4 Guidelines for Designing Your Brand into the Future
Sorry to disappoint, but there’s no such thing as a future-proof brand design. It’ll never be something you can set and forget. But why would you want that anyway? Your company, your audience and the landscape constantly change and evolve, so fluidity to evolve your brand is natural. The good news is, there are a few ways you can set yourself up for success when you’re creating the look and feel of your brand.
We know a brand isn't a logo, a tagline, or a symbol. A brand is more than that. Once you've uncovered who you are as a brand, only then can you establish what that looks like to your audience. Follow these guidelines when you reach the "Create" stage of the branding process:
1. Steer clear of trendy styles and techniques
It’s really tempting to look outward for inspiration for your logo and branding elements. There are a lot of talented designers out there churning out incredible work all the time. It’d be really easy to pull the shiny gradients from that logo you saw on the way to work, the typography from the sleek brochure on your desk and the rustic illustrative style from the coffee shop you stopped at. You might even Frankenstein your way to something pretty spiffy in the end. The only problem is, it’s a hollow victory. It may look good for now, but in 10 years where does it go? Do you just update it according to the newest shiny thing you saw on the way to work? That’s not a brand you can own and certainly not a brand people will care about. That’s why you won’t find me giving any design advice in this blog. To create a brand, you have to take a deep look inward and I can’t tell you what you’ll find.
2. Start with what you know
Ignore the noise outside your walls and take a close look at what makes your brand...yours. Anything and everything from your core value proposition to your culture. You’re decoding your company’s DNA and that’s no simple task. Everything about your brand comes from this knowledge, so now is not the time to get impatient. At VI, we call this process the "Discovery" stage of branding. Before you've started the creative process, hopefully your team has taken a deep dive into this research. Once you have a clear understanding of all angles of your brand, only then can you start getting creative
3. Think big
Creating an entire suite of brand elements is a huge undertaking, so you have to tackle it in small increments. It’s fairly easy to get lost in the weeds. Being a fixed point, logos are naturally good place to start. Then you're able to build a larger system around them.
VI's Brand Dig process becomes our North Star for every visual piece of branding established for clients. The output of information a designer receives from this process becomes invaluable in creating the best brands for our clients. At this point, you know what sets your business apart from your competitors, so you should also research their competitor brands so you can set yourself apart with visuals and language. A funny thing happens when you start with your company’s unique DNA and intentionally steer away from what’s currently being done in the market — you end up with something entirely new. It doesn’t need to be earth-shattering, MoMA-worthy design. But it is something you can own and build upon.
4. Stay Adaptable
One of the most important qualities of your brand is its ability to expand and adapt into any environment. Do your brand style and voice match across TV all the way down to Facebook comment responses? Does your website feel familiar to someone that has only seen your ads? What about your vertical-sized Snapchat branding? A great brand means nothing unless it is implemented consistently across all channels and tactics. You want to generate that brand awareness across each tactic. So while you’re creating your brand, allow room to grow and adapt to the changing landscape.
A good rule of thumb? Simplify, simplify, simplify. Nobody can predict the future, but if you start with a solid but flexible brand built upon your current brand position, you can handle anything that comes your way.
Read more about establishing your brand voice in this blog.