Designing a human-centered brand
In the previous posts in the series we’ve been outlining the process we use at Carimus to design brands for companies of all types and sizes – if you haven’t read them, check it out:
The Branding Process: Intro – Winning Hearts and Minds
The Branding Process: Step 1 – Definition & Strategy
The Branding Process: Step 2 – Identity & Modernization
Throughout the branding process, your company brand has come into focus and you’ve decided what will become the personification of your company for the years to come… and now, this is where the rubber meets the road – building the frameworks for how your brand extends to all the experiences people will have with your company.
The execution step is about setting in stone the foundational pieces of your new brand to serve as the basis of future brand materials, campaigns, events, software, experiences, etc.
The Brand Guide
The brand guide is the instruction manual and measuring stick for all things branding. This is the document that holds the answers to all the questions around how your brand is executed throughout channels and mediums.
A brand guide should be widely distributed throughout your organization, so that all newly created materials can adhere to its rules and end up with the same look/feel to align with brand standards. In large organizations where multiple departments or vendors are all independently executing branded materials, the brand guide serves as a tool to ensure brand integrity across all communications.
At a minimum, a typical brand guide should include:
- Logo and alternative logo formats
- Relative Spacing, sizing, and appropriate minimum dimensions
- Acceptable usage and variations
- Unacceptable misusage
- Colors and approximate color distribution
- Typography and suggested type structure
- Any brand elements unique to your brand, such as patterns or graphical elements
A more comprehensive brand guide may also include:
- Company values
- Taglines, hashtags, and other brand extensions
- Sub-brand library or template for creating sub-brands
- Product branding strategy and guidelines
- Design guidance for collateral items such as business cards or letterhead
- Email signature
- Apparel guidelines
- Photography guidelines
- Contact information for appropriate brand contacts
Bringing your brand to life through all its variations is how your brand story unfolds. Your brand collateral items are the foundational pieces of your brand in the most prominent and frequently used channels/mediums. Your execution requires excellence across all experiences, including your technology applications, website, print collateral, social channels and more. A few common deliverables that form the foundation of how your brand will come to life are:
- Environment (storefront or office)
- Print collateral, signage, packaging
- Website and online advertising
- Content publishing
- Sales and customer service
- Internal (with employees)
- Technology applications
- Social Media
A coordinated effort should accompany release of new brand collateral items to create an effective brand launch.
If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?
Every company brand launch will look different and encompass the unique expression of how you connect with your audience, but every brand launch should strive to make an excellent first impression and create a high-profile communication opportunity.
When thinking through how a brand launch looks in your organization, think about how your different stakeholder groups – Employees, Customers, Partners – will experience your brand across multiple channels.
An employee-focused launch strategy may encompass internal company swag/merch, an email announcement from the CEO, desktop backgrounds, product UI updates, or an all-hands meeting to discuss the upcoming brand launch activities. This is an opportunity to rally your workforce, gain alignment with your new brand vision, and give your employees the tools they need to take the brand experience into all their interactions.
Your brand launch is an opportunity to highlight your differentiation in the marketplace and create customer loyalty. Remind customers why they do business with you and how you’re moving your company’s brand forward to better serve them now and into the future. Communication to customers may include email outreach, social media campaigns, press releases, and ad campaigns.
Energize your investors, vendors, and partners with a fresh take on your company brand and remind them why it makes sense to partner with your company. This high-profile communication opportunity lets your partners know that your business is thriving, there is more opportunity ahead, and you’re positioning yourself to capture it. Distribution of the refreshed brand vision may include email outreach, webinars or conference calls, and special mailings (swag boxes).
Creating or modernizing a human-centered brand that connects with real people is a powerful tool to cut through clutter, build community, and engage hearts and minds.
Successful execution means developing a clear strategy, ideating and iterating to achieve focus, solidifying your brand into a set of guidelines, foundational brand deliverables, and ongoing brand experiences.
Hopefully our series on branding has been helpful to you as you’re considering building a human-centered brand from scratch, modernizing a brand, or informing yourself on a thorough process for how to go about such a project.
Carimus would love to help you execute your next branding project, contact us to get the conversation started.