Make your business stand out.

Your brand is what makes the images and content your business uses for marketing stand out. Branding creates instant connection with your audience. It makes you immediately recognizable. And it conjures up emotion in your audience. A good brand will make them feel good about you.

Create your style guide.

To design your brand, you can use a tool called a Branding Board or Style Guide. Brands are designed using four main elements, and you’ll put all these on your branding board or style guide.  The elements of a brand are: colors, fonts, style, and voice.

The first element of a brand is the colors.

You’ll want to choose between 3 and 5 different colors, in the same color family. Pick colors that are complimentary. If you remember from elementary art class, complimentary colors are the ones opposite each other on the color wheel. So red and green are complimentary. One of your colors will be your main color, one will be the highlight, and one will be for details. Then you’ll want an accent or two in your design.

Choosing colors to represent your brand doesn’t have to be difficult though. You will want to be very deliberate about what family of colors you will pick. Different color groups communicate different emotions. For example, red is usually a color associated with passion or strong emotion. Green is one that’s connected to nature or money, depending on the shade used. Blue is often seen as peaceful or emotional. Pick color groups that will help your audience remember your focus as a business. 

The second element of a brand is the fonts.

You’ll pick two different groups of fonts – one for your graphics and images, and one for your website and text-based content. You can be very creative with the fonts you choose for graphics and images. But you need to stay within the very common fonts for text copy. Not every computer that views your copy may have access to your more unusual font choices, so stick within the standard options (Arial/Times New Roman/Helvetica/etc).

For your graphic design needs, you’ll want to choose between 2-4 fonts. Pick a main font that is extremely clear and readable. This is for headlines. Then pick a 2nd font for contrast. And as an option, you may want a 3rd or 4th font for accents and details.

Generally, there are three types of fonts: serif, sans-serif and italic. Serif fonts are fonts such as Times New Roman. They have little attachments to the letters, almost connecting them together, even though they are print. Sans-serif fonts are fonts that are cleaner and clearer, without those serif lines. Italic fonts are the ones that look like cursive or calligraphy. They are often curvy and slanted. Italic fonts make amazing accent fonts, but not great headline or detail fonts.

The third main element of your brand is the style.

In this case, style refers to all the other parts of the images you will create. These are the accents, the lines and patterns that you use in your images. Style is when you choose whether or not your brand will be feminine or masculine, formal or informal, casual or professional. Will you use blocky, bold graphic elements? Or lacy, flowing curves?

Style is where you let your personality shine in your brand. You could have a very professional yet very feminine business oriented brand. You would use curvy flowing lines, but they would be simple and clean, without a lot of detail. A more casual, masculine lifestyle brand may use more geometric shapes, but the design will have triangles and circles over squares and rectangles.

For inspiration on your style, check out your wardrobe and interior decor. What do you wear when you go out? Are you prone to suits or dresses and jewelry? Pick a more feminine style of brand. Prefer jeans and sneakers? Go casual. Do you love a minimalist house, free from cluttering knickknacks? A masculine style may suit you best, even if you’re a woman.

The final element of your brand is the voice you use.

This is not exactly a visual element, but more related to your copy and content. Your brand’s voice is how you communicate your message.

Create your voice by paying attention to how you write and what you write. How long is your blog post, email, newsletter or other text content? Are you short-n-sweet or more of a rambling storyteller? What’s the readability level of your copywriting? There’s nothing wrong with short, concise sentences or blog posts that are 500 words or less. And it definitely won’t hurt your brand if you prefer to tell longer stories, using more descriptive language. Both are how your brand’s voice will be developed.

Other parts of your branding voice include the tone and type of content you are writing. You can be very formal in how you write, using very precise grammar and choosing words that are more professional. Or you can be more casual, and write sentences that may not technically be a sentence.  You may have a more serious tone. You may love to include sarcasm, jokes and other forms of humor. Maybe you even use a lot of emojis and emoticons to help convey your message. Even the amount of graphics you use in your content help to design your brand’s voice.

Branding is personal.

Your brand is a reflection of who you are and what you want your business to be. Choosing the colors, fonts, style and voice of your brand should be based on your personality. Let your uniqueness be seen in your brand. And have fun!

Branding 101: How to design your brand
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