When creating a voice and brand for your business, there is more to it than selecting fonts and creating a logo mark. Read more to find out what you should be doing if you are branding (or re-branding) your business.
If this is your first time visiting phelyx.com, there is a new look around here. Every few years I have a close look at my digital and printed presence and it is guaranteed that I will redesign just about everything.
The thing is, I learn more and improve my skills while I also continuously refine my tastes. Of course, it is me we are talking about here, so everything still smacks of the 1930s and that will always be part of my brand.
A little about branding. I am creating what we call a brand bible for this “new me” which is actually the old me but with new pretty stuff to go with my business. Actually, Athena says I am “procrasti-branding” a newly-coined term used to call out an entrepreneur on a very common avoidance behavior that can result in complete self-sabotage. It is directly related to the adage, It is amazing how much one can get done when one is supposed to be working on something else. Yeah, yeah. I completely understand that I am guilty of this but insist that I am also realizing a childhood dream. That part is tough to explain.
A brand bible is a set of decisions that compose the entirety of a business’s “voice” and appearance. It is a strict composition of design for the company and all of the rules for the use of these decisions. To begin, it is a customized combination of colors that when used as dictated by the brand bible, are designed to always remind folks of a company they have learned to trust. It can be so precise that just a single color can become yours and yours alone! As an example, if you ever decided to use the exact “Tiffany blue” to package the jewelry you’re selling, that decision could get you sued and Tiffany would whoop you in court as badly as Disney would if they busted you for selling bootleg Mickey Mouse jewelry.
The purpose here is to create absolute consistency for all digital and print advertising and communication that is produced by and for the organization.
For colors, I suggest a combination of three, which is common, but some brands have gone with five (always go with the odd number). Yes, black counts and white could too but can also just be considered “negative space”. Be sure to obtain the hex codes (a six-digit digital code) and Pantone codes for these colors. Get a printed version of these colors before committing to them. There is a difference between how things look on a screen versus how they look in real life.
The use and treatment of these colors should be clearly communicated for all printed and digital media (websites, ads, product packaging, billboards…). Say you hire a graphic designer to create a brochure. The following is just as an example but your company branding bible will dictate that on any flat panel, color XXXXXX occupies 5%, color XXXXX 15%, and color XXXXXX just 3%, with white for the balance. Color XXXXXX can be used as a background bar but copy within that bar must be white. This can go on and on but true designers will understand when they read the rule book.
For the branding bible, we’re not just talking about colors, though. These decisions include the exact font that will be used everywhere the company employs copy (text). Generally, we only select one and specify if using bold or italicized versions of it is allowed. It was sometime in the late 1920s that the advertising world began to shift into using just a single typeface or font, maybe two but no more. Before that era, I have counted as many as a dozen different fonts/typefaces/typeographical treatments used in a single work. This can be very beautiful but it is not specific. Onlookers can’t instantly attribute an author (company) to such a mess. We are aiming at brand recognition, which is a very specific science and gets us into 20th-century industrial psychology.
We are still just playing with colors and type-styles, so let’s move on.
In addition to these decisions and some unmentioned rules the company designs for its brand bible, We get into Logos! There’s more to a logo than meets the eye, too. The branding bible will dictate the rules for the use of the logo. We must set the rules about placement and the percentage of occupied space. Remember the Tiffany blue? They have rules about how large the Tiffany & Co logo can be within a field of that robin’s egg blue color.
Ah, but we don’t just have a logo. We also have simplified versions called badges. In these times, it is common for a company to have both a circular and square badge. The rules for their uses must also be set. It looks like the logo and is perfectly recognizable, but it is much more simple and “reads” well when it is very small or far away.
Even further, we must also have more simplified versions of those badges for use as favicons and similar uses. A favicon is a tiny symbol you see on the tabs that you currently have open in your browser. If you’re like me, and I know I am, there are at least twenty you can see right now on your computer. You can tell that something much more than a letter or two wouldn’t be legible up there in those little tabs. Mine will once again be my design of the interrobang which I will explain to you later.
Once this is all decided, the initial print and digital treatments are designed. These include business cards, envelopes, letterhead, comment cards, postcards, brochure covers, banners for all social media profiles, site headers, product packaging,
Having written all of this, I am reminded of the hundreds of times I have been asked, hey, Phelyx, can you make me a quick logo?
I have always wanted to create a branding package that spoke of my fondness for the aesthetics of a hundred years ago; give and take a decade. I have made attempts over the years to create visuals that hint at those eras, but I hadn’t yet really dialed in an authentic treatment that caused me to do the chef’s kiss. To be specific, I love Sanborn Map Co engraved insurance map covers and late 19th-century, engraved letterhead like P.T. Barnum’s, just before joining forces with Bailey. For that matter, I love letterhead, and the less common it is to use paper and written correspondence, the more I love it. I have seen some fantastic letterheads that came out of every one of the last 17 decades, and while some of the mid-century ones are very appealing, I still love that engraved look that is just shy of paper currency in its intricacy. While I never knew him, my grandfather was a career print engraver so I suppose some of that ink got into my blood too.
You will begin to see my work on this project magically appearing here and there and, hopefully, I will be performing the chef’s kiss!
See you in the funny papers!