21 Jan Brand Refinement – Colours, Fonts and Logo
So you’ve got a brand, or at least you’ve got the start of a brand, perhaps you have a logo and some key colours you’re using. But it’s not feeling like you, it needs some work but going back to the drawing board now seems a tad extreme – you’re not wanting a complete rebrand or overhaul without a strong and viable reason for doing so.
Refinement is what you need and you can achieve it by breaking things down and looking at the 5 main brand design elements (called ‘visual language’ by many designers).
- Logo design
- Graphic element
- Colour palate (primary and secondary)
- Font palate
- Photography style
If a picture can paint a thousand words then these 5 elements are the visual language forming the thousand words that describe your brand.
The 5 brand design elements should work in harmony with each other and preferably be used consistently over time to establish the look and feel of your brand. If any one or more of these elements is not in harmony then there is discord and a tendency for you to not use them all consistently – harming your brand’s reputation and impact.
Refining Your Logo Design
OK so this is a tough one because it’s probably on your business cards, social media and your website if you have one and like I said earlier, it pays not to rebrand without good reason.
Take a look at your logo, is it too complex? With logo design, simple is always better and complex designs can appear dated very quickly. Think about how large household brands get simpler over time. Often they simplify their logos to stay fresh and current while not losing the brand awareness that they’ve built up over time.
Here are a few examples in the Social Media industry alone:
Facebook Before & After
Instagram Before & After
Facebook took the 3D shiny edge off their logo, flattening it out so it displayed better on all digital devices. Instagram refined their signature logo by changing the font to one that flowed more and appeared more cohesive.
And here is a New Zealand loved brand which modernised the font while keeping the 1960’s designed and very recognisable emblem intact.
Air New Zealand Before & After
Hers By Design Before & After
Some of the interesting trends in recent logo changes (especially with online and technology brands) are flat and minimalist design for better display on screens and devices and incorporating wider spacing.
Whatever refinement you may choose to make to your logo, aim to simplify and create more flow and balance.
Refining Graphic Elements
You may not even have graphic elements incorporated into your brand and certainly in the case of ‘do it yourselfers’ it is often left out. The absence of these can result in a lack of cohesion in your brand and this is an area where professional designers can really help.
Graphic elements include background textures, line style treatments, the use of blocks, or circles or even space. It could be a shape that’s been inspired from your logo or an element that works well visually when combined with your other visual elements.
In my original brand (I’ve refined it twice since it’s inception) I had feathers as a graphic element, but it was still illustrative and too fussy. When I simplified my logo I didn’t come up with any graphic elements that fit well. Then last year I stumbled upon an image that I completely fell head over heels in love with (the patterns as well as the colours) which actually inspired my third ‘refinement exercise’ and I felt like I’d finally cracked it – I’d ‘come home’ to my brand!
Now I utilise these beautiful flowery shapes where my hummingbird likes to hang out and feed off, which form beautiful borders, frames and banners and in themselves are becoming synonymous to my brand because of their impact. In a current world of triangles and geometric shapes, I love how my organic shapes stand out from the crowd.
Refining your colour palette
Believe it or not, your choice and use of colours can physiologically trigger responses from people so it pays to give colour some serious thought when deciding on your brand’s primary colour. There is psychology in colour in terms of persuasion but it’s not as simple as saying ‘blue means Trust, Dependability and Strength’ or ‘Green gives a feeling of Peace, Growth and Health’ and trusting that they will invoke these responses in everyone. Thankfully we are complex beings, we don’t all fit in boxes and there is a significant impact from personal preferences, experiences, upbringing, cultural differences, contexts, etc. that will override the psychology of these generalised colour groupings.
It is an interesting topic though and one that I will delve into at a later date, but for now, with regards to refining your brand colour/s what you need to pay attention to is how it makes you feel.
“You are your brand and your brand is you and is meant to feel like your favourite wooly jumper, comfortable, cozy, it should smell like you, be your best colour and your favourite texture”.
~ Deb Rock-Evans
So use your favourite colour and play around with varying shades of it until it feels right and sits in balance well with your secondary and tertiary colours. If your colour is the same as all your competitors, consider changing it to confidently stand out from the rest.
With my recent brand colour palette refinement I made some quite significant changes to reflect the retro, rich and warm effect that I wanted to come through, invoking memories of the ‘good ol days’ when life was simpler and giving an inviting and reassuring feeling. I wanted it to be feminine but not overly as I’m not a girly kinda girl and I didn’t want to exclude people either.
I still gave some thought to how the individual colours themselves may invoke certain feelings and made sure that they encapsulated how I felt about my purpose and service to my ideal clients:
Clarity, Idealism, Balance, Creativity, Compassion, Self-Sufficiency.
Energy, Determination, Encouragement, Potency, Success, Competition, Productivity, Strength, Enthusiasm and Creativity.
Power, Love, Passion, Potency, Energy, Desire, Action, Determination and Courage.
Here’s my old and new colour palette. What do you think?
Have you re-evaluated the colours of your brand? Look around you for inspiration – you will undoubtedly surround yourself with your favourite colours, perhaps one or more of them should feature in your brand?
Do you have graphics for your brand? If not, start searching Google Images for inspiration, you might just find some graphical elements hidden in your favourite artwork or photography that will inspire you.
Does your logo need simplifying? Perhaps the font is dated now and a fresh typeface is all it needs to give it a fresh makeover.
I’d love to hear from you if this has given you any ideas of inspiration to refine some of your brand elements.