Fairytales and fables withstand time because the stories and pictures evoke feelings, inspire us and leave an imprint. Talking and writing about your business – and creating meaningful visuals to support your brand message – is no different.
Your brand story is a powerful communication tool. And if you can create a brand style that reflects it – using colour and imagery to enhance your message – you can turn your words into something even more meaningful. And moving your audience from faraway admirers to members of your community is, in my view, influenced by how well you marry great stories with great design.
To help you get to grips with this idea, I’m sharing a few simple ways to lay the foundations for your brand style to enhance your brand story. Over time, these steps can help you create more consistency and familiarity.
A logo is often the first touchpoint for your audience, and a vital part of the branding and design process. When someone first discovers you on social media, visits your website or looks at your business card, your logo provides an opportunity to hold their attention.
Perhaps the font is bold and punchy, reflecting power and impact? Maybe the colours give off a gentle vibe, influenced by a calming and muted colour palette? Or could there be a unique symbol that clearly expresses your brand values?
While many businesses will hire a professional designer and work closely with them to bring their ideas to life, this isn’t always an option, so investing in a logo kit from a website such as Creative Market can be beneficial. If you take the time to explore your vision and values, you may land on logo design elements that can be both meaningful and memorable. The result won’t be unique to you, but it offers an affordable starting point with a design that could be representative of your brand story.
When used consistently across a website, social media and marketing materials, fonts can be a powerful part of a customer’s experience with a brand, so it pays to spend time on this.
Clients commonly come to the brand design process with fonts in mind. As a designer, it’s my job to collaborate with them to find the right balance and make sure we settle on an impactful and legible typeface.
When choosing your fonts, I recommend selecting at least two that are clear and complement each other. Serif fonts suit more traditional brand styles, sans serif offers a modern touch and is great for headlines, whereas decorative type with details and flourishes is best used sparingly. I advise selecting a maximum of three fonts, including your logotype, as sometimes it can be helpful to use an accent such as a script to add some contrast.
To ensure your fonts capture the overall mood of your brand identity, it can be helpful to search for ‘font pairings’ on Pinterest or use MyFonts to discover what’s new and popular. If you’re on a budget, Google Fonts has plenty of free options. As a powerful part of an audience’s experience with a brand, it pays to spend time on font choices.
Playing with colour is a significant (and possibly my favourite!) part of the design process. Spending time on a palette and choosing colours that reflect your values and story will help evoke certain feelings in your audience and connect you with your brand style.
Cool pastel shades can work well for a calm aesthetic; earthy tones can give off a wholesome and nurturing vibe; bright pops of colour will suit a vibrant brand that’s full of energy. Each of these will inspire an audience in different ways. And you must move towards a palette that looks as well as feels good.
It may be of interest to read about seasonal brand colours, and you could also use a tool such as Coolors. Here, you can click through pre-made palettes, experiment with shades and hues, and save your favourite colours to build your own custom colour selection.
Photography is integral to the branding process and is a helpful way of quickly communicating your values and making your brand more recognisable.
Photography is integral to the branding process and is a helpful way of quickly communicating your values and making your brand more recognisable. It could be portrait images of yourself, professional shots of your products or photos of yourself at work.
Other types of imagery include assets, icons and patterns, which are occasionally based on features from a logo or a particular style. A suite of custom icons for you to use in your Instagram highlights can make a big difference and is something we offer clients who use that platform as sometimes it is the first thing their audience sees that represents a brand style. (Hint: this is also a great place to direct people to your brand story!)
Watercolour or brushstrokes can also bring social media posts to life and offer a playful way to deliver your message. When it comes to pattern, consider whether you like crisp, clean lines or if you’re more drawn to fun, flowing shapes. These are the kinds of details that will influence how someone feels when they come into contact with your brand.
Patterns can bring so much personality to the design process. Don’t be afraid to experiment! And do limit yourself to one or two additional touches of styling beyond your fonts and colours, as otherwise, you risk creating an identity that is too busy.
By bringing your brand story to life through your logo, fonts, colours and visuals, you offer a heightened sense of who you are and how you work. And you create a more compelling narrative around what you do and why you do it.
Perfection is not necessary, of course, and it’s good to get playful with the process because that’s where the best ideas happen. But audiences also like consistency because it shows that you care, have good standards and believe in yourself.
Focusing on a few details and being consistent in your communication is a great first step in creating or refining your brand style. And the simplest of creative touches can ensure you’re going to be seen and heard not necessarily as the loudest or the boldest in your field but perhaps as one of the most memorable.
If you’re interested in learning more about brand storytelling, sign up for my Inside Story letters and receive your free download: Crafting your Brand Story.