Logos, stationery, business cards, print brochures, posters, mailings, website, video. photography—the list of materials (and virtual materials) that a company puts out is almost overwhelming. And when you consider the fact that every one of these materials requires a company brand’s stamp of approval in order to become a cohesive part of a company’s brand and image, it’s difficult not to become overwhelmed at the prospect of developing a strong image and reputation for your company from scratch.
Developing a cohesive brand doesn’t happen by accident, by consistently going with your gut, or by simply placing your logo on everything; rather, it involves careful planning and sticking to certain ground rules that you lay out for your company from the get-go. Here are some good practices to keep in mind as you work to develop printed and virtual materials that will serve as extensions of your company’s cohesive branding.
Have Multiple Logo Versions
If your logo is predominantly horizontal, consider creating an alternative vertical version of your logo that will allow you to use your logo in situations that aren’t conducive to having a long, horizontal logo. You might also consider having a small logo with dimensions similar to a square, making small logo placement a cinch. Just be sure that all of these versions of your logo naturally complement one another.
Create a Mood Board
Creating a mood board should be one of the first steps you take to defining your company’s brand and ensuring that it remains consistent over time. Some still create physical mood boards with a poster board, glue, and pasted images, but with the coming of virtual pin-board sites like Pinterest, creating and adding to a mood board has never been easier. Be sure to think outside of the box when creating your mood board; include textures, colors, and photography that is reminiscent of your company’s image and mission. Including as wide a range of things as possible will come in handy in the future as you create printed and online materials that will become extensions of your company’s brand.
Define Your Color Palette
Color factors significantly into a company’s image, especially when you consider color psychology. Define a color palette for the company from the very start, and make sure it’s one that suits your company. Incorporate both highly tinted and highly shaded versions of a hue, and include a couple of different hues (unless you are going monochromatic), in order to give yourself some design flexibility. When in doubt, keep the color palette simple. And most importantly for consistent branding, stick to this palette. This doesn’t mean that outside hues can never enter your company’s print and online materials, but it does mean that those other hues should somehow be reminiscent of your existing color palette, be it with similar tinting levels or with similar color saturation.
This is another area where it is important to keep things simple, select one or two (or three at the very most) typefaces that your company will use and be sure to use those typefaces whenever designing anything that includes text for your company.
Customize General Design Elements
Don’t forget about the small opportunities there are when designing things to add a touch of your company’s brand to the mix. You might, for example, include a special “pin it” feature on your website, for example, that calls up a special, branded “pin it” button for Pinterest every time the cursor hovers over an image on the site. Or, you might design your own set of small social media logos for use on your website and printed materials.
Be Mindful of Copy
Don’t forget that a brand’s image doesn’t revolve completely around graphics and design; it includes the voice you find in a company’s marketing text and online content as well. Be sure to keep a consistent voice in any copy that your company puts out, even preparing a style guide for you to look back so that your defined voice will remain the same even over time. This is an important element of content marketing, as well, which is growing across the internet.