By: Erin Hudson
What’s in a brand? And is it really that important? Branding is the external, identifying markers of your company or organization. It is often the first impression for your customers, stakeholders, or donors. And whether you realize it or not, it says a lot about your organization.
WHAT GOES INTO A BRAND?
There are several components that go into creating a brand and while they may seem individually insignificant, together they create a cohesive and consistent look and feel for your organization.
From the Nike swoosh to the Facebook tile, there are logos that are recognizable to almost everyone. While your logo may not reach the same status as these prominent brands, it is a goal worth trying to achieve. To home in on what will provide value for the organization and resonate with key audiences, we take clients through an exercise to craft a logo that makes sense, that is clean, that works across multiple mediums and represents a unique meaning to the organization.
FONTS + TYPEFACE
Consistency is key and this also comes into play when selecting the right font. In general, it’s a good idea to do the following:
- Pick a Google Font. This may seem small, but this will ensure that your chosen font is available across multiple platforms and mediums. A quirky, unique font might be tempting, but understand that it won’t always translate to other platforms.
- Keep it simple. Clean, simple fonts can be easily plugged into every piece of collateral designed, a website, and other promotional materials. They’re easier to read and will remain timeless as your brand ages.
- Select two fonts – select a main font and a sub font and clearly define their uses. They should complement each other.
Why do colors matter? Think of a company, any company. I bet you can name the color associated with their brand, especially when the color is worked into the branding. In fact, when describing a logo, I would also guess that the color would come into play in your description.
McDonalds? Golden arches.
Starbucks? Green mermaid.
Coca Cola? Red script.
Like all other parts of a brand, it’s important to keep it simple. Select two or three colors. They can be one of three types of combinations:
- Complementary – they are directly across from each other on a color wheel (i.e., purple and yellow)
- Analogous – they are next to each other on a color wheel (i.e., yellow and orange)
- Triadic – they form a triangle on a color wheel (i.e., green, orange and purple)
You can find easy guides on selecting the right colors using sites like Coolors.co.
VOICE + TONE
The language on your website, social channels, newsletters, etc. should sound similar. It should sound and read like the same person is speaking to them. However, it’s important to know that the voice and tone of your brand can, and usually should, change over time. Just like you change and evolve as you age, your brand can do the same.
USE OF BRANDING
This is your brand – you get to dictate how and when it is used. This can be done creating a Brand Standards Guide. This may seem simple, but it can be an arduous process, so I highly recommend you bring in some help to create your guide.
WHY SHOULD I CARE ABOUT MY BRAND?
A clean, consistent, and memorable brand does a few things for your organization:
- It makes you look professional. If your logo looks like it was created using clip art, it doesn’t make you look like a professional organization that is an expert in your field.
- Looking professional establishes trust with potential customers, clients or donors. If you look the look, then it gives off a better impression that you also walk the walk.
- If you don’t care about your brand, then do you care about your organization and the product you are producing? It’s part of the presentation and if you don’t care about what it looks like, then why should potential clients / customers want to work with you?
DO I BRAND EVERYTHING?
It can be tempting to want to create a sub-brand for every campaign. The times when a sub-brand would need to be created is:
- Is it an annual campaign or fundraiser? If you’re doing it every year, then it might be a good idea to create branding for it. Just make sure it works with your main brand.
- Is it a physical product you created? Creating a memorable brand for that product can be just as valuable as the main brand.
CAN I CHANGE MY BRAND?
Of course! However, proceed with caution. This should not be an annual exercise – it has the potential to dilute existing brand capital if your audience misses the association with your organization. However, as I said before, as your organization grows and evolves, your brand can do so, as well. But any evolution takes time, so be thoughtful and strategic about it.