Whether you are just starting out or have an established business you need to consider having each of these five (plus bonus) visual brand elements in your toolkit. Most people think that branding is as simple as a logo. In this blog post, we went over that a logo is a great starting point but this single element simply cannot create the consistency and visual story your business needs to thrive.
Having each of the visual elements described below and included in our brand design services will provide the flexibility for you to make a visual impact in every situation thrown at your business.
Visual Brand Element 1: Primary Logo
We will start with the visual element that everyone thinks of first when it comes to branding. It is important to have a strong logo that is meaningful to your business.
Your primary logo can include a graphic, be typography based or even be a combination of the two. Especially for small businesses, I believe it is important for your primary logo to clearly state your business name. For this reason I typically design, graphics and paired with typography or have a solely typography based logo.
Depending on the nature of the business a tagline is a wonderful addition to include within the primary logo to enhance clarity of offerings.
Brand Element 2: Alternative Logo
The alternative logo has the same elements of your primary logo, but in a different layout. An alternative logo is an important branding element to have because it will provide the same impact as your full logo, but in a form that will fit different spaces.
If your primary logo is horizontal, a stacked alternative logo would be perfect to fit into square spaces like profile pictures. Remember these have the elements of the primary logo, so they typically feature a graphic and/or typography. Depending on your needs the business tagline can also be incorporated into the alternative logo.
Visual Brand Element 3: Submark(s)
Submarks are simplified design that are a version of your logo or a coordinating graphic. Sometimes these take the form of the standalone graphic element from your primary logo. Other times these are a simpler coordinating graphic.
A nice way to allow the flexibility to pair with typography based logos are to create a submark in a monogram fashion. In the military world, we are used to everything becoming an acronym, so these initial letter submarks are even more familiar.
When submarks are in a graphic form, the lines are simplified and the use of color is limited. This creates flexibility for your brand because the simplified items can be printed in very condensed space but are still recognizable by your target market.
Submarks are the perfect visual brand element for photographers or online influencers to use as watermarks on photos. These are also great for multipage documents – incorporating submarks on the inner pages to incorporate your brand in an interesting, yet coordinating way.
Brand Element 4: Color Palette
Color has the power to evoke emotions. Using a standard set of colors is a vital part of conveying meaning and consistency. Keep your color palette of 3 to 5 colors in mind. Then look for ways to use these in every piece of content you put out.
For example, try adding a solid background or a photo overlay in one of your brand colors. This can turn a standard social media post into something that makes your ideal clients instantly think of you. You can also use tints and shades of colors from your palette, but be sure to always come back to the set in your brand’s color palette.
Check out this series for some inspiration for building your own color palette!
Brand Element 5: Typography with Hierarchy
As you’ve gathered throughout this article, it is important for your visual brand elements to speak to your ideal audience. Typography is a must when creating a consistent brand message. You should select one to two (maybe three if used minimally for an accent) typefaces and stick with these.
Side lesson on font vs typeface- Typeface refers to the family or the name. Think of the groupings of Times New Roman or Calibri. Fonts dictate the styling within this family. Think of fonts as making the typeface special- so regular, heavy weight, bold, italics.
Once you have your typeface selections, create even more consistency using fonts and hierarchy. Your main headers might be in all caps and bold, while your subheader is in italics. Again, the key to building your brand is using the same typeface, font and hierarchy as consistently as you can.
Bonus Visual Brand Element: Patterns
Patterns are a wonderful visual element that elevates a brand to the next level. I struggled with labeling this as the 6th must have element. I believe creating a consistent visual brand story across multiple platforms without the other 5 elements would not be possible. A pattern however falls into the gray space for me. So it gets the “bonus” label.
Patterns are a wonderful visual element that adds to the brand base. It will use consistent colors and incorporate other nods to your other elements. These are wonderful to use as an accent. Custom tissue paper featuring your brand pattern could provide that one of a kind touch that clients expect to see from small businesses. Digital patterns provide that extra nod to your business in lieu of white space.
TL;DR Visual Elements Your Brand Needs to Thrive
- Primary Logo
- Alternative Logo
- Color Palette
- Typography + Hierarchy
- Bonus: Pattern
Having each of these visual elements in your brand toolkit will be key to creating a consistent brand. Try consistently using each of these visual branding elements for six months. You will start to notice that your ideal audience will start to recognize your work. In today’s fast paced consumption world, this instant recognition is key. This familiarity and trust of your brand will make people pause and interact.
Grab the PDF workbook to get an assessment of where your brand stands. You will see the audit goes beyond the 5+ key visual elements so you can start building your ideal brand.
Overwhelmed by the thought of coordinating all of the visual elements you need for your business? We’ve got you covered. Learn more about our brand design services where we will get to know your business and create a one of a kind visual elements that speak to your ideal client.