Why Your Brand Foundation Matters

I’ve got a builder for a husband. He works on houses all week long, and he takes good care of our house. When we bought our home one of the biggest concerns was keeping Portland’s winter rain out of our foundation. Every other house we lived in before buying ours leaked water through countless cracks, creating a yucky environment that became moldy. As I say to our 1 year old when she puts dirt in her mouth: that’s yucky. Luckily we have a strong foundation, and nothing yucky has happened.

The bedrock that holds up 200,000 pounds
The foundation of a house does more than hold a house above ground. It also keeps out moisture, insulates against the cold, and aids in resisting movement of the earth around it. In order for a foundation to withstand a barrage of grueling conditions, it needs to be rugged and indestructible, but also a bit pliable so that it can withstand changing elements.

Why all this talk about foundations? Because I’ve been thinking a lot about a brand identity, and its need for a solid, yet pliable, foundation. Like a house foundation, the brand look and feel of a business/organization needs to have its solid elements—for example its logo, colors, fonts, image selection—as well as its pliable elements.

Build a strong foundation
There are tried and true materials used when building a house foundation, such as concrete and steel reinforcements. It also needs to be specifically tailored to the house and its surrounding area. Every detail needs to be thorough: the framework must be set up perfectly and free of any gaps. If anything is neglected, or rushed, or not tailored to the house, than a foundation can fail. Who wants a 200,000 pound house sitting on a shoddy framework?

Same for a solid brand identity: logo, fonts, and colors. Sounds simple, and it really should be. When looking at a logo, or the typefaces, or color choices, these elements need to be chosen with utmost care and consideration of the organization’s mission.

How do you make this happen? Make sure your designer is starting with research and discovery first: asking questions, conducting interviews with key stakeholders, researching your audience.

Once your designer understands your organization, she’ll be able to design you a brand identity that is clean, clear, beautiful, and mission driven. Look for designers who create logos with 1 to 2 colors, with marks that are simple and nuanced. Also, it’s great to work with designers that know how to use typefaces well. When you look at a logo or a piece of collateral, you should see the overall look as seamless and pleasurable to look at — and, of course, legible.

In Part 2 of this post, I will clarify what may seem like a contradiction of being both solid and pliable at the same time, plus show an example I worked on recently! Stay tuned….