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All About Branding – 5 Steps to Success

Hello, everyone, and welcome back to a new blog post! Today we’re talking about branding yourself. No matter what business you’re in, it’s a good idea to have a brand; something that says, “Hey, look here! It’s me, and there’s no doubt about who I am.” This post is all about having an image. So, grab a hot drink, a snack, and a pen, and let’s get going.

Branding Step One – Your Logo/Icon/Identifier

Why is branding so important? Ask McDonald’s, Nike, or Coca~Cola. Those golden arches, the swoosh, and that pretty red color are instantly recognizable. No matter where you are, those are branding standards.

These companies have entire books on how their logo can be displayed, used, and colorized. If you take a peek inside the book, you’ll see the requirements of size, space around the logo, and color options. Here are a couple you should look at: UPS, McDonald’s, Twitter, and Facebook. You can look up any famous brand you may be curious about by typing the company name and the words brand standards into a Google search box.

CloudQ has one, and we circulate it internally. It defines the colors used in our logo, how it may be displayed, and what not to do with it. That’s our brand standard. It’s a simple document, and it goes a long way.

You should also have a brand standard. Your logo or headshot, used as an identifier, should have some sort of requirement when shown to the world by others or yourself. It’s helpful to have a standard when asking a designer to build something for you.

If you don’t have a logo or something akin, you may want to contact a designer or photographer and see what can be done about it. A good designer won’t just shove a logo at you. They’ll give you an identity. Once you have one, use it everywhere.

Branding Step Two – Color Scheme

You’re probably most familiar with RGB (that’s Red Green Blue). These colors are created with light. What you’re looking at on your monitor is not what you’ll see in print when using a CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black) printer. Why? Because these colors are created with ink.

It’s a long, drawn-out process so we’re not going into all that. What we are going to do is break it down and explain why you only want two colors plus black in any print job you send to a traditional printer. We’re also going to tell you a little about spot colors (PMS colors).

Now, your printer at home likely uses RGB (unless you’re using one with individual cartridges for each color). This means your colors will be close to what you see on your monitor (if it’s calibrated).

Big printing houses don’t use RGB printers. They do a print run and lay down each color individually with each run. So, if you have a three-color print job, that’s three runs through the press. It costs you money for each run of your print job through the printer. More colors = more runs = more money out of your pocket.

It may be okay if you’re only having fifty business cards printed, but what about when you have two thousand done? What if you want to have fliers or postcards printed? Now you’re talking a lot of money.

You see CloudQ’s color scheme everywhere on our website. It’s orange and blue. Everywhere you look, our brand is identified with these two colors.

Most companies have one PMS or spot color in their logo and nothing else but white (or the paper color it’s printed on – as is the case in the CloudQ logo). When you use white, you’re opening yourself up to a lot of color issues because paper comes in a lot of colors, and white is the absence of ink. A PMS color is often the only way to get that brilliant red, blue, or orange when printing.

Ever design something bright and have it come back from the printer looking dulled out? RGB to CMYK conversion does it every time. If you’re designing for print, you should be working in a CMYK color space always.

Home Depot is an orange color. Coca~Cola is a special PMS spot-color red (has a copyright, even). UPS-brown. You see where we’re going here, right? One color is sometimes all you need.

Sticking with these original guidelines, check out these identity packages one of our designers created:

The first uses only one color. Black could be added at a nominal cost. The second is two colors plus black. Yes, the leaves on the trees look like they’re three colors, but they’re just tints of the original color (a lighter version). By the way, black is CHEAP! You should see the brand standard book for the second identity package, it’s huge.

So, what should you take away from this? That your logo should be harmonious and encompass no more than two colors plus black. Ever. Period.

Branding Step Three – What Your Logo Conveys

Here are a few of the logos one of our designers designed and a few belonging to major corporations. Let’s take a look and see what they represent.

Anyone see the surveyor’s mark and matching font?

This one is pretty obvious, no? DNA design, again, repeated in the typography. Like a computer doctor.

Fictional company. Logo is to represent movement forward in new construction techniques and residential windmills. Go green! The blue is to represent the sky.

This one, our designer loves. Green to represent growth. Roots to represent stability. This community club has been around for six generations that keep branching off. There’s movement representing the wind on the ridge from left to right.

The INDIE Books Gone Wild logo. Strong type with the indie and the book embracing one another. That red color represents wildness and the black is for the stability and guarantee they offer with their services.

Now go take a look at McDonald’s. Those golden arches represent bent french fries. Bet you never thought of that, huh? Nike? The swoosh is representative of the wings on the god’s shoes. Pretty clever!

So, what does your logo say about you?

If you’re using an image as your identifier, think ahead to your business cards and printed materials. You can add a mark to an image and later use it as a standalone. Think about color, voice, and what you’re saying about yourself with your mark.

If you don’t have a mark, why? Is it because you don’t know how to make one or you don’t think you need one?

Branding Step Four – Naming for a Mark

Your name makes a difference, but when you’re thinking about your mark, you want something that’s going to stand out in the crowd. When thinking about your naming, consider how it might be possible to move your logo from one thing you do to another. If you’re an expert on something, consider using an image related to that expertise. Let’s take a look at Sandi Tuttle, from The Average Woman in a Superwoman World blog. Here’s her blog banner:

Her logo is an average female icon, used on many bathroom doors to indicate women, with a superwoman cape draped around her shoulders. It’s simple and effective. Her blog is about making average women the best they can be, inside and out. It’s fitting, huh?

This is a great example of branding! That logo appears on all her social media platforms and her products. No matter what facet she places herself in, she’ll always be the average superwoman.

It’s this type of branding and naming we should all be embracing. If we use these tools to their full potential, we’ll be instantly recognizable no matter where we show up.

Have you thought about your name and what a mark associated with that name could do for you?

Branding Step Five – Look and Feel

What is look and feel, anyway?

To put it simply, look and feel is the consistent look of your presence and the feeling a visitor gets when they come to your page or see your ads. If you saw an ad belonging to CloudQ somewhere, you’d know it was ours because of either the logo or the color scheme. This is what you should be striving for.

All our social media sites are consistent with the rest of our marketing. Yes, it matters.

We want people to know we do work in the cloud, period. Think about what you’re projecting with your colors and design. Is your site stodgy and boring? Are your colors saying what you want them to? There have been deep looks into what feelings colors incite.

Take a look at this:

Yes, click it and view it full size. Keep it if you like. But, above all else, remember it when deciding on your color scheme (or looking at mockups sent by a designer). If you notice, the colors in our logo are blue and orange. Now you know why.

The feeling your pages incite matters. People want to feel happy when they pay you a visit. Let them, help them, show them the way.

Now you know what look and feel is; make sure you’re using it for maximum impact.


Jo Michaels

Marketing Coordinator

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