We all know that it’s important to make a good impression visually. So with that in mind, here are a few basics you can check, to make sure you are putting your best foot forward. Each area could be an article (or three) on its own, so I will give you the basics to build your foundation on.
1. Logo And Tag Line
Every business has a logo – even the ones who think they don’t. From a highly researched design to simply your name in a certain font, no matter what your logo (and tag line if you have one), CONSISTENCY, CONSISTENCY, CONSISTENCY IS A MUST. This key point applies to all the other areas covered in this article.
Ensure your logo is presented in a consistent and brand-relative manner – Limit variations and ensure no previous logo versions are used.
2. Business Cards
Now, not everyone has a need for business cards – but, if any staff member has physical contact with potential/current customers or suppliers, then business cards are a must. Ensure all details presented are current and the quality of the card stock, printing and finish, matches your brand image. Budget permitting, use both sides of your cards – it is a great opportunity to get more of your brand values out there while creating a greater sense of professionalism and quality.
3. Business Stationery
Letterhead, compliments slips, envelopes – when you use them, make them count. Follow the business card method with letterhead and compliment slips. The double sided option gives a huge boost to your brand power (much more than with business cards). Don’t have the budget for branded envelopes? Look at plain, coloured options. You may be able to find bulk envelopes to match your brand image for a fraction of the price of printing them.
An often overlooked part of your visual identity. With the volume of email contact in today’s marketplaces, it is important that you don’t slip up here – it is your electronic letterhead after all. Everyone in the company should use a branded email address (@yourdomain.etc), a branded email signature including logo and tag line, plus approved colours and fonts in the email content – matching your website styles.
Does your site match the rest of your brand image? Many websites are designed to look ‘fresh’ or ‘flash’ and people forget to integrate it with the rest of their brand image. Compare your site with your cards, stationery, marketing materials, signage – every other area on this list. It there are discrepancies (logo on light blue everywhere and dark blue on website because it fitted the design better) fix them, either on the site or the other items.
6. Social Media
There are a number of visual identity opportunities with social media. Review all sites that you use and make sure you’ve incoropated your logo (checking it’s displayed properly in cropped avatar images), corporate colours and fonts everywhere it is an option to have them. Also ensure that all imagery posted on said sites are in line with your brand image – do they give the right message and would they be acceptable for other marketing communications?
Not every business has branded clothing but every business has a ‘brand uniform’, whether that be a three-piece suit or red overalls. Do you have uniform standards in place? If you’re not supplying a uniform then you only have so much say in what your staff wear – you can always recommend certain colours that match your brand. Also, mechanics’ overalls with oil stains etc is fine, even expected, but worn out areas, rips and general lack of maintenance aren’t.
The same reasoning applies as with uniforms. If you supply the vehicles, then strict maintenance is important and choose colours that compliment/match your brand image (a green car when your logo is orange on black probably isn’t the best option). If you don’t supply your staff vehicles, think about how they look to clients etc. Is it worth offering free car washes? Can you have them park out of view if they are in poor condition? Have you thought about magnetic signs for use during work hours, meaning you can have the image of ‘company vehicles’ without actually having to supply them.
Clean, well maintained – enough said. Well, almost. As well as making sure your logo and brand colours are well presented (even down to carpet and plant pots), your office presentation should be brand relative – if your brand is ‘Fun’ then your office should exude that; if it’s ‘Hi-Tech’ then a retro 50’s-style building isn’t going to cut it.
10. Advertising Material
Your brochures, advertisements, web banners. Do they all gel with each other? Lay them all out on a table; does it look cohesive or a bit messy? Are you still using some older adverts that just need to be amended with the latest logo and brand styles? Take your best advertising communications and with a little ‘tweaking’ you can use them across all medias – this will exponentially increase the returns.
11. Internal And External Documents
Purchase-order forms, site reports, credit applications… These can trip many businesses up. Either they don’t include your branding (even using different fonts), or your logo is slapped in wherever there is room. All these forms contain important information, but this information can be arranged to fit however you need it to. So, design one or two templates and adhere all your documents to these.
And there you have it – 11 areas to get you on your way to a healthy visual identity.