Web designers work with copywriters and marketing professionals to create business brands. Whether you’re working to create a brand from scratch for a new company, or revamping an existing brand, this can be challenging work. It can also be highly rewarding, allowing a considerable amount of creative autonomy and the ability to make a difference. Of course, even the best designers can’t turn a failing business or bad idea into a success. What they can do is give them the best possible chance by creating an attractive, engaging brand which becomes the company’s personality and ensures that they stand out from the crowd. In some ways it’s just like home design: people create a home environment that reflects who they are, and businesses create brands that do the same (or, at least, they should).
Defining a brand
Every business has a brand, whether it has consciously chosen to define one or not. Even a brand new business which is still at the ideas stage will have elements of its brand, such as its values and goals, in place. In order to create the visible brand that reflects those, you need to identify what they are and define them. It might seem like a big leap to get from defining brand values to designing a logo, but it’s important to get to the heart of what a company is about before even thinking about how to represent them visually.
Consider these kinds of questions.
- Who are the business’s customers and potential customers?
- What are their desires, aspirations and values?
- What is that they want from the company?
- How do they currently see the business and the sector in which it operates?
- Is it something they like and value, or not?
- What is it that the business actually does, and what does it want to do?
- What is it good at?
- What are its core competencies and goals?
When you’ve got answers to these, you’ll be in a good position to start creating a visual brand for the company.
The brand you create needs to centre on the logo, which is the most important tool any business has for identifying itself and differentiating itself from the competition. A successful logo will provoke an emotional response in the customer.
That’s where the answers to the questions above are useful, and its also your chance to really show off your creative skills. Think about what kind of colours, lines and shapes convey particular moods and messages. A red, blocky logo with thick lines might suggest confidence and strength, but it also might suggest harshness and domination. Play about with different ideas and see what others think of them to get an idea of how they might play in the wider world. Subtle changes can make a lot of difference sometimes.
You also need to think about associations. For example, there might be particular conventions within a certain sector. It’s usually a good idea to work within these if there are, although sometimes it pays to subvert them to make yourself stand out from the crowd. The difficulty with the latter approach is that you risk disassociating yourself from the sector. Like anything else, it’s a judgement call as to which is best. Also think about associations with other things that might be seen as undesirable. For example, lots of red and black might be seen by some as having Soviet or Nazi associations. That doesn’t mean that you can’t use those colours, just that you might need to think about how to soften them if feedback suggests some might have negative feelings when they look at the logo.
Once the logo is in place, you’re ready to build the rest of the brand from it. The logo needs to work in black and white as well as in colour. It also needs to work on all sorts of materials, from business cards to annual reports to web pages. When someone looks at anything produced by the business, they need to know that it’s from them. The logo and wider colour scheme and design features all need to work together to make the business and its materials stand out.
Creating a brand doesn’t need to be difficult, but it does need to be done thoughtfully and carefully, with plenty of testing along the way. Add in a dash of creative inspiration, and you’ll be there.