Branding for Beginners

Thousands of new business start every year just in the UK. There are lots of things to do when you start a company, from signing up for HMRC (or the equivalent in the country), finding suppliers, marketing and finding clients, to branding your business.

It is likely that when you start, branding will have to be done by yourself if the budget doesn’t stretch, and that is ok, a brand should always be alive, and it goes hand in hand with your business. So as your business grows your branding changes. But how does one start with it?

I recommend, if you haven’t yet, to read the following articles to get a foundation to build upon:

Creativity and design thinking for entrepreneurs

Quick Tip: Grids and alignments to get your brochures looking professional

Typography and typesetting for the small business owner

Colour theory: a rainbow of feelings for your clients

Before you start

Before you start even thinking about your brand, you need to have a clear bright idea of who your ideal customer is. This means knowing as much as possible. You can’t say everybody could be my customer because you don’t speak in the same way to a teenager than a CEO of a company. So gather as much information as you can. Age, gender, location, marital status, social status, what have they study, How much they earn, what devises used, what they read. The more information you have the more advantage you will get. If you know for example that they hang out to a particular group on Facebook, you will be able to reach from that channel.

Start by Moodboard and idea generation

One of the first exercises that I do is gather information and having briefed the business owner. I start collecting ideas and inspirational assets. You can use Pinterest or Trello for that, but some people just cut and stick in a physical board.

Then it’s time to get a notepad and a pen and start drawing ideas that you will digitise later on to see if they work or not. To digitise a logo I recommend Sketch or Adobe Illustrator, but you might be able to find free alternatives if you google something like “vector open source software”.

The logo

I’m, obviously, going to recommend you to get an agency or freelance to help you with this, for example, Pixel and ink 😜 because your logo needs to have finesse and look professional. However, I understand that money is a constraint, and you might prefer to opt for the DIY option, no problem, here’s a link to How to design your own logo.

Although the logo is not the whole brand, it’s the face of the brand. People will recognise your brand with your logo, so it’s essential to have your logo well designed from the beginning because it is the element that takes more effort in the case of a re-brand. It needs to represent your business, and when people see it, they should know what you are about or at least not think that you are about something else, in case your business. A logo is not about what you like. It’s about what your clients will react to it. Who would you trust your money from the two logos below? I love ice cream by the way! 😂

Silly example to illustrate what I mean

When you have your logo ready, think about how will you treat it. How much distance you are going to allow, don’t be mean, be generous. Usually, the clear space for the logo is measured by the text height this way is always proportional. The other important thing is how small are you allowing the logo to be. Just remember that a smudge isn’t a logo 😜.

This example is part of Novum Office Brand guidelines

Find your font(s)

Your brand will need at least one typeface that you will use consistently. You can have more than one, for example, a heading font and a body text one. Chose wisely, the body text should be a font that reads easily. Remember that your brand fonts need to be coherent with the whole brand.

Designing a font it takes a significant effort, therefore make sure you purchase the licences that you need. In the case of a limited budget, there are opensource or free fonts that can be downloaded for free. For example from Google Fonts.


The colours of a brand are fundamental to be consistent. If you decide on a blue, make sure you have the reference on print and screen, and they both look pretty similar. And keep it consistent, always the same colours. This will build a strong brand presence through the whole business assets.

Brand elements

These can be anything, from a swirl to textures. It’s good to have them designed and defined, so all the collateral elements get the same treatment and are part of a group of things.

The art of branding

Branding is not about repeating you need flexibility. What you want is that your customer to look at a poster and think this is part of that brand I saw on Facebook the other day. The art of branding is to ensure that the tone of voice is coherent with the visual assets. The brands that lead are brands that consider carefully their branding and test what work, evolving their visual assets constantly.

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