This month on Instagram I've been playing with the whole theme of BRAND. One of my favourite quotes (that totally nails this topic) is from Amazon boss Jeff Bezos, “Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.” That's it - your brand is you. It's your expression, your tone, how you look, behave and talk online. So it's ermm, kind of important.
I asked Hobart based digital designer Sarah Crawford of A Lined Design about her thoughts on branding. I got some sweeeet answers, which are all laid out for you below. Take notes, make some memes and quote this young lady cos she's just nailed it.
1. How important is a brand identity to a business?
Imagine you’re meeting someone new. You reach out your hand for a shake, and you ask them their name and offer yours in response. You make an assessment of this person based on how they shake your hand (Crush? Dead fish? Power play? Warm hug?). How do they engage with you? (Smile? Eye contact? Scowl?). What's their name (is it going to be hard to spell? Is it exotic or pretty common. Do I know someone by that name and have I feelings about that?).
We form a picture based on these few seconds. Your brand does all that for your business. When people are busy and have so many other decisions to make about every other facet of their lives, being clear with your brand, the connection and emotions you want to conjure in your customers is SO important. Don’t make it hard for your customer to figure out whether you’re for them. Tell them. Clearly. Build that confidence.
2. Where do you start when developing a brand's visual identity?
From conception! Who you are, the products you offer, how you go about your business… is all part of the brand identity. And those bits and pieces start to inform what your visuals should be from the very beginning. Use your branding to tell the story of your products and services, with a focus on how unique you are. And be consistent. If your branding isn’t consistent, customers will feel that and get a bit wobbly with their expectations.
3. What are the key elements to creating a brand's look and feel?
The number 1 – colour. That’s what you’ll see out of the corner of your eye and make you double take. Hot pink and fun, red and on fire, cool and blue? There is soooo much psychology about colour and it’s damned important. It says so much about you and your brand in an instant.
Next is the shape and movement, how they eye travels across the image. Are we launched off the page with a flourish, bounced along by a script, or bedded down to security with a box?
Then we come down to finer details. Fonts (total fontaholic here!) say so much, and small variations are really important. I know I spend a lot of time on font matching (a logo font to a general purpose, for example) because how fonts work together also say a lot.
Google fonts has a great font matching doohickey using all of their free fonts, so useful to have a play with when you’re finding your font feet.
4. How often should you review your brand's identity?
This depends so much on the brand itself. Here's a quick exercise. Write four words about your brand. Do it!
Were any of those four words you chose sturdy, dependable, consistent, reliable, strong, resilient? Or, were they more agile, trendy, fast paced or vibrant?
If you’re more in the dependable range, customers wouldn’t expect you to change very often. They want to know that you’ll be there, same as you’ve always been. That’s your value for them. Think of banks (CBA, ANZ etc), very high fashion houses (Chanel, Louis Vuitton), media houses (The Mercury, Australian): when’s the last time they significantly updated their brand? Never. Consistency is key. If you’re more fast-paced and agile, customers expect you to change. If you stay the same, you may lose your value. They’ll likely be on that change journey with you anyway, as your tastes evolve so might your brand.
5. Which brands do you think have 'nailed it' when it comes to strong visual presence and consistency?
MONA. Seriously, MONA is me without social filters. I love everything about MONA’s branding. Super fun, irreverent, naughty, nature loving, pagan, community focussed.
It’s very simple - hot pink and black – which allows all of the fun stuff that MONA does to flow all around it. Perfect.
Kit and Ace. They have this abstract Gemini looking jobby as their logo. Very simple. But how they use it? Genius. They say they have tailored darts to bring in the bulk on the back of shirts.
What shape do those darts make? Logo.
The paperclips holding your order papers together? Logo.
Shoulder patches, belt loops, pocket tops? Logo shaped.
Very subtle, very clever. Their colour palette doesn’t change, and this is perfect for a dependable range of basics. Good stuff.
Stevie K. I think I have nearly every single one of these natural Aussie lipsticks (because they’re the bomb!). Their Instagram ad caught my eye: bright, bold, fun. Their central branding is a solid black signature logo, and each lippie has separate artwork and feels. Very clever for a range which is really vibrant. No shrinking violet shades here! Tonnes of personality and not afraid to show it.
Our thanks to Sarah Crawford - graphic and web designer in Hobart at A Lined Design. She is also one half of Evie and Essie, a dynamic duo who create simple PDF sewing patterns with a modern aesthetic. For more on branding tips and inspiration, join us on Instagram as we continue our monthly themes. Better still, let us know what brands you admire and why. Pop your thoughts in the comment box!