In this guest post, get an inside look into Balkan Brother’s visual identity design process and learn how to improve your own branding projects.
Believe it or not, designing a visual identity and cooking a delicious meal have more in common than you think. In both cases, you need to combine different ingredients to create an exciting and memorable experience.
Just like with food, the selection and preparation of your visual identity ingredients can vary enormously depending on culture and context. Some brands are fond of familiar and reliable flavors, while others experiment with foreign spices or odd combinations. Some brands need elaborate preparations, while others are happy with simple and effective solutions. Mastering how and when to combine these ingredients comes with practice, method, and intuition. But also spontaneity and play.
At BB Agency, most of our branding projects start with four main ingredients:
- Logo Design
- Color Palette
- Graphic Elements
Below we’ll briefly describe how we approach each of these ingredients and how we combine them. Please don’t take this as a genuine design step-by-step; we don’t have a list of measurements or formulas. Instead, take it as your sweet grandmother’s recipes, full of guesses, approximations, and a lot of heart.
✏️ Thanks to our friends at Balkan Brothers for writing and sponsoring this blog post!
Before you start: Know your guest & the occasion
Before you start cooking — sorry, designing — it’s essential for you to know your guests (clients) and the occasion (brand strategy). You should fully understand what your client does, their values, mission, competitors, and what they want to achieve with their brand. Having a clear idea of this will make your decision-making process much easier, as you’ll always have a set goal in mind.
1. Logo Design
At Balkan Brothers, we usually start by designing the logo, the primary icon, and the wordmark. The main purpose of these assets is to synthesize the brand (and all that it stands for) into a recognizable shape. We see it as a suggestive mark that draws us into the visual identity’s concept, and well… its many flavors.
Some logos can be more descriptive; others more evocative. They can help us locate the brand in an industry or describe its services. Logos can also be a symbol that spark a more meaningful brand story. Whatever approach we take, the logo design will be an essential ingredient that we can always go back to in order to make the brand feel at home.
2. Color Palette
Color palettes are a whole set of ingredients on their own. As such, a color palette will provide us with all the nuances and aromas of a brand.
A reduced color palette can provide a simple, recognizable, and consistent identity — which is great for small brands that are just starting out. However, limited color palettes can quickly turn flat, predictable, or dull after a while.
On the other hand, a more thorough color palette can add richness, complexity, and interest to a visual identity — ideal for large brands with more complex narratives. However, too many colors can quickly turn messy or become overwhelming if executed poorly after the handover. So we judge it case by case.
Like platters in a full-course meal, colors also have a particular place and order in a visual identity. Therefore, we like to be mindful in assigning each color a role and moment to come into play. So, for example, the colors we use for a brand’s corporate investor’s deck might not be as varied as for the same brand’s marketing material.
Typography is essential to enhancing the flavor of a brand’s copy. The style of your chosen typefaces helps to define whether a brand’s tone of voice is sweet, sour, or maybe a funky combination of both.
When choosing brand typography, ask yourself if the selected fonts will make the copy feel more approachable? Knowledgable? Friendly? Techy? Elegant? Loud? If you need help defining the tone and mood of a typeface, consider the following:
- History — The origin and usage of the typeface in the past.
- Context — The typeface’s meaning and usage today.
- Style — Common shapes and gestures of the font
- Function — The typeface’s overall performance.
Whatever considerations guide your typography choices, you can apply similar reasoning for the other elements of the brand. This will result in a more harmonious and consistent look and feel that makes sense with the brand narrative.
4. Graphic Elements
Finally, graphic elements are like the toppings or condiments to the brand. After defining the brand’s core components, you can start to enhance or complement the brand narrative through various treatments. These could be shapes, patterns, stickers, scribbles, textures, underlines, symbols, filters, etc. We tend to use graphic elements across a brand’s social media channels, company swag, and marketing pages.
Graphic elements can become a fundamental addition to a brand’s visual identity. It’s also an opportunity for you to experiment and get creative. Keep in mind, we like to use these elements to enhance or compliment other brand elements, rather than to mask a brand’s weak flavor.
Cooking up a delicious visual identity
It should be clear by now that we enjoy food as much as branding at BB Agency. When we work on a brand and play with these four main ingredients, we focus on the different flavors we can get from them. We look for consistency and harmony, but also nuance and surprise.
Our design palate craves complex and exciting flavors, but we also love simple and straightforward just as well. As long as they are filling! The next time you’re cooking up a visual identity, or maybe designing a meal, try this playful approach and let us know how it goes. ■
We’re a digital agency crafting holistic, people-friendly experiences. We serve as a strategic partner for fast-growing tech companies in need of a scalable website with modular CMS, a design system, and a future-proof brand identity. Through challenging core assumptions, we shape products and services that improve the lives of thousands every single day. Check us out at www.bb.agency.