Moving from Vision to Visuals : How to Bring Your Brand to Life with Visual Branding
As a small business owner, you've read a lot about branding and have worked extensively on creating and effectively communicating your brand. You've come up with a mission statement. You’ve researched your target customers. You know you have a unique story to tell and you’ve carefully crafted a message that you include in your business and marketing plans. Now what?
Branding, in short, is a narrative, a story, about your business. Your visual branding is what brings your story to life. Think of your favorite children’s books. While the words were important, it’s probably the illustrations, drawings, and colors that you drew you in. With some well-crafted words, and a lot of visual indicators, you can tell a story with your brand that catches the attention of your intended audience and entices them to learn more about you and your offerings.
Telling your brand story with visuals—color, photos, type, shapes, and more—is what visual branding is all about. Here are a few keys to focus on as you develop your visual branding.
Keep your logo simple A logo is a mark or type and at its essence should be simple and versatile. Your logo alone does not have to tell the story of your brand. It should, however, serve as a foundation for your branding. A great logo should be appealing, even in black and white, and reproducible at a large or small size. So whether you add it to a billboard, a bottle cap, a shirt, or a business card, your logo will do its job by representing your business.
A strong tagline counts Your tagline is an interesting but concise phrase that describes in a nutshell who you are and what your business does. Although a tagline isn’t really a visual element, a tagline alongside a logo can tell so much about your business. When people see your logo and tagline together, they should quickly get a sense of what you do.
Choose fonts wisely Here’s a little nugget that that I learned in design school and will share with you today. Even a font or typeface alone can tell a story. Every typeface brings with it a history and associations. Some typefaces say “funky disco”, others say “1920s speakeasy”. Even the most basic of font styles can be associated with a specific time in history or industry, so choose type carefully. Stick with one or two key typefaces and make sure you choose typefaces that are readable.
Decide on a photo styling Depending on lighting, angles, perspective, and subject, photography style can vary greatly and can conjure a variety of emotions and feelings. Whether you have photos taken specifically for you or use stock photos, you want to keep the style consistent and make sure your photos convey the desired message.
Create a color palette Colors can also send messages about your brand. A palette of colors can be used to communicate characteristics like strength, femininity, optimism, and dependability. Find a palette of 3-5 key complementary colors that speak to your message and customers. Be consistent with the use of these colors on your website and marketing materials. It’s ok to have some variation in colors for interest, but you should stick with one or two colors that serve as the glue.
Develop a style guide Large companies typically hire an agency to develop a brand style guide. Most small businesses don't have the budget or resources for an extensive style guide, however, by developing and documenting some brand standards up front (like color palette, logo usage, and overall brand visuals), you’ll have a go-to resource that you can share with various designers and web and media professionals as needed to help maintain consistency.
Kia Dolby is a brand strategist and designer who truly loves you and your brand. When she is not working, she enjoys blogging about design and style, playing with her three boys, traveling, and vegetarian cooking. Learn more about Kia here: www.brightsmithcreative.com.
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