From the colours that you use, to your font choices and beyond, the design elements that are included in your brand tell your story and appeal to your ideal audience.
Whether you’re working with a brand designer, or creating your own designs, building a brand identity for your small business is all about making sure that your vision is accurately and effectively reflected in your visuals.
Creating unstoppable design elements is, therefore, the key to building an unstoppable brand.
The main design element that your brand has is a logo. Hopefully, you will have multiple versions of your logo, such as a primary logo, secondary logo, and icon. A good logo design will include 2–3 different types of logos that work together to create a suite of consistent marks for your brand.
Typography is one of the most important elements for your brand because typography is used almost everywhere throughout your brand, and it conveys so much meaning. Whether you’re creating your website, graphics for social media, or posters and flyers for your business, you’ll be using typography to share your message and communicate with your audience. This widespread nature of typography means that it’s important to choose the best fonts for your brand.
Colour increases your brand’s recognition by up to 80%, so the stronger and clearer that your colours are, the more memorable your brand will be. If you’re wanting to create a memorable brand that your audience recognises online or in person, perfecting your brand colour palette can be the key to making that happen.
As we know, a picture is worth a thousand words, so brand photography and videography are vital design elements for you to have. Whether you are a service provider or a product-based business, your clients and customers want to see you and your work in action. Although you’re technically not “designing” these elements, you are designing the shoots and creative directing the shots to align with your brand. They are part of the overall direction of your brand and tell your story visually, so are included as brand design elements.
And lastly, graphics such as illustrations, patterns, icons, and textures are used throughout your brand on your website, packaging, downloads, and other brand assets. These are the special little touches that individually and together make your brand stand out from everybody else’s since they can be so custom and unique to you. Anyone can use the colour orange, but not everyone can use it in combination with your specific patterns and icons.
There is no point in creating design elements without first understanding why you’re making decisions about the things you are creating. Creating these elements without strategy or direction will guarantee that you’ll need to do them again because they’re not going to align with your brand or last beyond trends as your brand grows.
In order to create unstoppable brand design elements that last, you need to first get clarity on your identity, people, and voice.
Firstly, you need to uncover your identity. This is the key to everything that will help you to think about where your brand needs to go in the future, the vision that you want your visual brand to represent, and the values that you want to convey. Then you can intentionally create design elements that represent your identity and move you towards your goals. Your identity includes things like your:
As well as uncovering your own identity, it’s important to pinpoint your ideal people. Knowing your audience is vital to understanding who your ideal clients and customers are, what attracts them, what design styles they enjoy, which other businesses they engage with, how you want them to feel about you, and more. When you’ve done this work, you’ll have a clear plan for how your design elements can help you stand out from the crowd, attract your ideal audience, capture their attention, and communicate your brand to them.
And lastly, before you dive into designing your brand elements, you need to make sure that you have found your own unique voice. This is all about knowing your personality, the tones of voice that you use, the content pillars that you are going to be creating, and the platforms that you're going to be creating on. This is going to help you think about what you want to say, how you want to say it and where you want to say it so that you can communicate these things visually with your design elements.
Once you’ve got clarity about your identity, people, and voice, it’s time to define your vibe and start creating the visual direction for your brand. Based on everything that you clarified about you and your audience, you can create a moodboard that represents the key messages that you want to communicate through your brand design.
To do that, you can follow this process:
Top tip: when looking for inspiration, don’t just look at other branding design ideas. Look at unexpected sources such as sculpture, ceramics, painting, music, and other creative works. This helps to set the tone for your brand and powerfully inspire your visual direction without tempting you to copy what someone else has done.
Now it’s time to make your vision visible and if you have done steps 1 and 2 correctly, this step should be relatively straightforward. Having a clear understanding of your brand, and setting a strong visual direction that represents it all first, makes it easy to find the best fonts for your brand, select the perfect photos for your brand and choose an effective brand colour palette. Colours and fonts, in particular, have clear meanings associated with them, so if you know what meaning you want to communicate, choosing and designing these elements is much easier.
When you’re ready to start designing your brand elements, there are some key things to remember in order to create an unstoppable, long-lasting identity. Your design elements should be:
When you are building your brand design elements, it’s important to make sure that you don’t get distracted by trends. You want to build a timeless brand that will last, not one that loses it’s power when the trend that you built your design around has passed.
You also want to create design elements that are unique to you. Don’t worry about what anyone else is doing, just do you. Use your brand strategy and create unique brand elements that are one of a kind to you based on your unique identity, audience and voice.
While brand consistency is important for brands, the way to achieve consistency isn’t by restricting yourself too much. Instead, if you have a flexible system with 3–5 colours, 2–3 fonts, a suite of patterns, and a bunch of illustrations that are all aligned with your brand, the potential options are endless. This allows you to make the most of your logo and other design elements, and keep it all consistent, but still give yourself room to actually create a range of assets.
Branding isn’t just about designing for where you are right now, it's about designing for where you want to go. If you want to write a book, launch new products, or speak at conferences in the future, you need to be thinking about those goals now to make sure that the elements you’re designing now will work on a book cover, different packaging, or your keynote presentation slides! Don't just focus on where you're at now, but think about where you're going in the future, the vision that you have for your business and your brand going forward, and the goals that you want to achieve.
Now that you know how to create unstoppable design elements for your brand, you’re ready to design them, apply them all across your business, and rock your new identity!
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Building an Identity | Deciding Whether You Need a Brand Designer, or a Brand Coach