Why Do You Need Branding Guidelines?

Why Do You Need Branding Guidelines?

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Branding guidelines are the glue that holds your brand identity together; it holds the key to consistency and integrity of the brand.

We come across so many companies that do not have branding guidelines and experience a lack of consistency with their marketing, which leads to diluted brand messages.

And it is not just for big companies. Even the smallest of companies can benefit from a set of standards for their brand, which outline the basics, to help all employees portray the brand consistently.

It is the responsibility of everyone in a company to read and understand the branding guidelines in order to communicate the brand effectively to customers. It should become part of day-to-day business to just know the right fonts, the right colours and the keywords and messages that are key to the brand.

Branding guidelines are also essential for any external companies that carry out any creative work for your company, such as designers, advertisers, copywriters, architects etc. Most agencies will provide your branding guidelines as an electronic file that can simply be sent to any external partners who may require them.

In their most basic form, your branding guidelines, may simply include your logo, fonts and colours.

A full set of branding guidelines should include your logo, fonts, colours, exclusion zone, marques/icons, correct logo usage, taglines, graphical elements, examples and what the brand stands for.

Maybe you have branding guidelines, but they sit in a folder somewhere and no one really uses them?

All of the elements of your brand have been specifically been chosen to represent key values of your company, so there is no point having them & not using them!

They are there as a tool to help build your brand and it is not just the responsibility of management, but every employee within a company to adhere to the guidelines. For example, for new starters, the branding guidelines should be part of the induction process. And never think it isn’t relevant to a particular person because their role doesn’t involve marketing, or design, or sales. Every employee will communicate with external companies, by email and telephone, and perhaps by letter, and there should be consistent visuals and language across all communications.

Hopefully I have explained the importance of branding guidelines in a clear, concise way, but if you do have any questions for our brand stylists, please just contact us.

Until next time,
Gemma

Colour in Branding

Colour in Branding

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Colour theory is a central and often overlooked area of design, but it is paramount when it comes to branding. In an ever-growing marketplace, it’s more crucial than ever for businesses to differentiate themselves from their competitors to create a powerful, lasting impression on their audiences.

On a basic level, the colours on the warm side of the spectrum (such as red and orange) portray confidence, energy, playfulness and are attention grabbing, while their colder counterparts (blue and green) emanate security, health, calmness and responsibility in a generally more reserved manner. However on an emotional level, in terms of how consumers feel when they look at a particular colour, it’s likely that factors like personal preference, experiences, cultures and upbringings often obscure the effect individual colours have on us.

Colour can aid in communicating brand characteristics such as modern, traditional, luxurious, budget etc. as well as give clues on market position, cultural views and a variety of other positions and research has shown that there are real connections between the use of colours and customers’ perceptions of a brand’s personality. Certain colours will undoubtedly align with specific traits (e.g. green with environmental, purple with sophistication, and black with luxury) however you could argue that it is in fact far more important that your brand’s colours support the personality you want to portray instead of trying to align them with generic colour associations.

In the world of branding, choice and use of colour used correctly provides a business with an enormous competitive advantage by allowing instant brand recognition – in fact a majority of the most recognisable brands in the world rely on colour as a key factor in their instant identification.

Below are snapshots of 16 of the world’s most recognisable brand marks cropped to show a clear representation of their brand colours, but only a fraction of their logotype or symbol. Test yourself to see how many of the brands you can identify with colour being the primary visual driver.

ColourInBranding

By carefully selecting their colour a brand can carefully craft and communicate powerful messages, even without words, so choosing the best colour for your branding is an integral part of the design process and it is worth spending the time to get it right. Consider how consumers will feel when they look at your brand; but also on a practical level, how will it stand out from your competitors on the shelf or online?

We would love to hear why you chose your corporate colours so please let us know in the comments below.

And if you need some advice and guidance as to which colour(s) would suit your business type, just ask our brand stylists.

 

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Answers: 1. BP  2. GE  3. Nike  4. McDonalds  5. T-Mobile  6. Coca-Cola  7. Skype  8. Orange  9. HP  10. Cadburys  11. Heineken  12. Caterpillar  13. Harrods 14. Virgin  15. Puma  16. BM

Where to Go First? Branding Agency vs Web Agency

Where to Go First? Branding Agency vs Web Agency

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We have come across a few clients recently who have had a new website created before coming to us for branding. Branding should be the starting point for everything in your company and although we can design a brand identity with a website as the basis, this really is the wrong way round. It can cause problems with creating the right impression with the desired brand values and also, by using files from a web agency, it can also cause technical problems.

I was recently sent a logo by a client who wanted it blending into an existing letterhead and business card layout that they had for other brands within their company, so that they had a uniformed look across their brands.

The problem I had was that their new logo had been created by the company that had recently produced their new website. As I have covered before, the rules for print are different for web and just because it looks good on screen it doesn’t mean it will look good in print. The logo had been saved as a low resolution file (e.g. jpeg, png, tiff) in RGB colour mode and I had to colour match the CMYK colours already used in their other print. Having requested a CMYK vector (ai) file, I was sent the same as before, which was no help at all! Luckily we have the skills here at Hyphen to recreate the look, so we had to do this to keep our client’s brand looking consistent.

This is not an uncommon issue that I come across, especially as so much business is now done online. For some companies, it seems that their starting point for branding is to talk to a dedicated web company that sets up their website and therefore the brand style. The problem is that a lot of web companies design for web only, which means low resolution pixel files in RGB that won’t translate easily into to print or other marketing materials. Not all web companies are like this, but sadly there are enough to make this a common problem which does cause brand consistency problems as a company starts to expand their brand beyond the website.

Online marketing is a very important area for businesses but it is important to get the brand and its guidelines in place before starting a website, or any other marketing materials. We are experts at making a brand look good not only offline, but also online as well. We have set up brands for many an organisation, who has then either asked us to create the design for their website, or asked us to supplied correctly set up files to the web company of their choice so it can be used on a website and matches consistently with all their other marketing.

If you are not sure where to start, we can offer free advice, so just contact our brand stylists.

Until next time,
Jason.

Ensuring Your Brand Identity Looks Good on Screen and In Print

Ensuring Your Brand Identity Looks Good on Screen and In Print

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It is important for your branding to give out the same message wherever it is seen or heard. For your visual identity, that means that consistency and quality are key. In the digital age, it is becoming increasingly important to look good on screen, but most brands also still have printed marketing materials, such as corporate letterheads, business cards, leaflets, brochures, or perhaps product packaging.

Designing for screen and designing for print are actually very different and we hope to help you understand the complexities involved.

In terms of designing for print, the first thing to understand is what you see on screen is not an accurate representation. Print is not based on what your screen shows you but how the design is built. The screen on your computer displays in RGB, and tends to work at 72dpi, which may be ideal for websites but not print. Most print is CMYK or pantone and images need to be at 300 to 450dpi for print (I tend to find 450dpi gives a better print result than the standard 300dpi).

Even if you get the correct settings you still need to understand how colour is made and how easy it is to get it wrong. Black is a colour that can be made in a huge variety of ways and on screen it will look the same, but when printed it can show these differences. You can make black with the K plate, which is ideal for normal text, you can add Cyan to make it a rich black for solid areas or you can use all 4 plates when blending with an image. The key is to ensure that the colour breakdown of the black is the same across your artwork. As an example, I have seen images with a 50c, 50y, 40m, 95k black breakdown blended with a 40c 100k rich black. This looked fine on screen but would have printed with a clear difference. Remember the screen is not a judge of how it will print, so to ensure your print looks high quality and therefore makes your branding look good, you need someone experienced in designing for print to look beyond it.

To get the best out of your print, make sure all images are converted to CMYK and are set to at least 300dpi at size of print. Ensure that colours are CMYK if you are having process print or Pantone if you have spot colours. Most importantly, check your file to make sure your colours are correct to those that are in your branding guidelines.

Branding guidelines should set out your brand’s colours, fonts, styles and sample layouts, all of which should be used to by your designer to ensure consistency across all of your printed and online materials.

For any further advice in this area, our brand stylists can help, so just give us a call.

Until next time,
Jason.

Choosing the Best Font for Your Branding

Choosing the Best Font for Your Branding

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Typography is the art and technique of arranging type to make written language legible, readable, and appealing when displayed; but have you ever considered that the font type you choose for your logo plays a crucial role to help define your brand?

Like handwriting, we associate different fonts with specific personalities and so the font you choose for your logo should naturally reflect your brand’s personality, mood, and attitude.

If used well like Coca-Cola or FedEx, your logo’s typeface will amplify your brand values, it will show your brand’s personality and you can often gauge where in the market a company is placed. Contrary to this, if a font is poorly chosen and is unable to visually represent the values and characteristics of your brand, you will be sending out mixed messages to your clients, which will be nothing short of a disaster!

Let’s take a look at a few examples of the most common font categories and how their styles translate in a logo design:

Serif Fonts have extra strokes added to each character called Serif’s (but I like to call them ‘tails’). Implying a sense of tradition and respectability, a brand would do well to choose this to emphasise its professionalism.

Examples:

01-Blog-Serif

 

Sans Serif Fonts are clean, crisp and modern; a typeface “sans” (without) embellishment. These kinds of fonts are great for sending out a straightforward message of honesty and approachability.

Examples:

01-Blog-Sans-serif

 

Script Fonts are often used to convey elegance, femininity or romance and can often be found on wedding invitations, in the beauty industry or Valentine’s Day greeting cards. But be warned! Proceed with caution with font legibility when using script fonts on a small scale. If people can’t read your logo/brand message, it won’t be remembered!

Examples:

01-Blog-Script

 

Display Fonts are fonts that are a little different from the ‘norm’ that you wouldn’t necessarily want to read in a whole body of text. Widely varied in design and style, these can make great choices for text-only logos. Depending on which font you choose, your message can be completely unique!

Examples:

01-Blog-Display

 

Choosing the best font for your branding is an integral part of the design process and it is worth spending the time to get it right.

We would love to hear why you chose your corporate font so please let us know in the comments below.

And if you need some advice and guidance as to which font type would suit your branding, just ask our brand stylists.

Until next time,
Emily

Choosing the Right Print Finish For Your Brand

Choosing the Right Print Finish For Your Brand

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Having worked with design and print for many years, one of the areas I have a wealth of experience in is all the different print finish options available and the challenges that they present if not used correctly. Similarly to my earlier post about choosing the right materials to match your brand, the right print finish is equally as important.

The first area is coated versus uncoated materials. Uncoated has a nice raw natural feel about it and works well with businesses whose brand values include natural, organic and caring. However, one of the things you have to be aware of with uncoated is the way the ink seeps into the material so it will lose a certain amount of vibrancy.

A coated finish gives a very standard and reliable look to materials. This works well for brands that want to create a safe and reliable impression but it won’t make a statement. If you want your brand to be noticed, then look at the extra finishing options available. Lamination is one step above coated and is available in matt or gloss, although I prefer a matt lamination finish as I feel it gives a more professional feel for your brand. Alternatively, soft touch lamination is becoming more readily available and it will add an extra wow factor to your print and your brand.

However, if your brand is dynamic, unique, fresh and innovative then you may wish to look beyond just a laminated finish. Spot UV is a firm favourite of mine, but only if used in an innovative way. It really needs a designer with a spark of imagination to bring out the best in this finish, otherwise you run the risk of spending money on a finish that doesn’t stand out. And it is the same with foil block; this can give the print a real lift if used correctly but it could also look less than attractive if no imagination has gone into how it is used.

Embossing is one finish that I am not a great fan of. We always recommend double-sided designs, otherwise you are wasting reverse space to show off your branding and with embossing, it can look good on one side but it is rare to have that effect looking good on the other side where it has inverted the material.

Die cutting has been around for years and was originally used for practical finishing for folders but it can also be used on general print to produce something different from the standard rectangle finish. Within reason, virtually any shape can be cut and this can be used in great effect if you want your brand to look unique and show your attention to detail.

There are many more finishes than the ones I have covered above if you would like to know more about the best finish for your brand, please contact me.

Until next time,
Jason

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