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Creating your Brand Kit 101

Mar 21, 2022

Today we are going to talk about branding and how you can make sure that yours is sending all the right messages, and how to fix it If it’s not.

It's so important to remember that your brand is more than the colors and fonts you choose.

Your "brand" is actually how your business is perceived by those who experience it.
 
To build your brand, you will want to ensure that every interaction, from websites and social media, to customer service, and packaging, is aligned with the brand message you want to communicate.

For the purpose of the video today we are going to focus just on branding as it relates to your brand kit – so logo, fonts and colors and what messages you might be sending unintentionally, and how to create more impactful branding for YOUR ideal clients.

If you are just starting out and still nailing down your name – let me give you a few tips before we move on to the branding tips

The name of your business is going give your clients, competitors, investors, and employees their first impression of who you are and what you do.  To say that it’s important, would be an understatement.  There are many factors to keep in mind when choosing your business name.

The name you choose should be easy to remember, and appeal to your target audience, but there are also practical concerns as well that could save you from legal or operational challenges down the road.

  • Search to check for availability of web domains to match your name as well as social media handles.
  • Avoid hard to spell names.
  • Search the internet for other business with the same name and analyze whether they will be harmful to your business as you grow and market it.
  • Conduct a full trademark search.
  • Work out potential shortenings of the name and acronyms that others might use.
    • For example the Auto Standards Society sounds fine but as customer naturally try to shorten the long name your group becomes “A.S.S.” which is significantly less fine.

The last step is to take a few options and test them with your network, as well as people who would fit in your target audience. Just because it sounds a certain way or means something to you, doesn't mean that everyone will have the same impression, so feedback is critical in making your final decision.

 

I’ll give you an example – several years ago, I was naming a jewelry brand I was working on for a client.  The brand was focused on a rainbow gemstone, and the big selling feature of the stone was that it was prized for bringing good fortune to its wearer. 

I liked the name Karma and thought it had the right feel.  If it had been just myself involved, I probably would have run with that as the name.  However, I pitched it to our Marketing Manager and he thought it was ridiculous, and asked why I would give it such a negative name. 

I was confused, but to him Karma was a negative, like “Karma is going to get you”  Neither of us was right or wrong, the key here is that if that was his perception, it was likely the perception of many others and not a good choice for the name, so we moved on to other options.

Step One – Design your Logo

Your logo is like the dating profile picture for your brand.  People will make assumptions about your brand within seconds of seeing your logo, so it's important to really get it right.  There are some key points to keep in mind when designing your logo.

 

  1. Shape

The shape of your logo plays a big role in how people interpret your brand identity.  Studies have shown that the overall shape of the logo, either circular shaped, or more angular shaped, influences how people perceive your brand.

Shapes that are more angular tend to be associated more with harder, more durable features. They are often associated with power, innovation, and respect.

More curved and organic shapes, bring to mind softer traits like kindness, warmth and friendliness.

So, think about what you want the overall “feel” of your logo to be, and what shape communicates that best.

 

  1. Keep it simple

Make sure it’s simple and easy to understand at a glance.

Your logo will need to work in various sizes, and the simpler it is, the clearer it will be when reduced to tiny sizes, like for your webpage favicon.

 

  1. Color

First of all, make sure it works in black and white.

You want to work in black and white for two very important reasons:

  1. The logo should have a strong design foundation.  If it works without the color, it will work with it, but the opposite isn’t always true.
  2. You will need to use it in one color at some point.  There will be times when you need a one-color logo, and some logos that aren’t designed with that in mind, just don’t work when you try to convert them to one color later, because you lose any shading, or colors that overlap for example.
  1. Get feedback

It's really important to get your final logo choices in front of as many eyes as you can, for feedback. Visual interpretation is subjective, and everyone will see a logo and interpret it's meaning a bit differently, so it’s really important to get others to look at it, and make sure that it is truly getting across the message you intended and doesn’t have a meaning you were not aware of yourself.

 
5. Have options

When you finalize your logo, make sure you get all the versions of the file you need.  Make sure you have the one-color version (one color means one solid color – no gradient or shadows), the full color version, and then make sure you have a version that will show clearly on dark backgrounds, as well as one that will show on light.

For example, if you look at our SHEcorporated logo, the body of the logo is a yellow and the text around the circle is a deep grey.  That looks great on light backgrounds, but when we want to use it on a dark background, the wrapped text disappears.  To combat that, have a second version of the logo, where that dark grey text is reversed to white, so it pops on the dark background.

How do I get the logo designed?

You may decide to design the logo yourself, or work with a professional designer.  For something this important, it’s a good idea to have a designer make up the final file, at the very least.  But you'll want to go in with a pretty clear picture of what you are looking for. 

It’s a great idea to play around with some sketches yourself, or with a design tool like Canva, to start working through some ideas, to see what you like and what you don’t.  Then you have those preliminary drawings to get you started with the designer, and it will save you a lot of back and forth (and money).  You can work with a designer offline, or you can find someone quite inexpensively on sites like Fiverr or 99 Designs.

Once you have approved your final logo, the last step is to make sure you get the final files in a few different file types.  You need the original vector logo, which the editable original art file.  You also would want to have a .png file with a transparent background so you can pop it onto your website or into designs cleanly, and not have a big white square around it. And then many people will have a jpeg and other versions as well. But the vector file and the .png are the ones we find most people use most often.

 

 

Step Two Choose Your Fonts

 

Different typefaces have different personalities. Each conveys a certain feeling, which is why it’s important to choose the right one for your brand identity. Most brands will choose 2-3 typefaces as part of their Brand Identity Kit.

You will want to make sure that it’s different from the typeface your competitors use and feels unique to your brand. You will also want all the typefaces you choose to work well together, in a complimentary fashion.

It’s important to keep in mind the readability and functionality of the fonts you choose.  Make sure the fonts you choose are not only in line with your brand feel, but that they are easy to read, join up to each other nicely, and work well with the words that you will use a lot. 

I suggest that you test it out on some of the copy you are using in your business.  Try it out on your web page copy, or content you are creating.  Make sure it looks good in multiple applications.

 

Step Three - Choose Your Colors

 

Color is such a powerful tool, and an important part of your branding.  Different colors will create different responses in people, as well as reinforce messaging about your overall brand.

For example, the colors orange, yellow and red are associated with hunger and energy, and that’s the reason you will see them frequently in branding for fast food restaurants. They want you to eat and get out quickly, think McDonalds, Chick Fil A, KFC, Wendy’s etc.

Blue is soothing and calming, and that’s why you will so often find it in medical or therapeutic settings, resorts, and spas.

When you’re trying to communicate information about your brand, if you use color effectively, you can amplify the intended message, and hopefully compel people to take the action you want.

Google “color theory” and you will find all sorts of charts and resources the help you figure out what colors evoke the right feeling for your brand.

When you are choosing your colors it’s also important to consider who you are targeting and what colors will appeal to them.  You also want to consider what colors your competitors already use, so you can choose something that will help you stand out.

 

How to Choose Your Brand Colors

1) Start with Color Inspiration

You can use a color tool, a photograph, paint chips, or even a Pinterest board to find the colors that fit your brand. Luckily, there are a ton of color inspiration sites and tools to help inspire you.  Some even let you take a photo and create a color palette from it.

You’ll want to make sure you have a mix of light and dark colors in your palette.

2) Identify Your Dominant and Accent Colors

The palette you create is up to you, but we recommend you choose four to 6 colors with one main color, 2 accent colors, and then any auxiliary colors after that.

Various applications will require various codes to interpret your colors.  When you are designing in a program like Canva, or choosing colors on your website, you will need the HEX code.  But for printing your logo on a mug for example, you will need the PMS or Pantone matching system code, to get the color right. So, make sure you record both sets of numbers for your brand identity colors, to keep yourself consistent on everything you use them for. 

I use https://encycolorpedia.com/ to look up PMS codes when I have the Hex code and vice versa.

Finally, make sure you note any special considerations specific to your brand, like if the logo needs to always be positioned a certain way, or if one of your fonts is only to be used for certain applications. 

Then put it all in your brand kit.

Your brand kit will be incredibly useful to share with your designer, employees, and others that work with your brand, to make sure the look and feel of your brand is consistent every single time it is used.

Here are some real world examples of branding style guides you can check out for more ideas and inspiration  https://www.canva.com/learn/50-meticulous-style-guides-every-startup-see-launching/  you can see how companies like apple, Heineken, Google and Walmart laid out their brand guidelines. 

Don't get overwhelmed, yours doesn’t need to be nearly as complicated as theirs but pick the pieces you think are critical to your brand, and just include those in your own style guide.

 

 Get your FREE Brand Kit Template you can edit on Canva.

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