- Joanna Konefal
Branding. It’s not just about a logo
Updated: Nov 16, 2020
How to create a vision for your business
Logo vs logotype
Brand assets and guidelines
Accuracy for web and social media
“Design is the silent ambassador of your brand”
- Paul Rand
Both a name and a logo instantly identify your business helping it emerge in the sea of competitor brands. This is, however, just the very first step in creating a brand identity - in order to maintain the cohesion, become recognisable and establish a professional tone, a respectable business will follow a certain set of rules (brand guidelines) and ensure accuracy according to the context where its brand is marketed. Let’s have a look at a few ideas below.
Choosing a name for your business is an excellent exercise in human communication. Brainstorming, whether solo, with a business partner, or a friend, will help express the strongest ideas and associations connected with the new brand. There are many considerations to take into account, from the sound, the ease to understand it from hearing and the legibility of a written word. In case of abstract names, which can be highly versatile, it is particularly important that they suit the purpose and don’t clash with an intended image.
Bottom line, whatever name you choose, there is no room for confusion - if something doesn’t quite sound right or makes sense, review it! Once you set on a name for your business, bear in mind practical aspects of owning a business name. You will need to confirm that the name is not protected by any copyrights and that it is available for you to use i.e. you can buy a website domain for this name.
Useful link to check if a domain is already taken: https://whois.net
Image: Green Choices Design for Bibendum - creating an identity for a wine brand targeting 20/30 year old who refuse traditional wine image and look for a sophisticated meaningful modern product. Brainstorming (left) and the final choice 'Origin' using beautifully crafted font and playing with the letter 'g' to add meaning to the name.
2. Logo vs logotype
Sometimes simplicity is in place - for example to create a signature that accompanies your product (i.e. a logotype - a logo made of letters only), other times adding a highly personalised graphical element showcases the unique value your company brings to its customers. I feel like logo design may be a bit of a grey area for non-designers who sometimes struggle to understand the value, namely the workload in the creative process of making the very first brand footprint. On one end of the spectrum there are simple tools available online which enable anyone to create a logo for themselves based on a few questions, for free! These are based on templates and predictions, and will never be fully personalised nor offer fine-tuning opportunities to ensure the highest standard of typographic accuracy, versatility or contrast.
On the other side, the elaborate process of creating a new logo may take months and include input from different stakeholders, all in the effort to produce a mark that is the right essence of the value proposition offered by a brand. There is, of course, the middle point where business owners make decisions based on the resources they are willing to put against a logo design. For a designer having some time for research and to try out different creative ideas will bring different results than rushing to pick a colour and font based on a few initial assumptions. Bringing clear ideas to the table, always saves time (and money) and gives a better chance of producing a stunning logo.
Image: Green Choices Design for Nuko [work in progress] - logo for a gender reveal company which doesn't want to fall in the typical pink-blue cliche, instead, aiming to support the gender respect while creating magical moments for parents, friends and family.
3. Brand assets and guidelines
So you’ve got a logo! It’s worth considering the use of it at a different scale, in different formats, digital and print, within different shape forms i.e. social media profile pictures, avatars, even little details like the top of a website displayed in a browser or a symbol that shows up in Google searches. Depending on the business, considerations will vary from a few millimetres displayed on a mobile app (or comparison app where it gets even smaller) to vehicle wrap or even environmental design. Consider not only the definition and legibility but also the colour context - best logos will work on light and dark background, and will remain recognisable all in white or black, for example when placed on posters for sponsored events, or partners’ section of a website.
Brand Guidelines Document will include recommendations for the correct use of logo, as well as clearly define what is not allowed. It may also include simplified variations or colour variations, if the designer feels like you would benefit from having a couple of options apart from the main one. The document will define the colour palette which can go in line with the logo or may be complimentary, and is a great resource to refer to for website design and producing on and offline marketing assets. Other elements forming brand identity include: typography, tagline, style, tone of voice, values, textures and graphic elements.
Image: Green Choices Design for Breathing Heart - the client came to us for a re-brand; they preserved the already existing logo, explained strategic goals and we came up with a series of recommendations (a few examples above); we also used new guidelines to re-design their website.
4. Accuracy for web and social media
Marketing your product online means it will be put in lots of different contexts and formats, and we want to ensure that it will always successfully identify your value proposition. Consistency is key, however, it is not to say that you cannot use a few variations if it makes more sense while preserving the same tone. For example, if you use your logo as a Facebook profile picture which always goes accompanied with a business name, it may be worth stripping the main logo from the logotype, or if there is no graphic element, simplifying the logotype in order to obtain better legibility and stand out more.
Your own website, Google pages, internet browsers, online market places and social media - they each have their own way of displaying brand assets. In order for your product to stand out in the crowd, it’s best to take advantage of those display functionalities. A good practice to follow is to pay attention to details as you browse other websites - if something draws your attention, bring it up with your designer and chances are you could make it into an asset for your brand too.
Image: Green Choices Design - our logo consists of a simple form and a logotype where letters have been optimised for legibility and balance. Green square provides countless opportunities to use as an asset, here seen as a playful take on a facebook profile picture where the logo has been stripped off the letters for a stronger visual effect. For Linkedin profile we opted for a more straight forward image due to the nature of the platform. All three - the full logo, the mark used on facebook and the one used on Linkedin seamlessly identify the brand using variations in each context to its advantage.
5. Creative branding
Getting inspiration from others is key for any creative process. Collecting and combining ideas from a digital world helps to give a shape to a brand new design. Let’s not forget there is a whole world waiting for us once we hit the sleep button on a mobile screen or close the laptop lid! The physical world brings countless opportunities for extended branding, and there is no rule of a thumb saying it is meant for big brands only. In a campaign for Amazon Rainforest Awareness we used multiple physical surfaces to create interest and draw attention to the cause. Our means to it was a personalised pattern that was applied in unexpected places such as a roof of a building visible from a departing plane, to simple T-shirts design. More about the project here.
We also included a pattern design when creating an identity for a bento restaurant, in order to bring some fun and interest to their paper bags - an alternative to simply placing a logo on each side. And if the design is nice enough, the bag stands a better chance of being reused too!
Image: Green Choices Design for Tanuki bento restaurant - name, brand concept and identity design from scratch.
Why not head to Everything Creative section of our website for a few extra examples of branding and designs that transform physical objects and space, and create added value to the brands.
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