Or, how to design a brand that works.
The idea of this post came to me as I worked with a recent client. The client required a website for a brand new initiative competing in a very competitive industry. So logically, the site needed to look professional and stand out from the crowd.
One of the questions I ask when working with startup projects is do you have a brand. If the answer is yes, do you have a brand guide? Unfortunately, in this case, and about 95% of cases, the client does not.
What is a brand guide?
A brand guide is a document that outlines how a logo must be used across different media. Media like websites, print work, signage etc. It shows how the logo must be used on different backgrounds, e.g. light and dark. What colours must be used for CMYK/RGB/WebSafe? It also shows what fonts can be used alongside the logo to compliment the desired aesthetic.
In short, it is a guide that protects your brand, your image if you like. It is also an essential tool to be utilised by graphic or web designers.
Back to our client, it was clear that the logo supplied to us would not be suitable for the desired website aesthetic, in this case, an e-commerce store. It had also been provided in JPG format only, requiring us to isolate from the background manually. We also had to make assumptions about the colour palette used.
Now don’t get me wrong; the above manual work does not take long using Photoshop. The point is, there is room for us to change the original logo by mistake, e.g. the original designer may have been using a different colour profile in the software they used.
One of the major benefits of having a brand guide is that it shows the original designer put a lot of thought into how the logo would be used across different media. One common mistake we see is that the logo, when used at a small size, is virtually unreadable, e.g. website headers (particularly on mobile), business cards and promotional products like pens. If you want to include an enclosure around your logo like a circle or square, make sure you also have an alternative version without. Enclosures look great at a large size but can be detrimental when small.
This is where a good designer is able to justify their fee. If you are going to use a service like Freelancer.com or Fiverr.com, you must ensure that you include in your brief that a brand guide is required. You may actually find that this culls the bad designers and potential for your logo to have been obtained from a stock collection.
Final points about logo design, make sure the base font used is timeless. Fonts go out of fashion and fast. It doesn’t have to be the latest font, just enduring.
Your colour palette may change throughout the life of the logo so you can be a lot more flexible here. There are many tools online that can give you fantastic ideas for possible colour schemes like https://coolors.co/