Basics of Branding and Rebranding

For Small, Medium, or Large Businesses in Edmonton and Area

The Truth About Branding

The basics of branding isn’t as complicated as our university professors wanted us to think. It’s not some elusive theoretical formula or an unattainable goal. Simply put, your brand is the way you want the public to perceive your business. Keep it simple, let me give you some tips on how to develop your brand. 

What is a Brand and What is Branding?

In short, a “brand” encompasses your entire company. The name, the logo, the slogan, the look.

Branding is everything that the public sees, and everything it doesn’t. It’s your overall design scheme, the colours you choose, its your style of service, its the type of product you distribute or create and the way in which you market the company.

Branding can get overwhelming to most of us. It has some serious consequences when not taken seriously, or at all.

Try to imagine your brand as your business’s personality, I find it’s easier.

How Do I Start Branding My Company?

Take it one step at a time, this isn’t something you want to rush. You should start asking yourself, “What does my company specialize in, who are my closest competitors, how do I want the public to perceive my product, or my business, or my services, etc.” 

From there, it’s a lot easier to build up the direction you want your business to grow. Do you want to be taken as a sincere not-for-profit, or are you a hip and trendy coffee shop attracting a youthful crowd? The directions you can move in are endless. Be honest, be realistic.

Pinning down one specific section of the market is crucial and changes how you would develop your brand strategy. Be the best or the second best at something you do. If you’re not go back to the drawing board. Or… you might end up like the Sandman Hotels Group, and lose yourself trying to follow hundreds of different ideas trying to copy what the Marriott or the Hilton is doing.

When you accept that you are not the same as your competition, you will find what you do better than them. Exploit that and build from there.

Think about it. All of our top Coffee Chains. They all sell similar things but they each do something better than the others that sets them apart.

Figuring out what market to target can be a little tricky. In my experience and it will constantly change. Let the public do most of the work.

Don’t get me wrong it’s important to pick somewhere to start but its impossible to actually know until word of mouth hits your potential clients. Say you’re a carpenter and you build unique furniture and cabinets. You’re not going to target a younger demographic. You’ll likely hit the middle aged to older demographics. From there you’ll start seeing individuals purchasing your products you never thought would.

Expert tips: 

⦁ Know your business.

⦁ Look at what your competition is doing.

⦁ The best way to learn is to observe.

⦁ Adjust yourself to be both competitive while remaining true to your identity.

Building your brand does take a lot of self reflection and research, but once you pin down a few of these concepts, it builds momentum and begins to take shape.

If you’re lost in the shuffle and can’t pin it down, a graphic designer can always help you throw these ideas around and keep you on track. Many Graphic Designers including myself offer consultation services to guide you in the right direction.

Where to Start With Your Company’s Branding

This advice will change from designer to designer, but here is my advice.

To get your business started, these are a few essential things for the success of your branding. 

⦁ A logo

⦁ A cohesive theme and colour palette that expands through all of your collateral.

⦁ Print products including business cards, letterheads, and brochures

⦁ Social media banners for all of your accounts

⦁ A Website or at the very least a landing page for your business 

The Logo

There is a misconception that your logo must relate to what you do or sell. With that logic, you could assume Remax sells hot air balloons. Keep in mind, a logo does not define your business or what your business does. It is simply a tool to create awareness and familiarity.

You wouldn’t look at the Saje logo and immediately know they sold essential oils. Your logo is an extension of your brand’s persona. With that said, you are walking a fine line. Take the time to doodle or write down your ideas. Brainstorming is crucial.

Here is an example of a logo I created for a client who needed a bit of guidance with their branding.

This project was definitely a highlight from 2018 for me. As an artist, incorporating traditional botanical drawings into a logo is something I had been itching to do since university. The client was absolutely thrilled with the outcome, and I couldn’t have been happier with the results.

The owner is an Aromatherapist who was looking to launch his practice. He wanted to incorporate elements of his signature scent into the logo, yet maintain a traditionally masculine feel for the business.

The process was long and arduous as we tried to find a balance between florals and masculinity. Who would have thought? It was a valuable lesson in the end. Finding the right path, or creating the right design takes time. Both parties need to be reasonably patient with the process.

This is the completed logo, Incorporating his inspiration, and my interoperation of their branding decisions. 

Brotherhood Aromatics Logo Design

The Colour Palette and Theme

A cohesive theme is equally important to building familiarity with your brand. Using a consistent colour palette and theme throughout all of your business’s materials will help build consumer awareness.

Choosing your colour palette isn’t as simple as using your favourite colour. Typically you’ll pull out a simple colour wheel and pick a few, and let a designer help you navigate your choices. The goal is to encapsulate consistency with your business through the use of colour. Simple right? Sometimes…

Just to throw a little more self promotion into this article. I recently helped an Edmonton business create a cohesive design throughout their supporting print materials.

4 Way Developments Ltd. Business Cards Example
4 Way Developments Ltd. Bi-Fold Brochure Example

Using the same colours and textures. You can clearly tell that each item belongs to the same business. Even if I hid the logo. Although Each design is slightly different the palette, similar design elements, and textures pull them all together.

Brand Refresh

When and Why Should I Rebrand My Business?

This is a tough question. Staying the same has its benefits but it can stagnate the growth of your business. Really you just need to ask yourself are we progressing or are we stuck.

Did you answer “we stuck” then it is most certainly time for a bit of a refresh. How much is up to you.

Does your business need a new identity? Then you should refer to the first portion of this article.

If you only want to make some updates, or your business is moving in a new direction, you’re expanding, or you’re stuck with the same designs as you used in the 90’s it’s time to refresh your brand. You already have the core concepts nailed down, you just need a new outfit.

Let’s look at Second Cup for a moment. They completely remodelled their entire brand. They modernized the logo, and all of their supporting materials. They gradually and successfully updated their businesses personality without confusing or losing their clients.

My Previous Branding

I’ve even refreshed my own branding over the years. The site your on now Is brand new. Complete with new banners and colours. My logo has matured over the years as well. My logo is Inspired by filigree and how creativity takes flight. It has really changed and developed over time so has my understanding of that particular style.

My current Branding

Share Your New Branding With Your Customers and Social Media

Lots of older businesses make this mistake. They don’t share.

Throughout this entire process it is crucial you are networking and telling your clients about this journey and the changes you’re striving to make. It creates more of an experience, it allows your loyal fans and followers to get excited with you. You can’t start altering their perception of your business if they aren’t involved.

This applies to when you’re trying to start launching your business, start early.

Get that hype and excitement moving. Run with the momentum. Share the brand development process, host that soft opening, get your friends and family on board, and you’ll unknowingly start creating brand loyalty. Ask your designer to share sketches, and mock ups with their fanbase and yours. Mutually help one another, word of mouth is crucial.

Please! Don’t forget to credit the artists involved! We talk. 

Still looking for more information before making a decision, then here’s a little reading material I hope you find helpful.

In Closing here’s A Short Branding Checklist for Beginners

⦁ Logo

⦁ Colour scheme

⦁ Dedicated direction

⦁ Personality

⦁ Website (or Landing Page at the very least)

⦁ Business Cards

⦁ Letterhead 

⦁ Branded Email Signature

⦁ Social Media Banners for the social platforms you use. (Exp. Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, SoundCloud, ext.)

⦁ Branded Social Media profile pictures

When in Doubt… Hire a Freelance Graphic Designer

Support Local

I hope you found this article helpful in some way.

If you still have questions or concerns about branding. I would be happy to try and answer them. I offer a consultation service where I take a look through what you’ve created and provide an unbiased critique, and pointers. 

Being that we are all from the Edmonton area, did you really think I would write out this entire article and not mention the importance of supporting local businesses at least once?

Estimates are complementary. Consultations start at $50.00 per hour. Or, a complete branding or rebranding package is only a click away.

Stay Creative ,

Justin Erickson

“UPDATE” January 12th 2021

Well I did it again! I changed my branding.

I’ve been considering this since I moved back in August. I was getting a lot of feedback that my logo didn’t represent my work and that the old gradient based banners were outdated.

They were right.

So I hit the drawing board, signed myself up for some classes, and did some research into current trends. The puzzle pieces seemed to fall into place and BOOM!

The new LOGO!

I updated the colours, and the style of my brand and in doing so I think I achieved a look thats more true to my work and myself as an artist!

Justin Erickson Art gif
My new pattern!

I just wanted to reiterate what i’ve said throughout this blog. It is so important to reflect on what you want from your brand. The results could surprise you.

Stay Creative my friends,

Justin Erickson

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