In this episode of the Small Business Show we invited graphic designer and branding expert Amy Greenwald from Blue Raspberry Design, LLC to give us an overview and importance of a branding style guide. Whether you are a solo entrepreneur or any size business owner, this is one that you do not want to miss.

What is a branding?

A Beginner’s Guide to Branding Your Small Business simply put, branding is the “Distinctive wording or design used to identify a particular business, person or idea“. Sometimes you may hear people use the word logo and branding interchangeably, but they are not the same thing. A logo is part of the branding but not all of it. The branding of a company can include different versions of logo, supplementary design elements, color palette, font styles and copy. We will be going over some of them in details below.

The Logo

A Beginner's Guide to Branding Your Small Business

A Logo is a symbol and represents the company. Amy pointed out that a logo is not necessarily what the owner likes, but rather it should resonate with the market the company it is in. When she designs a logo, there is usually a primary logo and secondary logo or stacked/long versions to fit different space requirements. All versions of the logo are related and consist of the same branding elements. An icon version works as a button on social media. A submark works well as additional graphic elements on tote bag designs, business cards or marketing materials. Promotional products come in different sizes and forms, so having promotional products logo variations will ensure the same message is conveyed.

Best Practices and Usage

A Beginner's Guide to Branding Your Small Business 1

This section of the branding guide indicates how the logo can be used. The background color the logo is on to should have the best contrast and visual effect. It also sometimes define the minimum size the logo should be in order to be legible. Spacing, proximity to other text/images can also be included. Having best practices in the style book will make sure the logo is always presented in the same exact way no matter what the medium is.

Color Palette

A Beginner's Guide to Branding Your Small Business

Every branding guide will have a set of colors chosen that best complement the logo. There is usually a primary color where the main heading or graphic elements is used, and a few secondary colors as well. The result is a harmonious set of colors and it allows customers to see those same colors and relate to the company right away.

Font Style

A Beginner's Guide to Branding Your Small Business

Whether it is on print or digital, a set of fonts are chosen and usages defined in the branding guide. Sometimes the fonts for digital files are slightly different for print. According to Amy, the most important thing to remember about font is that it is not necessary the fanciest or the one that you like the most, but rather it should be legible and uplift the brand and not distract. Font used for heading should be viewed at a distance and still be legible, so when it is printed on whether it is a promotional pen, mug or banner it is easy to read and esthetically pleasing.

File Types and Output

A properly branding package will include various file formats for the company to use in different applications. For example, PNG file for web and social media, AI, EPS for print. Amy recommends business owners that even though they are not able to open some of the file formats, save all the files. Knowledgeable printers or web/social media designers would know the best version to use for the specific application.

How can a graphic designer enhance promotional products printing?

A skilled graphic designer can interpret your branding guide and knows exactly how to work the logo in various products with the most compatible color combinations. He/She speaks the same language with the printer and will understand the requirements in order to have the best quality print possible.

Final Words

From Amy’s and our experience, there are so many times when companies do not have the correct file format and the printed materials or promotional products end up being the wrong color, or simply wrong version! The upfront cost of a branding guide will pay for itself in the long run with the money and time saved, as you will not be reinventing the wheel every time you need something printed.

Every business needs a branding guide – other than esthetics, it’s about brand recognition. Especially in social media, when people see your post they don’t need to look at your name and know it’s your company. Having a consistent brand presence increases brand loyalty, value and ultimately sales. Whether you are photographer, construction company or software developer, it is as important as a business or marketing plan, it is a roadmap to your identity.

Images courtesy Amy Greenwald, Blue Raspberry Design, LLC