Brand Design is often underestimated yet it’s so important for every business. Whether you’re just starting out, or have a reasonably well-established business, brand design should be one of your key focuses. Let’s see why…
Brand Design Is An Expression Of Your Core Identity
(not some afterthought)
Now, it’s often tempting — especially when you are first starting out — to choose the most cost-effective brand design solutions out there. You know what I’m talking about: those online platforms where you can get logos created for less than $10 or €10 depending on where you are in the world.
Don’t get me wrong, these platforms can be wonderful starting blocks to help get your brand identity off the ground. But that’s all it should be — a starting block. Don’t fall into the trap of relying on such solutions in the long term.
After all, your brand is what sets you apart from your competition. It shows the marketplace who you are and makes you instantly recognisable when you use it consistently in all your messaging. When someone is connected to their brand, then they are connected to their business. This goes for the founder of the business and every member of the team.
One of the ways I determine if a business owner has invested in their brand identity is by asking them this simple question: Do you love it? And I mean really love it. If they hesitate, even for a second, I know they’re not 100% sure and that answers my question. If they smile with pride and say “yes”, I know their brand is truly representing them and what they stand for.
I often ask the same question of employees when they share a business card or a social media post with their branding on it. You can tell by their reactions how vested they are in the brand and, ultimately, the business. It can be an indication of how they understand the business mission and what their role is in making it happen.
Solid Brand Design Serves As A Visual Shortcut
Take Nike, for example. Their brand is so powerful that you don’t even need to see the words to know it’s a Nike product. That simple swoosh tells you it’s Nike and you don’t need to ask any more questions.
This isn’t a coincidence. Nike has spent years and huge sums of money defining, growing and refining their brand — and it’s paid off!
With the simple swoosh, Nike has successfully created a visual shortcut that most people immediately associate with their brand. Consider how powerful that is!? Someone sees the swoosh on a pair of trainers and knows they’re made by Nike.
Another great example is Amazon. You know their logo: the simple smile with an arrow going from A-Z. Did you even notice there was a smile? Maybe not. Many people don’t, but that’s one of the subtle things that makes Amazon’s logo so powerful.
The addition of a simple smile in the form of an arrow adds another (very subtle) layer to Amazon’s brand. Nobody wants to be seen as one-dimensional, right? Which is why this simple addition is so important.
The Difference Between A Brand Designer And A Graphic Designer
I absolutely advocate that people should invest in their brand identity. In fact, it’s one of only about four areas that I genuinely think people should invest in. Why? Because the money you spend on creating a solid brand pays for itself over and over again.
One of the mistakes business owners make when they are looking to create a brand is to employ the services of a graphic designer, without really thinking about what the objective is here. Brand design is not a tick box exercise that you need to just get out of the way. It’s a strategic fundamental that has a direct impact on growth. Yes, I really did say – direct impact!
Brand Design is communication at a gut level. Building relationships with customers, employees, investors, suppliers and other stakeholders requires communication that resonates and goes deep. Brand design allows you to go deep without having to articulate every single nuance to your business.
Creating a brand, or visual identity requires a fundamentally different skill set than a graphic designer that you might use for rolling out the critical everyday design needs of a business.
A Graphic Designer Is Someone You Will Give Specific Directions To. A Brand Designer Is Someone You Will Share Your Dream With. Click To Tweet
A Brand Designer is someone who knows how to hear your story and tell it visually in a way that represents your uniqueness, your values, your purpose, your mission, your vision. It’s more than a logo or an icon. It’s a moment where you fall in love with who you are.
Quite often, brand designers will pick up on something you’ve said or something they’ve seen and incorporate it into your finished brand identity. You might not have even seen this for yourself, but when you do as part of your brand identity, it will feel 100% right.
Once you’ve decided on your strategic positioning and prepared a comprehensive brand design brief, the results that come back from your brand designer can be astounding.
The client usually sees themselves and their business in a whole new light, with a whole new identity, one that perfectly defines them. I see clients stand straighter because now they’re wanting to fill the shoes of the brand they see in front of them. It makes them level up their game and step into the best version of themselves and their businesses. The impact is quite transformational.
Top Tips For Working with Your Brand Designer
Use these 8 Top Tips to maximise your relationship with your brand designer.
- Invest in a brand designer who’s creative and whose work you love.
You and your brand designer are embarking on an intimate relationship where you will be sharing the essence of who you are and why you are in business. It’s no good employing the services of someone you don’t really click with
- If a brand designer says they’ll do six or ten different designs for you, they’re not really a brand designer. Why? Because a true brand designer will present you with just one or two options and that shows they’ve put all their creative juices into unearthing a design that speaks to the heart of who you are.
- Always make sure you get a monochrome version of your brand design.
This is important as you’ll find you use it over and over, for even the simplest applications. A monochrome version of your brand is also an excellent test of just how strong your brand is. If it can stand out in black and white then you know it’s strong enough.
- Always ask for every component of your brand identity as transparent png files. It means you have the freedom to use them in many scenarios, often ones you haven’t even thought of yet. Any brand designer worth their salt will do this readily
- Ask to see your brand identity in situ. So don’t just accept it on a white background, insist on seeing it in action. After all, what really matters is how your branding looks on the wall, on social media, on marketing materials and so on
- Don’t micromanage your brand designer. Give them your story and let them run with it. Let them use their creative juices to come up with something meaningful for you.
- When you’re launching a rebrand, make sure to get rid of all the old stuff. Even a single sign left on a wall can cause blurring between your old brand and your new one. Leaving even the slightest remnants of your old brand up can seriously detract from the impact of your new one. Don’t do it.
- Once you have your new brand identity in place. Give it some space to breathe and evolve. What do I mean by this? Look at Coca-Cola. While they have the same exact shade of red every time, they are constantly re-imagining ways to use their brand to make it resonate.
So, here’s my closing question for you: Do you love your brand? If you do, can you share it with me by commenting on this blog, or emailing me a link/picture? Whatever is easiest for you.
I’d love to collect them and create a wall of living brands we love. What do you think? Shall we do that?