Brand Identity: Respecting Your Logo

We all know that growing a brand identity is important, but it can be intimidating for small business owners and marketing-types to manage. I recommend to my clients that all branded communications be deliberate and consistent. It takes forethought and a little discipline but in the long run it’s worth it.

This usually starts with the logo. A logo, though not a brand in and of itself, is the core of a brand identity. Consistent usage at every customer touch point communicates that you are reliable, professional and self-respecting. However, before stamping a logo all over everything, be sure to define it:

Make Your Mark

Decide to use one logo for 5-10 years. Consider it set in stone. Make sure it looks up-to-date as ideally you won’t change it for some time. It should communicate clearly in print as well as on the web. Avoid gradients and photographs because they can be complicated (and expensive) to reproduce on business collateral. In fact, the best logos are usually 2 or 3 colors max.

Choose Brand Colors

Be very specific. Color is a great way to stand out from the competition. Ever notice how all the major cellphone carriers “own” a different color?

There’s no need to decide on every color you’ll ever use. Just pick a few base colors that you can build on later. Once the colors are chosen don’t change them. Lastly, make sure they are always printed consistently by universally identifying them using the Pantone Matching System.

Manage Usage

Once the core elements are defined, setup a graphic standards manual. This document lays out the “do’s and dont’s” of your logos, colors, fonts and more. It shows your team (and outside vendors) how to handle your brand identity properly and consistently. For a simple example, check out the Twitter logo guide- https:www.//

Remember, if you don’t respect your brand identity, no one will. By giving people the tools they need to be “on-brand”, you’ll save yourself time and money down the road. And you’ll look branded doing it.

Andrew Barton is a Charleston-based graphic designer focused on corporate identities, marketing collateral and motion graphics. View his work at


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