A lovely guest post today from Jeanne Carlier: the visual designer and illustrator behind Spark & Bloom. She collaborates with ethical business owners and entrepreneurs to create brand identities that make a positive impact. Here are her thoughts about getting your company's branding right.
Every business has a brand, it might be that they have intentionally worked on it, or not. So what is your brand? It is the feeling that people get when they come into contact with your business. It’s the relationship that your audience creates with your business.
Consistency is key. By repeating familiar patterns, your audience feels comfortable engaging, and the more consistent it is, the easier it is to recognise and trust it.
In an age with so much competition, standing out and gaining the trust of your audience are two essential factors for a business’s success.
Think of your brand as an intricate ecosystem: your email signature, your logo, your customer service staff, the coffeeshop you choose to meet a potential client, your last blog post and so on.
Let’s dive a little deeper
You have two aspects of your brand which consist of internal (everything you do and define behind the scenes) and external (which becomes your experience).
Your internal brand englobes your foundations. These are your;
- Core Values
Your brand strategy is;
- Audience persona
- Competitor analyses
- Differentiation strategy
All these moving parts are dependent on one another.
Your brand purpose defines the market space in which your company gravitates, so it impacts your competitor’s analysis.
In addition, your mission and core values influence who resonates with your brand, so your audience persona, and differentiation strategy are affected by it.
All of this is nice but didn’t we say we would talk about visual identity in this article?
We sure did! But I wanted to stress the fact that brand foundations and strategy come first, because they will make your brand design decisions easier and more sustainable (and we want them to be sustainable so that you can be consistent over time to build that trust we talk about at the beginning of the article).
We went through what your internal brand is in the first part. Now we’re talking about your external brand, which we can also refer to as your brand experience. It englobes your copy, your visual identity, and your physical and digital presence.
Here we’re specifically talking about your visual identity. It englobes;
- Color palette
Like we said earlier, a brand is a relationship. Relationships are based on interests and needs. The way your brand looks will impact who resonates with it.
If your ideal client is a mature woman looking for a holistic health solution, she might want to feel calm, reassured, and welcomed. You could then decide that a soft color palette with fewer hues would be appropriate. (To learn more about color theory and how to make your color palette, check out this article)
If your ideal client is a young college student looking to become involved in climate crisis activism, they might want to feel motivated, optimistic, and energised. Some high contrast, bright and warm colors might be the way to go.
You also have to keep your competitors in mind, to make sure you stand out! So if you’re in the eco-friendly field, green might seem appropriate. But are all the other brands around you using green as well? If yes, maybe it’s a good idea to explore another option.
If you’re a company in human resources, do your competitors only use corporate stock photos? Then maybe don’t!
Making design decisions with your brand foundations and strategy in mind helps to make them more objective and more sustainable,
If we make decisions solely based on our personal preferences, for example, two things might happen:
- It becomes challenging to make decisions because countless outside factors influence your tastes. It can be visual trends, your partner’s opinion, or something you heard in a podcast last week.
- Your personal preferences might be different from what your ideal audience resonates with when they’re looking for a solution to their problem, so your brand won’t resonate with them
Working on your foundations and strategy is critical to design a meaningful visual identity.
If you want to learn more about appealing to your ideal audience through your brand, check out my workbook.
Jeanne from Spark & Bloom Studio.