Design is an essential part of any company's branding. Customers tend to identify brands and define them by their logo, their look and feel, and anything that conjures up a sense of familiarity. Today, an organization's digital presence is generally the focal point of all strategies and approaches given its significance to users, however in terms of design, it's important to not forget about an offline presence as well. When you're creating any design element for both online and offline needs, consistency is key. Your website, social presence, storefront, signage, and any other type of print collateral should all feel like a seamless transition from one to the other. Here are some key points to consider when you're designing for both online and offline initiatives:
1. One Design Team
When you're working on one design element, such as a logo that will be used across various platforms, you want to make sure that the look is consistent regardless of where the image is appearing. If you don't have the same person or same team working on your designs, it's quite possible that there will be inconsistencies and trouble with communications. When the same person handles all aspects of the design process, it's a lot easier to understand why certain choices were made, and it's a lot easier to also communicate that to anyone else involved.
Some designers may have different roles within the branding process, but the most successful designers are consistently collaborating and understanding the company's message. While having the same group work on all of your designs is incredibly beneficial, for some brands this isn't a realistic option, which brings us to our next point-creating a detailed brand guide.
2. Create A Brand Guide
A lot of brand guides aren't necessarily helpful and tend to sway more towards the superficial side. Simply having some information about color choice and basic use isn't going to provide much value to anyone referencing the document. A true brand guide should cover as much information about your designs as possible, explaining everything from how a logo should look on a pen, to how it should appear on the side of a vehicle, to how it should appear in a digital advertisement. In theory, a structured brand guideline should answer any questions that a designer or agency has. If your brand is expanding from a small shop to a larger business with more locations, you may not always have the opportunity to use the same design team. Get your initial designers create a thorough brand guide to set the standards for any team you decide to work with in the future. Having detailed information on all the aspects of your branding allows you to be prepared and have control over things you may, or may not, anticipate.
3. Develop a Brand Strategy
A brand strategy should portray the voice of your business and serve as the backbone for your company's conceptual and visual needs. If you already have a great brand guide, but perhaps want to launch a new campaign or start offering a new product, you need a brand strategy to inform your decisions moving forward. Clearly defining your business's identity and story will help guide designers and other experts in understanding the overall vision you are trying to achieve. Let's say your strategy characterizes your brand as whimsical -- it's likely you're not going to use black and white designs to help your messages resonate. A brand strategy should speak to who the brand is, what they represent, and what sets them apart from their competition. This element is especially important for businesses seeking growth, because while you can do your best to prepare for the future, you can't predict everything that's coming your way.
4. Consult with A Brand Expert
For all design initiatives both online and offline, it makes a world of difference if you can consult with one person that knows the brand inside and out. This point of contact doesn't have to be someone with design experience, but simply someone who understands the brand strategy and knows what's considered "on brand" and what's not. Getting the complete idea of the company's image, from their digital engagement to print ads, allows you to interpret the big picture. In scenarios where there might be a rebrand, this is incredibly important. When working with designers, the brand expert should be able to determine what is appropriate or reflective of the brand objectives and what isn't a fit, not only visual items, but conceptual items as well.
5. Prepare for Offline
When you're in the early stages of the design process, and you know that some of these items will be used in print, it's crucial that you use the highest resolution possible. If you're doing a photoshoot for your website, make sure that you have images that aren't just great website quality, but that they're high-end and usable for large print as well. You want any of your digital designs to be easily translated to excellent offline designs too. Although many businesses may begin online, there is always a possibility of growth. Having a great logo is a solid foundation, but really consider the use of other elements, such as font size and imagery. You may have a collection of several high-quality photos that are suitable for traditional media, but does it properly portray your brand image? Planning an offline design by editing photos, logo size, and fonts will keep you prepared whenever you have the opportunity to publish the design.
One of our favorite rules of thumb is to always consider the smallest size possible with logo designs. We look at how the image would appear when it's as small as ¼ inch by ¼ inch and if the logo still holds itself together, then you know it's sufficient as a starting point because it will be easily adaptable.
Flexibility with Your Designs
While you must do your best to prepare for all the future needs of your designs, unfortunately you can't imagine absolutely everything. At the design's inception, you may strictly have a digital presence, with no real brick-and-mortar storefront. While that might be the plan for the foreseeable future, you never know where your business will move forward to. Think about how your website's typical font style will appear on a large banner, or on a small printed menu. Keep your options open so that you can easily adapt your design needs without having to take any drastic changes when the time comes.