Branding: What do you really need?
So you’re starting (or rebranding) a business and you’re ready to invest in a brand designer… what do you look for?
The answer to this question can vary depending on your stage of business as well as the type (service vs. product). I am going to cover the basics that I believe every brand package should include at minimum.
Download the handy checklist at the end so you can keep track of each piece during your brand designer search!
MAIN LOGO -
This is your face of the business, the front-runner, the one many would consider the most important. Really, it’s just likely to be used the most often, and the most recognizable for your brand. Your main logo could be text only, icon only, or a mixture of both. The important thing is that it is researched and refined thoroughly to ensure it represents your brands message in the best way.
ALTERNATE LOGO -
This is a secondary version of your main logo, usually in a different “shape” such as vertical or round so that it can fit in different places. Sometimes this is your logo that includes a tagline or something else like a branded course. The alternate logo could simply be one piece of the main logo, thus a more simplified version. If your main logo contains text and an icon, the alternate logo could be just text alone.
Some call this a monogram, but it can be more than just letters. This is what I would consider a stamp for your brand. Simple enough to be scaled down in size to super small, and can be used as the favicon on your website as well as an icon to use on images if you’re a photographer, etc. This could be the icon only from an icon/text combo, or a more simplified version of a detailed icon.
COLOR PALETTE -
You need a range of colors to be used in your branding, to keep your look cohesive. The colors you use can evoke different emotions, so this is an important aspect of your brand. This is the first step in my branding process, so the color palette is discovered before any logos are created. I usually aim for 5-6 colors, with 2 being your main colors possibly used in the logo itself. Your designer should provide you with color codes in minimum RGB, CMYK, and HEX. Depending on your needs, they may need to provide you with Pantone as well.
TYPOGRAPHY SELECTION -
Your logo likely uses 1-2 fonts, but these should be considered display fonts and used sparingly. You don’t want the rest of your brand to look just like your logo, thus taking away from it. You need a 3rd font, and sometimes 4th, to be used in your website body, social media, and other collateral. I usually like one of my choices to be a free font from Google Fonts, so that I know it is being seen properly when viewed on different devices that may be outdated and unable to populate my more decorative fonts.
Patterns and textures can really uplevel your branding in an amazing way, and when they are truly custom they have a big impact. This is something that can be used on social media, websites, collateral, packaging, etc. Sometimes this just means a collection of icons that match your brand messaging, and sometimes it means a seamless pattern.
BRANDING GUIDELINES -
You aren’t a designer, so you shouldn’t be expected to know what to do with your branding collateral without any education from your designer. I provide a multiple page booklet to my clients explaining everything from file types to where to use different pieces with the most impact. Color codes and file types can be a foreign language, and when not used properly it can cause unnecessary headaches. Make sure you’re being provided with the education you need to move forward on your own.
BRANDING STRATEGY -
Strategy is important. If you receive a logo without even talking with your designer much, I’d assume there was no strategy behind it and it won’t be a strong brand in the long term. Your designers process should include strategy, and they should explain that strategy to you. Brand design isn’t just a pretty icon, it requires research, planning, revisions, and communication.
Beyond these basic inclusions, you may need to add on a few extra things to a branding package to be properly set up for success. These add ons could include; Business cards, image guides for social media and website, social media collateral such as Instagram templates, packaging design if you have a product, business documents, and much more!
Download this handy checklist so that you’re prepared when you’re ready to hire!
OK, NOW YOU’RE READY TO HIRE SOMEONE… BUT WHO?
Working with a brand designer should be an enjoyable process, and I believe it should be a collaborative relationship. Personally, I feel like I am friends with every one of my clients by the end of our project, and that is because you are sharing something with so much passion that it is nearly impossible not to connect and open up to each other. If you’re anything like me, your business is your baby. You have to trust the person you are letting in.
How do you know if you’ll have this kind of relationship with someone before you hire them? Reach out! Social media has made me feel like I am BFF’s with total strangers across the world, and has made it possible for you to reach out with a simple DM. Follow some designers, engage with their content, send them questions if you have them, and take advantage of free discovery calls! Beyond that, do some research on different designers packages (make sure you’ll get all of the above!), their styles via their portfolio and social media, and their personality. Don’t be afraid to ask if they have samples that reflect a style you may not see on their website, and don’t be afraid to ask for client reviews!
Branding is a fairly personal process, so don’t be afraid to reach out to the person behind the website or Instagram.