Branding Made Simple!
In graphic design and online marketing, branding means creating a brand, a look or visual identity for your business or organization. We see a lot of big name brands all around us, in advertising, films, magazines and online. Our usual news program uses colours and graphics to identify which station and network you’re watching. You’ll recgnize the theme music and even sound effects, so you know instantly you’re watching the right show. These are sophisticated examples of branding that use a number of elements.
There are lots of examples of well done branding. One is the Coca-Cola logo, and all the advertising, labels on soft drinks and other products related to the Coca-Cola brand. You can recognize the Coca-Cola logo even in a foreign language! I was in Morocco in 2008 and saw flats of Coca-Cola in the market. The name was in Arabic letters, but I had no problem recognizing the logo. That’s effective branding!
Branding can also be as simple as choosing certain fonts and colours for all your business materials. You don’t even need a logo. An art group I belong to uses just the name of the group in a specific font as our “logo,” and that’s it. If you’ve been following our work for a few years, you know it’s us as soon as you see our posters or online ads.
Other examples of branding are signs on store fronts. You’ll see a business’s name on the side of their vans or their trucks, and once you’ve seen that logo or sign, you’ll recognize the business just by that visual information.
I found some amazing statistics about our brains and visual information: Ninety percent of the information our brains process is visual, and our brains process visual information 60,000 times faster than text. Eighty percent of people remember what they see, while they remember 20% of what they read and only 10% of what they hear. On Facebook, photos have an engagement rate of 87%, compared to 4% or less for other types of posts, and posts that include images of any sort get 650% more engagement than text-only posts!*
So you can see you get more impact faster by using visual elements like branding.
Branding and design in your business materials are like a silent ambassador. If you have a consistent look to your graphics and ads, people recognize your ads and Facebook posts, and your website has a coherent polished look.
You can hire a graphic designer to do some or all of this. A logo doesn’t have to be complicated, but a professional will understand things like copyright or trademarks, as well as what’s going to reproduce well in different media, but a very simple logo may be all you need. You can create a simple logo in Canva or other illustration software.
If you do your own designing using Canva or Adobe illustrator, you can create effective branding by making a few choices. Choose two or three fonts you use for everything. There are guidelines for which fonts go well together, and lots of ways to do this badly, so following guidelines in Canva or design manuals online is a good idea unless you have some design training. You can google “font pairings” and get tons of examples.
Choose 2 or 3 colours, no more than 5. I sometimes include a lighter and a darker version of one of my basic colours. If you’re creative and good at design, you might want two main colours, an accent colour, plus a dark and a light colour. Or you can stick with 2 colours plus black and white.
You can even go with only black and white. A website with only black and white photos and some modern fonts can have a clean minimalist look, or you could choose different photos and fonts, and create a Noir look or a Victorian Gothic look, all with only black and white.
On my website I’ve gone with two main colours, turquoise and orange. I’ve used a variety of shades of both. I also have a warm brown, a dark brown, ivory and sometimes an accent colour.
I used stock photos Canva provides, choosing them for the colours as well as the image. I wanted a warm sunny look, so I used a filter and some adjustments in Canva to intensify the colours, so the images now have a golden glow with blue-green accents. As a theme I used photos of archways and doorways to symbolize stepping into a new life or learning new skills.
For my logo, I used my name in a specific font I found on Canva that’s similar to my signature. It’s simple, distinctive and legible. I created two versions: dark brown to go on light backgrounds, and ivory to go on dark backgrounds.
I created Facebook posts in Canva using the same colour palette and fonts I chose for my website, or as close as I could get. Sometimes different programs don’t have the same selection of fonts as another program, but there will always be something close.
Branding doesn’t have to be complicated, yet it makes your website, ads and other materials look more polished and appealing. Using your branding consistently helps potential customers and fans recognize your posts so they can follow you and buy your products or services, or join your organization.
*Statistics posted November 17, 2018 https://movableink.com/blog/29-incredible-stats-that-prove-the-power-of-visual-marketing/