What is “branding” and why is it so important?
Whether your a large or small organisation your brand lets people know what to expect from your Company, products and services, it’s what sets you apart from your competitors.
Some Companies spend large amounts of time and money developing and maintaining their brand. To maintain their brand consistency they will follow strict brand guidelines covering many things from design through to marketing and implementation.
Branding is a complex subject and can be very expensive to maintain for that reason I am only going to cover a few brand basics that are easy to implement. For this blog I will be using a fictitious company called ‘Oasis Beauty’.
1. It all starts with a logo
A logo is the foundation of your brand, making sure that the logo looks the same across your website, packaging and promotional materials will communicate your brand consistently.
a) Where will you be using your logo?
Your designer will generally create your logo in one of two file formats … vector or bitmap. In general, vector logos are the best format as they can be enlarged to any size without loss of quality.
TIP: Always ask for your logo to be supplied in multiple formats (if possible) then you can always be assured your using the best quality logo.
PRINT (Stationery, Signage and Promotional materials) = AI or PDF
DIGITAL (Website, Apps and Social Media) = SVG, PNG, or JPEG
b) How should your logo look?
Having your logo look exactly the same across all media types is a great idea, it creates consistency and recognition but there may be situations it might look better using an alternative version of your logo.
The logo above is my master logo, this is how I want it to appear whenever possible especially when used in print. It has a flower motif with two lines of text underneath and everything is centred.
However for an ecommerce website, single line landscape logos like the example above often work much better within the header area. As you can see, its the same logo but with a change to the layout.
Using your logo on photos
In an ideal World your logo would always appear on a white background but that’s not always possible … plus it’s nice to mix things up with a bit of colour.
The above image is a perfect example of what happens when you place a logo with a white background over an image or background. The problem is that the logo background covers up some of the photo underneath which I hope you agree doesn’t look great.
A much better way is to have a version of your logo with a transparent background as above, this way it can sit on top of the photo rather than covering it up.
Using your logo on coloured backgrounds
Similar to the photo example previously, there may situations when you need to use your logo on a background other than white. You can achieve this by having a version of your logo that is white with a transparent background. The white logo can also be used over photos that contain background colour as in the example below.
2. The colour palette
A brand may consist of several colours but in the case of the Oasis Beauty logo it is just turquoise. All colours whether in print or on screen are made up of various values and they are different dependent on where the logo is being used.
Print uses two colour palettes – CMYK and Pantone.
CMYK consists of 4 transparent inks (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black) mixed together to create a wide range of colours.
The CMYK colour mix for the Oasis logo is:
Pantone’s are a range of ready mixed opaque inks, there are many colours available including metallic’s and neon’s which aren’t achievable with CMYK. Each pantone colour has a unique reference number, there is also a letter after the number which is either U or C, this refers to the paper stock that that it is being printed on. U = Uncoated stock such as plain paper. C = Coated stock such as glossy art paper.
The Pantone colour for the Oasis logo is:
Pantone 570U or 570C
RGB represents the 3 colours used on screen displays,which consist of Red, Green and Blue mixed together to create a wide range of colours. Microsoft Word also uses RGB colour.
The RGB colour mix for the Oasis logo is:
HEX colour values are also used when designing for websites etc, the hex value for Oasis Beauty is #5AC4B4
A font is a graphical representation of text that may include a different typeface, point size or weight. Fonts can be paid for or free depending on there usage. What fonts you use will depend entirely on your brand but like your logo and colour they should be consistent.
In the case of the Oasis Beauty logo, it only uses one font but your logo may contain several.
The font I have used in the logo is Acumin Pro and I have chosen the weight variant of Light. I have also adjusted the spacing between the letters which is called tracking. Acumin Pro is a sans serif font, these type of fonts have clean straight edges unlike serif fonts such as times new roman.
You may want to use Acumin Pro Light on everything but its not always the best option, using the same font weight throughout can make it difficult for the reader to navigate as everything can look the same. You could increase the font or change colour etc but you may need more options.
A font may have several variations within its library, as is the case with Acumin Pro, some fonts have many more options.
TIP: If you intend on using one font family for everything, look for one that as many variants, the more the better … this will give you flexibility. Be aware some fonts have no variants whatsoever such as scripts, handwritten fonts etc so you are very limited.
In the below example I am just using Acumin Pro but in different weights.
I could use Acumin Pro Light for my paragraph text
Acumin Pro Medium for product titles
and Acumin Pro Heavy for my prices
Using complimentary fonts
There may be situations when you might want to use other fonts to add some design variation and focus to your brand.
TIP: Avoid using fancy fonts on paragraphs or small text, they can be very distracting and difficult to read. Stick to titles, prices or call to actions etc.
I have chosen Alverata Informal for the price which is a serif font.
Serif fonts and sans serif fonts are a classic font pairing and look great together.
TIP: Don’t be afraid to use different fonts, just don’t go crazy and use too many as it can weaken your brand and appear amateurish but it can look effective in certain circumstances.
Using alternative fonts
The fonts I have chosen in my example are all adobe Typekit fonts, although I would always recommend using the correct fonts it may not always possible or practical to do so.
One example would be with regards to working within an office environment you would more than likely be using something like word or excel and may not have access to certain fonts.
Google fonts have a fantastic collection of web safe fonts available, you could try and find fonts that are similar or use google fonts from the outset.
Your font guideline might look something like the example below:
FONTS TO BE USED ON COMMERCIAL PRINT AND PROMOTIONAL ITEMS
Only Acumin Pro can be used, do not use substitutes.
For main body text – Use Acumin Pro Light
For titles and headings – Use Acumin Pro Medium
For call to action or to add focus – Use Acumin Pro Heavy
WEB AND INTERNAL DOCUMENTS
When Acumin Pro is not available you must use Arial.
For main body text – Arial Normal
For titles and headings – Arial Bold
For call to action or to add focus – Arial Extra Bold
Arial is just an example, there are much nicer sans serif fonts available on google fonts. I have picked Arial due to its similarity to Acumin Pro.
I hope you found this basic guide to branding useful, this concludes my blog and thank you for reading.