Branding design basics for every business

Nov 15, 2021

There are certain branding design basics for every business. The key pillars to stick to to create a consistent brand that will elevate your business and help you stand out in your niche. I often talk about the pros and cons of DIY branding design and you can find out more about that specifically in my other blog posts.

But, if you have decided to go it alone and create your own branding, I thought the least I could do would be to help guide you on your way.

If you or one of your team is stepping up to the challenge of creating your own branding, you might have decided you have an eye for design and the necessary skills. Designing a successful brand all but yourself can be a tad overwhelming though.

And absolutely, it’s fun putting colours, fonts and layouts together to create a brand.It’s easy to go down a design rabbit hole and get overwhelmed with ideas and possibilities. But it’s worth bringing it back to basics first. If you were to work with a branding designer, one of their main questions would be to ask you what you want from your branding. And this might be a difficult question to answer. If you’re just starting out, it’s likely that you might not know what you want or what you actually need to include in your branding.

So that’s where I come in with this blog post that you luckily stumbled upon. Think of this as a checklist/guide to get you going and set you out on the right track. If you’re in the early stages of setting up your business or if you haven’t worked with a branding designer before, I’d like to run through the core parts of a brand that are an absolute must, including:

  • A brand strategy
  • Brand guidelines
  • Flexible brand elements you can use across different media
  • A colour palette and typography
  • Personal branding
Branding design basics for every business

A brand strategy

I know. The word ‘strategy’ can freak people out, but hold on! This isn’t as boring and/or formal or scary as it sounds. Having a brand strategy, put simply, is about answering questions about your business, who your competitors are and your target market.

Identifying your dream customers

Target market, ideal clients, dream customers; whatever terminology works for you. These are all essentially the same thing. Identifying your dream customers is absolutely essential before launching into creating your brand. One of the biggest problems when it comes to creating your own brand is that we can end up creating it for ourselves, not for our target audience. You can start on this today and even if this is something you have done already, it’s worth reviewing this every so often and your business evolves and grows.

Who are your ideal clients? Who do you want to serve? Try to narrow this down from ‘everyone’ to a certain set of demographics according to age, perhaps gender, income level, tastes, beliefs and values and interests. You can find out more about identifying your dream customers in this guide. Once you have taken this step, you will have laid down the foundations to creating a successful brand that will attract the right kind of clients.

 

Your brand values

As a business, what do you believe in? What’s important to you? It’s so important to identify these so that you can start to spread your brand message. Does your business care about the environment? Is honesty and integrity a core value of yours? Perhaps you simply want to spread joy or raise awareness of something you believe passionately in? These are your brand values. Identify them and these will help you when creating your brand.

 

Your goals, purpose and mission

As a business where are you headed? Or where do you aim to get to? What problem does your product or service solve and how can you help people? Make sure these questions are so answered in order to help you create a goal-driven brand rather than something that just looks pretty on the surface.

Branding design basics for every business

Brand guidelines

Creating a brand guidelines document is so important. This should be the last thing you do after you have created your brand to keep everything consistent across platforms and different touchpoints. Your brand guidelines should contain information of your mission, goals, dream customers, your colour palette, typography choices and the look and feel of any imagery used. Creating this document means you or anyone else in your business will keep everything on brand when creating any graphics in the future. This could be a pdf guide or you can put brand guidelines together really simply in Canva.

Flexible brand elements you can use across different media

When creating your branding, remember to think about where it will be used. It sounds like a simple step but this can often get overlooked. Creating different logo versions is essential for using them in different sizes and on different media. Can your logos easily be resized to use in several different places?Will your logos be used on screen or on printed collateral like business cards and packaging? Top tip: when creating for print use CMYK colours and when creating for on screen, remember to use RGB colour. You can find out more about colour modes in this handy guide.

Branding design basics for every business

A colour palette and typography

This bit is pretty fun. But remember you’re designing for your ideal clients, not for yourself! Also make sure you’re referring back to your goals, values and mission here too as it’s easy to go down a rabbit hole here!

When choosing your colour palette you might already have something in mind, or you might have no idea. One tip for starting out with this is taking an image that represents the look and feel you want your business to convey. It might be light and airy, bright and colourful or dark and moody. You can use this handy online tool to take colours from an image to create a colour palette. Canva also has a similar tool.

You’ll also need to use typography in your branding to add personality. It’s very easy to go overboard with using too many typefaces as there are so many pretty ones out there. A rule of thumb here can be found in this font pairing guide. It’ll help you pair free Google fonts to use in your branding. Make sure you stick to using the fonts you use across all touch points to keep your brand consistent.

 

Personal branding

This means ‘humanising your brand’. Putting a face or faces to your name as a business is so important. Getting personal helps build trust and authority in your business and in you. When you just hide behind the other visual parts of your brand like your logo or keep your website all graphics and show no images of yourself or your team, you have to work extra hard to build trust and authority. The more personal you get, the more your personal branding will help you sell. Help your potential clients get to know the real you and allow them to be attracted to you and your story. This will also help set you apart from your competition. Chances are a lot of your competitors aren’t building a personal brand.

 

You can do this by getting photos of you and/ or your team taken professionally. This might sound like a big expense but a pro photographer will provide photos of you that you can use for years to come. Even better than photos is video. Can you create a video of you at work, in your favorite cafe or get creative with video? Getting personal with your brand can be scary, but it will pay dividends in the long run.

 

It’s a lot to take in, but creating your own brand isn’t as simple as it might seem on the face of it. I wish you well with your project and if you have any questions get in touch and I will see how i can help you. And if it’s all too much and you’ve decided that actually, you’d rather work with a designer, then this is how you can work with me.

About the designer...

Hi! I’m Katie. Helping busy business owners create bold online brands and stand-out, non-boring websites is my jam. I’m passionate about giving once-upon-a-time-website DIYers, ambitious entrepreneurs and founders back the time to focus on doing the things they love the most in their businesses, giving them clarity in their online presence and the confidence to grow big!

Through this blog and on social media I share my advice and best practices with  business owners on how to build strong brands that will start attracting their dream customers and website that work by focusing on strategy and business goals.

When I’m not working with inspiring business owners or designing wedding cakes, you’ll probably find me dreaming of what my next meal will be, the best fruit garnishes for a gin and tonic or where we’ll travel to on our next adventure.

The latest on the blog

Designing at desktop computer aerial view- Studio Lago Design

“I don’t need a website” (and other stories you’re telling yourself)

Ok I get it. The first thing you’re thinking is “Well of course you’re going to tell me I need a website if you run a business creating websites for businesses”. And of course I am, but not for the reasons you might think. I am a branding and website designer, but I’m also a female founder and business owner just like you. I know what it’s like to run a business and to feel all the struggles...
Studio Lago Design Malarkey Cakes Website mock up

5 steps to building an authentic brand

The word ‘authentic’ seems to get bandied around a lot and as business owners we have been told time and time again that it’s more and more important to be authentic in business. I know from personal experience this is definitely true. The more you allow yourself to just ‘be yourself’ the more you attract people. The part I genuinely believe people fear about it though, is that by attracting,...
Katie Lake Volcof of Studio Lago Design

How to identify your core brand values

Ok firstly, why should you identify your core brand values? Well, you’ll no doubt have heard a lot of talk about attracting your ideal customers and you might be wondering how on earth you actually do this. If you feel you’re not attracting the right kind of clients, then this is for you. A lot of business owners might be under the impression that revamping their visual branding (logo, colours)...

My Core Business Values and why they’re so important

I’ve been on a journey of rediscovery in my own business recently. This is a journey I take my clients on when they work with me on elevating their business. We look at bringing things back to basics and look at the very foundations of your business and its reason to be.   Without this process, I can’t create a strategic brand. A brand with purpose and connection to your ideal clients needs...

5 Simple ways to drive more traffic to your website

You’ve got a website, and that’s the first step. But, in an ocean of billions of websites, how will people know it’s actually there unless you tell them? Having a website is just the beginning, but no one will know about it or remember to go there unless you tell them to. Not just once, or twice, but continuously and consistently and in a number of different ways. The great news is, I've got...

Why your website is never ‘finished’

As a service based business, a website is one of the most powerful parts of your marketing strategy you can possibly have. Creating a website is no mean feat. And whether you created your own site, or worked with a designer to create it, you’ll know that it takes time and effort to make it happen. But there a number of reasons why a business website should never be seen as finished. It can be...
Designing at desktop computer aerial view- Studio Lago Design

How to boost your website’s conversion rates

If you're reading this, you probably have a website already but are struggling to convert those visitors into loyal customers. Boosting your website conversion rates doesn't have to be rocket science. It’s actually all about getting inside the head of those you want to serve. Let me tell you how… Know your people Before we dive into tactics and strategies, let's talk about the basics....

5 ways to book more clients through your website

If you're looking to ramp up your client bookings through your website, you've come to the right place. I've got some killer strategies to share with you, so, grab a coffee or a cup of whatever you fancy, take a seat, and let's dive into these five strategies to turn your website into a client-booking machine. Showcase your skills with a stunning portfolio You're a creative service provider, so...

What your business is missing by not having a website

Let's cut to the chase: not having a website for your business today is like trying to win a marathon with one shoe missing. As a website designer, I've seen how a well-crafted website can turbocharge a business, and it pains me to see some businesses still on the sidelines.  I’m not just a website designer but also a consumer, just like you and just like your ideal clients. I know that when I...
Studio Lago Design Malarkey Cakes Website mock up

What Websites Need Now: Staying Ahead in the Digital Game

As a business owner, you’ll already know, the internet is a bit of a jungle. And it keeps evolving, and if you're not careful, you might get lost in the digital undergrowth. So, you might be wondering "What do websites need to thrive in this ever-changing online landscape?" Let’s take a look at how you can make sure you stay ahead of the game and that your website stands out. Fast Load Speed...