Talking from experience as we recently refreshed our brand design at TDA Creative, in this article I discuss the factors that need understanding before initiating a redesign project.
This article covers:
Here are 5 quick and easy ways.
If you take a quick look across platforms, do you see a consistent visual language? Answering this question would tell you if you need a review of your brand guidelines, brand assets usage and overall consistency and usability of your brand design.
Run a survey or add it to a few meeting agendas. Ask for honest feedback and you might get some of the most valuable insights.
In fact, this is what happened in our case. Sarah Parvez joined us as a Director for our Creative Recruitment division in the middle of our brand review project. All she had to say was “I’m so excited you’re looking into this, the brand looks a bit old.”
You surely have some great clients with whom the relationship feels more like friendship. Ask them what they think and if need reassurance run a survey to validate their opinions.
As one of my favourite psychology-driven brand strategists, Kaye Putnam, often says “Built on truth not trends”. Ask how the brand makes them feel, what’s their first impression, what is their understanding. This might give you a great idea of whether your designs communicate your brand mission, vision and proposition clearly.
Firstly, you do not want to look the same, which is a regular occurrence in highly saturated industries. Secondly, you might get inspired and get an idea of how to visually communicate your message (without obviously copying anything.) Lastly, it is always better to learn from somebody else’s mistakes.
These are all the easy ways that might need some validation through surveys and professional consultations but you’re off to a good start.
So, you’re thinking you might need a brand redesign? Keep reading and you will find out where to start the process and how to review the key elements to your design: logo, colour palette, and fonts.
Branding does NOT equal design.
This statement was the definite ‘must say’ so there are no confusions. This is important to note in all scenarios but especially:
You need a brand IDENTITY before going into BRAND design.
The first step before even thinking of visuals or any design element is discovering and defining the brand. In this context, check out our previous article about The power of a BRAND (and how we re-discovered TDA Creative’s brand identity) and then continue with the table below to understand the connection between identity and design.
Forming the foundation of a corporate brand identity are the firm’s mission and vision (which engage and inspire its people), culture (which reveals their work ethic and attitudes), and competences (its distinctive capabilities).
These things are rooted in the organization’s values and operational realities.
…& their influence:
The Mission informs the Visual Identity
The Vision informs the Brand Logo
The Values inform the Signature Colour Palette
Not to be taken literally, all these elements are interconnected and ‘inform’ one other.
At the top of the matrix you’ll find elements related to how the company wants to be perceived by customers and other external stakeholders: its value proposition, outside relationships, and positioning.
…& their influence:
The Positioning informs the Copywriting Style and Language
The Product / Service Structures inform the Content
The Purchaser Personas inform the Graphic Elements and Tone of Voice
Elements that bridge internal and external aspects
These include the organization’s personality, its distinctive ways of communicating, and its “brand core”—what it stands for and the enduring values that underlie its promise to customers.
The brand core, at the center of the matrix, is the essence of the company’s identity (Harvard Business Review) or as Simon Sinek refers to is - a brand’s why.
…& their influence:
The Purpose informs the Brand Naming / Taglines
The Promise informs the Website/Social Platforms look, feel, and copy
The Signature Language / Voice inform the Photography / Illustration
The Personality informs the Video / Music
The Brand Strategy informs the Brand Style Guide
The foundations have been laid, we can now move onto the actual brand DESIGN (re-design) process.
A logo is a symbol or design used to identify your company, as well as its products, services and employees.
A great logo is:
A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. It’s important that your brand’s identity can function at the top of a letterhead, on a business card, as a mobile app icon, as a social icon and more.
Simple also often makes it memorable. Take Nike’s swoosh - it says so much about the brand. The shape communicates movement, change, and innovation in a single, wordless shape. Because the swoosh is different from every other shape and image used in logo design, it is highly recognizable and easy to identify.
Coca Cola’s logo, on the other hand, could be considered a more complex image incorporating special fonts and bold red colour, however, it’s uniqueness made it the 8th most recognisable logo design worldwide.
No words needed here, just a few examples
Trends come and go. But the value of your logo will only get stronger as time goes on. Consider whether or not you see your logo lasting you 5, 10, 15, even 20 years from now.
Evidently, not all great logos incorporate all of these elements, but considering the appropriateness and hidden powers of them all is essential when reviewing or creating your logo design.
As a rule of thumb in brand design, there should be 4 key colours in your palette.
Dark neutral colours are always handy for text on white or light backgrounds, whether on sales and marketing collateral or on your website.
Light neutral colours are also a recommended text option when there’s a preferred use of dark backgrounds, or to create ‘white space’, which is a great tool to balance design elements and better organize content to improve the visual communication experience.
Your primary brand colour is the main colour used in all graphics, publications, signage, ect., and it is tightly associated with your logo. The primary brand colour rarely changes because it is central to the brand's visual identity.
Your accent will be the color you use the most after your base color. This is a bit trickier than choosing your base color because there are more restrictions: aside from matching a brand personality trait, your accent color must also pair visually with your base color, not to mention appease your audience. This colour will be used to draw attention to important sections of your website or collateral and it will possibly be used for CTA buttons and links.
Here’s how we’re using our accent orange.
Secondary colors are not to be neglected though! They are used to provide vibrancy to a design, complement primary colors and break up white space.
On that note, check out our colour palette.
Again, truth not trends. Colours are the outward expression of your brand identity and it is essential that they are sending the right message. Values, beliefs, vision and positioning translate into colour. Colour has meaning and humans connect to it.
Here is a great infographic by vectorscoppe on colour psychology and how it’s applied to brand logos.
There are tons of online sources and books on the topic of colour psychology so I will not go into detail here but move on to another interesting way of identifying your best brand colours.
Creating a mood board is a great way to get inspired and pick your colours. Collect images that reflect your brand identity and that make you feel what you want your prospects, customers, and employees to feel. It will allow you to see patterns and trends… colours too!
There are also some great tools out there such as coolors.co that allow you to upload your image or mood board, and it automatically pulls your colour palette, including the HEX codes, RGB and CMYK. Awesome, right!
To make smart decisions in all your design choices, you should always keep in mind that human brains are constantly processing and organizing information and numerous psychological studies have shown that our brains are wired to look for patterns to cool down this ongoing activity.
Associations are built over time in our minds – and we can tap into some of them to send signals to people about our brands through fonts as well.
Let’s look at some examples.
Serif fonts have small extra strokes at the end of each main vertical and horizontal stroke.
You’ll find serif fonts in most books. They also grace the covers of some of our culture’s most venerable newspapers and magazines (like Vogue and The New York Times)
Widely available serif fonts include Times New Roman, Georgia, Palatino, Garamond, and Abril Display.
Here are some of the associations people are likely to make if you’re using a serif font as your primary brand font:
The second major category is the sans serif. “Sans” means “without” and these typefaces do not have the little extra strokes on the ends.
Common examples of sans serif fonts are Arial, Montserrat, Proxima Nova, and Open Sans - our font primary font. Here’s an example:
Here are some of the associations people are likely to make if you’re using a serif font:
The third major category of font is the script font – or the handwritten fonts.
Some of the most recognisable brands use scripts fonts – Kellogg’s cereal, Instagram, Coca-Cola, Virgin Airlines.
These tend to be more casual and feel welcoming. However, because they can be quite loud and hard to read, they’re often only incorporated in the logos or special visuals and not copy.
For example, we use the font DayDream for Job Ads posters.
A brand redesign is not to be underestimated, and what you just read is just the tip of the iceberg. However, if done right it could be an extremely rewarding project for the long term success of a business.
We would of course invite you to get in touch with our design recruitment experts if you need to find a specialist or build a team for your brand redesign project.
Lastly, we are proud to share our Visual Identity Brand book.