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Branding: Keep It Consistent

Brand Identity: The Run Down

 
What look does your company use in its brand identity?

Brand-Identity-graphic

 

A brand identity is more than slapping your logo on a business card, typing your info in Arial font and moving on. Having a solid brand means coordinating your marketing and company communications in a fluent, easy-to-recognize format.

For example, if you are a manager of a hotel you have to consider all the potential points of contact a guest may have with you.  First, the guest may find you on the internet so your website look and feel should match your company’s physical culture and brand. And if they find your brochure at the local tourist information bureau? The brochure should match the website that your guest will most likely look up on their smart phone when they scan your QR code. If the colors and composition of the brochure involve orange and pink triangles while your website has blue and red squares, the guest may be confused about what they are seeing. If you’ve done it right, your guest may show up at the lobby. From there, everything from the directional signage, door hangers, wall graphics and in-room service menus should follow the same rules of graphic design to create a single, cohesive message.

So how do you create a single brand identity that will flow across your company’s communications? Here are a few basic strategies to use as guidelines:

  1. Typeface: Your company should only use one or two typefaces (or fonts) within your communications guidelines. You may want a more decorative or bold font for headlines, while choosing a simple font for body text. There are a lot of things to consider when choosing your font including style. Do we want to look modern? Classic? Elegant? Fun?
  2. Colors: A good brand identity will always stick to a color palate. While each company is unique, most companies do well with two to three colors that they adopt as their “Corporate Colors.” Some companies only use one color combined with black and white. Think about Facebook: everyone knows that shade of blue. In addition to picking your colors, it is important to be specific. We don’t want just red and blue, we want Kangaroo Red and Battlestar Blue. The CMYK build of your colors should always be consistent, as most printers will print with a CMYK 4-color printing process. However, you can also choose a Pantone color as your corporate color which guarantees the color will match and is therefore great for certain printing applications.
  3. Graphics: The brand identity you adopt for your company should follow a logically driven strategy for your branding. This can be a broad guideling, like agreeing to always try to incorporate a checkerboard pattern into your design. It can also be very specific. If your logo must always sit on a white background, what dimension of white space do you need to allow for your logo to sit freely? For example, a company could always use a solid red bar that anchors the left side of our printed materials: is the bar a quarter inch thick or a half inch thick? Perhaps your company only uses line drawings to illustrate your message, or maybe you agree to only use photography. Once you come up with your graphic guidelines, run it across all of your business stationary including business cards, letterhead, envelopes, notepads, brochures and all of your advertisements and promotional products as well.
  4. Communications: Consider your audience when coming up with the message of your marketing efforts. If you are selling a house in the Washington Park Neighborhood, it might make sense to sell the neighborhood. Tell your audience about the ice cream shop down the block when writing the content for your home flier. If your audience is fun 20-something young professionals, your communications may be more whimsical to bring that audience into your doors. Likewise, if you need to appeal to formal business partners your messaging should follow a consistent pattern of straight-forward communications. Your graphics should support your communication efforts – don’t compete with or contradict your message by getting off topic with the photo you’ve chosen.

Last, remember that your brand identity should work as a system. In fact, one of the common phrases to describe a brand is “Corporate Identity Systems.”  Your colors, graphics and typefaces should all support your messaging. You should settle on a guide for implementing your brand and follow through with it. Your brand identity should also be diverse enough that it does not get stale over time – and remember that as your brand grows so will your brand identity.

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