You know what your brand stands for. But how do you share this identity with your audience?
The answer is brand design.
Brand design is the process of creating a unique visual identity for your company — a signature look and feel that stands out among your competitors. Your brand’s design should paint a clear picture of your company through colors, fonts, and illustrations and align with your mission and values.
Whether you’re brand-new to design or a seasoned veteran, developing a brand design from scratch is a challenge. The good news? With the right skill set, knowledge, creativity, and a little patience, you’ll be well on your way to designing a memorable and impactful brand.
What is brand design?
Brand design is a visual representation of a company’s identity. This brand identity includes a company’s objectives, values, and — of course — its product.
Your brand design is the embodiment of your brand’s positionality, personality, and flair. From the fonts you use to the colors in your advertisements, every design element must align with and accentuate the company’s mission.
Seamlessly translating a company’s identity into visuals might sound near impossible, but with the right toolkit you can say a lot about your brand without words. When brand design is executed successfully, the results are marketing touchpoints — such as a website, social media presence, and traditional advertising — that viewers instantly recognize as belonging to your brand.
What are the different elements of brand design?
Every successful company, no matter the industry, is built on a foundation of strong branding. These powerful design elements are must-haves for a successful brand.
A brand logo is a meaningful artwork or design that conveys your company’s essence to those looking at it. Aside from the name, the logo is often the most identifiable element of a brand. It appears everywhere, including your website, social media platforms, and advertisements.
A logo design should have the right aesthetic and fit your brand. For example, a sustainable coffee brand might avoid bright, neon colors and sharp edges and instead opt for organic shapes and earthy tones, such as brown and olive, which evoke the brand’s commitment to the environment.
If your brand doesn’t have a logo yet, consider using one of these useful design tools as a jumping-off point.
Typography is the art of creating and arranging text that is both readable and visually appealing. Fonts, of which there are hundreds of thousands, are an essential aspect of typography and a design tool that must be wielded with precision.
Every font has design elements that contribute to a different aesthetic. As a result, different fonts evoke distinctive personalities. For example, script-style fonts add a homemade, personal feel to a brand, while serifs appear crisp and professional. The good news is diverse fonts are accessible and often free, allowing you to mix and match before finding the right combination for your brand.
Colors play a crucial role in brand design. Like fonts, each color evokes different feelings and impressions. For example, green symbolizes growth, health, and tranquility and may inspire feelings of calmness or thoughts about nature.
It’s important to consider how colors appeal to your target audience. Baby boomers prefer neutrals and trustworthy classics, while Gen X gravitates toward basics with organic touches. Tailor your palette to the people you’re looking to connect with.
You can choose your brand’s colors based on your preferences, but we recommend learning color theory before finalizing your brand’s palette. That way, you can feel confident you’ve made an informed and effective choice.
Iconography in design is, as the name implies, the art of creating icons. Iconography uses simple graphic designs to convey complicated information. It condenses a complex concept and reduces it to a format that everyone can understand.
For example, a shopping cart icon on an ecommerce website doesn’t need the words “shopping cart” next to it. The icon itself is enough to let a customer know what it represents — a link to the place to view items before checkout.
You can create icons unique to your brand — just be sure they’re easy to understand. Consider how icons will appear on your website and social media and how they will add to the brand aesthetic. A news publication with a minimalist design might use an envelope-shaped icon made of simple linework to link to their newsletter, while a Y2K jewelry company might use a playful, full-color illustration for the same purpose.
Illustrations can be a graphic interpretation of text, a process, a message, or a concept. These design elements add individuality, context, and uniqueness to your brand.
Having a consistent illustration style that complements your brand goes a long way toward developing its identity and creating cohesive design. As with icons, be thoughtful about how the style of your illustrations conveys your brand. For instance, abstracted but human shapes might work well for a fashion blog but would appear unprofessional on a medical site.
How to design a brand the right way
Once you have all the design elements ready to go, it’s time to combine them. Follow this step-by-step guide to build your brand design from the ground up.
1. Research the audience and market
When creating a brand design, one of the most crucial steps is understanding your target audience. Demographics have diverse wants and needs. Your brand likely won’t appeal the same way to a college student as it does to a retired adult.
Younger audiences might prefer bolder designs with vibrant colors, while older adults are used to straightforward messaging. And minimalist designs with flatter logos and sans serif fonts are popular in most markets, but they might not work for every brand. Research the market and observe the design styles your competitors follow.
You can also observe what your competitors are missing. For example, if your company sells high-end dog toys, look at the branding from companies selling in the same space. Maybe none of your competitors have a design that would catch Gen Z dog parents’ eyes — now you know where to center your branding so you can reach your audience. Use brand design to fill gaps in the market and help your business stand out.
2. Create a mission statement
Your mission statement is a short paragraph that explains why your brand exists, what its overall purpose is, and the goal of its operations. This should act as the core philosophy of your brand, its messaging, and its design.
Let’s explore a real-world example to better understand how mission statements connect to design. This is Google’s mission statement: “To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
With this in mind, Google’s branding is minimal, letting information take center stage. Its sans serif logo uses primary colors, and branded content has a clean white background. Google’s recognizable and consistent branding emphasizes usability, aligning with its mission.
Incorporate your mission into branding and style. People are drawn to brands that share their beliefs, values, and goals, so make yours stand out. Infuse your mission into your design and marketing, and traffic will follow.
To create a mission statement, brainstorm answers to the following questions:
- Why did you create this brand?
- What are you hoping to accomplish?
- How is your brand unique?
- Who are you looking to connect with?
- What are the values driving your brand?
3. Finalize a visual identity
Now it’s time to make choices. Use your market research and mission statement to establish a cohesive visual identity with logos, colors, font pairings, icons, and illustrations. As a jumping-off point, start with a logo design that captures your mission and appeals to your target audience. Then experiment with different color and font combinations.
Ask yourself questions throughout the process: Do the colors complement each other? Are there too many fonts? Are these designs evergreen, or will they go out of style in a year or two? Test out your branding by asking people in the brand’s target audience what the design elements make them feel and think about your brand to make sure the brand design resonates with potential customers.
Finalize your branding elements and create a guide that includes every last detail about your visual identity. Every detail matters, so pay attention to ensure you’re not compromising quality.
Level up your brand with a website
Successful branding requires a solid online presence — and the centerpiece of that presence is a website. A website serves as the face of your brand and a platform where you’ll convert potential customers.
Webflow can help you create a site from the ground up. Our no-code web development platform is a great resource for beginner and experienced designers alike, and our blog offers tips, tricks, and opportunities to learn from industry experts.