This is the most complete guide to brand strategy online with a heavy emphasis on logo design.
So if you want to:
- Create a brand that separates you from your competition
- See examples of brands that got it right (as well as got it wrong)
- Get access to proven brand strategies with regard to logo creation
- Learn about a secret weapon for constructing an insanely professional logo as well as brand guidelines for an unbelievable low cost
Then you’ll love the detailed techniques in today’s guide.
Before we dive in, let me ask you 3 quick questions:
- Why can Starbucks sell a cup of coffee for a 600% markup? Branding.
- Why can Apple sell a monitor for a 450% markup? Branding.
- Why can Supreme sell a brick for $1000? Branding.
Defining a Brand Strategy
“Brand names mean something, Nicky. Consumers rely on them to know what they’re getting. They know the company isn’t going to try to fool them with an inferior product. They buy a Ford, they know they’re gonna get a Ford. Not a f***in’ Datsun.”
“Blue Magic that’s a brand name; Like Pepsi, that’s a brand name. I stand behind it, I guarantee it. They know that even if they don’t know me any more than they know the chairman of General Mills.”
-Frank Lucas, in the movie American Gangster
Branding strategy development receives thousands of Google searches each month. And branding strategy gets tens of thousands of monthly searches.
So apparently a lot of people are attempting to figure out branding strategy processes for either themselves or their businesses.
Defining a brand strategy in the most simple terms can be boiled down to how you want your brand to be perceived. The optimal word here is “perceived.”
Too often people make the mistake of attempting to create a brand that has little to no perceived value.
How to Develop a Brand Strategy
Step one should always be research. And not the type of research many people only do in their mind. This research must be documented.
The best and most effective way to do this is to open a new Google doc and type the headline: Brand Strategy Research.
Now open a separate tab in your browser of choice and start Googling companies you admire and would like to develop your brand after.
If you currently have a brand, this step is no different and it’s highly likely you skipped this crucial step when you began promoting your business (in fact, I’d bet the Mac I’m typing these words to you on 95% of the people reading this did).
Brand Analysis Examples
To discover what brand strategies companies you admire are using, look closely at their message. Not necessarily the words. “A picture is worth a thousand words.”
A good place to start is to closely examine their logo. In order to give you an example of what works and how we can learn from big brands that stand out, let me share one of the greatest brands of all time…
Did you know Apple had made such a dramatic transition from where they began?
Did you know Apple’s logo was not always an apple?
Did you know how much of a massive transformation Apple’s logo has undergone over the years?
Brand Strategy Transition
The example above should give you hope? Why? Because if your brand is not where you want it to be – don’t worry too much about it.
Where Apple began and where they are now is night and day different.
Consequently, where you are now and where you have the potential to be in the future should inspire you.
Let me share a more personal example with you about a dramatic brand transition…
My brand in 2013 was hideous. I can’t even find the horrible logo (if you can even call it that) I used to use.
Today it’s simple.
It consists of only one color (like Apple’s current logo).
The 3rd largest company in the world has also made a dramatic logo/brand evolution. Take a look at what Amazon’s logo looked like in 1994.
Now take a look at Amazon’s present logo…
Another night and day difference.
These massive transformations should give you hope for your current logo as well as your brand.
No one (or rather very few) gets it right at the beginning. Most evolve and improve over time.
Branding Strategy Steps
We already discussed the initial step to brand strategy is opening a Google document and taking screenshots as well as the URLs of brands you admire.
Step number two should be to begin selecting the colors or color that accurately define your brand.
Colors are crucial to constructing a successful brand and logo, so I want to take a deep-dive into some of the main colors I generally see people use, as well as give you examples of brands that use these colors in their logos.
In my research Color Wheel Pro provided some excellent guidance with regard to how colors make people feel:
White represents goodness, purity, and sacredness. This is why wedding dresses are white to represent the entrance of unity from a pure stand point.
Black has gone through many changes in meaning throughout history. However, today the color black has made its statement in the fashion world and with anything of high class. This color is associated with modernism, minimalism, and high-fashion. It also represents death, evil, and mystery.
Grey can be paired with almost any color and is associated with sophistication. This color is seen a lot in interior design.
Purple is often associated with royalty. It represents ambition, wisdom, dignity, creativity, mystery, magic, power, and nobility.
Blue is among the most popular colors amongst men and women. Blue is often associated with trustworthiness, professionalism, intelligence, wisdom and used often in the financial services industry.
Yellow is the most visible color from a distance and has many different meanings. The associations yellow has are joy, happiness, caution, and even cowardice. It’s typically seen in sunshine and sunflowers.
Green represents money, greed, wealth, and prestige. On the other hand, green represents nature, earth, growth, and renewal.
Red, the color of blood and hearts is associated with war, strength, passion, desire, love, danger, and even sex.
Orange is typically used as a secondary color, but done right can be used as a primary color. This color is associated with youthfulness, freshness, and optimism. This color has tones of Red and Yellow and encourages social interaction. This color is also associated with health and activity.
Once you begin to document logos/brands you admire – after you select the color (or colors) of your brand, the next thing I suggest you do is pick out fonts.
The fonts you select are key.
A lot of people don’t realize there are so many possible combinations of fonts that exist. And they mindlessly select fonts that don’t represent their brand.
Personally, I really got this wrong when I was initially creating my brand. I had no clue what a profound effect fonts have on the aesthetics of your brand.
Fortunately, I eventually really excelled in this area. However, I only did so because of the insane amount of time I spent researching fonts.
Take a look at some of the logos above that have fonts in them.
What do you see?
Look at Purple’s (the mattress company) logo above. Isn’t that a beautiful font? I think it is.
What about Ford motors company? The font they use is very elegant.
Fonts say a lot about a company and what they represent. Do not select fonts that do not represent your brand in a professional manner.
Brand Strategy Mistakes
When you take the time to get your brand strategy right in the beginning, it will save you a lot of time over the long haul.
My team and I have spent so much time (and money) going back through all of my content and web pages attempting to keep my brand consistent. Years later, this is still a work in progress.
I’m not saying you will not make adjustments to your brand and logo as you or your company grows. But it’s worth the additional effort to try to get this as close to perfect sooner rather than later.
Let’s look at one last example before I wrap this up…
FedEx is an amazing logo because it means something to the people who are a part of the company.
Most people notice the arrow pointing to the right inside of the E and lower case x. But what many people miss is the “measuring spoon” that can be found at the bottom of the lower case e.
Fred Smith, the founder of FedEx specifically had his logo designed with the dual messages created inside of the letters.
A mistake many business owners make is they develop a logo that means something to them instead of their logo having an impact on their customers and employees.
When you’re constructing your brand as well as your logo, ensure it means something to the people who will be supporting it.
Try to think of your raving fans. Would they love to display your logo on their: computers, bumpers, hats, t-shirts (even their body)…
Okay, I certainly agree that’s taking it a bit far with this gentlemen’s admiration of ClickFunnels.
For my brand, everyone who works with me or for me, understands the mindset I have when it comes to design. This mindset encompasses these 2 quotes beautifully:
“Simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication.” ~Leonardo da Vinci
“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery
I love to keep things as simple as possible. Because long ago I learned complexity is the enemy of execution.
It’s mind-bending when you think about how much effort goes into brand design and brand strategy.
However, I want to give you one of the greatest tips of all-time when it comes to creating your own brand.
This is your reward for reading all the way to the end (and sharing this content if you feel so inclined)…
Pro Tip: 99 Designs is without question one of my secret weapons when it comes to design.
I remember for my first company I paid more than $15,000 for my logo. With 99 Designs you can get killer logos for less than $500.
I use 99 Designs for my book covers, logos and many, many other amazing designs I’ve showcased.
When you run a contest for your brand on 99 Designs you literally get hundreds and hundreds of incredible logos from expert designers all around the world.
This is certainly an insane hack for creating a professional, and clean brand and logo.
Always remember: You only get one chance to make a first impression.
And with today’s consumer researching you and your brand online – your logo and the way you display your brand could easily be the difference between you flourishing or floundering.