Branding has been on my mind recently. Maybe because I’ve been working with some new clients on creating their brand identity or refreshing their look. We’ve been talking brochures, business cards and the basics of branding – essentially, what constitutes a good look that will help bring your product or service to life.
Starting from scratch
For a start-up or SME creating their brand from scratch, it can be hard to know where to start with branding. How do you create a logo? If you are asked to present, what background should you use on your PowerPoint? If you’re networking, what business card design should you go for? Do you even still need business cards!?
There is a lot to think about.
You’ll probably enlist the help of a designer to pull together your brand identity. They will come with ideas and suggestions about what works and what doesn’t. However, they are really only as good as the brief you give them. If you haven’t thought about how you want your brand to come across, the designer really is taking a shot in the dark.
Key Branding Questions
There are some key questions you can ask yourself about your brand before it comes to life. Think about your business cards, brochures and so on, how do you want people to feel when they see you represented? What do you want them to think?
Here are some more of the questions we use to start creating a brand identity:
- What colours do you like/dislike, which would you like to try, and which are real no-nos?
- Who are your competitors or similar businesses in your field? (imagine the awkwardness if you don’t look into these, and then you unveil your website and full suite of printed collateral which looks scarily similar!)
- What’s your offering – is it a product or service, high-value or a lower price point?
- Who is your target customer – try and bring them to life for the designer, are you pitching to a corporate market or is it consumers, what sort of job do they have, age range, etc.?
- What words would you use to describe your business? Go for five to ten keywords, for example, young, modern, energetic, traditional, reassuring, edgy, homely, professional, and so on.
- What have you used so far in terms of fonts and words to pitch your business, more importantly, are you happy with it? If not, what needs changing?
I need a logo, but what else?
The first step in getting your brand created or refreshed from your design brief is your logo.
You need an eye-catching logo which brings everything together in a clear visual. Alongside this, you need a colour palette. It would be unusual for a business to have just one colour representing them, so you need to know which colours you have working alongside each other and ideally the ‘hex code’ (a six-digit code which helps identify the exact shade of colour you are working with).
Read more about colour choice and how important it is in your marketing strategy here
Ideally, think about having a brand bible or guidelines, which document not just your colour palette, but your fonts as well. This document can then be shared with anyone you recruit into the business or any third party who works with you.
After your logo is signed off, what else should you be thinking about? In a nutshell..
Get your brand everywhere!
You’ve signed off a fantastic logo, so use it.
Every social media post should be overlaid with your logo. Try and incorporate those brand colours too. If you flick your eyes upwards on this blog, you’ll see an image designed specifically to support it that incorporate the Green Umbrella Marketing logo and colours. It’s all about the brand!
Get some business cards designed using your logo and colour palette. Yes, people still use business cards, and if you are at conferences or networking events, they are a must-have.
Refresh your website with the logo, font and colour palette. Think about your email marketing and even the basics like your email signature, use your logo on that too.
The possibilities then are endless – your brand and logo should be obvious and, crucially, consistent across the following: presentation slides, letterheads, invoices, ebooks, factsheets, blogs, anything downloadable from your website, brochures, flyers, any advertising (on or offline), exhibition stands and well, essentially anything associated with your business!
My advice… start with the brief, get clear on what you like and dislike, be prepared for some back and forth to fine-tune your design, then bring that brand to life.
Amanda is a freelance marketing consultant and business coach, having worked in marketing and leadership roles for 20+ years, and is an associate of Green Umbrella. Amanda is working with the GU team on strategy, marketing and business development and, in her words, ‘loves the ethos of Green Umbrella. The team really know their stuff when it comes to digital marketing and social media, plus they are genuinely great people to work with!’