Evolving Your Visual Brand

Back in 2016, when millennial pink was all the rage, did it find its way into your color palette?

What about some of the 2020 design trends? Did you upgrade your simple iconography for colorful illustrations to tell your complex brand stories? Or find a funky vintage font to use over your website video hero to make a big statement?

Chances are if you have an established, recognizable brand, you didn’t.

Brand standards exist so that every creative collateral produced under the banner of your brand looks and feels consistent year after year, regardless of who designed it. But that gets kind of boring and could look a little dated as design trends change.

So how does a brand stay current without abandoning its standards? Below we are going to explore a few ways new life can be injected into an existing brand.

BUT, it should all start with a solid, flexible, foundation.

Start with a flexible foundation

If you’re looking to develop a bold new look or simply freshen up your current brand in 2021, be sure your new standards have enough flexibility to evolve over time, while still being detailed enough to ensure consistency.

A simple example of this can be found in how large or small the color palette is. For example…

  • A small palette with three colors is great at ensuring consistency but, after a few years, the palette feels inflexible. Over time, other colors are added out of necessity but rules are not created around the new colors and it ends up being a free-for-all.
  • A large palette with 20+ colors sounds exciting but it’s too large. Rules end up having to be created to control usage and pairings, defeating the purpose of such an expansive palette.
  • A medium-sized palette of 5-15 colors with clear delineation between primary, secondary, and tertiary can allow for variation year after year while still maintaining a consistent presentation.

This kind of thoughtful flexibility should be considered when developing rules for all brand elements including typography, logo placement, iconography, and more.

Shake up a few key elements

If you aren’t planning on undergoing a rebrand or refresh anytime soon, and still want to evolve your brand, here are a few elements can you tweak in the new year to feel a little different.

Color Palette

If you have a small palette, consider using different tints to add variation. This can be especially useful when developing illustrations or other graphic elements. For palettes of all sizes, try switching the main accent you use to create a new palette hierarchy without violating brand standards.

Primary color: Green / Secondary Color: Blue / Tertiary Colors: Mint Green, Yellow, Orange
Primary Color: Green / Secondary Color: Orange / Tertiary Colors: Blue, Yellow, Mint Green

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Logo Placement

Is your logo always, always, in the top left corner? What happens if it moved to the bottom right instead? Or dead center? Moving a logo can allow for other elements such as images or illustrations to become more prominent in the space and create a different feeling. Explore what options become available by moving the logo to a different location, as long it is still noticeable within the design.

Document Grid Structure

This is an area that is often overlooked but can have a big impact. Is your brand collateral always presented in a single column? What interesting options become available if you switch to two columns or an asymmetrical three-column grid? Explore breaking the grid and see what happens.

Single column grid with logo placed in the top left corner
Three column grid with logo placed in the bottom right corner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Font Size + Hierarchy

Most brands have a set of fonts they use, with rules around how to use them to ensure consistency. While the fonts may not be able to change, the sizing and how they relate to each other can. Explore how different font sizes can add or remove emphasis where needed. The same exploration can be done for other brand elements like icons, patterns, shapes, and watermarks.

Iconography

Does your brand use iconography? If not, considering adding some. Is your brand already using icons? Consider updating the commonly used ones or developing an entirely new library in a different style. You can swap out the color they usually appear in or develop a two-color version instead.

Photography, Videography, Animations, and Illustrations

Does all your photography look the same? Are all your videos shot the same way? Consider a different storytelling style or editing style that showcases the brand in a different way.

If you have a go-to person for all your photography, videography, animation, and/or illustration needs, consider outsourcing to a freelancer or different freelancer. Freelancers tend to have a style they are known for. While they will work without your brand standards, they will bring their own interruption of the standards and can help evolve the brand.

Other things you can adjust to make a brand feel different, while still adhering to the defined guidelines are:

  • Photography color temperature
  • Photography subject
  • Gradient transitions and angles
  • Illustration subject and style

Small changes can be made to how your brand is expressed helping to evolve it without completely abandoning the standards that make you, you.

If you decide to shake up any of the elements mentioned above, be sure to do it across multiple marketing pieces to ensure a new sense of normal rather than creating a singular outliner. And document what was done!

Your brand guidelines should be a living breathing document, not a holy, untouchable document that should remain the same for 10 years until the next rebrand.

 

If you are interested in seeing how BAERING can help your brand evolve in 2021, contact info@baeringgroup.com for information.

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