Branding a community sets it apart. Community branding helps show who the community is, what it offers and what it stands for. Visuals creatively convey the brand's look, feel and message.
However, visuals don’t just make themselves. It takes time, research and careful thought to create the perfect visual. This is the time to sweat the small stuff because every detail matters.
Lets talk about the Top 5 of those little details that go into visual branding
1. Know whose attention you’re trying to grab
I know, I know, you’ve heard it a million times, but seriously--know your target audience. Sometimes the audience is already there and just needs to be reminded. Other times, you need to reach out and pull them in all together. The audience that you are targeting determines your branding plan of attack and is what you will base all of your future branding decisions on.
2. Typography with personality
Let the font speak for itself. Without even reading the content, your font can be the first indication of what your brand’s vibe is all about. Every font has its own personality. Do you want to go bold and loud or soft and calm? Or will you put together a combination of tones to create the perfect feeling? In typography, a serif is the line attached at the end of a letter. Popular examples of serif texts are Times New Roman and Georgia. Sans serif is font without the small line at the end of each letter. Calibri, Ariel and Verdana are common examples of sans serif. Script fonts, like Pacifico and Brush Script, are considered elegant and creative.
3. An eye-catching color scheme
Choose the right colors that help evoke the feeling that you want the brand to have. It may sound silly that colors can represent feelings, but color psychology is real. Color psychology studies have shown that blues create a feeling of calmness, while yellow creates a sense of happiness. Pick a feeling that you think your brand embodies, find the color that represents it and see if it is a good fit. You can also look at combinations that the color creates to see if something else is a better fit for your brand. Too many colors can make the brand look like it’s going overboard and it lose its flow, so it is recommended to stick to two or three colors.
This doesn’t necessarily mean to make everything the same and to never change. That would be boring, and boring is a word we never want to hear when discussing our brand. Allow your colors and typography to be your theme. Use that theme for your social media, websites, business cards, presentation materials, logo, photo filter and anything else that you identify with the brand. Inconsistencies can confuse your audience and potentially ruin their understanding of your brand. When you eventually find out what works, use it to your advantage, but don’t forget to edit the parts that don't work. It is also important to remember to keep your look updated and stay relevant, but not lose the brand's mission or focus in the process.
Coca-Cola has done a great job of remaining consistent. They have managed to stay modern without changing what customers love about them. Their success is proven in the photo on the left, when individuals were asked to draw the Coca-Cola logo from memory and no one seemed to fail.
5. A Memorable Logo
A logo is often the first part of a company that someone sees, and the first thing that comes to their mind when they think of the company. This might be your one and only chance to grab your audience’s attention, so create something that people will remember.
Let your logo allow the brand’s personality to speak loud and proud. There are five different types of logos. An emblem has the companies name within a design, think Starbucks, Ford and UPS. A letter mark is composed of the companies initials or first letters of the brand. Companies also go with letter mark when the name is hard to remember or pronounce. The iconic Coco Chanel logo is a good example of a letter mark. A word mark is a logo that uses specially designed text to spell out the brand or company name. Companies like Disney often have fonts created just to use as their own word mark. Don't forget to give it those perfect colors and incorporate that font you chose. A symbol or icon is created as an alternative to text using an image. Symbols and icons are often simple and easy to remember. Apple and Target have been successful with their use of symbol logos. Combination marks are the best of both worlds for companies like Adidas. This type of logo combines word mark and a symbol. The symbol can be recognized separate from the work mark and the word mark can be recognized when separated from symbol.
Pick something that is true to your brand. Grab the attention of your target audience and never let them go. Remain consistent and build off of successes, but learn and expand from mistakes. No one knows your brand goals better than you. So don’t settle for an “okay" logo or something that doesn’t feel just right.
Make the visual worthy of your brand and your brand worthy of its target audience.
My name is Allyson Whelan, and I am currently a strategic communications major with an emphasis in public relations in the Reed College of Media at West Virginia University. I am the creative director for my team and working as a proud part of #BrandWhitesville. As creative director, I will be doing everything from creating logos and themes to analyzing data to get just the right infographics made. You can follow me on Twitter: @allyson_whelan.