I get asked a lot of questions like ‘what are the best practices for designing a brand identity’ over on my Instagram account. I always make a list of the questions I get asked so that rather than just answering once, I can create blog posts like this that help more people with the same questions! I also have some digital products and online masterclasses in the works right now so keep your eyes peeled for those launching in a few months time.
If you’re new to the world of branding, or are a designer looking to learn more about what the ‘best practices’ are when designing a brand identity for a client, I really hope the following tips are helpful to you.
1. Gather inspiration from more than one place
During the research phase when you’re gathering imagery to inspire the look and feel of the brand identity, it can be tempting to only look at other logo designs that have already been created. Worse still would be to look at only logo designs from the same field of business.
Of course you need to know what else is out there in the field of business you’re creating the identity for, but there is SO MUCH MORE to see, and I don’t just mean on Pinterest. Really dive deep and think about the story of the business owner and their journey to where they are now.
Are there little ‘story’ elements you can pick out, are there themes you can build on, are there any images that come to mind when you’re reading all the information your client has given you? It’s important that a logo design has elements that feel familiar and not totally ‘out there’ but that it also feels like it has something ‘new’ to offer.
The most original designs come from combining different inspiration sources together. For example, combining a style of typography or text layout you may have seen in another logo design with some interesting angles or shapes inspired by a tiled floor pattern that gave off the right vibe for your clients’ brand.
2. Know what the businesses goals are as well as the specific objectives of the design/rebrand
It’s important to know what the future goals of the business are so that the new design can be aligned with this. You brand for the future of the business, not the past or present.
If the business is looking to expand in some way, an objective of the new brand identity might be to diversify the overall design so that there is scope to add more product lines or service offerings. More design elements might be needed for product packaging, or set colour combinations for each new service for example.
If the business is looking to target a slightly different customer or an additional type of customer, an objective of the new brand identity might be to elevate the overall feel of the brand to bring it in line with the revised target market.
Always discuss goals and objectives so you have a marker on which to judge the effectiveness of the new brand identity.
3. Make sure the logo stands out against the rest of the identity design
There may be more than one font used within a logo design, but the main typeface or font used should not then be used in other parts of the branding like for headings.
There are always exceptions to the rule – sometimes if your logo has illustrative elements or has had lots of customisation done to the text, you could feel that the same font is going to work best for headings. However, as a ‘best practice’ try to find a heading font that blends nicely rather than using the same one – or at least use the logo font very sparingly. This will make the overall brand identity look and feel much more professional.
In addition, you might think that adding more elements to a logo design will make it stand out more, but this just makes things complicated. The best logo designs have one or two ‘wow’ elements (this could be an illustration and custom letters in the text for example). Don’t try to add too many ideas into your design so that it becomes confusing or too busy.
4. Think about where the logo will be used – make sure it will work for these scenario’s
Make sure you think about (or talk about with your client) all the places the brand identity and logo’s might be used. If you go ahead and start designing using a really thin weight font in part of the logo and then it’s decided that the logo needs to be letterpress stamped onto stationery, it can be impossible to make a stamp at certain sizes to get the desired printed result.
Similarly if the logo is going to be blown up very large onto a shop sign, make sure it’s going to look perfect at this larger size! Hand drawn elements can sometimes be tricky at larger sizes and may need a bit more tidying up so they don’t look too messy.
Another example would be involving colours – some blues and turquoises don’t replicate well from screen (RGB) to printing (CMYK) and you may need to use Pantone printing to replicate the correct colour. Same with neons – spot colour printing is the only way neons are possible in print. Make sure your client is aware of any colour printing limitations if they are keen to use colours that might present problems and try to explain Pantones and spot printing if you can.
I hope these best practice tips have helped you get clearer on some aspects of designing a brand identity. As ever, if you have any questions for me or things you’d like me to cover please do send me an email at email@example.com – I’m always happy to help!