If you have created your brand design yourself or you hired a professional designer to create it, there comes a day when you have to use it. This is where most solopreneurs struggle. They don’t know how to use the design files properly and they have trouble staying consistent. This is why I wanted to give you some tips today on how to use your brand design and what you need to pay attention to.
How can you make your brand design work for you?
When you’re starting out you want to build recognition and trust amongst your audience. The key to gaining trust is consistency. For your brand design, this means nothing else than everything you create must be cohesive in style using the same fonts, colors, and assets everywhere your brand shows up. It’s what designers call on-brand and what gets most solopreneurs in trouble. They don’t understand why it’s necessary to be consistent and they’re unsure of the role and function of their brand design elements. Part of the branding process is to establish your visual style. This style almost automatically develops out of your design elements when brought together. Each of them is there for a reason. Let’s take a look at those elements.
Your logo is your #1 asset to build recognition. It’s who you are in the simplest and most straightforward version possible. When you’re just starting out and your brand is not yet recognized by your audience, you should put it on all your marketing materials. People will slowly start memorizing your name and connecting your visual style to it. But don’t overdo it. Your logo doesn’t have to be top, center, and bottom. It’s your brand’s form of “Hi, my name is …”. You will mostly use your main logo for this but you can also use a logo variation where this fits better.
Related post: Logo variations: Do you need more than one logo
Your brand colors help you to transport your message without saying a word. If you switch between different colors your message will get all mixed up. Even if you have a whole color palette with different shades and accent colors you should mainly use two colors in your designs. These two colors are what people remember and associate with your brand. Like you know the colors of IKEA are blue and yellow. If you switch between different colors all the time your audience will get confused.
Same goes for fonts. Fonts compliment your brand style. They help you to establish the image of your brand and influence how people will see you. When you use the same two fonts for all your designs your audience starts to recognize them as part of your brand.
Design assets like patterns, icons, and shapes help you to complete the full image of your brand. They’re great eye catchers and good for creating balance in your designs. But they need to be used with care and only if they add value.
Tip: For your images and graphics use 2 fonts, 2 colors, and 1 additional design asset. Less is always more.
How to make sure you use your brand design right?
Staying consistent can be hard if you don’t have some helpers in place like brand boards, guidelines and templates.
The first thing you want to do is to create a brand board if you don’t have one already. This serves as a reference for all your designs. A brand board includes your logo and variations, a color palette with color codes, fonts, and other design assets like patterns. Keep your brand board close so you can quickly look up your color codes or which font to use for your copy.
If you want to take this one step further you can create a guideline book. Especially if you have a team or you want to outsource some of your design work brand guidelines a great to ensure everyone is on the same wavelength and all your designs are on-brand. So what is the difference to a normal brand board? Your guidelines go way deeper into your brand identity. They explain every design asset in detail and show examples of how to use it. Almost like an IFTTT scenario. If you have a solid black background then you have to use your all white alternative logo. Your brand guidelines also include other foundational elements of your brand apart from your design like values, message and voice again with examples.
There’s no better way to make sure you are always consistent than to create templates. A template is a basic model of your design which you can use over and over again just by changing certain elements out like text or a background image. You can create templates for almost everything from your social media images over your weekly newsletter to flyers. Starting fresh every time you need a new image for social media is not only a lot of unnecessary work it can also expose you to the risk of getting sidetracked and creating something which doesn’t align with your brand. Make sure you use them whenever you can.