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Three steps to create your brand identity kit.

Oct 12, 2021

What is your brand identity?

Your brand identity generally encompasses the visual aspects of your brand that identify it and distinguish it from others in your market.  This can include many things, but almost always includes colors, fonts and logos.

The sky is the limit to what you can include in your brand identity, but to keep things simple, and keep you moving forward, we are going to focus on the basics.  Three simple steps to creating your brand identity.

Step One - Create 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.

 

2. 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.

 

3. 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.

4. 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 every one 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.  So 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.  So we have a second version of the logo, where that dark grey text is reversed to white, so it pops on the dark background.

Another consideration is the width and height of the logo, and whether you need some variations. A wide logo is great for letterhead and page footers, but it may be too wide for many other applications. You may want to have second version where the components are stacked, to change the design to a taller, more centered version.  It’s incredibly useful to have the right shape to fill the space you need to fill in your designs.

How do I get the logo designed?

You may decide to design the logo yourself, or work with a professional designer.  I would suggest for something this important, that you have a designer make up the final files at 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 brand 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 color red is associated with hunger and energy, and that’s the reason you will see it 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 spa’s.

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.

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. Coolors.co is great for finding palette of colors that work well together, or even taking a photo and creating a color palette from that photo.

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.  So for designing in 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.  This document 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.

 

If you are starting or growing your business make sure you check out the One Step Empire podcast where we walk you through one simple step each week to build your empire.

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