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Possibly one of the most enjoyable aspects of branding is to have your brand identity designed for you. It’s the activity people associate with branding rather than all the introspection involved in working out your brand strategy, values, mission, purpose and so on.
Once you begin to see a visual manifestation of the designer’s interpretation of your brand it’s pure joy.
However, it’s really important not to jump in too quickly to having designs produced for your brand. Certainly, I’ve made that mistake when I was a start up back in the mid-2000s of spending a large sum of money on what was effectively just pretty designs. Little did I know it, but I was not yet ready to undergo a brand identity exercise. Consequently, for years my business had a visual identity that wasn’t quite right. This was evident from the fact that I felt the need to tinker with the logo by adding a bull to it – to symbolise branding as this is the area of law I have always specialised in.
Then a few years ago I decided to have a complete rebrand. But this time it came after quite a lot of soul searching and discussions with marketers to work out which values to highlight and how.
Only then did I turn to a designer to create my business’ visual identity. On the whole, the exercise worked out well, although surprisingly, one client who came in for a meeting told me that he had much preferred my old brand colours and logo. These were turquoise blue, brown and gold! In fact, I’d chosen them because they are my favourite colour combination. There was no thought behind the use of colours beyond the fact that I loved them. Indeed, I’ve since gone on to use the colour blue for my personal brand while the business brand uses purple and orange.
I love colours of all sorts and beyond giving my social media team the brand guidelines, I haven’t placed any specific rules about colours. They can use such colours as they want when creating my social media posts as far as I’m concerned.
But then the other day I was having a chat with a designer and mentioned that I often suggest to start up clients who have yet to prove their concept, to just go with some temporary designs initially and avoid the expense of branding until later when they’re clearer about their business proposition and have worked out their brand strategy.
Until they’ve done quite a lot of thinking for themselves to work out what their brand should be, they can’t really justify visiting a branding professional for the last step of creating their brand identity. Many of them have to be held back from getting an expensive visual identity because it’s what they want to do once they have an idea.
To this the designer replied that as long as they used a consistent font and colour which would carry through to their final brand identity that would be alright. In her view this consistency had to be present everywhere, including on social media.
This got me thinking, because I haven’t given my team a rigid set of rules to follow on social media. My brand guidelines feature a silhouette of the logo so that if the background is a similar colour to the logo it’s possible to use the logo and make it stand out by using the white silhouette. But otherwise, the guidelines don’t go into detail about every aspect of design use. The focus is more around the logo and a few alternative visual approaches for things like brochures. There is still a large element of discretion in those guidelines. I wondered whether I should develop precise rules about use of colours and fonts on social media?
So the other day I posed the question on social media whether people think it’s necessary to use your brand colours when posting on social media. For example, if my brand colours are blue is it desirable to use only blue – that same blue as is used on my website, brochures and business cards when posting updates and visuals on social media?
To what extent do you need to carry though your branding into everything you do, even social media posts? I’ll look at this in my next post Visual Identity Design – Social Media
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