Chris Larcombe, Art Director at McKenzie Partners, talks us through the branding process.
Are you looking to rebrand your business or build it from the ground up? There is often a perception that branding simply means choosing a particular font or colour. However, good branding goes far beyond that. It should be a considered and comprehensive process.
While I may be biased, I’d certainly advise against DIY branding. It is critical to your success, so it’s worth the investment to get it right. When we create branding for businesses, it can involve everything from a new logo to a full style guide with examples of uses, fonts, colours, personality and tone, as well as a comprehensive guide to dos and don’ts across all marketing collateral. This is your brand ‘bible’ which helps you build and maintain trust and credibility in the marketplace.
All our branding work with clients starts with a simple conversation. As designers, we want to fully understand your vision. We’ll ask you about where you started as a business and the direction you see it going in the future. We’ll also review your competitors and look more broadly at branding across your industry.
Your logo essentially distils your brand into one visual. In most cases, it’s the first visual element that your audience will see and should give them an instant impression of your brand’s personality and tone.
It takes time to create and refine the perfect logo, but there are some fundamental elements that we consider as designers. As a starting point, we look closely at your business name and any semiotic associations with your business and industry. From there, we start to brainstorm how we can best convey your values through your logo, but also through your branding more broadly.
Keep It Simple
When developing your logo, we believe the end result needs to serve two purposes. It has to represent your brand and be memorable. Sometimes there is a tendency to try to include everything your business does in a logo. That’s simply not necessary. The logo is a visual representation of your company, not an advertisement about what your company does.
The icon of a logo has to be memorable, so it reminds your audience of the thoughts and feelings they have about your company. Think of the logo of your favourite brand. Can you remember what it looks like? Can you draw it? Maybe not perfectly, but you will have memorised a bunch of logos in your mind and could pick them from a line-up. Examine the logos that are memorable to you.
Also look at what leading companies have done. Successful companies set and follow trends, it’s important to use these as a guide to ascertain what has worked and what hasn’t. For example, Apple got its name because it would come first in a phonebook. They don’t sell fruit, but they use the icon of an apple to effectively represent the company. They built a brand out of products and brand experience and stamped it with an apple, so now people associate the two. It’s simple and it works.
When designing your logo and branding in general, the font choice, colours, layout and any other visual elements help express your personality. A font, just in its visual form, can signify that your brand is classy, western, hand-made, well-rounded, playful, childish etc. The use of symbols has the same effect – is it balanced, refined or messy? As designers, we ensure that all of these elements work cohesively.
Colour is absolutely critical in branding. Colour theory deserves its own blog, however essentially there are psychological factors that mean colours evoke certain feelings and reactions. For example, blue is associated with corporate, grounded, established companies and yellow is generally perceived as more fun, energetic and vibrant. We consider all these factors when choosing your brand colour palette.
Evidently, there is a lot involved in branding, which is why it’s critical to bring in the professionals. Logos and branding can take time to build and establish, but if you take the right steps, you can achieve your goals. Ultimately, you should trust your designer, ask plenty of questions and understand the process – there’s more to it than just fonts and colours.