Branding is so much more than your colors or your logo. If you haven’t heard me say this before you have probably heard it somewhere. Color and design are so much fun to talk about though! It’s like when you want to paint a room. You move all of the furniture and cover it, you clean and tape the baseboards, then finally you get to paint. I love that first roll of color! That’s how it is with branding. You do all of the prep work with your brand foundations, your mission, vision, and values. Then, you get to paint your brand identity.
Your brand identity is your logo, color palette, fonts, textures, patterns, and all of the elements that represent the look, feel and tone of your brand. Your identity system is how you use these visual elements on your business cards, letter head, packaging and any other way you communicate with your customers. It’s a consistent visual way to represent your brand as a language to speak for you.
Any symbol is just an image without any context around it. It’s the context that makes it communicate like a language. We all know some popular symbols. The Nike swoosh, the Starbucks mermaid, the symbol for eternity. What about the target symbol that we now think of as Target stores?
Who ever thought a green mermaid would represent amazing coffee, or a target symbol would mean “expect more, pay less.” Your logo all starts by representing what you decide it will with your values, mission, and vision. Then, you build your brand recognition by sharing your brand story and exceeding your customer’s expectations. All while having a consistent brand identity. This is the reason it is so important to do the prep work before you paint.
You may also want to consider the help of a brand agency. Your brand strategy helps you to understand what your business is and what it stands for. It includes brand purpose, brand vision, brand position, and brand essence. Once a strategy is in place, it helps to guide the way in which you communicate what your brand is.
When people feel like “their branding is a mess” or “it just doesn’t feel like me” or they just aren’t attracting the work they want it’s because they didn’t do the prep work first. Even when it’s time to pivot and change your business you have to go back to your brand foundations because how you do what you do and who you do it for may change, but your mission vision and values stay the same. They are the guidelines you need to grow and change your business in a way that doesn’t feel like jumping off a cliff into the unknown.
Start with these brand foundations
1. Mission – What are you doing, or what will you be doing? Keep it simple, just say what you do. I make aromatherapy candles, or I teach yoga teachers to be better teachers for example.
2. Vision – How does your mission affect people? What’s your bigger goal? Based off of our example above this could be To make candles that inspire people to take time for themselves and enjoy the quiet in their day, or My yoga teachers will be known for their unique methods and quick results.
3. Values – What is important to you in the way you do business? Is it using really clean ingredients, being transparent, or adventurous? Because we own our businesses these are usually closely tied to what is important to us in life. Narrow in on 3 or more words.
These are the bumpers for your business as you hire employees, roll out new services, and grow. You now have a set of guidelines instead of free falling!
Matching your visual style
1. Write down adjectives that match your values. For a value of adventure it could be, hiking, flying, red, and excitement.
2. Make a mood board with photos that align with your word list. It doesn’t have to be literal but the spirit of. If your company focuses on clean ingredients and you have words like white, natural, lavender you want to pick photos that have a light and airy style and probably colors like green, and white.
3. Use this inspiration to decide on a photographic style like light and airy, or dark and moody. Then pick one main color, one accent color (for headlines), and one neutral(for backgrounds).
Now you have a cohesive message and you are branding like a pro.