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T H E S H O R T A N S W E R
Good design does two things: works & looks good.
Sounds simple, right? Well, not so fast! In order to make sure that a design both looks good and works, you need to figure out what its job is and who the job is being done for. Let's dive a little deeper!
W H A T W O R K S
Good design, specifically graphic design, communicates with its audience. that's its job. It does is this job in two ways, concretely and abstractly.
Concrete communication informs the audience of specific details. Some examples include names, dates, stories, instructions, and statistics. This type of communication can be executed via text, graphs, diagrams, etc. Concrete communication takes ideas or understandings and forms them into tangible information that can be easily digested.
Abstract communication conveys a deeper meaning by triggering the subconscious. Some examples include mood, style, and context. This type of communication can be executed via color, font, illustration, etc. Abstract communication is heavily influenced by culture and hinges on an audience and their experiences in order for them to pick up on visual signals.
W H A T L O O K S G O O D
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder... kinda. For the most part what "looks good" depends on who is looking. Not everyone is interested in the same style, which is why finding a niche is crucial to effective communication. Because not everyone is the same there's not an easy formula for cranking out the perfect logo, but there are some strict design principles that apply... no matter the audience. I'm going to expound on these two points.
Your niche market is the answer to "who is this job being done for?" and when designing for a niche market the audience and longevity need to be the top priority. Stay away from flashy trends, especially when designing a logo. A successful brand should be relevant without consisting of trends that will be out of date within a year. If you do incorporate trendy details, I suggest that they be subtle and not focal points of the brand identity. Focus on what the target audience wants. They're the consumers and their needs should be front and center.
There are so many more things to consider when designing a logo, but if I had to choose my top five(in no particular order), these would be it:
A L I G N M E N T
Helps ground the eye.
When elements in a design are aligned accordingly it helps the reader get their bearings and organize information faster.
H I E R A R C H Y
Informs the reader.
Elements that are larger or more drastic get attention first. Designers use this principle to highlight the most important information.
P R O X I M I T Y
Helps guide the eye.
Where elements are in relation to each other tells the reader what comes next and what information goes together.
B A L A N C E
Calms the eye.
If elements in a design are not balanced the reader feels unstable and is not as receptive to the information.
C O N T R A S T
A contrast in elements draws attention to specific information, making a design visually appealing.
R E C A P
Good design works by
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G O O D B R A N D I N G
In my last blog post, I explained what branding is and talked about the difference between a brand(reputation) v. branding(client experience). Today I'm going to dive a little deeper by talking about what good branding looks like. Since branding is the sum of a client's experience, it would only make sense that good branding is a good experience, right? Charles O'Tudor says it best: that the job of good branding is to "ensure that the experience is in synergy with the promise."
Since there's a lot to unpack, I'm just going to jump right in. There are three things every good brand must be: precise, deep, and consistent.
P R E C I S E
Know Your Audience
You know the saying "you can't please everyone" well, it's 100% true. I know, I'm probably the 100th+ person to tell you. But you cannot, in fact, please everyone. The good news is that you definitely can please some. A good brand knows its people and knows them well. They know how they think and how they spend their money, time, and resources. The only way to know intimate details like that is to be precise. You want to hit the mark with your audience every time by having a narrow target, so don't make it complicated by having a wide aim. Do your research and find a group of people you can serve best. Be sure your promise as a business(what you offer & how you deliver that offer) lines up with their needs specifically.
D E E P
Bring Value to Your Audience
Let's keep going with this archery metaphor, shall we?! Say your aim is impeccable, and you've proven to be precise. What's it worth if your arrow isn't sharp? You want your products, services, and content to not only stick but go deep. What you do, should quite frankly, hit your audience right in their feels. Part of having a positive experience is establishing an emotional connection. The best way to do that is to remind your audience of why you're making them the promise you've made in the first place. Be vulnerable and authentic while illustrating your expertise on the subject. If you can bring value to your audience before they even hit purchase, they'll be confident in what you have to offer and that you can deliver on your promise.
C O N S I S T E N T
Show Up & Be Reliable
Now, let's be real, "showing up" is harder than it sounds. Knowing your audience and bringing them value is work, but it's usually the kind of work we get excited about. Being consistent, however, seems to be the most draining. In terms of branding, consistency has multiple meanings. It means having a responsive and upbeat service. It means making your products and content cohesive. It means looking uniform, and the list goes on. This is why knowing your audience is so important because it gives you the information you need to prioritize your energy and be consistent where your audience needs you most. Set a standard you know you can reach, and then do it well and do it often. When you utilize consistency, it not only shows that your business can keep your promise but will keep your promise. Gaining that type of trust in your audience is a GAME CHANGER. Because consistency isn't just shooting a bullseye, it means splitting the arrow.
R E C A P
Okay, Robin Hood, let's go over the basics one more time!
Good branding = good client experiences. When a client's experience aligns with the promise you've made them, it's a good experience.
You can't make an honest promise without knowing your audience, which requires you to be precise.
Delivering on your promise means so much more when there's actual value, and you add value when you go deep.
It's important to establish trust in your brand, which hinges on your ability to be consistent in delivering your promise.
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B R A N D v. B R A N D I N G
To better understand what branding is, let's first establish what a brand is. A brand is the essence of a business if you will. Just like every person has a reputation, every business has a brand. Think of it this way, your brand is the final result of a client's experience. And to be frank, it's not always good. Sometimes your brand is cheap or full of bad reviews. For most business owners negative client experiences are rare but very much real. Unfortunately, negative impressions have more impact than positive impressions. This is why branding is so important.
Smart businesses actively find ways to not only minimize bad client experiences but enhance them all together. A brand is something that just IS. Whether you try or not. But branding is less of a noun and more of a verb. It requires action and is built on strategy.
B R A N D I N G
So what does branding look like in action? Branding consists of any gesture taken to connect with your audience. This right here, what I'm doing right now, is part of my branding. Writing blogs, curating an Instagram feed, building a website, picking out the perfect paper for your business cards, choosing the right candle scent to fill your store, all of these are just a few ways you can execute branding.
B R A N D I D E N T I T Y
Let's dive a little deeper and talk about brand identity. Brand identity is a specific aspect of branding that focuses more on the visuals of your business's brand like your logo, icons, color palette, typography, photography and so much more! These are often the elements of a brand that impact someone's first impression the most. Before someone purchases your product at the store or books your services online, there were visual elements that drew them to pick your product off the shelf or click on the link to your website.
This is where people like me come in. Graphic design and brand experts understand the significance of a positive client experience. We understand the psychology of branding, how the implementation of intentional details throughout a brand identity builds a positive reputation with your dream client. It's all about strategy. We spend days, if not weeks, researching your goals, your market, and your ideal client. We use that research to experiment with possible brand visuals to see what elements will most effectively communicate your values to your audience and then, we execute. Good branding will communicate non-verbally to your dream client before they even have a chance to interact with your product or service, laying a foundation for the best client experience possible.
R E C A P
A brand is a business's reputation.
Branding consists of all the action steps a business takes to build that reputation, specifically around the client experience.
A brand identity includes all the visual elements of a business's brand.