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February 15, 2017 (Updated: January 26, 2023)
We’ve already talked about how to build our brand persona, that special element that defines who you are as a brand. Now it’s time to go a step further and figure out how to build your brand’s image. The look of your brand is important to nail down, as the design choices you make are going to trickle down into all elements of your brand, from your website to your logo to your products to how people feel about you as a brand.
This isn’t going to be a Photoshop tutorial, but we’re going to learn the basics so you’re able to communicate exactly what you’re looking for and feel confident in your vision.
How do you want people to feel when they think of your brand? Do you want them to feel relaxed or happy? Moved to tears? Emboldened to take action against something they care about? Relieved? The feeling behind your brand is a great place to start.
When you have a general idea, start thinking about your brand persona. What would that persona evoke? What colors or images come to mind? Don’t be ashamed to get some help from the internet for inspiration.
At this point, it’s not a bad idea to start putting together a digital vision board to keep track of everything that comes to mind. Put images in a Google doc or create a Pinterest board to house inspirational thoughts, ideas, color palettes, and images.
It’s important to bring your audience into consideration. They are, after all, the reason you’re designing this brand aesthetic in the first place. What type of people are they? What are things they appreciate? Are the always on the go? Do they prefer something clean and minimalistic? Do they love loud colors and in your face messaging?
If you aren’t exactly sure, stop and break down who your audience is. Does it skew male or female? What income bracket are they most likely in? Where do they live? How old are they? What do they do? Once you have a person in mind, it’s easier to brainstorm what that person enjoys.
Once you figure out the feeling you’re trying to pull from people, you can start thinking of styles that embrace that feeling. There are so many styles for you to choose from, so take your time deciding how you want to be conveyed. Are you going for casual or professional? Minimalist or explosive? Here are some more to think about:
Think about which styles you gravitate toward. It’s likely they’ll be similar to the ones that align with your brand persona. Because the style is such an overarching part of your design aesthetic, it’s important to think about what each style means or represents. For example, retro brings up feelings of nostalgia. You think of something that might be dusty but holds its value. Modern is fresh and new.
Image via Flickr by Marco / Zak
Fonts are powerful tools. They may seem like an afterthought to some, but a font can bring your whole design aesthetic together. Some companies are even identified through their fonts alone. Whether you’re a Disney fan or not, it’s likely you know the signature loops, even on words other than “Disney.” How about Coca-Cola? Nike? Chances are you know more brands by their fonts than you think.
Immediate brand recognition is definitely a compelling reason to go for a customized font. However, you can still come to plenty of success if you use existing fonts thoughtfully. Different fonts are tied to different feelings or ideas. You can go even farther and look at the elements that make up a font and how those elements can elicit different feelings.
The graphic design elements of your brand are important, but so are the actual images you’re using. While it’s usually best to be able to get original images you take yourself, that may not always be an option for newer brands. Professional equipment is expensive, and so are professional photographers.
Of course, you can always take pictures yourself using lower-tech equipment, but that may work best if that’s the feel you’re going for. However, you still have to learn how to make the most of this situation. Figure out lighting techniques, staging, timing, and color consistency.
If you’re going for a sophisticated or professional look without a big budget, you may opt for stock images. There is nothing wrong with this. There are some wonderful sites with stunning options to choose from. No matter how you get your pictures, remember they have to be relevant. It’s easy to throw someone off by putting up a picture that doesn’t make much sense. They may think they aren’t understanding something.
A logo is crucial element for your brand’s look. It’s how someone can quickly pick you out of a so-called lineup. When they’re scrolling through Instagram, they can instantly tell a post belongs to you. Because logos are such a key part of who you are as a brand, it’s worth spending the money on a professional. However, you still need to give them some direction. There are five basic types of logos:
Work with the designer on the fonts and the basic logo type that fits best with your general design aesthetic and style. They’ll know which fonts evoke the feelings you’re wanting.
The basics of building your brand look may seem simple, but these elements are so broad and have so many options, it can take some real thought and brand soul-searching to decide how you want people to see you and see your content. Your brand look is your first impression. Don’t rush the process.