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I’m delighted to welcome Jeanne Carlier to the blog today to share her brand design tips for purpose-driven businesses. Over to you, Jeanne!

Note from Katie…wait, why the lack of pictures? In an effort to reduce the carbon footprint of my web presence, I am only using images at the very top of my posts, as well as where they serve a true purpose, such as headshots or infographics. That’s why you won’t find any purely decorative photos here anymore.

Branding and design are a huge part of building a successful and sustainable business. Your brand is what helps you stand out from the crowd and connects you with other purpose-driven businesses. 

Designing a strong brand can often feel intimidating, especially as a new business owner. There are so many abstract, moving parts, but if you have the right strategies behind you, you can create a beautiful, timeless brand that is both connective and memorable. So here are a few tips to help you navigate brand design to make your business thrive.

Work on your business foundations

It always pays off to make sure the foundations of your business are strong and sustainable. You can do this by thinking of your brand like a garden. 

  • The soil is your brand foundations (your backstory, your why, your core values, brand personality, etc.)  
  • The plants are your brand strategy (your positioning, your offers, your business goals) 
  • The fruit is your brand design (your colour palette, font, logos, imagery) 

When developing brand foundations, you are prepping the soil for your budding business to grow. With strong soil (i.e., solid brand foundations), your brand will thrive, be fruitful, and sustainable. This will help you build a brand experience that is aligned from the ground up.

Make your business stand out

A simple but important way to design a successful brand is to be recognizable among your competitors. Look at what everybody is doing around you, and then do something different! 

For example, you may have noticed that eco-friendly and environmental businesses tend to use earthy shades of green and brown. Water-related companies use a lot of blue or cool shades, and the fashion industry uses black. Find a colour palette that will make you stand out so your audience can easily recognise you. 

You can use fun, bright colours and still be a purpose-driven business!

Don’t follow design trends

Design trends are attractive and bring in followers, so why not follow the trend? Well, trends are exactly that, trends. Meaning they aren’t timeless or sustainable. Branding is a long-term game, and consistency is the key to building a loyal and trusting audience. And staying consistent with your brand is critical. 

If you follow popular design trends, your brand will look outdated quickly, and you might need to invest in a brand redesign sooner rather than later. An early brand redesign would be a disservice (and inconvenience) for any young business.

Think of your audience, not yourself, when making design decisions

Design tastes are deeply personal, making branding abstract, especially when it’s not anchored in strategy. To overcome this obstacle, you need to think about your audience first when making design decisions. Never choose a design based solely on your personal preferences. Remember, you are not your client! 

Create a dream client persona with a name – let’s call her Roxanne, and for all the decisions you are going to make, ask yourself, “Would this resonate with Roxanne?”.

Define your brand design elements clearly

If you want people to instantly recognise you and feel like they know you – consistency is key. Use the same colours, fonts, and language across all your different platforms every time you show up online. 

When you work with a brand designer, they will provide you a brand style guide or a brand kit that includes all your design elements, how to use them, and when to use them. If you already have your brand elements but are missing a brand style guide, you can make your own! 

Having a brand style guide is an easy way to simplify your design decision process. Just make sure it includes your different colour codes, photo filter settings, your fonts, and logos, so you have everything in one place!

Take your time

I hope these brand design tips will guide you while you are building your business. Just remember, branding is emotional. It takes time to feel everything, so don’t rush through the process. There are two main ingredients to growing a thriving brand: standing out and being consistent. Like harvesting the fruit from the seed you planted, it’s a long-term game.

About the author

This article was written by Jeanne from Spark & Bloom, a mindful brand design & illustration studio. She helps ethical businesses make their impact seen thanks to a thoughtful and collaborative design process.