I’ve already written a couple posts on the basics of branding and tips for branding your small business, but have yet to cover what visualizing your brand actually looks like and what this process typically entails. Your first thought may be that, of course, it includes logo design and color palette but are you then left drawing a blank?
This post will take you through all the visual components developed when creating a brand and explain why each of them is uniquely important.
The Mood Board
When you first begin visualizing your brand, a mood board can be a great tool to help you explore ideas. A mood board will essentially create the “mood” and set the tone for your brand by combining design elements like type, color palette ideas, imagery, patterns, icons etc. It can be composed using a grid or also like a collage. While it is not typically used as a customer-facing visual tool or marketing piece, internally a mood board can be extremely helpful in styling and designing collateral yourself or passing on to a new designer for reference.
Related Post: How to Create a Moodboard: Tips & Tricks from a Pro
While there isn’t a lot of ground-breaking information to cover what a logo design entails, there are a few key ideas I think are important to remember. Your logo does not need to evoke every sentiment you have ever come up with for your brand. It is simply one piece of the story that will live with many other components. Your logo should encompass what makes your brand unique and communicate this as simply and effectively as possible.
Also, it is crucial that your logo resonates directly to your audience and not necessarily to you, the business owner. Just because your favorite color is blue doesn’t mean that blue is what will resonate with your customer. A logo designed from solid research and customer insight will help to justify these types of design decisions when you are visualizing your brand.
The Brand Guidelines
Without a set of solid brand guidelines, it’s easy to become inconsistent in your treatment of the brand elements. Brand guidelines are created as a set of rules to guide you when executing brand decisions. While the guidance they provide can be limited or robust, typically they include things like logo treatments, color palette formulas and font and typography treatments. Additionally, they might also include guidance for things like brand messaging and values. If you think of the moodboard as a visual cheat sheet, think of the brand guidelines as a technical cheat sheet; Both are useful when creating materials that require visualizing your brand and add different value.
In my opinion, this is where branding gets fun and starts to tell a story! Using all the visual elements previously developed for your brand, your collateral and stationary should be designed to compliment one another but also function individually and appropriately for their unique purpose. This will include things like business cards, letterheads, envelopes, labels, stickers, packaging and promotional material.
Consider that the more you brand yourself, the better brand experience and recognition you will create for your customer. For example, rather than using a plain white #10 envelope, for sending mail, why not use a colored envelope in one of your brand colors with your logo or branded pattern? To save on costs, start small with the basics and then grow your library of branded materials and collateral as necessary.
Related Post: 3 Ways to Show Off Your Brand on Social Media
The Digital Experience
Through social media, the Internet and your website, there are a multitude of different ways to showcase your brand. From cover photos, to email designs and website layout, the digital experience of your brand becomes an exciting component that your customers can actually interact with.
Crafting an amazing digital brand experience is all about knowing your audience and providing useful and engaging ways for them to relate to you. It is important that your customer has a seamless transition from in-person brand experiences into the digital world and vice versa to ensure their expectations of the brand are consistent and to retain your perceived brand value to your customer.
What are some of your favorite tools to help you start visualizing your brand? Leave a comment or talk to K Design Co. about how we can help or start visualizing your brand with my free mood board template below!
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Kristin Pruis • November 4, 2014