Golden Rules of Graphic Design for Your Brand
We all know that graphic design is important for a brand, but design is more than just a brand image that matches your products. It’s useful to get some solid basics of design under your belt, so we’ve compiled a few golden rules to help guide you as you create or develop your brand.
Much of this was inspired by Marie Rayma (graphic designer and creator of Humblebee & Me DIY videos and blog), who gave a great lecture at the Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetics Guild conference this past year. Our design team also helped us out!
Where and How You’ll Use Graphic Design for Your Brand
Graphic design will play a big part of your brand starting with your logo, labels, packaging, website, business and other cards, signage, and all other marketing collateral. But to create impactful design it’s important to remember that design for a brand is not simply art.
Design is creative communication and problem solving. Art is creative, but not necessarily communicative or something that aids problem solving. With design you are communicating a few specific things, and every choice should reflect the goals you’ve laid out for your brand.
A Few Golden Rules of Graphic Design for Your Brand:
- Be Consistent.
- Use Contrast.
- Keep it Simple.
Ways to be Consistent
Consistency is one of the strongest concepts needed to create a brand. If every visual aspect of your presentation changes between items (like packaging versus website), how is anyone supposed to know they are the same brand? You want people to quickly recognize your brand, and this helps build brand loyalty and repeat customers. (More on that here).
Choose 1-3 typefaces to use across the brand. Choose one main typeface and up to two secondary typefaces to use in other locations. For example, you may have an iconic and striking typeface for your main name/logo, but that may be hard to read. In which case a secondary typeface is appropriate for blocks of text. Just be sure to remember to limit yourself to build coherency.
Choose a few colors to use. You’ll notice that at Essential we rely on a few specific greens as our primary colors, and these are repeated across the website and on marketing materials. You’ll likely need to choose specific values of colors to remove confusion between color naming systems. Hexadecimal colors are preferred—these are web/computer-based colors (so they’re easier to send and use digitally) that come with a 6-character code of letters and/or numbers. For example #9C15E6 is a nice deep lavender/purple (depending on your monitor).
It’s acceptable to choose a primary palette with 2-4 colors, and perhaps a secondary set that is seasonal or for a different part of your brand (such as a premium line).
Define an imagery style and ensure it’s something you can consistently produce, either on your own or with a professional. For example if you hire an artist for illustrations you’ll need to retain them for future designs.
Contrast in Brand Design
Contrast keeps images and text visually interesting, but also easier to digest and follow. For example, when you look at a full page of a newspaper it’s very clear where your eye is supposed to move and in what order. The biggest and most important info is larger and contrasts with its surroundings, and you want this same effect in your own branding materials.
Contrast keeps things engaging. Often a design simply “isn’t working” or is falling flat without you knowing why—try adding contrast in any way you can, either with color or heavier, darker (or lighter) lines.
Ensure the typefaces you choose have contrast, and consider using “heavy”, “bold”, or “light” versions of the font. Contrast in both literal and metaphorical ways has power, so make sure you create it in everything you do.
Simplicity as the Bedrock of Good Design
Why are you designing something? To convey a message.
What makes a message easy to understand? Simplicity. You want your customers, and potential customers, to understand what they’re looking at in an image, and why. It’s time to boil down what you really need in an image to make it convey your message, and of course, less is more!
Resist the urge to complicate things, and always ask “is this necessary? Does this help communicate my brand message and concept?” “Why am I including this particular aspect of an image?”
Always ask why you’re doing something, and if you get stuck, ask others what they think too. Now is the time to perfect your look before going into production.
We hope this has helped establish just a few of the golden rules of graphic design—please stay tuned for more in-depth pointers, tools, and tips to help you successfully design and market your brand. Please comment below with any suggestions or questions to share with fellow readers!