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 writer…

I’m Katie and I’m besotted with taking adventurous female creatives, coaches and educators on a journey of discovery of their business from the foundations up, to give them a crystal clear brand vision and a new found confidence to make an impact.

I know what it’s like to start a business and then find yourself on the road to burnout because actually, you’ve taken so many wrong turns and lost sight of the reasons why you started on your journey in the first place.

I hope these design notes inspire you to create the brand of your dreams. 

Katie x

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