Top 8 Brand Design Tips

Check out our top eight tips for strong brand identity design below to get started!

Brand Design Tips - Clay

Like people, companies all have their own distinct identity that sets them apart and expresses who they are and what they do. But instead of showcasing this through clothing, speech, and other personality traits, businesses use elements such as their logo, color scheme, typography, iconography, and other branding.

Almost every choice a brand makes in showcasing their company impacts the brand identity, from ad taglines to their online store setup and everything in between. This is why it’s so important to make careful considerations and have a thorough understanding of every choice’s impact.

1. Ask the Audience

The number one goal of branding is to appeal to customers. But not just any customers, the right customers, or the target audience for a company's products and services. The best way to figure out what this audience likes and wants is to ask them simply. Market research and test groups can be a highly effective method of experimentation and perfecting branding as it allows for honest feedback from users. This can also help to point out problems the design team overlooked.

This may seem like an obvious step, but many companies skip over research, relying on their teams to solve problems. But this comes with too many biases. Stakeholders, fellow employees, and other people working within the company all have different views than potential customers and will not fully understand their mindset.

Photo by Melanie Deziel on Unsplash
a person writing on a white board

2. Keep it Simple

It may seem when trying to be unique in such a competitive industry that the more bold and outgoing you can be, the better. Although this can sometimes work, it often fails. Being one-of-a-kind is good, but sticking out like a sore thumb can be a turn-off for potential buyers.

The more complex and intricate branding design becomes, the more likely the messaging will be lost. More than being exciting and intriguing, brand elements must be relatable and understandable. No one will buy from a company if they don’t understand what it sells or what it’s trying to say. Plus, the more simple branding elements can be, the more quickly they can be adapted to a plethora of needs and the more suitable they’ll be for a broader target market. If branding elements have to be redesigned every time they’re printed on a new set of apparel or marketed in a new country, it’ll waste far too much time and be too inconsistent to be helpful.

3. Stand Out

Being uncomplicated doesn't have to mean sacrificing creativity. Simple is often the most recognizable; consider the McDonald's arches, which are just two curved lines, or the Nike swoosh, which could be mistaken for the flick of a wrist. These symbols are iconic yet quite plain.

Photo by Eduardo Soares on Unsplash
Mc Donalds Drive Thru Sign

Although a design should be functional, that doesn’t mean it has to be boring. Often, the way to be bold and daring is through colors, layouts, or exciting compositions. Using the same old elements in a new way can catch customers’ attention as it evokes both familiarity and intrigue. This is where having a professional design team comes in handy, as a sound designer will understand trends and have the creativity to use them for unique applications that fit the brand story well.

4. Be Flexible and Responsive

If you’ve done an excellent job of establishing a simple and effective enough design, making it responsive will be easy. This allows the same elements to be adapted for different mediums, whether that’s a new audience or a new product. For example, a logo could be displayed in full on a website but be simplified for apparel such as a hat. This logo may even be modified further to create a minuscule emblem to fit in the little places. However, it must not only work there but do well and be recognizable. The Chanel double C’s are just as iconic as the full logo, and the Disney castle is just as memorable as the simple Disney font or bubbly D initial.

Creating a more minimalist or modern graphic design can be helpful as simple is often more legible and will not need as many variations. More complicated logos and visual elements, once shrunk, can quickly become difficult to read.

5. Stay Relevant

Trends change quickly, especially with the ebb and flow of social media. Because of this, target audience are always ready for the next best thing and will soon grow bored of seeing the same branding. That’s why it’s essential to have a strong brand, strong visual identity, and unique design but also be on top of fads. Strategies should constantly be adapting to the current market to remain exciting and relevant. Tapping into these trends can be a powerful way of garnering interest, building a following, and boosting sales.

6. Visuals

Videos are the key to customers’ hearts and are the way to go in the fast-moving world of social media marketing. While images, text, and spoken messages can all be handy on social media platforms, videos often make the most impact. They can showcase products and services, better demonstrate achievements and announcements, be more relatable, provide visual and auditory intrigue, and so much more. They can also clarify messaging, help with SEO rankings, boost emotional response, and demonstrate professionalism. Plus, videos can be used in many ways, from ad campaigns to social media or websites.

a movie clapper with a bunch of icons

7. Trendy Typography

Most people think about images, graphics, and colors when designing and forget about fonts. But typography can be an excellent opportunity to showcase some personality, creativity, and pizazz. Although text should first and foremost be readable, it can also be interesting. Take Disney’s brand-specific font, for instance, which has become synonymous with the brand and establishes its personality as a fun, cartoony media company that caters to children.

Typography is used often, perhaps more often than any other brand element. From blog posts to marketing copy and everything in between, a brand’s typography will be something customers will consume in large quantities. And, whether they realize it or not, audiences will have reactions to those fonts. For example, something reminiscent of college textbooks will quickly tire out a reader and bore them, while a layered graffiti font may attract a younger crowd and turn off those looking for something more serious.

8. Effective Use of Color

It may seem that colors are simply an artistic choice, but they’re a lot more than just pretty adornment. Simply picking colors that look good together or which are attractive is a waste. Instead, the response to these colors and any preconceptions about them should be taken into account to make the color scheme as effective as possible. Entire industries or types of products often have ties to specific color schemes. For example, sustainable and earth-friendly products usually use greens and browns in their marketing.

There are also connections between psychology and color. Subtle and muted colors will create a more calm and welcoming attitude, while bold, bright colors showcase urgency and outgoingness. Some colors may even speak better to specific age groups or audiences. For instance, bright and contrasting color combinations are usually used for children’s products.

a color wheel on a Mac screen

The Bottom Line

Running a business is no easy task with so much competition. That’s why so many brands seek help from professional agencies. But a clear and easily understandable brand and brand's visual identity, that follows the tips above, whether created internally or with outside assistance, will be sure to find success.

About Clay

Clay is a UI/UX design & branding agency in San Francisco. We team up with startups and leading brands to create transformative digital experience. Clients: Facebook, Slack, Google, Amazon, Credit Karma, Zenefits, etc.

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About Clay

Clay is a UI/UX design & branding agency in San Francisco. We team up with startups and leading brands to create transformative digital experience. Clients: Facebook, Slack, Google, Amazon, Credit Karma, Zenefits, etc.

Learn more

Share this article

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