One of the first things that every business does is go and design a logo, however this is often done in isolation and before other key elements of the brands make up have been decided.
We would always advocate the first step before you get involved in any visual brand development should be to define ‘What the brand stands for, what is its positioning & personality & who is its target audience? Only once this has been defined should you even consider looking at logos.
Often I see logos that are completely at odds with the image that a brand is trying to portray. So be careful of diving straight in to logo development too soon. A logo is often the first thing a potential customer will see of your brand and as such it should help deliver your positioning not undermine it.
Having designed a logo, that is where a lot of companies stop, however whilst it is important for the reason mentioned above it is only a small part of your brands visual identity. There should follow a whole brand architecture, which defines and depicts the visual look & feel of your brand. The American Marketing Association defines a brand as a “name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers.”
Unfortunately many businesses do not recognise this or worse still they don’t think about it at all.
A brand architecture is how a company ensures that the look and feel of their brand is consistent, is aligned to the positioning & is immediately recognizable across any form of communication from the lowest common denominator such as its logo in print to a whole experiential environment such as a flag ship store.
Things to consider when developing a brand architecture:
- Logo – how many you have, they may vary in colour or shape and what is the preferred usage, positioning, for example, in relation to edge of page or other text.
- Icon – in the era of social and electronic media companies must give consideration to their icons – which may look significantly different to their logos. One mistake that many companies make is attempting to fit their logo into the various forms of social media – unsuccessfully.
- Materials – which materials best reflect the brand for example, man made, or natural
- Shape & Form – straight lines or curves, modern or old fashioned or classic
- Function over form – is aesthetic looks more or less important than functionality
- Colour scheme – the companies official colour scheme and pantones. These might be divided up by logo colours and other supporting colours. A company may also want to define how much of each colour can be used in any publication.
- Tone – does your company have a tone of voice, light hearted and fun or serious and authoritative.
- Typography – what font do you use and where do you use it
- Signage – this would cover use on vehicles, buildings, exhibition tents etc.
- Images – should they convey a certain kind of message, perhaps in line with the company tone. Do you need specific directions with regard to the use of people in images and permissions.
- Stationary – business cards, letter heads, presentations, press releases, proposals etc. Does your company have a specific standard format it wishes to use for each.
For all of the above not only should the brand architecture cover what you do want, but clear examples of what you don’t want.
Once you have a company brand architecture there is no reason for your branding to lack consistency again.
Sam Crosthwaite – Client Service Manager