Branding through identity design and logo redesign is one of my favorite projects to approach. Some brands reassess their branding every year, and even classic brands like Coca Cola have modified their logos over the years – even if it has been done with subtlety. It can be difficult to decide what makes a logo good or bad. The branding around the logo – business cards, letterhead, brochures, etc – don’t make it any easier.
Whenever I’m considering logo design and branding, a few guiding principles can help shape my conclusions:
To help inform your idea of the colors and shapes that might be best for your business, make a list of words that you think match the way you want your company to appear to clients and associations. Include emotions, actions, adjectives and whatever other phrases pop into your mind. This list can be a good springboard for design ideas.
What is the purpose behind the use of color in your identity design? Is it merely decorative, or is the color intentionally expressing something about the purpose of the company and communicating something in the context of the right audience. Remember that, like people, colors work together and respond to the ones that are around them. Goethe, Kandinsky and Albers all have more to say about that.
Looking for color inspiration? Go to Pinterest, Kuler or any number of online sites to find the season’s color trends. I like to use the season’s fashion palettes – although they can become dated quickly.
What do the shapes that you are using say about the company? Are they lines, circles, diamonds, triangles, hollow shapes. Shapes carry meaning about your brand. They can also set up design rules that are carried into fonts or lettering. For an example, do you remember the use of shape in this Twitter logo redesign? I like the way subtlety is used in this design. It’s entirely made up of circles, but the overall shape creates a character. Sometimes you don’t have to be so literal about the shape you choose for your branding.
Don’t be afraid to go with something that is incredibly classic. It will actually stay fresh for longer. Trendy brand identity can be fun, but be prepared to constantly iterate or at least revisit in a year. Don’t let it get stale. That’s just sad.
Make 3-5 drafts that are completely different from each other before deciding on one design that you like best.
What other materials do you need your identity design to work with? You definitely need a business card, maybe some vinyl or signage for your office walls, shirts, envelopes, or cd packaging. Maybe a website.
Be creative here. Depending on the business, napkins, menus, hats or even golfballs, coasters, keychains or frosted glasses might be appropriate. Decide on your budget and shop around for different bulk items that would be options for you. Don’t design or order items that will just collect dust. I see a lot of pencils in identity designs. Pencils are great if you are in, oh, maybe the second grade. And even then you probably have a mechanical one. Make a list of things you think your potential clients will actually use regularly – like a sunglasses cleaning keychain.
Business cards are tricky. You really just need your name, title or skills, company name, phone number, email address and website. The purpose of the business card is to tell people how to contact you. If you are extremely active on social media, you could put your twitter handle on there. One time I was given one with a QR code that created an address entry in my phone, which was handy.
Once you’ve decided on a business card design, print it on decent paper. It makes you look more legitimate. This business card is someone’s lasting impression of you. Do it right. If you print on cheap paper or glossy paper, be prepared to have clients who want sub par work at (probably) sub par rates.
In closing, your logo design is just an icon. Your identity design is just collateral material. Your branding is the way other people experience your company. Logo and identity design are an essential part of the branding, but the impression that your business leaves on customers is more than just 2 dimensional design.