It all starts off well. It’s just you and a dream, an idea for a company – a unique product or service, something that you are really passionate about.
You create a logo with a graphic designer to describe your brand. It’s easy, you are ambitious; the idea is simple and you really know your potential clients.
You are up and away!
You put your logo onto all the social media sites. You can’t think of any mast images, so that’ll do for now.
From the logo you have the colours, and you match the font style of your logo for your stationery. You do it yourself, and why not – we all love Moo!
You find like-minded people to help you when your business grows, and it really takes off.
You have to create some presentations, so the new guy you brought in to shoulder some of the load creates a new PowerPoint slide set. He really likes a font that he found in the drop-down font list, so he uses that.
The new marketer you hired needs some leaflets. She has a contact from the last place she worked and gets something put together. It doesn’t look great, but all the right information is there, and the good news is that a nice graphic was created. The graphic gets picked up and used by the new person in IT to go on the website had them build – it’s got all the right information on and looks not too shabby!
Before you know it, you have branding evolved from your logo.
The trouble is, it’s all been done ad-hoc, and that’s what it ends up looking like – ad-hoc. Somewhere along the way, it’s lost something, and it’s hard to see how to fix it.
This is the time to do a design audit. Bring in a graphic designer.
A graphic designer can help to bring it all together – weed out bad typography, make suggestions on colours and fonts, add white space and update image styles. A graphic designer can create templates for Word and PowerPoint; review your website graphics and architecture and make suggestions on how it might look or work better. A graphic designer can review your graphics and infographics: do they make sense?
Crucially, a graphic designer can also create simple branding style guidelines, so that anyone in your company can create files that go to your customers with a consistent look and feel. Now the people in your company can concentrate on getting the content right – which is what your customers really need, rather than deciding on colours and fonts.
It’s not a branding refresh, it’s a branding reframe.
An audit is also a great opportunity to review all the pieces of marketing collateral that you have created. If you incorporated a way of measuring their success with a unique contact email, webpage or hashtag, you can see can also see if they worked – and how well they worked.
Style guidelines needn’t be a straitjacket. Instead they can be a living document, providing a framework that allows your team to be constructively creative. By having at least basic principles in place, you can ensure that there is a consistency to your branding, and the image and ethos you want to convey to the world accurately represents your vision.
Designers makes the complex easy to understand. #designersmakeiteasy