Branding Guidelines for Entrepreneurs & Startups

26 April 2019

Branding Guidelines for Entrepreneurs & Startups

Branding uses design, color, typography, and a bit of magic to identify your business. A brand is an iconic sign differentiating your business from any other. It marks your place in the market and conveys a message about your business’s unique selling position.

You’ll build a brand one way or the other over time. Performance, quality, and customer satisfaction will brand the business. But you can take the lead by building a brand the way you want. So, what can you do to put your best brand forward?

Branding builds trust!

A business wants to be known quickly and memorably. For ranchers, the brand helps them know at a glance who owns the cattle. For many of them, the brand in the hide also became a distinguishing mark on quality beef. Satisfied customers would come to prefer the product showing the brand. And, their repeated purchases showed their trust in the brand’s continuing quality.

The brand, then, developed a social quality. People could share and recommend the product by brand. Those customers have been satisfied enough to refer it to family and friends. Instead of making an argument for the quality, they needed only to point to the brand they trusted.
Branding improves recognition!

Band-Aid, Coca-Cola, Hershey’s chocolate, Holden, Scotch tape, Qantas, and others have reached the level where their name equals the product. A great brand cannot let itself become complacent. So, it must be more than a professionally- developed logo.

The logo must be memorable, an immediately identifiable icon. It must convey a positive and desired impression of the business with some consistency. You want customers to rely on the brand as sign of their club, as it were. They want to share the recognition. Not only should your logo be memorable, it should give the desired impression of your company so when people see it, they instantly think and feel what you want them to think and feel.
Branding strengthens marketing!

A logo must be more than creative design. It should not be “art for art’s sake.” Rather, it becomes a medium and channel of communication and must reach specific demographics and targeted markets.

It shouldn’t be conceived too narrowly. You do not want the business stereotyped or exclude expanding to other markets. That’s a tough assignment, designing a look that defines a specific business and, at the same time, has a global potential. Nike’s swoosh and Target’s target achieve the difficult balance.

Branding unites employees!

A business, expecting to succeed on its employees’ engagement and commitment, should optimize tools to manage their spirit. It can use its logo as “a call to arms,” a team mascot, or badge of belonging. You want employees to willing wear the logo on shirts, hats, and equipment.

The employees make things happen, key to delivering the company’s vision, mission, and image. When employees align with business purposes, they emotionally connect in pride and ambition. And, they show it by embracing the logo.

Branding makes money!

A strong brand makes an indelible impression, one that generates word-of-mouth referrals. It makes it easy for people to point to the sign or symbol as an index of quality. Customers are saying, in effect, “I know you, and I know you will like this!”

Re-enforced with advertising, multi-media, and social media, the logo becomes its own language. It becomes a sign of reputation, success, quality, and all the strengths you want recognized.

Getting there takes some effort!

Developing a brand’s logo from scratch requires some real effort to get it right. HexiDesign knows branding and wants to help you get what you want and need. Better yet, Hexi will get it right for you and your business success.

Branding: everything you need to know

• Branding Basics: the 3 Bs
• Brand strategy: the blueprint to building your brand
• Building your brand’s:
Voice
Typography
Color
Form
A brand style guide guarantees brand consistency
• Creating your key brand components
Logo
Website
Packaging
Business cards
• The key to branding—keeping things consistent and flexible


Branding Basics: The 3 Bs

Let’s start with understanding and identifying the differences between 3 Bs: Brand, Brand Identity and Branding.

  • Brand refers to the perception of your company by people in the real-world market.
  • Brand identity produces consistency and continuity across logo, website, business card, collateral materials, and other elements that broadcast the right image and message to your audience.
  • Branding covers the act of shaping a unique, distinctive brand and bringing it to life.

The 3 Bs fit like puzzle pieces, and the marketing picture isn’t complete until you have all three in place. Without branding, there’s no brand. Without brand identity, there’s no branding. Each B builds on the other—and success requires all three.

 

Brand strategy: starting at the back-end

Your business dreams require the formation of a brand strategy before you start drawing logos and creating a website. The brand strategy provides a blueprint. It maps a clear path to build your brand around. And, to create that blueprint, you must:

  • Define who you are as a company. If you’re not clear on who you are and what you want to be as a brand, the branding will feel scattered and confusing.
  • Understand your distinguishing characteristics. You must understand what differentiates your business from the others. You must appreciate fully why customers should prefer your brand.
  • Create a brand mission statement, the “why” driving your business. You can fill in an easy template: “Our company exists to ……. In five years, we plan to …….”
  • Write down your values. Your core corporate values not only drive your internal strategy, but they also externally with your customers. You cannot expect them to know what you stand for if you don’t know.
  • Describe your ideal customer. If your brand is to target a market, you must know the customers who form that market. In a sense you want to create an avatar, with which your customers can identify.

Brand identity: defining the brand drivers

Voice

The brand voice is the one you hear in your head when you think about the business. You might be a formal professional financial type, a fun-loving entertainment sort, a child-focused provider, or more.

It’s a matter of finding the voice to best characterize and deliver your message. You might think of the celebrity voice that might do your commercials. It could be feminine, authoritative, analytical, solemn, or just plain silly. But it is the voice that speaks for your business.

And, because voice is a matter of tone, the voice will influence your other stylistic decisions. So, if the brand’s voice is corporate and buttoned up, you’ll look for something traditional. But, if the voice is loud and bold, you’ll opt for a loud and bold color palette.

Edgy and ironic, professional and direct, perky and playful, you must nail the voice that connects with the audience you have identified.

Typography

Typography is an art and science older than hieroglyphics. Over the centuries, artists and printers have created new fonts in block, offset, linotypes, and digital printing technologies.

Typography is vital to your branding success. The choice of typestyle is much more than selecting the letters, words, or symbols. It’s also a matter of using the type font and size in new and novel ways. But, in a global economy, it’s also necessary to respect cultural differences.

Volumes have been written about the use and result of typestyles. Keeping it very simple, “serif” styles have little feet on the letters (Times New Roman) and dominate the fonts sending conservative and traditional messages. More sleek, modern, and direct fonts are “san-serif” because they lack those little feet (Arial). They typically convey whimsical, chic, and contemporary messages.

And, you always have the option of going “rogue.” If you have trouble finding the typographical image that you want, you can create one from scratch. Developing type that is truly original and exceptional almost guarantees having it your way and branding your business powerfully.

Color

Individuals and groups have strong associations with color, so your branding must use color strategically to optimize these associations inspiring specific thoughts, emotions and reactions with your audience.

A color palette includes related hues and shades of the core color. For example, blue palettes suggest reliability and trustworthiness, so blues build trust with your audience. You will notice how banks and insurance companies use blue. Reds, on the other hand, suggest passion and excitement to inspire observers. And, you can check how often major retailers use red.

If, however, you want to stand out in a crowded competitive field, you can choose a less frequently used color like orange, silver, burgundy, or yellow. The color will catch the market’s attention if you use color creatively, imaginatively, and uniquely.

Form, shape and imagery

Finding the right image for your logo, business cards, packaging, or other assets is a real challenge. They say sharp, tight, straight-edged shapes suggest efficiency and stability while rounded shapes create a sense of community and unity. These generalizations may not connect with the gender, age, and cultural associations of the target market.

Where properly used, the right image will deepen customer attachment to your brand. The shapes, forms, and images may appear on billboards, websites, social media, and all your marketing paper. The most fitting shaped images communicate with customers when used consistently across all media.

Tying it all together with a Brand Style Guide

Once you’ve defined your branding, developed a branding strategy, and brought the brand
identity to life, you need a Brand Style Guide to tie it all together. A Brand Style Guide is a single centralized document holding all the key information about your branding, your brand color palette, and the do’s and don’ts governing the use of the logo and brand voice.

The Brand Style Guide should be as detailed as possible, including:

  • Brand story explaining how and why you arrived at brand voice, color, and design
  • Specified sizes, uses, and photo ready copy for the logos
  • Color palette with universal code designations in all its permitted variations
  • Brand fonts, type size, and how to use them
  • Imagery guidelines on size, aspect ratio, and protected rights

 

Designing the key brand elements

Once you’ve nailed the basics of your brand identity, you can take things a step further and design your key brand elements consistent with the guidelines defined in your Brand Style Guide.

The brand elements depend on your business model. But there are a few every company needs to succeed:

  • Logo. The logo is the “face” of your business, the most important branding element you’ll bring to life. It’s often the first experience people have of your brand—the design most closely associated with your business.
  • Website. Every brand needs an Internet address, a place that accurately reflects your branding.
  • Packaging. Sale and delivery of physical products requires packaging designed to identify your business. It must be functional yet consistent with the rest of your branding identity.
  • Business cards. Business cards, invoices, brochures, and other collateral business materials must be consistent with your logo, website, packaging, and any other elements of your brand identity.

 

Keeping things consistent yet flexible

Consistency is the vital key to branding. For your brand to succeed, your target market must have a consistent experience of your brand wherever and however they encounter it. Your brand must be consistent across your website, social media, print materials, packaging, logo, and where ever you place the brand.

If, for instance, you look for a business consultant. You find the website designed in a formal, buttoned-down voice, and neutral color choices. Then, you move to the consultant’s social media pages where you find neon colors, edgy photos, and off-color jokes. The inconsistency is deathly.

You must create a consistent experience across all your platforms, designs, and brand touch points. That’s how you build trust with your audience. And, trust will drive them to want to work with you.

If consistency is key, it also must have flexibility! If something isn’t working for your brand, you need to be willing to change it. If your brand grows and evolves, your branding needs to grow and evolve with it, too.

If your brand isn’t landing your customers, you must rebrand. If your audience doesn’t respond to a certain font or brand voice, you must change it. But, if you get things right from the beginning, you can sustain your consistency.

Get your branding on

You now have all the branding tips and resources needed to build a killer brand from the ground up—and drive explosive success for your business in the process!

As you’re building your brand, remember:

  • Start with the right strategy. A strong brand strategy acts as the blueprint for the entire branding process. It will align your branding with your ultimate marketing goals.
  • Confirm all elements work. The brand voice, color, typography, and logo must come together as a cohesive experience for the target market.
  • Govern use in a Brand Style Guide. A strong, detailed Brand Style Guide ensures everyone on your team is on the same page regarding brand meaning and use.
  • Consistency. The targeted audience must have a consistent experience with your brand if you are to build trust, confidence, and customer loyalty.

 

You can do it—and you can do it right with HexiDesign’s help!

 



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