We all know a strong, compelling brand when we see one. Tiffany. Nike. Apple.
And, interestingly, most of us can pinpoint when a brand feels… off, too.
But what’s the difference? What makes one brand feel super professional and cohesive, while another feels kind of amateur and all over the place?
And, more importantly — how do we make our brands look like the real deal?
The good news is that it doesn’t take a huge budget or hiring top flight professionals to create a professional looking brand. Of course, hiring pros doesn’t hurt, but even if you are a newer business owner or are DIYing your brand, that doesn’t mean it has to look like it!
There are a few things that contribute to your brand looking amateur or “homemade” that are easy to avoid when you know what they are! Start by grabbing our Build Your Own Brand Book Workbook (which we’re offering to you free for the first time — click here to grab it!) so that you can make notes on your brand as you go.
1. Too many colors
Color is one of the elements that helps tie your brand together and make everything feel cohesive. The key here is not to choose too many. You want no more than three or four complementary colors. More than that feels cluttered or unintentional.
Color has a strong psychological pull, so we want to be very intentional about the colors we choose and where we use them. Lots of inspiration here to help you choose intentionally.
The other important factor here is to record the exact hex code of your colors (which is a digital code so that everyone can reproduce them everywhere exactly). Here’s a tool that will help you find the codes for your chosen colors!
2. Too many fonts
As with colors, too many fonts will quickly make your brand look more amateur. You want no more than three fonts; for example, one serif, one sans serif, and one script.
The fonts you choose will also convey messages psychologically about your brand. Learn more about choosing and pairing fonts here.
3. Imprecise typography
This one is going to sound nit-picky, but one thing that triggers a brand, a label, a sign, a website to feel off somehow, is the typography — how the letters are actually laid out on the page.
Typography includes the size and weight of the letters, as well as their tracking (the space between the letters in a word), kerning (space between just two letters), and leading (the space between lines of text).
You want to choose how the letters will be laid out on the page, including the space between letters, words, and lines, with precision. Here’s a great introduction to all you can do with typography.
4. Different photography styles
If you’re trying to use stock photography for some of your brand building, instead of having your own custom photos taken, it can be very easy to have inconsistency between your photo styles. Obviously, photos in a big stock photo library have been taken by many different photographers, with many different styles.
When you define your brand, you’ll choose what styles of photography you will include, like candid lifestyle shots, posed portraiture, or flat-lay product shots. But you’ll also need to try to narrow down the source. Because even “candid lifestyle shots” taken by different photographers can have very different looks. This article can help you understand different styles of photography.
If you do want to use stock photography, applying a particular filter (Instagram-style) or a frame, or text overlay can help different photos feel more similar.
You may have noticed a theme here: inconsistency is actually the biggest brand killer. And often, we convince ourselves that we can fudge things and no one will notice… But they will.
Practically, this might happen when you use a tool like Canva or PicMonkey and can’t use your exact brand font, so you pick one that’s close. Or you eyeball that shade of blue, and it’s slightly different. Or you use a template you got from somewhere because it looks cool, but it doesn’t actually match your brand.
The fastest way to a professional looking brand — whether you’re DIYing or not — is to be extremely consistent with your choices.
That’s why you need a central place to record your choices — like our Build Your Brand Book Workbook! Click to download it now and take that important step towards a more professional brand.