if a change is needed, its ok, Brands evolve, yet good choices can support yourBrand lasting for a long time and looking fresh no matter how long you've been working with a palette of colours & fonts. Its all in how you use it. Over time this can create a cohesive and professional look & feel which can attract customers & clients you want.
Forgetting about White Space
Less is more. White is free space, open & allows the eye to experience the design in a new way when used well. White space or ‘negative space’, is the area around and in-between visual, positive design elements. Neglecting whitespace can make your Branding and Identity Design cluttered and overwhelming. Too many background colours, gradients, images behind text all create too much for the eye to process and at time it can be jarring, even too jarring that we can slip it altogether. The opposite effect. Using white space effectively is how design mastery can occur. It’s in the white space. Allowing the communication elements room to breathe, giving them focus and attention. By using white space effectively, you can create an inspired, clean and balanced Design which people will love looking at. Then they love relating to it because of its simplicity. Then they wants to own it & buy it. Then they want to show others because they could be proud of it. Then you've started a craze and oops, made a million bucks. Next!
Neglect Your Brand Guidelines and Consistency
Once you have created your Brand iIdentity, it’s important to stick to your Brand Guidelines and maintain consistency across all your communication materials. Veering off & using different colours, fonts, changing the logo, using a random image off-topic, etc… can get you into trouble. It could create engagement that your audience doesn't understand or resonate with. Who wants that? Following a clear set of Brand Guidelines and using them consistency over time can make the difference between having a junky, misfit of a Brand & looking professional and attractive.
When you get a rebranding done ora new Brand, be sure to receive & ask for Brand Guidelines. Usage rules are one of the most overlooked and most important aspects of Design. So the Logo looks great, yet how do I use it? Can I turn it sideways, Split it in half, change it colour, fonts, etc...? Setting the ground rules means you can go to any designer and they will be able to run from the get-go. That saves time & money in the long-run, so don’t skip it.
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Successful & Failed Brand Identities
There are many examples of small businesses that have successfully created strong brand identities. One example is Dollar Shave Club, which has built a strong brand identity based on humor, simplicity, and a focus on affordable grooming products for men. Another example is Method, a cleaning products company that has created a fun and eco-friendly brand identity that resonates with its target audience.
On the other hand, there are also examples of small businesses that have failed to create effective brand identities. One example is Juicero, a now-defunct startup that created a high-end juicer but failed to establish a clear brand identity. The company’s branding and identity design were confusing and lacked a clear message, which made it difficult for the company to connect with its target audience and compete with established brands in the market.
Isnt that when you need to be targeted the most? When its an expensive product & service? You’ve got to know your audience so you can speak their language and show them the value & allow them to establish a need. When the message is muddy and the strategy is thin, you've got an uphill battle that will cost more time & money & energy & effort than anyone really needs to put in. Quality in, quality out.
Creating a strong brand identity is essential for small businesses looking to establish themselves in their respective industries. By following these simple guidelines of branding and identity design, you can create a memorable and effective brand identity that resonates with your target audience and sets you apart in the market for the long run.
Small business branding and identity design is not just about creating a logo or a website. It is about creating a consistent and cohesive identity that reflects your brand's values and mission. By investing time and effort into your branding and identity design, you can create a strong foundation for your business's success. Remember to research your target audience and competition, create a unique logo and brand voice, use colour psychology effectively, invest in high-quality design assets, and avoid common mistakes like blindly following trends, using cliches or generic images, using too many fonts or colours, neglecting white space, and neglecting your brand guidelines and consistency.
With a strong brand identity, your small business can build trust with your customers, establish credibility in your industry, and ultimately increase your revenue and ROI to infinity. So take the time to develop your brand identity and invest in professional branding and identity design, and watch your small business thrive.