We’ve all heard plenty of marketing jargon related to branding:
“That is so on-brand.”
“Their branding is incredibly strong.”
“I love their look and feel.”
But what does it mean to actually be on-brand? How can you know whether your brand is clearly identified and boldly deployed? At Parqa, we like to say that marketing is how you communicate about your product or service. Branding, however, is how you make someone feel when they encounter your brand.
Your Brand’s Core Components
Whether you’re a talented creative professional or someone who knows absolutely nothing about design (or even marketing in general!), this article will bring you the core framework that constitutes a brand.
Your Brand Logo
This is the primary icon or symbol that represents your brand in the marketplace. Since your logo is the very first piece of your brand that a user will see, it is incredibly important to get it right. There are many different kinds of logos including:
a. Lettermark: This is exactly what it sounds like. The letters in the name make up the logo itself. (Think: HBO, IBM)
b. Wordmark: This is also fairly straight-forward: The entire word is the logo. (Think: Coca-Cola, Google)
c. Pictorial mark: This type of logo is a standalone icon without any words accompanying the logo design. (think: Apple, Target, Twitter)
d. Abstract mark: This is a specific type of pictorial logo, but instead of a recognizable object, it’s more of an abstract, geometric shape or icon. (Think: Pepsi, BP)
e. Mascot logo: This is a type of logo where the mascot is the logo itself. (Think: KFC, Kool-Aid)
f. Combination Mark: This logo includes an image and the words in one combined graphic. (Think: MasterCard, Pizza Hut)
g. Emblem: This version is very similar to both the Pictorial and the Combination mark, but the unique difference is that the words fit inside of the emblem itself. (Think: Starbucks Coffee, Harley-Davidson Motorcycles)
A tagline is a brief, memorable phrase that is used to support your brand throughout your marketing efforts. It should communicate the primary sentiment or feeling you would like people to associate with your company, brand or service. Here are a few examples to get the creative juices flowing:
a. “Have it your way.”
b. “Just do it.”
c. “Ace is the place with the helpful hardware folks.”
d. “I’m lovin’ it.”
Your Mission & Values
Whether you want to categorize these as separate elements within the brand strategy, or group them into one, it is mission-critical to your brand that you have these elements clearly identified. Your mission statement is a brief 1-2 sentence statement about why you exist in the marketplace and what you aim to bring to the world through your product or service. Your core values are the primary pillars that your business stands on, and that your employees and team members embody in the day-to-day. These help you create a culture and a driving force for what you truly stand for in the world.
Every brand must have an approved color palette, as it is a crucial part of building a successful identity as a company. The colors, shades and hues you include should have a “why” behind them, as well as rules and guidelines for how they are deployed (Think: primary, secondary, tertiary, accent, etc.). You want to have a base color, an accent color, and a couple of neutral colors that encompass your color palette. See some examples here:
There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to choosing fonts, but there are important guardrails and guidelines to help you pick one that will work for your brand. First and foremost, you’ll want to make sure you select a font that matches your brand’s personality. It should be unique and memorable, legible, and communicate your brand’s personality. Serif fonts are thought to be classical, traditional and trustworthy, while sans-serif fonts are more modern, clean and help create minimalistic look-and-feel. Whatever you do, choose one that makes sense with who you are as a company.
Once you choose your brand personality, you may find many other components of your brand fall into place – like your brand colors, font and tagline. That is why establishing your brand’s personality should be one of the first steps you take in creating your brand.
Begin by choosing 3-5 character traits about your brand that clearly communicate who you are in the marketplace, what sets you apart, and what makes you, you. Here are a few personality clusters as examples. What most clearly resonates with your brand?
a. Energetic, cutting-edge, passionate
b. Calm, Approachable, helpful
c. Formal, inclusive, trustworthy
d. Cheerful, playful, sincere
Your Brand’s Voice & Tone
Your brand voice is the distinct personality your company or brand takes on in all of its communications. If voice is what you say, tone is how you say it. They should fall hand-in-hand with the Brand Personality you’ve identified (above).
Graphics & Iconography
Graphic elements or iconography are the little details that help deploy a brand. These patterns, gradients, overlays and icons help to build an entire system within your brand that is consistent and clearly recognizable.
Your brand’s graphics and Icons can be hand-drawn textures, line style treatments, background patterns, usage of white space and/or color blocks, or curated shapes. Are you a company that uses hard edges and geometric patterns to communicate innovation and modernism? Or are you wanting rounded edges that communicate synergistic, cause-and-effect relationships? There should be a why behind all the graphics and icons that are created or developed to visually express your brand.
Your brand guide should be an internal document that, while it is not a separate entity or component to your brand, is a holistic, all-inclusive guide that outlines exactly how your brand should and should not be deployed.
All of the above elements outlined in numbers 1-8 live inside this centralized document. Your brand guide should be shared with everyone that touches your marketing or branding materials of any kind – whether they’re working on your website, your social media accounts, your event booths, fact sheets, or anything else in between. Think of this document as a how-to guide for your brand.
Need Branding for Your Staffing & Recruiting Agency? We can Help!
Moral of the story? There are a lot of important factors that go into brand strategy, and it’s incredibly important to get it right. If you’re not sure where to start, reach out to me personally on LinkedIn or get in touch with the branding experts for staffing and recruiting companies at Parqa Marketing here.