Back to Basics: Brand 101
A Real Conversation on Branding with the Studio 8E8 Design Team
I know what you’re thinking. “Who is this new (albeit 10/10) face at Studio 8E8??” It’s me! I’m Hanna, and since I’ve been learning the basics around here, I wanted to get back to basics with this article and talk about branding. I may be fresh to the team, but certainly not to this topic. Branding is so important, and especially important to think about when you’re coming out with a new website. Whether you’re a new startup, or taking the important step to refresh your online look, branding choices are an essential first step.
So what exactly is branding?
When we think of a brand, our minds usually jump to their logo. I always think of Coca-Cola and the effect of that wavy font and bright red color. When I see one of their ads, I don’t just want a fizzy, refreshing Coke, I want to be that logo. I want to be bold, wavy, and carefree. It sounds weird, but that’s what great branding evokes. When you look at it, it makes you feel a certain way.
But of course, one great logo does not a brand make. As much as I love a good visual, logos are just symbols of a brand. What that symbolizes depends on you. Your values, your vision, and your story are what the real meat of your brand is all about, and it’s where good branding starts every single time.
Branding and Communication
Branding is targeted, intentional communication about your business. What you say, and even the way you say it, can be part of your brand. This can be kind of scary (maybe especially for those of you who earned degrees in subjects more august than “Communications”). 😏 You might be worried about not saying enough, saying too much, or worse: saying the wrong thing. Let me ease some of that pressure. There are ways to keep it simple, like focusing on the following three things.
Your branding should be uniform across all your platforms, including your physical space, your website, any printed materials, and anywhere your business is present on the internet. Inconsistent branding creates confusion and mistrust to the customer.
Your audience needs to see and hear the same things from you over and over again in order to really receive your message. It might seem like overkill to you, but having some key phrases repeated on your website and when you see patients in person, or post on Facebook, subtly builds trust over time.
The most important part of your brand is that it’s personal. It should reflect what you believe in and what you value the most. When you communicate your authentic self through your branding, you will draw in customers who also respect what you value the most, and those are the people you’ll be most happy to work with.
If you’re still feeling lost about where to start, I have good news. We can help with all of this! We have tools that help draw out your authentic voice, writers who can identify key phrases and create excellent copy and taglines, and designers who creatively piece it all together. Your story, vision, and values are the most important thing you bring to your brand; helping you communicate all of that visually is our job!
To help explain more about how we accomplish this wizardry, I interviewed our brilliant design team. Who better to talk to about this than folks who make logos and websites out of thin air every day?
Designer Panel Q + A
Hanna: Logos are probably my favorite thing about the branding process, so let’s start there. I’m so impressed by how you guys take our clients’ story, aesthetic choices, and vision and condense it down to a single image. What are some of the most important things you take into consideration when getting started on logo designs?
Tyler: We want to know what makes the client stand out to their audience, and create a visual voice out of that. I think about their ideal patients’ characteristics, things like whether they’re in a city or a rural area, are they older or younger?
Josh Ratcliffe: The client’s preferences are really important, which is why we send out a Style Guide to help give us some parameters.
Janet: I creep on our clients a lot. I look for visual cues from their social media and interior design. I like to think their logo would attract the kind of clients they want to hang out with.
H: What elements would you say every good logo has?
T: The logo should be versatile and able to be used on multiple platforms properly. It should work on something as small as a pen, and something as large as a billboard.
JR: Simplicity. Not that a great logo can’t be complex, but if your logo has eight colors in it, it’s going to cost more to print on things. Things like ordering scrubs can get complicated.
J: Yes, good designers always keep versatility in mind. If you keep your logo simple, other visual elements that support the brand can be more complicated.
H: What are some of the most common mistakes you see brands making when it comes to logos, specifically in dentistry?
JR: If someone tells you they can design your logo in Photoshop or Canva, run away! Usually if someone tries to do digital design on a platform that’s not meant for that, the files won’t scale properly.
J: Specifically in dentistry, we don’t love seeing teeth. Showing a tooth on its own implies extraction, and that’s not attractive to customers.
T: Readability is really important. You gotta be careful with those script fonts!
H: When you take the next step and start designing the website, do you bring those same thoughts and ideas as you do with logos, or are there more things you take into that creative process?
T: The logo definitely helps set the direction, and the website is influenced by the logo. I always keep the final product in mind even when just doing a logo, otherwise you might end up with elements that don’t go together.
J: I agree, and you get to grow the brand with the website. You get to use other elements and ideas that wouldn’t work in the logo.
JR: I’m already thinking about the website when I’m designing a logo. That’s also a difference between us and someone who can make a logo on Canva.
H: What can get in the way of a good website design?
JR: Anything gimmicky; less is more. Clinical before and after photos, because looking at the website is just the introduction. You don’t want to see all that on the first date!
J: Too much everything, including copy. A rule of thumb is to take half of your copy, then halve it again, and then you’ll have all the copy you need for your website. I also see dentists with a lot of ads on their sites. That looks messy and isn’t part of sharing your story.
T: Bad video and photography, for sure.
J: Yes, and even when the photos don’t match. You can tell when one photo is a stock image and another was shot on someone’s phone.
H: Editing can be hard, because websites are so personal. It’s a home for your brand on the internet, so I can understand that it’s tempting to say everything. A good thing to remember is that the website is not where the relationship with the customer stops! There are many other opportunities to communicate more, like on social media.
H: To close, what’s your advice for our clients when it comes to communicating their brand consistently?
JR: Trust is one of those things that’s really needed. I trust my dentist to do a very good job fixing teeth, and I want dentists to trust me when it comes to making a good logo and website. Also, be consistently authentic when posting on social media.
T: Thoughtfully use the tools we provide, like the Brand Creator. Referring back to that can help you be consistent in what you say.
J: Definitely trust your designer! I think that’s the biggest thing. There’s a reason you hired a professional to do this for you, and we’re looking out for your best interests.
Well there you have it, straight from our designers: It takes both simplicity and depth of thought, along with some masters of creativity, to make branding magic happen. I hope this article got your wheels turning about what’s next for your brand, or even made you congratulate yourself for the work you’ve already put in! If you want to go a little further with your thoughts, I suggest downloading our 3 Exercises to Discover Your Brand pdf. And, as always, we are here to help.