But branding that aligns with your client’s morals, message, and image isn’t as simple as throwing together a logo and picking some fancy colors.
It's a complex process involving designers, visual artists, and business owners.
Branding is one of the few areas where one has an open palette to do anything, as long as they play by the rules.
What on earth does all that mean? Read on, you budding young designer you.
What is branding?
Branding is the look and feel of visual touchpoints between a brand and its customers. It’s the unique way that your client communicates their image to the public. If it doesn’t accurately show off what they stand for, or if it’s easily forgettable, business will suffer.
What is branding?
- Logo, color palettes and imagery
- The tone of voice and the way you solve problems
- Physical retail and/or business spaces
Branding is not just:
- The company name
- The products or services offered
- Blogs, business cards, or other marketing material
Branding goes beyond the visual design elements.
A bold statement (get it?), but read on.
Branding - not just a pretty picture
Here you can see how Mailchimp’s branding comes into play as you’re about to send an email to your list.
Note that the role banding plays is not just in imagery.
The branding design is prevalent in the copy, the choice of words, and where they’re used.
Plus, you know, the fact that it’s a monkey sweating about pushing the ‘send’ button.
This is very characteristic of MailChimp’s branding—light-hearted, funny, but not distracting.
Going a little further, one can argue that branding is also about how a company interacts with its clients.
The way a retailer greets, serves, follows up, and say thanks to a customer is part of the whole branding experience.
Branding beyond the logo
Let's take a look at Deker Patissier & Chocolatier to see what they get right about branding beyond just a logo design—in both product itself and their physical location.
Check out the high-quality branding on Deker’s product packaging:
Then see how this branding is the echoed in their retail space:
A quality product backed by branding that’s replicated on product packaging, business cards, and retail spaces—that’s how you do it correctly.
Quality branding design is consistent in that it ties visual, physical, and verbal elements together.
While there’s more to branding than just slapping together a logo, the logo does play a huge role.
Like just about anything visual, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
A logo that may look a little obscure standing alone will more than likely sit at home amongst the rest of your client’s design system.
The logo is the first thing a potential customer sees. So it’s pretty darn important.
When designing a branding logo, it’s worth knowing exactly what your client is going for with their brand:
Perhaps it’s a bit of everything. Whatever their style may be, it’s important that the logo branding reflects those adjectives in some way.
‘But how on earth do you design fun?!’
Take Google and look at their colors. The multiple colors are just one of the many things that show them off as a young, hip, savvy, and ultimately fun brand.
The ‘RR’ of Rolls Royce just oozes grace, class, elegance and a high price-tag. It does this predominantly with dark colors and a logo that has never changed. Ever.
Graphic design branding
Graphic design branding essentially refers to the way branding is echoed in areas that require graphic design. And graphic design branding itself feels weird to say—it’s like a whole lot of buzzwords thrown together.
- Newsletters (both physical and email)
- Typefaces, headers, and footers
- Business cards, offline marketing, and other physical promotional material
So now that you know what branding is and why creative branding is important, let’s see what it looks like.
Examples to inspire your branding
There’s no shortage of quality branding out there.
At Packhelp, we’re lucky enough to work with boatloads of brands that know the importance of investing in quality branding.
Here are a few of them, and what they’ve shown us about branding.
This brand’s name sets the scene for its own branding.
The Swedish brand is quite simply, just a happy, fun and joyful feeling company.
With the Happy Socks logo being nothing more than the name in a custom font, it’s down to the color palette and imagery to make the brand memorable.
The brand uses colors, many of them, to stand out and be seen. It is vibrant and invokes a feeling of ‘happy’. Happy Socks.
This concept stems from the product itself. The product is unique because they’re not just plain, single color socks.
The bright and unique designs are carried over into the branding, the retail store, and the customized product packaging.
Watch the video below to see more about Happy Socks and how they use their branding in product packaging:
Key Takeaway :idea:: It’s not all about the branding logo. Other graphic design elements can be just as memorable!
UAU Glitch Project
The UAU ‘Glitch’ project was an art expo, showcasing the imperfections of 3D printing.
Wait, what can you learn about branding from an art exhibition?
The expo focussed on imperfections. This ‘imperfect’ theme ran through into the cardboard stands that showed off the art pieces.
The thick strong black lines created an optical illusion, and the ‘GLITCH’ font was caught your eye because it was imperfect - like the artwork.
In other places around the exhibition room, paragraphs of text were printed on a slight angle or completely distorted.
Key Takeaway: Whatever your client’s brand stands for, it can easily be reflected in its branding and other design elements, not just the product.
This Box Rocks
This Box Rocks is a Scottish subscription box service that sells high-quality, vegan-friendly gifts.
There’s the ‘Eeny Weeny Espresso Martini’ kit (pictured below), the ‘Processco & Gin in the bath’ kit and my personal favorite, the ‘Liquid story maker Whiskey set’.
Just by reading the names of the products, you can start to get a feel for the ‘attitude’ of the brand.
What’s most interesting, is that the products in the subscription box are products of other companies. TBR is essentially just reselling products.
As a result, it’s up to the website and box to carry all the branding.
So how do they do that? By absolutely slaying it.
Each box is incredibly different from the last, but the branding is consistent. The same font, the same color palette, and images that are of a similar design.
This Box Rocks is another example, just like MailChimp, of how the tone of voice is a great example of branding.
Take a read of the product description for their Whiskey set:
"Once upon a time, a hero returned after a beast of a day. Splashing some whisky into his goblet, he sipped it and thought: 'Now THAT hits the effin' spot!' With this bewitching Whisky Kit, they'll bathe their daily banes in Balvenie and roundhouse kick those dragons for a fairytale ending."
Key Takeaway: Being consistent isn’t always about doing the same thing over and over. It’s about doing similar things consistently.
The Old Norse
The Old Norse is a men’s skin care company based in the UK.
The manly, masculine name invokes specific elements. Natural elements, a mixture of organic colors and an ‘old world’ feel.
These concepts are echoed perfectly on the website as you can see below:
The product photos are curated in a manner that compliments the branding.
This theme carries over into the product labeling and, again, the product packaging:
The pagan styled writing on the razor handle and comb is echoed onto the product packaging.
Furthermore, inside the box is wood filling to continue the ‘natural’ feel right up to the unboxing point.
Key Takeaway: Creative branding continues right up until the customer has the product in their hands, in their own home and are about to use it for the first time.
In this article, you hopefully got an answer to the question ‘what is branding’, but also found a little guidance and inspiration, too.
Creative branding is not easy. It requires knowing not only what the brand stands for, via morals and goals, but also its unique selling points.
There is no need to reinvent the wheel when branding, and truth be told, branding is never really ‘finished’.
Yet, with a solid foundation in design assets and other imagery, your client can start taking their brand to the world, knowing that they’ll stand out.