Branding Translation - The Meaning Behind Visual Language

by: dianalien

Brand and Identity

A strong logo and identity is memorable, recognizable, and should encompass a business' values, goals, and overall message.

As with all companies, the logo/branding process starts with the business name.

  • What does the company do?
  • What should it be called?
  • How is it pronounced?
  • How does it sound?
  • Is it easy to pronounce?
  • Memorable?
  • What does it mean?
  • Is the URL/domain name available? Is it easy to type? Too many characters?

Similar questions can be asked when considering identity design. What are the company goals? What makes it different? What are three keywords and/or attributes that describe the company?

Now, how does this translate into an idea?

"A logo doesn’t sell, it identifies. A logo derives its meaning from the quality of the thing it symbolizes, not the other way around. A logo is less important than the product it signifies; what it means is more important than what it looks like." — PAUL RAND

There are many methods for brainstorming ideas--sticky notes, mindwebs, drawing, etc. But these methods (when applied to branding) all have the common goal of establishing a solid concept which will represent the company.

Customer service, quality, and value are good qualities for any company; but the underlying drive and passion is what needs to be translated, both internally and visually-to create brand loyalty, establish long-term clients, to share a mindset, build a community.

Branding Guidelines

Once a logo has been approved and finalized, a branding guideline (or branding bible) is created to help keep the look and feel of marketing collateral consistent and professional.

  • How is the logo used?
  • What can and cannot be done to it?
  • Drop shadow?
  • Overlay on an image?
  • What are the RGB and CYMK Pantone color equivalents?
  • What is the official font family?
  • Bold? Italic? Font size?

These are just a few of the questions asked and addressed in the branding guidelines. Business card layout, letterhead design, email signature -- these are also included in the branding guideline, and should be referred to regularly, kept updated, and distributed to everyone in the company.

Marketing Collateral

Color, font choice, photography - these are all elements that help shape define the visual language of a brand, and the pieces that create an informative and compelling piece.

But creative assets aren't just supposed to look pretty; each piece of marketing collateral should have consistent messaging, as well as the same visual aesthetic. All pieces must look like they belong to the same brand (and campaign)-with the same voice, AND the same visual appeal. The content, copywriting, and persona behind the content/context speak just as loudly as the front page headline graphic.

Call to Action

So you have a pretty piece balanced with great content and messaging. Now what? What is the purpose of the piece? You want the user to contact you. You want a lead. So, what does the CTA (Call to Action) look like? Do you want them to fill out a form? Pick up the phone? Schedule an appointment? Is it clear what the user is supposed to do?

Stay tuned. "Tips on how to Successfully Implement a Call to Action" coming soon.


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