November 19, 2020
What Is Included In A Brand And Why Is It Not Just Your Logo?
Designer, Pacific Northwest Native, Ball Scratcher at the Larson Design Co
If you’ve been following along, welcome to installment number 2 of Design and Sh!t: A Brutally Honest Design Blog. If you haven’t been following along, go read last week’s damn article! We ripped on shitty brands pretty hard last week, and if you remember, I told you to grab your company by the balls and get your branding figured out.
For those of you who refuse to go read last week’s post, let’s have a refresher…
A BRAND IS NOT YOUR LOGO! These days, “brand” is a pretty loose term people use to describe their logo. While a logo is important, it isn’t your brand; a logo is an ingredient in your brand. Your brand as a whole is expectations, stories, and relationships that influence a customer’s decision to pick your company over another. Making sense? Your logo, packaging, and typography are important, maybe even essential, to a top-notch brand, but they alone aren’t the brand. These things represent your brand. Your brand is that intangible shit we talked about last week. Your brand is a person trying to win the hot girl over from the other guys at school. The girl is the customer and all those meatheads are the companies you have to compete against to win her over.
Today, we’re going to dive into the tangible and intangible shit to find out the ingredients of a brand. With our brand definition in mind, we’re going to talk about the key elements of a brand identity that help with brand strength, consistency, and attracting customers. In other words, we’re going to make you irresistible to the hot girl at school!
Have a clear purpose
Your purpose is your reason for even existing as a brand. What gives your company life? What pumps blood through your company’s veins? Defining these is essential in the branding process as it will give you a clear purpose and style to work with. This is also where you should write your brand story if you haven’t already. For f*** sake, be original! Nobody wants to shop with a knockoff brand. The point is to separate yourself from the competition with your brand story, and who is going to listen to the same story told by a different person? If your message isn’t clear, no one will listen. The secret of branding is to focus constantly on your unfair advantage; the thing you do that others don’t.
The secret of branding is to focus constantly on your unfair advantage; the thing you do that others don't.
Develop a likable personality
Yeah, you. But I’m not talking about you specifically so calm down. I mean develop a likable personality for your brand. Nobody likes a brand that comes off like a total douchebag. If done right, your personality will show throughout your entire brand. If you’re having trouble, think of someone you could see representing the brand. List a few of their personalities and what makes them so cool. Now work those traits into your brand!
Have a memorable logo
Finally! We’re to the part about damn logos. Think your logo is good enough? Try again. Is it memorable enough? While a brand should come first, it should be followed by a logo that enhances the brand as a whole. A good, memorable logo is central to your brand because it is the part of your brand people will see the most. A solid logo will be simple and easily recognizable. I once designed a logo for a tent rental company. Their previous logo was the top of a tent with a flag on it. On my very first google search of “tent rental logos” I saw hundreds of businesses with the same exact icon being used as their logo. Obviously, this wasn’t going to fly because how are you supposed to tell people you’re better when you have the same shitty brand identity and logo as every other business in your industry?
Have an attractive color palette and professional typography
We could write a whole post about each of these topics, but I don’t feel like writing post after post about that shit. Maybe later… Make your colors attractive. Keep them in line with your business and industry. People are used to certain colors meaning certain things. That’s why most corporate logos are blue for professionalism and why most fast food has red in their palette because that color triggers hunger. Obviously don’t rip off another businesses color completely, but there are millions of color palettes to reference. Do what fits your business best or just hire me to do your branding. Typography is an iceberg, meaning it seems simple on the surface. There are lots of details that only professionals might see that go into a solid font. A good tip here is to look up fonts used in famous logos and stick to those. Agencies have either developed or found those fonts and know they work well. Trust the professionals.
Design supporting graphics
Think about Google. Google has a daily logo they use on their search engine and icons for every app. Most designers will include a style guide with a branding project. This will show you proper logo usage, exact color codes, fonts, and even how photos should be edited to fit the brand. This is another reason why it is important to get professional help. Designers have done this before. They have run into these situations and know what you need to keep everything on-brand.
When all this is in place, the next step is to make adjustments as you go. Some things will work, and some things won’t. There is no rule that says when your brand is built, you can’t touch a thing. If people don’t like it, sucks for them. HELL NO! Make adjustments to enhance the customer experience. Over time, you’ll see what’s working and what isn’t. It’s your job to be memorable so the hot girl at school chooses you over those meatheads.