Friday, August 7, 2015

Starting right with good brand design

By Sharon Lee

Welcome to the very first blog post by Alphabet, a collaborative dedicated to helping small businesses build and sustain momentum. Hello, I’m Sharon and my role is to communicate your brand promise.

What does that involve? Well, it means discussing your marketing goals and determining a strategy that leads to a brand identity that is unique and strong.

Some people asked me, "Sharon, why do I need branding?" The answer is simple: you will increase your company’s success with a powerful brand. A strong brand builds awareness, evangelizes your company’s story, pulls in customers and, ultimately, increases return on investment. A strong brand gives you an edge over your competitors.

A brand is much more than a name or a logo—your brand is the sum of all the creative touch points of your company. What I mean by touch points is the visual, auditory, physical, and even psychological aspects of how your customers experience your product or service.

In this post I’ll talk about how we’re developing the Alphabet brand and will keep you updated about our progress in future posts.

Many factors influence the design of the Alphabet brand. And individual items, such as the logo, website, brochures, email templates and white papers, must serve specific functions yet tie into the branding cohesively and consistently in terms of colors, typography, imagery, tone of voice and company theme.
  • First, the logo. Our challenge here was to develop a logo that had both a corporate feel and a playful element—our primary target audience is small businesses and we know you guys work hard but also like to have fun once in a while. I think we’ve achieved this by designing a formal typography as the foundation of the logo, combined with the three-color, angled ABC (which also serves as our corporate mark).
  • Next, our website. We had several constraints to work around here, not least of which was the need to make our website stand out in a space crowded with competitors. That’s why we are using bold colors (our red “pops” very effectively) instead of more traditional “corporate” colors. And, because we didn’t have a ton of money to spend, we wanted to avoid stock photography, yet build an appealing website—the letters, in assorted shapes and sizes achieve that goal (while subliminally conveying the variety of personalities and skills involved in our collaborative).
  • Last, but not least, our corporate brochure. We decided early on to print this brochure and, having made the decision to incur that expense, wanted to ensure people would read it. That’s why we selected an atypical gatefold construct (our target audience includes engineers and we know you guys cannot resist figuring out how stuff works :-). And it’s also the reason why we designed a bold front cover and a different, but equally attention-getting, back cover.
The most challenging, and rewarding, part of any design is coming up with an original idea that hits home with its target audience. Plus, a successful brand identity needs to be flexible and able to move through different applications over periods of time, while sustaining its voice and vigor.

Defining a brand is like a journey of business self-discovery. And our journey here at Alphabet continues…

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