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Business Branding Building Blocks for 2021

graphic design Nov 24, 2020

One of the biggest hurdles I see small business owners and entrepreneurs run into with their marketing, is not being prepared with their branding and design. 

A classic example is they may be half-way through a task (i.e. writing a blog post) and then realise they need to create a blog image. Only, they aren't sure what colours to use, they haven't got a suitable photograph and their logo isn't formatted correctly. Next thing you know, they have * wasted * hours prepping those key elements, just so they can finalise one blog image for one blog post! 

Don't worry, I've been there myself as well!

But thanks to the careful prepping of my business branding building blocks, I've found the whole marketing process has not only been completely streamlined (saving me so much time!) but the overall look of my marketing is far more consistent. 

So as you are looking ahead to 2021, here are five business branding building blocks you want to take the time to prepare.... 

 (Note: if you want to learn more about how to streamline your social media processes, be sure to check out this blog post as well!)

Fonts

Choosing your fonts can be one of the most daunting tasks! For me, I found the sheer choice so completely overwhelming, that narrowing it down to just two or three seemed impossible.

However, there are a few key considerations which can help make the selection process easier - 

Availability

Many online programs have pre-built fonts available for you to use (for example, Canva or Wordpress). Some allow you upload your own fonts at no extra cost while others require you to upgrade in order to do so. Others may not allow your fonts to be uploaded. This is an important consideration, as you want to be able to use your brand fonts across everything your do - from your website to your business cards.

One way to ensure the availability of your fonts is to use Google Fonts. These are freely available for commercial use, and are pre-built into the majority of online programs. 

Readability

Some fonts are beautiful, but they are not suitable for more than one or two words. This is particularly true for 'handwriting' style fonts. So when choosing your fonts, make sure you consider the way in which you'll be using them. Will they be used as page headers? Keywords on a poster? Or something more substantial like a testimonial quote or paragraph? Will the font be large or small on the page?

Do some practice runs - by this I mean select a handful of fonts you like and create some example marketing content to get a feel for how readable the fonts will be.

Visit Font Pair for some font inspiration.

Colours

Hex Codes

On a computer, each colour has its own unique 6-digit hex code. This tells the computer exactly which colour to display. 

To ensure that you are using the same colours for everything (no matter what program you're using or if it's printed or on web), be sure to take note of your hex codes.

Once noted, keep them somewhere safe (i.e. in your style guide), so that when you are doing design work on a program, whether it be Adobe InDesign, Canva or Spark, you can quickly type in the hex code and bring up your colour. If you're working with graphic designers, you'll want to be able to pass your hex codes over to them so that everything they create is also in keeping with your branding.

How do I find my hex code? I hear you ask. If you're using Adobe Photoshop the eyedropper tool will assist you. Most other programs will also make the hex code visible when you are selecting colour.

You can also visit websites such as Color-Hex to browse for colours.

 

Images

There are two categories of images I'd like you to consider - 

  • Your own (i.e. professional quality photographs of your product / service)
  • Stock photos (i.e. someone else has taken generic photographs you can use)

There is a time a place for both. Obviously, you need photos of what you're selling! It is worth investing the time (and money) to ensure you have a bank of high quality photographs of yourself (you'll need headshots for everything from LinkedIn profile pictures to the "About Me" section of your lead magnet), as well as your product or your service in action. 

Take the time to name your photographs clearly, so you can find them when you need. Also, ensure you have high resolution versions (for printing) and small resolution versions (for uploading to website and online).

Stock photos are great for when you're creating content such as blog posts or lead magnets (basically any time you aren't directly selling what you do but rather talking or adding value to a topic in your industry).

Be sure to check the license terms for the images, to make sure you're allowed to use them for commercial purposes. In some cases, you need to credit the photographer and/or pay a license fee. Sites like Pixabay and Pexels offer a great range of professional quality stock images which are free for commercial use. 

Consider how your photos and the stock photos will work side-by-side. Where possible, select stock photos that compliment your style and colour scheme. 

To save time, search and download a series of stock photographs and save them in a folder for easy access. That way, when you're in the middle of something like a blog post you have some suitable images ready to go! 

 

Shapes

Shapes have become super 'trendy' in the past year or so, and I don't see them going away any time soon. They add an extra level of interest to designs and can go a long way in capturing a new audience's attention. 

Decide which shapes are right for your business. Will you make use of arrows ... or circles... or geometric squiggles?! Select shapes which reflect your tone, values and industry.

Take the time to get your shapes saved in your business brand colours and - most importantly! - saved as .png files with transparent backgrounds. This will make your life SO much easier, as it means you can quickly drop the shapes into any document or design without them bringing a white rectangular background with them. 

Logo

I'm not going to spend too much time talking about the logo design itself, rather I want to remind you of the different file formats you need to consider having  your logo saved as -

  • Full colour version
  • Black & white version
  • Transparent background version (.png format)
  • Logo with/without your name

By having your logo saved in these different formats (named clearly and saved all together!) you will save yourself so much time throughout the year. Because no matter what design, document or platform you are working on it will mean you have access to the most common formats of your logo you will need. 

 

So, you've got your business branding building blocks - what next? Make sure that you Download my Graphic Design Essentials Checklist and make sure you have all the different designs and documents you'll need ready for 2021.

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