Good branding is more than just a great logo and a clever tagline. Good branding is all about how you make your customers feel and this is true of all brands.
We’ve worked with clients across a full spectrum of products and services. Whether you’re a sporting brand that wants to inspire people to action or an insurance company that wants their customers to believe that their insurance company has their back and won’t let them down, you’re always wanting to evoke emotion from your audience.
In my time in the marketing field I’ve learnt two things; one — not everybody has the kind of money it requires to buy the time and service of a traditional advertising agency to help build their brand and two, those people who have started their own businesses tend to have a really great idea of what their company stands for and what kind of message they want to put out into the world.
The surprising thing is not many people realise it and very few feel confident in creating their own brand. While I’d say, try consulting with the professionals as much as possible but I’ve put together a quick cheat sheet you can use when you need to do branding on the cheap :-).
There’s a reason you can recognise a brand by the lettering used in an advertisement or by a set of colours used in a shop window: consistency. A good brand decides on and then uses the same colour palette and font across all marketing materials, including brand merchandise packaging, website design and social content. There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to colour selection or font but there are certain guidelines you should try to follow to ensure that you get the best possible results.
You may have heard of colour theory in the past but if you haven’t it was developed within the psychiatric space, where research has been conducted to prove that colour can affect and change a person’s mood.
For example, green and soft blues tend to elicit a feeling of calm and this is why they are the colours used most frequently to decorate hospitals. While the colour red, an incredibly vibrant colour, can make a lot of people feel quite anxious. Surprisingly many respondents in various studies have attributed this feeling to the fact that almost universally the colour of red is used to signify errors, mistakes and a reason to be cautious.
Think the big X’s you got on your school tests when you got the answer wrong. I’m not suggesting you get rid of all the red in your life. It’s just valuable to realise that colours do play a role in how customers will feel about your brand, which brings us to contrast.
A brand may have a signifying colour but the reason a brand’s colour really pops is that they have chosen a palette of colours that work well together. Finding the correct palette used to be the domain of the graphic designer and artist alone but with tools like Canva, there are helpful tools that will help you play with a range of palettes so that you can find one that speaks to you and feels right for your brand.
This brings us to the next very important part of practical branding. Your font. The number of free fonts available out there can, quite frankly, be overwhelming.
Which should you choose? What works best? When do you bold? When should you use italics? Should you use italics at all? The answer for all of these questions is — as long as what you’ve chosen is easy to read, so in reference to italics, limit the use to long reads, where you have a person’s full attention.
Use clear lettering for any social posts you create. The reason for this is that a person scrolls through their social feeds so quickly now, that to catch their eye, you need to use clear lettering and snappy copy to get their attention.
A nice way to test the legibility of your work is to create several posts with the different fonts you like and put them in a long vertical line. Once you’ve done that scroll through them quickly and see which of them you could read most easily in the nanoseconds your eyes and brain had to register them while scrolling as you might on a Facebook or Instagram feed.
Another thing to consider when selecting your colour palette is to have a secondary set of colours that are neutral. The reason for this is that you want to have a set of colours that you can use for your fonts. Here you’ll need to do a few tests. When you choose your font colour put it on top of your brand colour and see if it is easy to read.
If you struggle even a little then it means that neutral colour is not the right one to use. The second suggestion I have with regards to font colour is to consider a dark grey instead of black for online lettering. Black always creates a stark contrast, which may be what you’re looking for but usually, a grey feels softer and not as intimidating.
There are a number of elements that go into building a business brand beyond colour and font, which are really design-focused but they’re a good place to start and I think the most fun. There are certain guidelines to follow to ensure you get good results but what is most important is that your brand is true to your vision and one that evokes the right emotions from your customers.
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