Your brand is the first interaction people will have with your company. Whether you target business to business, or business to consumer it’s important that your branding portrays the right message about your company. There are several factors that play into what your brand really says this blog will only cover the basics such as color, shape, and design theory.
Anyone can create a logo, but a brand is so much more then text and icons. A fully thought-out brand will appeal to the direct target as well as encompass the goals, objectives, and “wow” factor of a company. The majority of my time in designing a brand or corporate identity will actually center on research. Normally I’ll spend hours looking up everything about the target audience building profiles (personas) about these people, I’ll also research the competitors out there and dive deep into what sets the client apart from the competitors. When you first begin the design process it’s crucial to figure out who you are designing for. We’ll need to know this so we can build the brand backwards in a visual method to attract the target audience. For instance certain colors appeal differently to men and women. This is an example of a list I did for a local painting company: business to consumers, upper to middle class, housewives over the age of 35, located in coastal communities. Right away this set precedents on the colors and shapes that should be used and to be avoided. If you are designing a brand for a direct gender, always try to pick a color that they favor. Women typically like softer colors palettes where men enjoy bolder color palettes. Of course, there are times when you won’t be able to do this. For example, the branding for the painting company already had invested too much in the previous branding colors which was based around orange. Therefore, although he was trying to reach women, we had to wrap his branding around an orange color scheme.
After I fully understand who the target audience is I like to put together another list to determine who the client is, what they do, what is their “wow factor”, what their business model is, and how they want to portray themselves to their target audience. For example the painting company was: luxury service, high quality and professionalism, precision paint job, and top of the line paint used. They wanted to stay away from being affordable and unprofessional. I then look up color schemes that I could focus around orange, but bring-out the focus on the terms with. I decided to focus on the terms luxury and high quality, this is how I decided to go with a more burnt amber, semi gold color scheme instead of just a typical orange. The new color scheme was tested on his target audience with 3 other “test” color schemes and was selected 90% of the time. I’ll normally pick broad color schemes to design around first and then determine shapes and fonts. You can view the completed branding of the paint company I have been referencing here: Cornerstone Branding Project
Everything with designing a brand is psychology driven. Basic shapes convey meaning. Circles, ellipses, and ovals all tend to project a positive message. A circle symbolizes protection, unity, completion, friendship, love, and community. Soft curves represent sensualism and something that is feminine. Squares typically represent something that is in balance and professionalism. Triangle shapes are masculine in nature and are used to represent strength, power, science, and law. Even fonts are psychology driven. Serif fonts such as times new roman, or Georgia are associated with Reliable, Respectable, Authoritative, and Traditional. Sans Serif fonts such as Helvetica or Arial imply clean, modern, and stable. Script fonts such as Lobster or Lucida represent friendly, creative, and feminine. We’ll be digging much deeper into psychology and branding in future topics.