If you are a start-up or nonprofit there is a good chance you don’t have a big in-house design and marketing team that is watching to ensure that your brand and all of it’s element are being used correctly. We have been surprised as many of the medium-sized businesses that have been around for years and even many of the major brands we work with have no, or very small, design teams. If you happen to have a large army of marketing professionals, that’s awesome! If not, we find that at some point our clients are trying to execute presentations, reports, social media, signage and other applications of their branding and marketing materials completely on their own and things don't always stick to branding as they should.
We understand the desire to save money and keep expenses tight. Not everyone who works for your company will inherently understand the importance of maintaining the integrity of your brand and it’s guidelines. Or, if they do, they may not have the knowledge of how to properly use all needed programs and do so. Finding a trusted design partner to help put your brand’s best foot forward helps create a strong impression for your business and ensure that you are consistent throughout all applications. If that is not an option for all representations of your brand, find a way to still make that presentation professional and on brand. It matters.
Handling your branding correctly is of the utmost importance. Your company’s logo is it’s most recognizable asset. It is the visual embodiment of your brand. It communicates with people who you are and starts to interject some life and personality into your organization. These elements make up the visual and outward expression of your business. As we have discussed many times, first impressions are everything. You may only get one chance to draw people in or send them away to your competition. Make sure the impression you are giving off is one that you can be proud of and if that can’t be done internally, make the investment that is presenting your business well and on brand.
If your team does need to execute some materials on your own, there are a few important things to consider to make sure your materials look professional and presentable every time:
Consistency, consistency and more consistency.
Nope…we are not a broken record and this is for a larger reason than satisfying our type-A tendencies. We know we talk about consistency a lot and that is because it is incredibly important. Consistency in branding elements, consistency in photography, consistency in content…it is all really crucial. So, we will mention it again, consistency with your logo is right there at the top. I am sure that you have noticed that many companies or nonprofits have multiple versions of their logo. We do! You may need a version that works for light backgrounds and then one for darker backgrounds. Many companies will have a stacked and horizontal version of their logo depending on what type of space they have to work with. Some people do versions with different taglines or only use the tagline in certain instances. If multiple versions of the logo are not needed, maybe consider archiving old versions of your logo and then making it clear to all involved that only the chosen version should be used moving forward. We don’t recommend too many versions or alternations. You want people to easily identify your brand at a glance. If it makes sense to keep multiple versions of your logo, make sure you communicate to all team members about the various approved logo versions and the set rules for their application. Keep an eye on presentations, emails and other material created and point out when branding is miss-used and make sure people know why this is important. Send out your branding guidelines.
This is not the time for personalization
Stick true to your logo. Trying to add your own personal touch to the logo or change the composition to fit each and every specific use is not recommended. If it is Earth Day, you don’t need to create a logo that is green and add leaves and sun to it. Leave personalization to other areas like banner graphics or collateral material. Make sure your logo stays true to your brand guidelines so you don't dilute it’s power. There may be a time your company decides that your logo no longer fits with times or you have outgrown it. This is a different discussion. There are times when a rebrand makes sense. In this case, however, you swap one structured set of guidelines for another. You do not change your logo on a weekly basis to “fit” with each and every situation. Keeping consistent with your brand’s logo and this will help people easily identify your company and avoid confusion.
There should be clear and established rules when it comes to the placement of your logo, which should also be communicated to anyone who is using it. As we noted above, your logo may have different versions for light or dark backgrounds. If you are placing a dark logo on another dark background this is something you would want to avoid or the logo will not stand out. This would be a great time to use the light version of your logo. Are there certain busy patterns or perhaps photography that someone might try to place your logo on top of? It should either be clear that this sort of thing should be avoided or you can have conversations about the possibility to place a colored bar (in your brand's colors) that the logo could sit on top of so it still stands out from the busy image or pattern. Leave a little bit of space for your logo to sit apart from text or other objects. Don’t lessen the impact of your logo by crowding it in. Consider presentation templates, official letterhead and other pre-approved official company materials to avoid some of the tendencies to stray from correct use of branding.
Logo Quality and Sizing
You and your team are placing your logo on a number of things daily. Make sure that identity you paid to create is a protected investment and always remains a strong representation of your brand. We find it very common that our clients make certain mistakes when trying to modify the size of their logo across other documents they are creating. Here are some tips from our designers:
· If you have the option to use the vector (.ai or .eps) version of your logo, always choose that as your first option. Some programs will not allow and support that, but if given the option always choose that. These versions of your logo will be fully scalable without compromising quality. You can use them to imprint on a custom pen and use that same logo for something the size of a billboard. These are also the files you will be asked for for things like screen printing or embroidery.
· Bigger is not always better. You want your logo to stand out, but also want things to look professional and well-designed. You want to communicate to your customer and have your logo represent your brand well, but not scream at them.
· When placing a non-vector file, like a .jpg or .png logo it will always be better practice to reduce them vs. enlarge. You don’t want to try to make a file larger and compromise it’s look by having it be pixelated. You may need to ask for a larger file from the original logo designer if vector format is not an option or you do not have it. Also consider the difference between .jpg and .png. A PNG that is correctly created will usually have a transparent background. This is usually the file you will want to use so that there will not be a colored box that shows around your logo when placing it on top of a different color.
· Also, in efforts to resize your logo, make sure you don’t actually distort or crop any parts off. We have seen this more than you think. It is especially a bummer when implemented on every page of a document that is 100's of pages or when printed in large quantities. It is important to the presentation of your logo to make sure that you maintain the same size ratio or it looks sloppy and distracting.
Visual assets must be handled with care and consistency. When you think about your favorite brands, their photos are shot professionally and in a consistent style. Their fonts and colors are the same in all applications and the logo is consistent in every circumstance. As mentioned, train your staff and make sure they know how important the consistency in your logo is to you. Keep all approved formats of your logo in one central location that is easy for all to access and discuss acceptable use of the different formats. Making this clear will help better represent your brand across the board. However, make sure you are checking up on this and correcting if necessary.
If you need help with creating a strong logo for your new start-up business or navigating a successful rebrand, call us. We love this stuff. Have that nailed down, but need a new website or other materials done by a company that will remain true to the integrity of your brand? Contact us today to discuss your business needs!