How to create a CI for your brand
This is part 2 of a series on Corporate Identity. In part 1 we break down exactly what Corporate Identity is, what it includes and why it’s important to have one. If you haven’t already, we suggest you give that a read first. Take a look.
It can be daunting to think about creating a corporate identity for your brand. What do you do first, how do you present it, what should and shouldn’t be in it? We’re taking away the stress with this comprehensive 7 step guide on how to create a CI for your brand and know what to ask your design and web agency for.
Creating your CI requires deep consideration and reflection of your brand and where you want to go with your business. A good agency will help you on this path. Let’s get into it…
1. Know Your Brand
Your brand identity needs a solid foundation upon which you can build and add. This foundation is not the visual elements, those come later and will visually communicate the foundation you lay.
You need to really understand who you are as a business. You can start to explore this by asking yourself questions like;
- What do we do?
- Why do we do it?
- What is our personality?
- What do we care about?
- How do we talk about what we do?
- What is our vision and purpose?
- Where do we want to be in 5 years?
- Who is our target audience?
Spend time really thinking about these questions and recording your answers. Make sure you come away with a better understanding of your brand values, purpose, vision and mission. Also, have guidelines for your tone of voice, personality and messaging.
It’s important to establish these foundations before even thinking about the visual elements. Your visual identity should tell your brand story and won’t be successful if you don’t know what that story is first.
Must haves on your first few pages:
- Tone of voice
As well as guidelines on how to implement these.
2. Look at Your Current Identity
If you have already got a brand and realise through this process that existing components of your brand identity don’t fit anymore or that your business has evolved – make the changes now. It’s likely that when you started your business you didn’t go through all these steps and you’re now sitting with a sub-par brand identity and elements that don’t work together.
Be critical with your current brand identity. Identify areas that can be tweaked or recrafted to better align with your mission and vision.
3. Assess Your Competition
Your corporate identity should differentiate you from your competitors – you need to be unique. So, It’s important to know who your competition is and what they’re doing. What do their corporate identities look like? How are they similar to each other? And how can you make your visual identity stand out from theirs?
4. Choose a Visual Direction
When creating your visual elements, think about what you want to express through your visuals. How do you want your target audience to feel when they see your brand?
Try to have an overarching vision when designing your visual elements, they need to work together.
Design Your Logo
Your logo should capture the essence of your brand. It’s the part of you that people are going to see the most so it needs to be recognizable.
Guidelines to include for your logo:
- How the logo should interact with different designs
- The spacing required between your logo and other elements
- Variations in size and colour
- Logo in colour
- Logo in black and white
- Logo on different colour backgrounds
- Logo on photographs
- When and how to use the different variations
Choose Your Colour Palette
Colours can elicit strong emotions, so be intentional with your choices. Your colour palette should be flexible but not exhaustive.
1 main colour
2 primary colours
3-5 complementary colours
2 accent colours
Guidelines for your colour palette should include:
- Present each colour alongside its hex code.
- (A colour hex code is a hexadecimal way to represent a colour in RGB format by combining three values – the amounts of red, green and blue in a particular shade of colour.)
- You can find your hex codes here.
- Clearly label the hierarchy of your colours.
- Outline when to use each colour.
- Outline how the colours should interact with each other.
Choose Your Typography/ fonts
Your typography should of course compliment your logo design. Keep it simple by choosing 2-3 typefaces which can be respectively used for headings, sub-headings and body copy and in what applications. Be specific with the font names, variations and different sizes for different headings. You can display these using placeholder text or display them using the name of the font.
Guidelines for your typography should include:
- Different fonts for headings, sub headings and body copy
- Names of the fonts
- Weighting of fonts (how strong)
- Size of fonts and how and when this differs
- When each should be used
- Outline which colours these fonts should be in
5. Additional Design Elements
Not every brand will need this section, however it would be beneficial to all for future projects. You might want to experiment with different types of content down the line so having guidelines for these elements would be great.
You may want to set guidelines for photography, illustration and iconography. So that if at some point these mediums are used, you know that they fit into your Corporate Identity and will work with your brand image instead of against it.
Include Do’s and Don’ts for these. For example
Do use black and white photography, Do not use over-exposed images.
Do use simple, neat line illustrations, do not use sketchy, untidy illustrations.
For photography you could include guidelines such for:
lighting, editing, shoot backgrounds, what type of photos can be used or are there only approved ones that should be used. It’s important to remember that photography has its place for both print and online. Size plays a big part.
For illustration guidelines such for style, texture and colour. Any infographics or approved illustrations should have their own set of guidelines so they aren’t confused with the photography.
6. Build Your Brand Guidelines
This may be the most important part of your Corporate Identity. There is no use in having beautiful design, inspiring values and mission statements and not having accurate and detailed guidelines on how and when to use your elements. Your Corporate Identity ensures that all of your elements are used correctly and in the best way for your brand. This also eases communication with your agency for future projects.
Include clear guidelines for every part of your CI, and include examples where you can. Include as much information as possible so that if someone outside of the company, such as your agency, is designing for you they know exactly what you want and how to implement it. The guidelines that we have suggested are a great start but you can always get more specific.
7. Put it all together
Now that you’ve created and curated all of your elements you can put them together in a Corporate Identity document. Your document should be inclusive of everything we’ve mentioned. Design your CI document according to your own guidelines.
You can now use your Corporate Identity document for the basis of all of your projects; when you work with a new designer or any agency, as an introduction to your company for new employees. It’s also a great place to return to if you’re not sure whether or not something ‘fits’ your brand.