You and your brand
It’s often said that people buy from people, but how does that work when you’re buying online and you never meet the seller? Do you really just buy from the brand? Or are you still buying from a person? How do you know you like the person you’re buying from?
In today’s digital world, as a business owner, you need to make sure that who you are as a person is coming through in every interaction you have with a potential customer.
And how do you do that?
Well, it’s all about your brand. Your brand should tell people who you are, what you do, and how you do it. All in a single glance.
Of course, there’s information you need to have in words, videos, infographics etc. because one glance isn’t enough to share everything.
What do I mean by brand?
Google defines brand as “to promote (a particular product or company) by means of advertising and distinctive design.” which isn’t that helpful! What it means, is everything your potential customers see. So that includes your logo, the colour palette, the language your website uses, the shapes you choose to use. Everything!
This tracks across everywhere your customer might find you. From social media to your website, to third parties, to print materials, the message that you choose to send should be consistent.
For example, if you’ve got a smart, professional-looking logo on your social media, but the logo version you use on Etsy is low quality, this damages your brand. It makes people think you look unprofessional or just don’t care enough.
This is not to say that what you choose to say shouldn’t be tailored to each platform— it absolutely should, but the message should be the same.
Your brand is essentially just a set of rules in how you want your business to be shown to the world.
How do you make it ‘you’?
Think about what you want people to think of when they think of your business. Write a list of keywords down. It might be ‘professional’, and ‘straightforward’, or maybe ‘fun’ and ‘exciting’.
Have a think about the brands you know about. What keywords do you associate with them? What is it about those brands that make you think that way? It’s the choices they’ve made. A children’s party company is going to use lots of bright colours and looser shapes than a solicitors firm, which is more likely to have a more subdued colour palette and more uniform shapes throughout their materials. Why do you think we made the choices we did for Filmhouse Sunderland?
Make the choices you make personal. If your favourite colour is yellow, find a way to incorporate it into your brand (although, do us all a favour and don’t use it as a background colour!).
Next, think about where your brand is going to go. Are you exclusively on Facebook? Are you going to have print materials? Think practically here. If you’re printing lots of materials, it’s likely to be cheaper printing a mostly white document compared to a mostly black one. Decide where your brand is going to go, and use these perimeters to guide your brand.
How to control your brand?
Make a brand guide. Use the information you gathered above to write a list of the rules you want to use for your brand. It doesn’t need to be complicated. If my brand appears in a circle shape (like Facebook and Twitter profile pictures), this is how it needs to look. If my brand is going to be in a square or a rectangular shape, it’s going to look like this.
Do the same with colour. On your own materials (social media content, website, print materials etc.) you can control the colours that you use, but it’s not always possible. If you use third-party apps, for example, is your brand going to be listed on a directory? How does it look against their colours?
Not every brand is going to work everywhere with just one version. It’s really helpful to have parts that can be broken down for use in different places. We use the meringue shape as our Twitter profile and also as out favicon (the image in the tab). We have square versions and ‘long’ versions. The same font family is in all of our print materials. The same colour palette applies everywhere (even in our email separator). We have black and white versions of the logo.
Check you’re in control of your brand by answering the following!
- An overview of you and your business.
- Brand message- what do you want to say with your brand?
- Logo usage – where and how to use your logo including minimum sizes, spacing and what not to do with it.
- Colour palette – which colours can be used and where? Consider having separate rules for print and web materials
- Fonts! Decide which fonts you’d like to use, including headers and the main body.
- What sort of pictures do you like using? Write a list and think about the pictures you’re going to use. People? Landscapes? Or Product Photography?
- Initial print materials. Write down how you designed them. How far away was your logo from the text? What size was your heading?
Remember: Don’t shove your brand guide to the back of the cupboard! It’s a living document! As your business grows, the more information you need to keep track of in your guide. Think about these ones too!
– Social media headers, profile pictures, graphic shells
– Website layouts
– Signage designs
– Merchandising choices
– Copywriting style or your tone of voice. If you sell internationally, do you write ‘colour’ or ‘color’?