The Pragmatist’s Guide to Small Business Marketing
Ep. 3: Brand Identity – Getting Your Branding Right
Often times new clients will engage me after they’ve been in business for a while. They are rightly proud of having launched their business, brought it to a point where it’s sustainable and are ready to take the next steps. In getting the business off the ground, they’ve done it all… including creating their logo and brand identity.
Nine out ten times, it’s very easy to tell. The logo is, simply put, awful. Clip art, hackneyed typefaces, poor color choices, or worse, an image lifted off of a Google search, that they don’t own rights to.
I don’t want to disparage an entrepreneur’s attempts at design. That person is a visionary and their ideas are very solid. Problem is they aren’t graphic design professionals and don’t generally have the appropriate tools to develop a logo and branding pieces that are suitable for commercial printers or that will represent the business in a professional way. No, Microsoft Publisher isn’t adequate and Word isn’t a graphic design tool.
Your brand identity – from the logo, to business cards, to brochures and the look of your web site – is too important to ‘wing’ it or go cheap. It doesn’t need to include a graphic icon. A well chosen typeface treatment and thoughtful use of colors can be just as iconic. A good rule of thumb is to keep it clean. Don’t clutter it up. Going for a metallic look (OK, unless you’re a Metal band) is a bad move.
Too many colors will just be… too many colors. Think one to three, tops. And when you go into the exercise, think about the smallest size, largest size, black and white versions and different channels you will place the logo/brand identity in. Colors on a monitor are virtually impossible to replicate in print or to any degree of consistency. Look at a shade of blue on 100 different monitors, and you’re likely to get 100 variations. Yellow is usually a big (and ugly) challenge. And too many dark colors can turn into mud when printed. Think complementary.
It’s also OK to have a couple formats if absolutely necessary. For example, if you have a business name with several words or names in it. Have a vertical and horizontal treatment done up so you can use it as elegantly on a business card as on your web site or brochure.
And when you’ve landed on your logo, stick with it. Be sure to have a style guide made that details the color formulas for web, three color (think MS Word use), and four color (commercial printing); typeface(s) used, correct placement and white space requirements and use of any trademark icons.
At the end of the day, your brand identity may be the first thing a prospective customer ever sees of your business. Why do anything less than deliver the best possible impression?