If there’s one thing to be sure about in the design world it’s that if you have an audience, you’re going to need a brand. A good brand should not only allow people to remember who you are, but communicate your entire essence, history and values all at once.
Why do we need Branding?
Whether it’s a global corporation that specializes in buying and selling tropical islands, or a small business that makes shoes with funny limericks on them, without good branding anyone can quickly fall into obscurity. People don’t have the patience to sit down and listen to a 10-minute slideshow presentation before they commit to something, so they need all the information delivered at the very first glance. A clever logo or exciting color scheme can deliver just as much information as a three page mission statement if designed properly.
What makes a good Brand?
When creating branding, there are three key things to remember:
1 Good branding is trustworthy
Yes Sir, Mr. Claus!
Let’s be blunt, if a stranger gave you an unmarked plastic bottle full of bubbly black liquid and said “Drink this. It’s good, I promise”, you’d be more than hesitant to take a swig. A bright red label with a cheery looking Santa Clause holding a refreshingly cold looking beverage, however, instantly seems more appealing. A good brand should make you feel at ease and have no doubts that this is the right choice for you. I should clarify that ‘trustworthy’ doesn’t always mean that your brand’s vibe should be friendly and cheerful, rather that it should give your target market confidence in your product. You wouldn’t want a happy looking holiday mascot adorning your skateboard when you’re trying to come across as edgy, for example. Know your audience and think about what would make them feel most comfortable in trusting you.
2 Good branding is memorable.
These days there’s no way you can talk about branding without giving these guys a mention:
Chances are I don’t even need to say this company’s name for you to know who they are. How have they become so memorable? It’s simple…
Literally, it’s all down to simplicity. Apple have designed a brand so basic that half their advertising material is a blank white space containing a logo, a product, and if you’re lucky one line of text. It gets stuck in your head because you associate the simplicity of the design with the simplicity of their products. You can’t have one without the other. Of course, just having a simple design won’t be relevant for every brand, but if you can cause people to see a piece of design and immediately think of your product then you’ve hit the memorability nail right on the head. To achieve this you need to think about the most basic essence of your product, then run with that concept within your design.
For Apple, it was about communicating hardware simplicity and ease of use. Answer? An apple. One of the most basic food sources in nature and so easy to eat you literally pull it off a tree and go to town. The Nike brand is about inspiring confidence and energy with their sport products. Answer? A tick. Positive affirmation, the encouragement that (Just like their slogan) You CAN do it. Whittle your product’s concept down to one word, then base your design around that word!
3 Good branding is flexible.
A successful brand has to learn to evolve with the times to stay on top, and its design should be no different. Take a peek at the Pepsi logo:
You may be noticing the huge change in style from the first design to the current one. The important thing to note is that this was not done in one fell swoop, but a gradual shift over the years. Each design has taken elements of the previous one and improved on them in subtle ways so that the brand is still clear to its audience, even in the last case where the name has been completely removed! It’s also interesting to note the wave of design trends throughout history. Complexity in the early 1900s giving way to simplicity in the 1960s, returning to edgy complexity in the 2000s, then becoming completely streamlined in the present day. You can never predict the change in trends, so make sure your design keeps up to date or you run the risk of your brand being left in a cloud of unfashionable dust!
The basic truth is, if you’ve got a good product that you are confident in, then your branding should come easily. Your paint job can outshine the structural integrity of the house it is painted on, but it’s always a better idea to be honest with the people buying it. Let your product fuel your design’s inspiration and you won’t go wrong.