What is a brand?
A brand is essentially the identity of your business. A brand helps you convey your business’ personality to viewers through your combination of visuals, vibe, and voice.
Your brand is what allows potential customers or clients to get to know you, and better understand what you’re all about. It also helps show that you’re a legitimate business, who takes themselves seriously.
A common misconception about branding is that your logo is your brand.
While a logo is an important piece of your brand, it’s only a very small part. Let me repeat that: A logo is NOT a brand. If your current brand identity consists of just a logo, then you might have some work to do. But have no fear, I’m going to lay out all the different pieces of a brand that you should be putting together in order to create a cohesive, consistent brand that does your business the justice it deserves!
The key components that all brands should have, include:
- Primary Logo
- Alternate Logo
- Color Palette
- Brand Photography
- Brand Voice
With the exception of your brand voice, all of these pieces are visual aspects of your brand – which means you can (and should) have a physical branding package that contains all of these assets.
A great way to put all of your brand’s visuals in one place is through the creation of a Brand Board. I’ll go over this later, first let’s start with a brief description and example of each of the individual pieces you should include as part of your business’ brand.
Your Primary Logo is the main logo you’ll use to represent your brand. This is generally the first thing people think of when they decide to create a brand, but shouldn’t be the last!
Below is an example of a Primary Logo created for a client of mine:
Your Alternate Logo is exactly that: an alternative logo you can use that isn’t your Primary Logo. An alternate logo is important to have for instances where your Primary Logo might not work. Perhaps the aspect ratio of your logo is rectangular, but you really need something a bit more square in shape.
Some people also might opt to create an alternate logo that includes a tagline that the Primary Logo does not.
Below is an example of a simpler Primary Logo beside the Alternate Logo with a tagline:
A submark is yet another complementary brand asset that allows you brand flexibility, while remaining consistent.
I like to explain submarks as “stamps”. A submark is essentially small brand asset that can be used in scenarios where a logo is too large or feels like “too much”.
An example of where you might want to use a submark would be business document or multi-page handout. Maybe you put your logo on the front cover, but it takes up too much space to put it on all the other pages. So, you can use your smaller, still consistent, submark!
Below is an example of a submark created for Tahoe Mountain Lodge:
Notice how it says Mtn instead of Mountain. It still matches the Primary Logo and people will undoubtedly be able to tell it’s the same brand, but it’s much smaller and less detailed – as a submark should be.
This one’s simple! Your favicon is the little icon that goes in the browser tab when people visit your website. Favicons should be very minimalist. I mean, look at the size of the browser tab.. It’s small!
Any favicon with large amount of details or words simply won’t do. Below is a super simple favicon design. Notice how it matches all the other brand assets, but doesn’t include any words or important small details.
While a color palette might seem simple, creating the right color palette can make a world of a difference!
I recommend choosing anywhere from 3-5 different colors, but sticking to 1-2 of those colors as your primary colors to be used in more instances. The extra colors can then be used for accents, to grab attention, or to ensure a bit of brand flexibility if/when you need another color choice for a certain scenario.
Below is an example of a color palette made for Tahoe Mountain Lodge, a rental probably in the woods of Lake Tahoe, California.
When choosing the colors for your brand it’s important to make sure that they make sense. Colors aren’t just colors, and choosing the wrong colors can cause your audience to be mega confused.
Imagine if the colors for Tahoe Mountain Lodge were bright orange, black, and gray… Cabin in the woods? Orrrr Halloween house?
Taking the time to understand your audience as well as maybe a dash of color psychology can help you to ensure that your color palette truly hits the mark.
Fonts might be the most overlooked aspect of a brand. It’s easy to think that selecting specific fonts for your brand doesn’t matter, but trust me when I say that it absolutely does. Let’s use my fave example to demonstrate why…
Feel a difference?
Yeah… fonts matter.
There are also different types of fonts: serif, sans serif, handwritten, script, decorative. Depending on your brand, you may use one type of font or multiple types. You’ll want to make sure you have a font for your Headings and your Body font. It can be the same font or different, depending on the vibe and personality you’re trying to convey.
This part of your brand is going to very much be a “do as I say, not as I do” scenario. As someone who’s NOT a fan of being in front of a camera, you could say that my brand photography is seriously lacking. That being said, if you do choose to incorporate photography into your brand (which I totally suggest doing!) make sure it is A) high quality, and B) matches your brand.
Photography is such a powerful way to show your brand personality, so using photos that match your brand “vibe” is so, so important.
While it’s not a visual aspect of your brand, I felt that including “Voice” as part of this post was important. Creating a consistent brand voice across all platforms (website, social media, email, ads, etc) is yet another way to help potential customers or clients get to know you. To hone in on your brand voice, you might want to ask yourself what type of tone you’ll use…
- Formal or conversational?
- Slang or no slang? (“gonna, wanna, yep”. Or “going to, want to, yes”?)
- Swearing or no swearing?
- What pronouns will you use? (I or we?)
There is MUCH more to creating your brand voice than that, but as that’s not part of my expertise I’ll just leave you with those starter points.
Creating a Brand Board to represent your brand visuals
Once you’ve created alllll of your brand assets, it’s time to put them together in a way that makes your life easier – by using a Brand Board!
A Brand Board is something you create for yourself (not your audience) as a reference. It’s essentially a PDF where you plop all of your brand assets in one place, so you can pull it up at any time if/when you want to know what asset to use for your brand.
Below is an example of a Brand Board you might create for your brand:
Putting in the up front work to uncover and create a brand that truly represents who you are and what you stand for is something that will pay off tenfold down the road.
Your brand is your most powerful business asset, and the representation of who you are to the rest of the world. And the pieces above are the perfect starting point to building a brand you can be dang proud of!