Should your company logo be bright and bold, or muted and sophisticated? Should store signage be written in a sans serif font or a more fun “display” typeface? Running a business on a daily basis is a feat, but so is defining your business in the first place. And that’s where branding comes in. Branding can make all the difference between a customer choosing to do business with you or your more engaging competitor, which is why Atlanta Market brought in Kaila Piepkow, founder of Dox Design, to break down the basics.
“At the baseline, your brand is how you connect with your customers,” Piepkow said at the start of her seminar, adding that “you really do judge a book by its cover,” which is why having a good visual brand is important.
Throughout the seminar, Piepkow stressed the importance of determining your businesses “vibe,” and then bringing it to fruition through a few key components. “Your brand is your legacy,” she said. “It is who you are remembered as when you leave the room … you need to ‘wow’ [your customers.]”
To do that, Piepkow recommended that companies get started with a simplified branding process and always make choices with “purpose and consistency.”
First, determine your audience and your tone. Describe your ideal audience and then write down the words you use to describe the “vibe” you want them to feel. “Remember…you don’t want to be everything to everyone,” she said. “When you have a deep understanding of your ideal customer, you’re able to turn one-time buyers into loyal customers for life.”
Then, pick your company colors “with purpose.” Piepkow recommended that business owners start with a five-color palette; two of the colors should be considered the main brand colors (with one of them ideally coming from the logo) and the other three should be supporting, accent colors.
Next, brand owners should pick two fonts: a main/headline font and a signage/body copy font. Typically a serif typeface reflects professionalism and classicism; sans serif typically looks more modern; display fonts look more “bubbly” with a touch more personality; and script looks upscale and sophisticated. “Usually the headline font is script or display, while body fonts are serif or sans serif since they’re more legible,” she said. Neither font should be the same font as the logo, she added.
The “secret sauce” is creating brand elements, like patterns, illustrations, photos, textures and icons that use your company colors and help create the brand vibe. Companies can use these elements on their website, mailers, signage, in-store shopping bags and custom shipping boxes to create a unique, special experience for customers.
During the Q&A portion, Piepkow gave one final piece of advice: photos matter! When choosing imagery for your company signage or website, remember that they should reflect the brand, too. Your photos can look dark and moody, or bright and airy, or always feature the outdoors — there are so many ways that photography can reinforce your brand’s vibe.