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Branding 101 by The Recycled Pirate

Branding 101 by The Recycled Pirate

Jul 25, 2023

Branding is so much more than just a logo. Let's get that clear. Everyone can pay a graphic designer, but not everyone can create a brand. However, you want to start somewhere and you might as well start with your brand assets. The search for your logo or icon can tell you a lot about yourself and about the business that you want to create.

"The search for your logo or icon can tell you a lot about yourself and about the business that you want to create."

For me, my story started in my adolescents. One of my earlier jobs when I was 18-ish (1994, you do the math) was working for Stitch Point, an embroidery and lettering service. We would stitch you name or logo on anything our machines could handle. Baseball caps were my favorites. We also did big lettering on windows, the most impressive one was a Harley Davidson Shop. I observed big and small brands embrace the opportunity to get their logos on anything they desired. It wasn't until 2013 that I started to dive deeper into the story behind the brand and soon developed my own, The Recycled Pirate.

πŸ“· Read the caption on my Instagram πŸ‘ˆπŸŒ on how I came to choose the P and heart icon

Over the years I have guided many starters develop their brand identity. I would like to share my acquired wisdom with you.

Having a brand isn't as important as having a story. Your story is your brand! Unless you are a corporation who will buy (read: marketing) your brand identity, your story is the most authentic "thing" that you own and you should stick to it!

I divided the search to your Brand Identity in the 5 chapters to help you shape your brand identity into brand assets. I hope this is useful for your growth as a starter or as creative or as a business owner who wants to reclaim their business's brand identity.

Here are the first 5 to start with:

  1. Authenticity

  2. Logo

  3. Brand Color

  4. Brand Recognition

  5. Do the Research (Twice!)

"The first lesson in authentic branding."

πŸ–€ Authenticity

The Recycled Pirate, some people really love the name and some don't. You can't please everyone, so I focus on the ones that do. That is the first lesson in authentic branding. Sure, you can create something to please the masses, some branding experts are really good at that. I've come to accept that I'm not. I'm good at what I do. Inspiring people, open conversations and creating a safe space.

That safe space is the heart in my logo. I do something with love, or I don't do it at all. It's kind of a blessing and a curse, but I might as well carry it with pride.

Ownership is very important if you want to have an authentic brand. You need to say what you do, and do what you say and repeat that. Over and over again. In a world where social media is full of fame chasers, big shot entrepreneurs who want to convince you to live like them, you need to be strong. Choose yourself, choose how you want to be remembered. You are your own legacy and that is your brand. Authenticity and consistency will carry you the furthest.

"You want to be recognizable."

πŸ–€ Logo

To carry out our brand we choose a logo. You want to be recognizable. That’s the first reason for a logo. Maybe you even want to stick out, so let’s discuss the importance of the thing that will represent you.

It's cool to wear something that is yours. It is fun to impress people with your creation(s), whether you made it yourself or co-designed it. Maybe you hired a Fiver graphic designer to create something fitting to you. It is important to keep in mind that you need to keep it close to you. Keep it simple.

You want to be able to use your logo on any material or background. This means you need to keep in mind that you will need your logo as a vector, PNG and JPEG file for ease. Unless you have experience with Adobe Illustrator or any design programs, you want your files in different formats. That way you can use it with ease on platforms like Canva, Fotor or Vectr. Ask your graphic designer for the different formats and save them on your phone, on your laptop and in your cloud. Easy access is important, but having safety measures to not have to start from scratch again is equally important.

βœ‹ Logo Tip: Don't overthink it and don't get too emotionally attached to it. Take a look at the how the Apple logo evolved over time.

πŸ’­Want to know how you can use branding to your advantage? Scroll down and find my special Branding offering.

πŸ–€ Brand Color

When choosing your logo keep the colors in mind, black and white will always pop and always be in style. Not only is it a classic look, it helps define your style. Having your logo in white on a black background and your logo in black on a white background will allow you to feel the basics of your logo before you experiment with colors.

Red is visible from a distance and can be important if you're going into crowded areas with your logo or brand colors. But it’s not a guarantee when every other brand around your display is also red. Choosing your logo and brand identity first and then being playful with colors is in my opinion the best approach.

Too many colors are going to make your brand more difficult to stand out from a distance, but can look very cool from up close. You need to decide your target goals, whether that's people, shoppers, diners or businesses. All have different approaches. Is your logo mostly going to be used as a letterhead or on merchandise? Things to keep in mind when choosing your brand colors.

βœ‹ Brand color Tip: You can play online on Google or on Hex Color Codes to decide on your HEX Color Code of choice. This code makes sure that you will always use the same colors everywhere.

"Ask your graphic designer for mock ups."

πŸ–€ Brand Recognition

Once you choose your colors and logo(s) (it's always good to have a full logo with text/name and an icon logo) it's important to do your research on where and how you are going to use it as I mentioned before. For social media for example, you need to keep different dimensions into consideration than for a billboard. Ask your graphic designer for mock ups of both so you know it's going to work for you. You should also experiment with the first designs that you get from your graphic designer. Don’t react from your emotions but from your professional point of view. Remember, your brand needs to be recognized immediately when they see your brand assets. Your brand assets are your logo, font and color. The best way to do this is to put it on mock ups. You can try product design services on print on demand websites to look at examples and to analyze that what you have in mind also translates to product design.

βœ‹ Brand Recognition Tip: Play with your brand assets on Vistaprint and see how you like your logo on different materials 🌐

πŸ’­Want to know how you can use branding to your advantage? Scroll down and find my special Branding offering.

"So far we have discussed authenticity, consistency, logo and brand colors To keep your brand unique and to stand out, you need to do the research."

πŸ–€ Do the Research

So far we have discussed authenticity, consistency, logo and brand colors To keep your brand unique and to stand out, you need to do the research. Your research should be done at least before you start designing and once more when you are about to complete your design.

What to keep in mind doing your research:

πŸ‘‰ Brand Name: Is the name unique and does it fit your niche? Do you want a name that’s already in use? It doesn’t have to be an issue if you do the proper research.

πŸ‘‰ Brand Logo: What is being used in your niche? Do you want to fit in or stand out? Do you want to show strength? Or do you want to show elegance?

πŸ‘‰ Brand Recognition: What font will you use, and how will you use it? Is it accessible through word documents and online design platforms or only through your graphic designer? The last thing you want is to be dependent on your graphic designer.

These are just three topics with many questions to begin your research with. Only you can make the right choices for you. And once these choices are made you’ve laid the foundation to start your Brand Culture, which is a deeper dive into your personal branding.

βœ‹ Brand Research tip: You will probably get overwhelmed during your research, so it's important for you to keep the information important to you close. Write notes, make a mood board, use online tools like Pinterest and Miro to keep your focus on what you want.

πŸ–€ My offer to you

I offer guidance to starters on how to choose your brand identity πŸ‘‰ Introduction Form πŸ‘ˆ Use Coupon BMAC35 in the form for an introduction session for only $35! During this session we will discuss your do and don'ts, and how you can dive deeper in your personal identity to find your brand identity.

Are you eager to dive deeper?

πŸ“£ Building Brand Loyalty: Nurturing Relationships with Your Clients 🀝 by Hannah-Lize πŸ™‹β€β™€οΈ on LinkedIn is a great and simple read on why Branding is more than just a Logo, it's the beginning of the relationship with your clients.

🧐 Bonus Logo Analysis

Logo of Buy Me A Coffee: The Icon which would be just the coffee cup is a fun design and together with the font and the yellow show the playfulness of Buy Me A Coffee. Buy Me A Coffee caters to Creatives and has made several versions and colors available, but all with the yellow in the coffee cup and the same recognizable font.

Logo Kura Hulanda Village: The colorfulness of the logo speaks to the imagination. It looks great on the wall at the entrance, and it looks great on the website, but for someone who doesn't know how Kura is written or what it means, it can be confusing. Yet, the iconic display makes it recognizable from a distance and awakens a certain curiosity that make you want to find out what's there behind the colorful icon.

Kura means garden and Hulanda means Holland in Papiamentu, our local language on Curaçao. Have a look on their website for more impressions 🌐

Logo The Recycled Pirate: We chose to do it in white and black to keep it simple and easy to use on almost every background. The P heart Icon translates easy as an individual icon and is recognizable from a distance. I chose the Special Elite font. It’s widely accessible through all the major graphic design applications, Google Docs, Canva and Vectr, amongst others. It has a classic vintage feel and looks equally good online as on products. Visit my website 🌐 for examples on products.

πŸ€“ Tell me in the comments below what your favorite logo is.

Bonus Offer

  1. Buy Me A Coffee β˜• and I will analyze your logo for you and give you feedback on how to improve it, if it needs improving at all.

  2. Buy me 5 Coffees β˜•β˜•β˜•β˜•β˜• and I will give you a full report πŸ“ƒ with branding suggestions.

  3. Book my Branding For Starters and I will guide you setting up your brand with my Branding eBook and two sessions for only $120. (πŸ‘‰If you have a Sedula, I have a special tariff.)

πŸ“‘ Source used in this article: The best logos of all time (according to 11 design and marketing experts)

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