A successful business rests on solid planning. Branding and logo design are too often treated as though their development is discretionary. Yet these two elements have the power to drive business success more effectively than many other business investments.

The following five best practices for brand standards and logos outline simple elements which make it easier for your potential customers to recognize you instantly. These principles also guide you toward building rapport with your audience.

Rushing Development

1. Don't rush the development of your logo and brand.

"Logos often stand alone as the sole symbol of an institution."[1] For example, consider the Nike logo. No matter what size at which it appears, you recognize the brand instantly.

Research is essential. Identify your target audience. Know who you are reaching out to and what your logo stands for. What message do you want to send to your audience?

Avoid colors in your logo which might be problematic for that group. For example, red is a positive color in Asian cultures, but it receives mixed reviews in Western society. Around Valentine's Day, it's associated with love. Yet the rest of the year it may mean danger ahead.

Blue could be even more problematic. While it's associated with loyalty and peace in Western society, the Chinese associate blue with immorality, and Koreans correlate blue with mourning.

2. Focus on simple.

Don't pack tons of information into your logo. It won't have impact if you do. Aim for a single concept whenever possible. Think Apple, AT&T, Nike, Volkswagon, Toyota.

Condense your brand concept as well. Narrow your messages to tight sound bites that reflect your company's core messages. Aim for six words or less. If you develop tight taglines, they are easier to remember. Short three-word taglines often work well with the company logo. They also make good endings for videos.

At the same time, you want memorable, so focus on a unique message. "Exceptional" anything is too commonplace. Play around with words that evoke emotion. Juxtaposition words you don't usually see together. Home Depot achieved this with "More saving, more doing."

Short not working for you? Go with as many as 10 words, if it sends a clear message about who you are.

For example, "Arrive alive" sends a different message than "For life," Volvo's current slogan. Mercedes' message holds more power with, "Engineered like no other car in the world." Yes, it's longer, yet the message remains simple.

3. Avoid Confusion: Keep logos and brand message consistent.

Avoid Confusion

If you are using your logo on marketing collateral, then sizing is usually the only element you should change. Occasionally, color may be considered. It is best to emphasize your brand's color scheme in your marketing materials. Choose graphics, photographs and font colors which complement your logo.

It may be frightening to focus on one message as you brand yourself. It's worse to "not understanding your target market segment and the branding process that would provide the most value for that segment."[2] If you've researched carefully, and without prejudice, staying consistent with your message will benefit growth.

4. Design logos for different uses.

Logos appear in many locations-websites, brochures, business cards, book covers, flyers, and advertisements. Location determines which design layout works most effectively. Color variations can be helpful for creating distinctive marketing materials, so play around with them.

5. Establish usage rules.

In its Creative Design Services department, The University of California, Riverside, emphasizes the importance of never altering a logo. They expect size, fonts, proportion, colors, positioning of design elements and special effects to remain constant across their entire platform.

You don't have to be this rigid; however you should develop a design manual which contains the following elements:

  • Overview of your strategy. This ensures that writers you hire to work with you can deliver a professional experience which complements your goals and benefits your budget.
  • Description of tone. You'll help content writers and designers significantly if you provide a clear description of the voice you prefer for content. Fun and casual or business and investor apply to words and pictures.
  • Rules for where to use the different logos, acceptable color variations and minimum sizes. This guides designers toward consistency in the look of your marketing collateral. Size rules ensure the logo remains clear-never too small.
  • Directions for creating other design elements. For example, Buffalo Wings & Rings uses blobs' as a design element. The shapes of the blobs, colors and placement of pictures within these blobs are clearly defined in the company's design guide.
  • Guidelines for when and how colors may be changed. The Nike logo may change color and size, however its proportion remains consistent every time it's used.
  • Font and typographic specifications. List names of font families and sizes for different text elements, such as headlines and body text. Specify amount of padding between lines of text, and above and below headers.
  • Specific colors. This list should include HTML, CMYK, and RGB specs so colors are consistent across all platforms.
  • Examples of what and what not to do. If there's something you like, show it. If you don't want to see, show it. Nothing is better for designers than visual.

These five steps become a powerful tool to ensuring the talent you hire delivers exactly what you need for a successful brand. Develop guides based upon careful research.

PS - Download our Team EJP Brand Refresh Case Study to see how we helped one company define their brand standards and successfully rebranded all seven EJP companies. Click here to download or click the button below!

Team EJP Brand Refresh

 [1] http://creativedesign.ucr.edu/ism/logos.html

[2] http://www.mplans.com/articles/product-and-brand-failures-a-marketing-perspective/