PosterMyWall live class: Build an unforgettable brand identity
If you want your company to stand out from your competitors, it’s vital that you develop a unique, cohesive brand that people will notice and remember. This means going beyond your logo and thinking through everything from your colors and graphic style to the way your business communicates.
In this week’s live class by PosterMyWall (recorded video above), Lisa Dunn shared her process for creating a cohesive and unforgettable brand identity, from brand discovery to developing a brand style guide. Lisa, a graphic designer and branding specialist, is principal of Nashville-based Lisa Dunn Design.
Whether you’re building a new brand or revamping an existing one, Lisa’s process will help you create a robust and memorable brand that truly defines your business. She also shared a FREE workbook and other bonus materials to help you get started.
Great branding starts with brand discovery
Brand discovery is about defining who you are and finding new opportunities for your business, said Lisa. This part of the process is equivalent to laying the foundation of a house before putting up the walls and roof. The information you gather at this stage will drive everything else about your brand from your logo and website design to your decor and messaging. So this is a key phase in creating a brand strategy.
Many people skip this step and go right to designing a logo. This often results in a brand that is all over the place. “The brand discovery process allows you to sit and think about what you really want from your marketing efforts, and make sure that everything aligns with who you are and what your customers want,” Lisa said. During the discovery phase, you identify the needs, challenges, and desired results which will drive your entire marketing plan.
“Remember that branding is not the same thing as marketing,” Lisa said. Marketing is a push tactic i.e. pushing people towards buying your product. Branding, on the other hand, is about pulling the consumer towards you. Your brand differentiates you from other companies and entices customers to make the choice to buy from you.
Advantages of a cohesive brand
Why do you need a cohesive brand? Lisa shared six reasons:
1. Positive first impressions
First impressions are crucial in business because they often determine whether a potential customer will give you the opportunity to sell to them. A well-designed brand paints a clear picture of who you are as a business and encourages customers to engage with you.
A cohesive brand also makes you look more professional, causing the audience to respect you and take you seriously. Finally, it shows your customers that you pay attention to detail and that you take your own business seriously.
Trust is crucial to making sales, booking clients, and growing a loyal, engaged audience. “People recognize when a business has put thought and intention into every facet of their business. When people see that your logo, social media accounts, website, business cards, and packaging are cohesive and professional, they can assume that your offerings and services will be professional too,” Lisa said.
A strong brand is recognizable even when the company name isn’t present. It’s identifiable by its tangible visual elements (i.e. the logo, the colors, the fonts, and the patterns), and its intangible, non-visual elements, such as the terminology and voice.
If your brand isn’t cohesive, your customers won’t realize it’s you when one of your images appears on social media, or when they see your products being used by another customer.
4. Memorability and differentiation
Human beings are visual creatures. A well-designed brand gives your audience a mental picture of your business and helps them remember it. This is especially true if your brand has incorporated elements, colors, or a voice that set it apart from other brands in the industry.
When you’ve thoughtfully developed every element of your brand, you’ll be able to be more efficient with your time and resources. “You won’t have to wrack your brain over what an informational pamphlet should look like because the design system has already been created. And the fonts, colors, and details have already been decided upon,” Lisa said. In the long run, a cohesive brand saves you a lot of unnecessary stress.
Your brand’s colors, fonts, terminology, and tone reflect your business. They give your business life, character, and identity. A good brand, therefore, gives your audience something to relate to — whether your brand is casual and friendly or modern and sophisticated. That is why an effective brand strategy gives you a major edge in increasingly competitive markets.
Start the discovery process
Your brand strategy is the how, what, where, when, and to whom you plan on delivering your brand message. Apart from this, your brand strategy involves your distribution channels, verbal and visual communication, and strategies for building a reputation.
This is where brand discovery comes in. To create a unique and effective brand strategy, there are a few questions you’ll need to answer. (We’ve summarized the questions below, but you can also answer them in Lisa’s FREE bonus workbook.)
1. Who are you?
The more you know about who you are as a business, the better you’ll be able to communicate that to your potential customers. Remember, a brand is not what you tell the customer is — it is what customers tell each other it is.
2. What makes you unique?
It’s absolutely vital for you to identify your unique attributes in comparison to your competitors. Keep in mind that your answers to this question should be more than a laundry list of features or services you provide. It should be a list of attributes that are integral to your business. Here are a number of points to consider when answering this question:
- How you run your team
- What you value as a company
- How you interact with people online
- Where you’re located
- How you approach customer support
3. How do you communicate?
After you’ve identified who your brand is, why you exist, what you’re doing, and for whom, it’s time to figure out how to talk to your target audience and what kind of tone your brand should have. Are you formal and corporate, hip and cool, or friendly and accessible?
4. Who is your ideal client?
Start at the beginning and build your perfect client from the ground up. Marketers used to talk about figuring out who your target market is. Now, they take this a step further and figure out who their ideal client is.
When you answer this question, try to think of one, specific person who you want to sell to or consider your ideal client. It could possibly even be someone you actually know. Then, answer the following questions:
- How old is this person?
- Where do they live?
- What kind of business do they own? And how much revenue does it generate?
- What kind of lifestyle do they have?
- How often do they travel?
- Are they satisfied with how much time they spend at the office versus with their family?
Let’s create a brand!
Now that you’ve laid the necessary groundwork for your brand, it’s time to build an inspiration board that conveys the visual look and feel of your company. From there, it’s easy to create a brand style guide.
1. Build an inspiration board
Simply put, a brand inspiration board is a board that showcases the look and feel you want for your brand plus your brand colors and imagery style. The reason they are useful is that they encapsulate the visual look, feel, and colors you select for your brand.
To create an inspiration board, the first thing you’ll need to do is create a secret Pinterest board. Fill the board with images that you think will appeal to your target customer and reflect the way you envision your brand. “Don’t just add things that you like — add things that you think your customers will like as well. This is how you build for that ideal client,” Lisa said.
After you’ve finished your board, take a step back and look for motifs, patterns, and colors that best represent your brand.
Once you’ve completed your secret Pinterest board, it’s time to move on to your brand inspiration board.
You can create your board any way you like, from a physical board constructed with glue and scissors to a digital board created by dragging images into a document or favorite app. To expedite the process for you, we’ve created a FREE PosterMyWall inspiration board template. Just open the template, then drag in your own photos or add stock photos. (To make things simpler, screenshot the photos that best represent the look and feel you want for your brand from Pinterest, then drag-and-drop or import them into PosterMyWall.)
Next, add color swatches. If you’ve already chosen colors, type in their hex codes to add them to your board. Or use the color picker or to select and experiment with colors from the images. Change and update the colors until you have a brand palette you’re happy with. You’ll know you’re finished when you like how it all works together.
Below is an example of a completed inspiration board Lisa created for a flower farm. The colors are happy, and the photography is light and bright.
2. Design your logo
By this point, you should have an idea of what your logo should look like. Use your brand inspiration board to drive your logo design in terms of colors, shapes, look, and feel. This works well if you are designing your own logo inhouse. If you are working with a professional designer, sharing your inspiration board saves time and ensures that you communicate what you want clearly.
3. Create a brand style guide
Your brand style guide is like the instruction manual that comes with a new gadget. It shows exactly what all of your brand elements are and how they all work together. This includes colors, images, icons, visual elements, fonts, overall style — and of course, your logo.
To create your brand style guide, start by placing your logo at the top of the page. Then add the colors you have chosen, as well as their hex codes. Next, add the photography from your inspiration board. (An easy way to create your brand style guide is to customize one of our FREE PosterMyWall brand style guide templates. These can be accessed via the Bonus content.)
Next, select your fonts. The best way to do this is to use PosterMyWall to view a variety of fonts, then experiment to decide which fonts best represent your brand. Create some sample copy to make sure the fonts you choose look good together. “Don’t add more than two or three fonts and limit yourself to one decorative font only, or your brand will start to look unprofessional,” Lisa said
A standard way many companies do this is to pair a serif font (one with little feet on the ends of the strokes) with a sans serif font (simple with no little feet). Usually, the serif font is used for the company name or for headlines. Generally, sans serif fonts are used for smaller print and blocks of text.
Complete your style board by adding any additional visual elements or icons you plan to use in your marketing.
This is what a completed style guide looks like:
Once you’ve completed all of Lisa’s steps, from brand discovery to creating your style guide, you’ll be ready to present your new and improved brand to the world.
To help you get started, we’ve compiled FREE bonus content including a Brand Strategy Workbook, a Brand Audit Checklist, an inspiration board template, and brand style guide templates.
So what are you waiting for? Get started creating your incredible brand presence now!
New to PosterMyWall? Check out our range of templates and design tools that are built to help you create the brand of your dreams.