Getting your branding design right isn’t an easy task.
That’s why professional agencies that offer branding services exist. To take care of your company branding design for you.
Your branding design (or brand identity) is the visual representation of your brand strategy. It’s what you believe in and what you stand for as a company, brought to life.
Your brand identity is designed and developed to communicate directly with your target audience.
And it’s important to remember that throughout the entire branding process:
Your branding design is not for you. It’s for your customers.
You need to reach them directly, and if that flies in the face of the design you like, then so be it!
Remember, branding design and your brand identity is a marketing tool, and should be treated as such.
Whether working with a design agency, or going it alone, you should be looking to create a great brand identity for your business.
Let’s dive into our top branding design tips!
Start with Your Brand Strategy
You shouldn’t even be thinking about your branding design, or brand identity, until you have your brand strategy locked down.
If you’re unsure about your brand strategy, then check out our handy ten step guide to developing yours.
As a quick overview, you want to ask yourself the following questions:
- What are our values?
- What is our mission?
- What story do we want to tell?
- What does our target audience look like?
- How will we reach them?
This should give you a good starting point.
At a bare minimum, you should be completely clued up about your customers;
Who are they? When do they come to us? Why would they choose us? Where do they shop? What do we do that’s different?
These are all questions you should be able to answer without hesitation.
However, do check out our brand strategy post if you need more assistance in creating your brand strategy.
Draw Out Your Branding Deliverables
With every branding design project, comes a list of ideal deliverables.
This list of deliverables can then be used to take to your branding agency, to help them put together a proposal for your project.
When creating a list of deliverables, break them into two categories:
- Must have
- Nice to have
Then, depending on your branding budget, you’ll be able to decide what to progress, and what to leave until later.
We have a longer post of branding deliverables coming in the near future, but as a quick overview, consider:
- Logo design (vertical, horizontal, full colour, single colour)
- Stationery design (letterheads, business cards, invoices, quotes, proposals)
- Marketing materials (flyers, brochures, giveaways, roller banners, exhibition stands)
- Online marketing materials (social media design, adverts, ebooks, whitepapers)
- Website (design, development, ongoing maintenance)
It might sound strange considering your website as part of your brand – but there’s no bigger shop window for your business!
You should however have a separate website design budget.
Your branding deliverables will impact the cost of your project, but a good design agency should be able to help you split the cost over time.
At Canny, our one of our brand values is “partnership over profit” meaning we’ll always aim to help our clients maximise their spend.
Branding design services don’t have to cost the earth, but remember:
You’re investing in your business, when hiring an agency to design your brand identity.
By scrimping and saving, you’re setting yourself up for a rebrand in the future.
Remember to Research, Research, Research
Research is the key to good branding design.
Every single branding or web design project at Canny starts with a Discovery Session. Then, we move on to visual branding research.
We create a brand board, which is essentially the same as a mood board.
To do this, we use Pinterest.
We find Pinterest is great because it makes suggestions based on what you’ve pinned. It’s also a more familiar platform for our clients than the others.
What’s important to remember in this early stage, is that it’s equally important to pin things that don’t work, not just things that do work!
This brings several discussion points to the table, and helps to make your branding design project more focused.
Inject Your Personality
Repeat after me:
There are no original ideas. Again, there are no original ideas.
From Mozart, to Taylor Swift, from Warhol, to Bansky. They’ve all taken ideas and concepts by others.
So what makes them so successful?
It’s the way they inject their personality.
Andy Warhol famously painted Campbell’s Soup Tins, Marilyn Monroe, and a banana. But he injected his own style and personality.
And it’s the same with your branding.
What makes your business difference, is you. So try to reflect that in your branding design.
There are thousands of bakeries. What makes your bakery different? It’s you, and your personality, not your service offering.
If you’re always upbeat and positive, perhaps each of your donuts are glazed with a smiley face.
Then, maybe your smiling donut becomes your logo. Maybe you have badges made to give your customers. And you seal each box with a smiling donut sticker.
Or perhaps you’re a goth, and you go down the whole Voodoo Doughnuts route.
Either way, by injecting your personality into your business and brand, you can differentiate yourself successfully.
At Canny, we’re a friendly, relaxed, and approachable team. As a result, we find we attract clients with the same attitude towards business.
Injecting your personality into your branding can help attract customers and clients that resonate with you.
And that’s exactly what you want. You’re an extension of your customers, like a 3rd arm or leg.
That’s how you drive your brand loyalty through the roof!
Communicate and Connect with Emotion
Following on directly from injecting your personality into your branding design, don’t be afraid to show emotion.
You should strive to:
- Be the first you, not the next someone else
- Be innovative in your space
- Be emotional.
Show some life behind your corporate face.
Behind the scenes videos, company profiles, waving email signatures, and smiling faces are great ways to use emotion to communicate on a business level.
But also think about connecting with emotion.
One of our favourite clients, Robbie Thompson, uses emotion perfectly in communication.
Rather than saying:
“I can help you lose weight.”
“Are you ready to look and feel the best you ever have?”
People buy transformations, not services. And by using transformative language, you’re tapping into your audience’s emotions.
Don’t Over Egg the Pudding
Here’s a mistake that a lot of amateur designers, and people attempting to create their own brand identity, make:
They put their logo everywhere. And there’s really no need for it.
On your business cards, you don’t need your full logo and business name on both sides. Try going for the full logo on the reverse, and maybe just your logo mark on the back.
Try to be selective about what you use where.
Unless you have a brand identity based around bright colours (like Easyjet) – then try to hold back on the bright stuff, to really make an impact when you use it.
Rather than putting your full logo everywhere you can, try using subtle nods to it.
Does your logo feature dots? Or straight lines?
Why not create a pattern from that, and utliise the pattern, rather than your logo design again.
Something else people do with their branded products, is make their logo design as big as it can be. And nothing screams amateur more than that.
Whitespace is a godsend. Use it properly.
Keep It Simple
Speaking of whitespace…
Keeping everything clean and simple is often the best way to quickly add a professional feel to your branding design.
You’ve heard “keep it simple, stupid” over and over again. It’s relevant in branding design too.
Well, first of all, let’s look at your logo mark.
It needs to be simple, so it can scale down to a tiny little square for social media. But then, it also needs to be simple enough to be easy to understand as you whizz past in on a billboard.
If you have staff uniforms, it’s going to need to be easy enough to either print or embroider onto those.
The more fussy linework or colours you have, the more tricky and costly things like having uniforms made will be.
We’ve already wrote about creating an effective logo design, and the tips we share there are still true today.
Be Easy to Understand
To have an effective business or brand, people must understand you.
Don’t tell a complicated story.
In fact, when writing your brand story, write it once, throw it away, then write it again.
You need to make sure your brand story packs a punch (preferably an emotional punch), in the shortest amount of time possible.
Then by the same token, you need to make sure your branding design is also easy to understand.
The best brands in the world, have some of the most straightforward brand design:
There’s nothing complex about their main business branding. And that’s why we always refer to them as the pinnacle of the branding world.
In our fast moving world, the easier something is to understand, the better. Remember, keep it simple, stupid!
Don’t Confuse Your Logo or It’s Purpose
In the spirit of being easy to understand, you need to make sure your logo isn’t confusing.
Your logo is meant to be easy to understand and easy to recognise. It’s the mark that your business can rally behind.
It’s also not the only part of your brand identity.
A logo rarely has meaning by itself. It needs backed up by the rest of your brand identity.
Nike’s swoosh, is simply a tick.
Without their advertising spend, it would have no meaning.
Your logo design is your symbol, but a symbol should stand for something.
Make sure you have a strong business that sits behind your brand identity. Afterall, you can’t polish a turd!
The best branding in the world wouldn’t save a business that was doomed to fail from the start.
Consistency is Critical
One thing you need to do across your brand, is ensure consistency.
Inconsistent branding can ruin your integrity and professionalism.
You should strive for consistency in everything you do.
Make sure that:
- You use one logo file when sending things to print
- You use the same printers where possible, to ensure your colours stay consistent
- You don’t chop and change things at will
To stay as consistent as possible, always refer to your brand guidelines.
Use Your Brand Guidelines
Your brand guidelines should be handed over to you by your branding agency on conclusion of your project.
From there, you’ll have a reference guide for all of your branded material going forward.
As a minimum, your brand guidelines should include:
- Logo sizes and dimensions
- Logo usage
This is the bare minimum that will help you to ensure a level of brand consistency across your business.
Create Templates for Your Branded Items
In line with staying consistent across your brand, you should be creating templates to use across your business.
By having key document templates set up from day one, you can ensure a consistent brand experience, and make your life easier.
At Canny, we have templates for several key documents, including:
- Marketing Materials
One thing we don’t template, is our proposal. Because each design project is different.
However, we do have a front and back cover that we use each time.
There’s nothing wrong with this type of templated document. It’s templated websites we have a problem with!
Make Your Social Media Sexy
Social media has risen to heights nobody ever imagined. People seem to spend more time on Facebook and Instagram in a day, than doing anything else.
Your business’ social media channels should be a “go to” for your customers.
By posting news, blogs, and insightful thought pieces, you’re putting out great, highly targeted, relevant content that resonates with your audience.
But you need to make sure your social channels look good too!
Without a well branded channel, you’ll look instantly amateurish.
So on each channel consider:
- Your avatar
- Your header
- What your posts look like
The aim of your social channels, is to drive traffic to your website, and ultimately make sales.
Always remember this:
Social to site. Not site to social.
Your social media feeds your website, not the other way around!
Choose the Right Font
Let’s get into some specifics of branding design.
First, let’s look at fonts.
Fonts create feelings. So it’s important that you choose the right font and feeling for your business.
Sans-serif fonts tend to look more modern, while serif fonts look classic and traditional.
Some see this as “new vs old” but that’s not the case at all.
The Guardian do a great job of making a serif feel new, and modern. But it still gives them a classic, trustworthy edge.
You can find good fonts in several places, including:
- Google Fonts
- Adobe Typekit
- Type Foundries
If you’re trying to keep the costs down, use a Google Font. Typekit comes with a subscription model. And by using Type Foundries, you’ll be getting into paying for a license per font family or weight.
Be careful with what you choose, as your font will impact the rest of your branding design.
Careful with Colour
Colours work the same was as fonts.
Colours play on psychology, and we all have a psychological link to each colour.
A lot of major bankings use blue, as it’s seen as trustworthy, which is what you want from your bank.
Green is eco-friendly and fresh, symbolising growth. That’s why a lot of natural products and companies use it.
Helpscout have a great article on colour psychology.
- Yellow is for optimism, clarity, and warmth
- Orange is friendly, cheerful, and excitement
- Red is exciting and bold (but could also mean danger!)
- Purple represent creative, imaginative, and wise
- Blue is used for trust, dependency, and strength
- Green is peaceful, for growth, and health
- Grey is balanced, neutral, and calm
Colour plays a huge role in your branding design and brand identity.
Pay close attention to what you want to communicate, and choose colours that help with that.
Test It in Black and White
From full colour, to no colour at all.
It’s important that your branding works in both full colour and black and white.
Here’s the deal:
People still photocopy things and print documents at home. Usually, that’s in black and white.
So, make sure your branding design works in these situations too.
To do that, again, simplicity is key.
If you use all sorts of overlapping colours and gradients in your identity, you’re going to come unstuck when you need to strip it down to one colour.
Think carefully when designing your brand, and make sure it can work in one colour too.
Seeking feedback is a great way to find out whether your branding is hitting the mark.
You need to make sure you’re getting the feedback from a relevant audience.
Here’s the deal, asking:
- Your family
- Your friends
- Your dog or cat
Is not going to help.
If you’re looking for feedback on concepts, or visuals, then you need to run it by people in your target audience.
You can do that by getting out into the wild, and simply surveying relevant looking people. Or, use Facebook adverts to drive people to an online survey.
Feedback can play a critical role in a branding design project, it just has to come from the right place.
Keep a Reference Board
A reference board is different to the research board we created earlier in the branding process.
We keep a Canny board on Pinterest at all times. In there, we’ve sectioned it to include;
- Marketing ideas
And when we come across things we want to remember, we drop them in there.
Then, when it comes to launching a campaign, or redecorating our office, we have a bank of ideas and inspiration to draw from.
Get Your Team Onboard
A key component in business branding, is your team.
Your team has to embrace your new brand vision for it to become a success.
How you involve your team in the launch of your new brand, depends on the size of business you run.
If you’re a small team, a pizza party and presentation often works wonders.
If you operate a bigger business, then consider a brand launch party. Free drinks, music, goody bags with new branded items etc.
You need to explain the strategy and vision, before you present the identity.
We’re going to post again in the near future about rolling out a new brand identity, but for now, the ideas above should help.
Explore Using Video
Video isn’t specifically related to the design of your branding, but as you can utilise video in some critical brand touchpoints, we thought it was a worthy inclusion.
With Youtube being the second largest search engine in the world, we’re recommending every single one of our clients start to explore using video.
According to Forbes Insight research, 59% of senior executives would rather watch a video than read text. And, of those people, most of them will click through to your website for additional information.
Video is friendly, and customer focused. It helps people put a face and voice to a name!
One of our favourite things we’ve seen with video, is people using it as a video signature.
A small animated GIF of you waving, that then links to a 30 second introduction to you as a person.
It instantly builds rapport!
When it comes to your branding design, you probably want to consider:
- What an animated version of your logo looks like
- How other branded elements could animate
- What your brand sounds like
If you’re not sure how to get started with video, check out Wistia’s blog.
They share some great advice on getting started.
Put Your Website to Work
You might be surprised to find out that your branding design and identity also stretches out into your website.
As you know already, your website is your 24/7 shop window.
So you need to put it to work for you!
We’ve got a post that outlines our top website design tips to help your business grow.
Your branding design should be ever present in each of your brand touchpoints, and your website is no different.
Make sure to refer back to your brand guidelines when choosing colours and fonts for your site!
Monitor, Track, and Adjust
This tip is not specifically branding design related, but it’s important nonetheless.
When designing a website, you’re essentially guessing in the dark.
You need to monitor, track, and adjust your design to make sure you get it right, and maximise for conversions.
Our favourite tools that help with this are:
- Google Analytics
- Google Search Console
- Google Optimize
All of these tools are free, and can show you where your website is either hitting the spot, or missing the mark!
Bring in a Branding Agency
Finally, the crux of the matter.
Branding should be handled by a professional design agency. Some people opt to bring in a student or freelancer, but honestly, a small branding agency is a much better choice.
Branding is it’s own degree level certification for a reason.
It’s not easy!
As a quick look, here are three pros and cons of hiring a branding agency:
Pros of Hiring a Branding Agency
- You’ll get a professional brand identity, designed specifically for your company
- You build up a relationship with an agency, who can help moving forward
- Frees you up to focus on your business
Cons of Hiring a Branding Agency
- You’ll have to invest some money (but it’s worth it!)
- You have to spend time finding an agency (here’s how to do that)
- You won’t have free reign over your design
The pros outweigh the cons, for sure.
Not having free freign over your brand design, is a good thing. It’s been designed and vetted by a professional.
You shouldn’t need to “tweak” it!
Conclusion: 23 Tips to Help with Your Branding Design
That’s a lot of stuff to remember!
Following our top branding design tips will help you get your brand identity right.
Branding design and brand identity design isn’t easy. Which is why agencies like Canny Creative exist.
In the same way you wouldn’t try and build your own house, you shouldn’t try and create your own brand identity.
Branding design should be handled by professionals if you want your business to be taken seriously.
A good brand identity will positively impact your business. Get it wrong, and you’re up the creek without a paddle.
What do you think? What’s the best branding design or brand identity you’ve seen? Let us know in the comments below.