For many new organizations, deciding on branding—that is, the overall look and feel of your business—is one of the first choices made. However, as businesses (from small businesses all the way up to international corporations) become more established and develop a stronger consumer perception and place within their community, the case often becomes that these early branding decisions ultimately don’t represent the brand as well as they could.
But how do you know when your branding isn’t as effective as it could or should be? And when is the right time to switch up your branding? At Speak, we’ve been creating new brand identities and revamping old ones for over 20 years, so we know a thing or two about what goes into a good brand. Today, we’re walking through what solid branding should bring to the table and taking a deep dive into the very intentional design choices that went into one Speak client’s rebrand.
How Do I Know When My Branding Isn’t Effective?
When I say Audi, do you instantly picture the four interconnected rings? If I were to write a different word in the font Vogue uses in their branding, would you recognize it as the Vogue font? With no other context, could you pick out the difference in shades of blue between Twitter and Facebook? While branding decisions—logo design and shape, color palette, font choices and combinations—may seem like subtle details with a million options under the sun to choose from that have been done in a thousand different ways, they add up to something that becomes as recognizable as your brand name. Something that becomes intrinsically woven into your overall brand image.
Clearly your branding has an impact, so the decision to rebrand should come clearly backed. Beyond this, the decision to switch up your branding involves many moving parts, from changing up your website and digital presentation, to any print materials that might incorporate your branding, to shifting the design of your social content, email and newsletter layout, etc. For all of these reasons and more, reimagining your branding shouldn’t be an exercise in change for the sake of change.
As your brand evolves and so too does design, though, there are plenty of reasons you might want, or perhaps more so need, to switch up, or just modernize, your branding. Organizations that are well-branded are intentional, memorable, and visually appealing. If you’re noticing that your branding doesn’t fit the bill, here are a few reasons that may be:
1. Your Logo Isn’t Effective
Your logo is arguably the most important part of your branding. It represents your entire brand in one—often very small—visual design. I mean, think about it. If I were to present you with 50 of the most recognizable logos with the company names removed, I’m willing to bet you’d be able to fill in the brand associated with most, if not all, of them.
With 93% of purchasing judgements being made on visual perceptions, don’t discount the power of that one image. While a strong logo should be unique, you should be sure your logo isn’t sacrificing simplicity for uniqueness. More often than not, the simpler the logo, the better. For a straightforward guide, focus on readability and memorability when deciding on a logo. A functional and strong logo should clearly showcase who you are and entice your audience, whether they’re looking at your website, social media, or entering your brick and mortar storefront.
But beyond simplistic, clean design, good logo design has the power to put the final piece into the puzzle that is your brand story. When Speak works with clients on logo design, we take a myriad of considerations into mind in order to create an image that is not only unique, applicable across several uses from digital to print, and memorable, but that also works in tandem with the organization’s mission, history, and voice.
Your logo should aid in telling your story.
We partnered up with the Catalina Museum for Art and History to design a logo and overall branding that would visually represent their art, history, and rich culture. When such a small image needs to work to tell a brand’s story, attention to all the smallest details end up really making a difference.
Located in the heart of Avalon on Catalina Island, the Catalina Museum is nestled right where a hill begins to incline, giving it a unique slanted perspective from the road. The Speak team that worked on the Catalina branding saw this as an opportunity for the logo to nod to the landscape of Catalina, and in turn begin to tell the story of the overall uniqueness of the island museum. What resulted was a slanted effect at the bottom of the final logo – a simple touch that says a lot.
2. Too many colors are making your branding too busy.
Along the same lines of a busy logo, too many colors will make your brand appear crowded. And, in an age where beyond its presentation on a storefront or print materials, branding needs to be clearly displayed on a website and in your social media, color choices are more important than ever.
For a visually appealing presentation, it’s good to implement multiple brand colors for your website, apps, letterhead, business cards, and more, but it’s also important to make sure the colors you choose work well together and will translate across all of your design needs. When selecting colors, don’t go too hard in the paint… literally or figuratively. Select a few colors that represent your brand well. Ask yourself, do my brand colors complement or compete with each other? Do they assist in telling my brand’s story?
We won’t deep dive into color theory and color psychology in this blog (you can save that work for our design team), but colors do go a long way in representing what’s important to your organization.
For the Catalina Museum, we opted for colors that feel warm and inviting and that evoke the island imagery and the overall welcoming, exciting environment of the museum.
Extra tidbit: It’s also important to ensure your branding is inclusive. This means that it is Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant. Creating access for all of your audience members to experience your brand will leave you well represented.
3. Your branding is trendy above timeless.
It can be easy when deciding on branding to go in a direction that is shaped by what is popular right now, but design trends can be a balancing act. You want to have fresh, cutting edge design, that’s true, but it also needs to stand the test of time.
The problem with design trends is exactly that: they’re fads that often fall into the cycle of initially being cutting-edge and unique, and visually striking. But as more people catch on and implement the super-unique new design style, new brands that utilize it begin to look like everyone else. Once there are enough brands out there with similarly trendy branding, it reads to potential consumers as overdone, or cookie cutter.
Think back to a few years when doodle-heavy illustrations and thin, cursive text were all the rage for logos and branding, or how quirky personas and designs are popular now. While these branding styles can help your business translate as trendy and youthful, they will also make your branding require an overhaul much earlier than is necessary.
That’s not to say there isn’t space to showcase your brand’s ability to stay hip with the times. But we recommend saving the trendy stuff for newsletters, emails, and one-time marketing campaigns. Skip it for anything that will still be in use a year from now.
You also want to make sure your branding decisions such as font choices are able to be repeated across all platforms where your brand might be represented. If you choose the ultra trendy, totally unique font choice over something more consistent and simplistic, it’s less likely to available for use on your email marketing platforms or your social media design platforms like Canva, and more likely to cause difficulty when you need to translate it into a smaller size (many trendy, less time-tested fonts are illegible under 18pt) or a larger size for signage or promotional materials.
We were sure to keep timelessness in mind for Catalina’s branding, with a classic font family that feels modern and warm, while maintaining a classic quality that isn’t jarring to the eye when featured on the website or print materials.
Of the overall branding, one of our designers, Gabby Wyndham, said: “We did our best to create something that could be firmly rooted on Catalina Island for years to come.”
Ready for a change?
When you put all of this into context, it makes sense why these choices aren’t random at all, why they actually matter so much.
If you’ve weighed all of these reasons, and you’re feeling like it’s time for a partial or full rebrand of your organization, or even just a new logo or new website to breathe some fresh life into your business, Speak is here to help. We’d love to talk through what you might want in a rebrand and offer assistance at every step of the process. Don’t hesitate to reach out or include us in your next bid.