How colour psychology can help you choose the perfect brand colours for your small business

When you’re trying to decide on the perfect brand colours for your small business, I know how tempting it can be to go with a personal favourite – or just something you’ve seen and liked – and hope for the best.

However, if you want your branding to appeal to the right people, it’s important to be intentional in your colour choices and understand their meanings. Since colour is the first thing most people notice, using the right brand palette can instantly communicate meaning and help you make those all-important emotional connections with your audience. This is where colour psychology comes in.

What are your brand colours saying about your business? Here’s everything you need to know about the meanings and psychology of colour to help you create a meaningful brand palette for your business.

What is colour psychology and why is it important in branding?

Colour psychology is the science bit that explains our emotional and behavioural responses to colours. Different colours can evoke different reactions, emotions, cultural associations and levels of recognition, all of which can influence our choices.

According to Neil Patel, “Colour is 85% of the reason you purchased a specific product.” The Pantone Colour Institute has also found that 95% of our decisions related to colour are made by our intuition and emotional factors, only 5% are rational.

So the considered use of colour is a powerful opportunity to communicate messages about your brand, what you have to offer and how you do business. It can help you stand out from the competition, create positive customer experiences and strengthen connections with your audience.

What do different brand colours mean?

It’s important to highlight that our own experiences, cultural differences, and personal associations can impact our individual responses to a particular colour. Red, for example, is deemed extremely lucky in China, where they associate it with money and prosperity. In the U.S., green has similar connotations. Yet, here in the UK, we don’t especially associate either of these colours with money and wealth. 

The shade, tone and intensity of a colour can also affect the way we view it. For example, a light baby blue may be tranquil and nurturing, whereas a saturated cobalt blue will convey depth and confidence, and a darker, navy blue evokes feelings of trust and formality.

That being said, colour psychology looks at the more widely-associated brain responses to each of the key colours. So, to help you on your quest to find the best brand colours for your small business, here are the hidden meanings behind 14 of them. Some may seem obvious, others might surprise you.

Brand colour psychology - red

Exciting Red

The colour red in branding conveys: strength, confidence, power, action, heat, danger, urgency, impact, boldness, passion, excitement, appetite, intensity, emotion

Red is a great brand colour choice for: entertainment companies, theatres, media brands, consumer food brands, restaurants and eateries, lingerie brands, arts venues, sports brands

Big brands who use red in their logos: Virgin, Coca-Cola, Pinterest, TED, Shakespeare’s Globe, Lego, HSBC, English Heritage, Costa Coffee, Heart FM, Kellogg’s, Vodafone, YouTube, Under Armour, Netflix, KitKat, Quicksilver


Intelligent Blue

The colour blue conveys: professionalism, reliability, security, formality, depth, intelligence, openness, trust, peace, tranquillity, health, stability

Blue is a perfect brand colour for: social enterprises, tech businesses, finance companies, charities, medical industry, health & beauty brands, health spas, cleaning companies, insurers, estate agents, accountants, food & drinks brands

Famous examples of brands who use blue in their logo: Bombay Sapphire, Ford, NHS, Co-Op, Disney, McVities, Gap, British Airways, Dell, Boots, Barclays, World Health Organisation, Panasonic, United Nations, Oral B, Facebook, Oreo, Nivea, P&O Cruises, Vaseline, Dove


Renewing Green

The colour green conveys: growth, sustainability, nature, renewal, trust, tranquillity, peace, healing, wellbeing, balance, harmony, stability, freshness, organic, environment

Green is the perfect brand colour choice for: public gardens, organic producers, eco-friendly brands, environmental organisations, florists, health coaches, yoga instructors, outdoor clothing, gardening brands

Examples of organisations who use green in their branding: Greenpeace, Starbucks, Waitrose, The Body Shop, HolidayInn, Spotify, Garnier, EatFresh, Lacoste, Tropicana, Simple, Whole Foods, Trip Advisor, Harrods, John Deere, Land Rover


Optimistic Yellow

The colour yellow conveys: warmth, happiness, joy, optimism, youthfulness, brightness, sunshine, cheerfulness, satisfaction, positivity, energy, attention, information, intellect, creativity, freshness, affordability

Yellow is a great brand colour for: children’s and baby brands, creatives, travel companies, budget brands, fast food retailers, consumer food brands

Examples of famous brands who use yellow in their logo: McDonald’s, Dogs Trust, Yellow Pages, Morrisons, Mailchimp, Lidl, Singapore Airlines, Veuve Clicquot, BIC, Snapchat, Hertz, Ikea, UHU, National Geographic, Selfridge’s


Energetic Orange

The colour orange means: fun, adventure, energy, warmth, sunshine, friendliness, vibrancy, playfulness, creativity, affordability, flavour, appetite, happiness

Orange is a great brand colour choice for: food & drinks brands, toy companies, children’s & teen brands, family restaurants, budget brands, travel companies, fitness coaches, sports brands, creatives

Examples of big brands who use orange in their logo: National Youth Theatre, Sainsbury’s, GlaxoSmithKlein, Etsy, Harley-Davidson, Hermès, SoundCloud, Penguin, Fanta, Amazon, EasyJet, Timberland, Sally Hansen, Fossil

Brand colour psychology - regal glamorous purple

Powerful Purple

In branding the colour purple conveys: luxury, quality, excellence, tradition, spirituality, magic, power, royalty, nobility, heritage, nostalgia, romance, glamour, creativity, depth, relaxation, intellect, achievement

Purple is a perfect brand colour for: high-end brands, confectionary companies, estate agencies, transformation coaches, historical buildings, events companies, arts venues, luxury goods, jewellers, beauty brands, health spas

Examples of famous brands who use purple in their logo: Asprey, Cadbury, Crown Plaza, Greenwich Theatre, Claire’s, Monster, Hallmark, Premier Inn, Liberty, Purple Bricks, Aussie Hair, Urban Decay, FedEx


Thoughtful Pink

The colour pink in branding conveys: femininity, youth, innocence, tenderness, kindness, sweetness, care, nurturing, love, romance, fun, intimacy, sentimentality, optimism, trendsetting, creativity, imagination

Pink is a great brand colour choice for: coaches, writers, florists, cake makers, charities, maternity brands, events organisers, entertainment companies, stationery designers, fashion retailers, wedding businesses, beauty salons, cosmetics brands, toy companies, gifting brands, pâtisseries, teen brands

Examples of brands who use pink in their logo: Cancer Research UK, La Mer, HMV, Roxy, BBC Three, Soho Theatre, Cosmopolitan, Miss Selfridge, T-Mobile, Barbie, Victoria’s Secret, LG


Inspiring Teal

A shade of blue-green, such as teal, aqua, mint, cyan or turquoise, conveys: clarity, communication, vision, intuition, creativity, calmness, relaxation, healing, serenity, joy, friendship, freshness, energy, inspiration, knowledge, sophistication, emotional balance, wholeness, loyalty, youth, compassion

Teal and other forms of blue-green make a great choice for: communications companies, creatives, business coaches, travel companies, home & lifestyle brands, health spas, watersports providers

Examples of big brands who use teal: Tiffany & Co, BBC Two, Cathay Pacific Air, EE, Canva, Siemens, Le Meridien, Pampers, Deliveroo, Heinz Beanz, Vinted


Enduring Brown

Conveys: earthiness, depth, flavour, artisan, craftsmanship, skill, strength, durability, age, reliability, support, practicality, endurance, ruggedness, adventure, outdoors, nature, organic, tactile, homeliness, wholesomeness, humility, heritage

Brown is a great brand colour choice for: small food producers, florists, outdoor clothing brands, activity instructors, coffee brands, men’s beard care, leather goods, skilled makers and artisans, heritage crafts producers, restaurants & cafés, bakeries, confectionery brands, whole foods brands 

Examples of famous brands who use brown in their logo: Bloom & Wild, Nespresso, UPS, M&Ms, Kew Royal Botanic Gardens, Louis Vuitton, Ferrero


Distinguished Black

Black in branding communicates: style, elegance, luxury, timelessness, mystery, sophistication, authority, power, boldness, edge, exclusivity, secrecy, formality, distinction, stability, seriousness

Black is a perfect colour choice for: boutique hotels, luxury car brands, designer fashion, sports brands, luxury goods, premium food brands

Examples of famous brands who use black in their logos: John Lewis, Chanel, WWF, MAC, Patagonia, Nike, Zara, Vogue, Olay, Adidas, Cartier, Steiff, Dior, Tate, Harvey Nichols, Lancôme


Immaculate White

In branding, white conveys: simplicity, timelessness, elegance, sophistication, modernity, freshness, cleanliness, purity, innocence, virtue, health, safety, peace, youth 

White is a great brand colour choice for: photographers, wedding businesses, fashion brands,  interior designers, linen and soft furnishings, brands, cleaning companies, medical & healthcare companies 

Examples of big brands who use white in their logo: BBC, Nike, Apple, Chanel, Starbucks, WWF, DC Shoes, Innocent, The White Company, Hotel Chocolat


Dignified Grey

The colour grey conveys: security, formality, conservation, dignity, quality, seriousness, neutrality, timelessness, sophistication, trust, reliability, intelligence

Grey is a great brand colour choice for: engineering companies, tech brands, legal services, informational services, arts venues, classic fashion brands, jewellers, tailors and dressmakers

Examples of famous brands who use grey in their logo: Beaverbrooks, Wikipedia, Dove Men+Care, Saatchi Gallery, Nestle, Radisson Hotels, Wii, Nintendo


Opulent Gold

Metallic gold conveys: superior quality, luxury, premium, high value, exclusivity, high status, confidence, inner wisdom, knowledge, excellence, achievement, nobility, heritage, importance, generosity, wealth, prestige, victory, magic, opulence, elegance, glamour, beauty, love, aspiration

Gold is a perfect brand colour for: fine jewellery makers, watch brands, luxury hotels, fine fragrances, luxury car brands, premium food and drinks, winemakers, chocolate brands, luxury fashion and home retailers, wedding venues, heritage brands, arts venues, bookshops, wedding stationery brands, event designers

Examples of famous brands who use gold in their branding: Michael Kors, Lindt, Warner Bros, Harrods, Guinness, Versace, Lamborghini, Twinings, Pantene, Oman Air, Lux, Chevrolet, 20th Century Fox, Green & Blacks, Louis Vuitton, Ferrero, InterContinental


Refined Silver

Metallic silver conveys: quality, craftsmanship, elegance, grace, glamour, polish, sophistication, prestige, affluence, wealth, innovation, high-tech, precision, refinement, timelessness, modernism, intuition, composure

Silver is a great brand colour for: jewellery designers and retailers, watchmakers, engineering companies, automotive brands, investment companies, tech brands, awarding bodies, luxury travel companies, heritage crafts, leather accessories designers

Examples of famous brands who use silver in their logo: Molton Brown, Apple, Audi, Oman Air, Mercedes-Benz, Beaverbrooks, Volkswagen, Jaguar

How do I choose my perfect brand colours?

Now you know a bit more about the meanings of different brand colours, you might be wondering how to pick the best combination for your business, how many colours you should choose, and whether they’ll even work together visually.

In my next post, I’ll be taking you through the anatomy of a brand palette and showing you how you can create the perfect colour scheme for your small business in a few simple steps. Be sure to follow along on Instagram to stay up to date whenever a new post goes live! In the meantime, feel free to contact me with any questions.

Until next time… x

10 questions to help you define your brand messaging

If a ‘brand’ is built on how others perceive it, then really thinking about what you say and how you say it as a business is going to help you shape that perception. Getting your brand messaging right will not only set the foundations for the rest of your branding, it will also guide consistency throughout the rest of your business.

Firstly, what is brand messaging?

Brand messaging is essentially the art of communicating your brand’s unique promise, value proposition, story, personality and overall essence – both verbally and visually – to your target audience. In other words, it’s how your business expresses itself in order to attract the right people.

Consistent and compelling brand messaging tells potential customers what they can expect from your business, helps to build recognition and creates lasting connections with your audience. It’s one of the most important factors in resonating with your ideal customers and persuading them why they should choose you over a competitor.

Without intentional brand messaging, your business is likely to be perceived based on what others are saying – good or bad. Worse still, you could be overlooked altogether – lost in a sea of lacklustre messaging.

“If you don’t give the market the story to talk about, they’ll define your brand’s story for you.”


How to craft brand messaging your audience will love

The good news is that defining your brand messaging isn’t as daunting as it sounds. If you’re a sole trader or small business owner, the fact is that you are the beating heart of your business. You already know it inside out. You know your ‘why,’ ‘what’ and ‘how,’ and probably have daily contact with your customers. All you need now is a way of articulating that unique business essence through meaningful and magnetic brand messaging.

The prompts below will help you extract the info you need to get started on writing your brand messaging. These are taken from the exact questions I use with my clients at the discovery stage of any branding project.


​​1. What inspired you to start your business?

Why do you do this? What is your ‘why’?

2. What’s the purpose behind your business?

What work do you want (it) to be known for?

3. What does your business stand for?

What are the 5-6 most important values behind the work you do, how you operate and who you work with?

4. How and why did you choose your brand name?

Is there a story or particular meaning behind it?

5. Who is your ideal customer?

What does your target audience look like? What’s their age, gender, location, affluence, lifestyle, life stage, beliefs, personality traits, wants & needs, and so on?

6. What issue(s) do you solve for your customers?

How does your product/service benefit them? How does it solve their problem?

7. What experience would you like your audience to have with your brand?

How do you want to make your customers to feel during interactions with your business, products and services?

8. What do your existing customers love about your business?

What makes them choose you over the competition? What makes you/your business different and sets you apart?

9. What human traits would you most associate with your business?

If your brand was a personality type, how would you describe it and why?

10. What’s your overall brand vibe?

If you had to sum up the essence of your business in five individual words, what would they be?


What’s next?

Don’t worry if there are overlaps in some of your answers – this shows that your brand story is already nicely aligned. You might just need some help articulating your message in the most concise and compelling way. This is where your personas, brand voice and tonality also come into it. You can read more about brand voice and other creative branding elements here. And keep an eye on the blog for more on brand personality and customer personas over the next few weeks.

In the meantime, if you have any questions or need my help with your brand messaging, you can email me:


Happy brand storytelling! x

“Brand is the sum total of how someone perceives a particular organization. Branding is about shaping that perception.”

How to create a brand moodboard with Pinterest in 7 simple steps

If you want your business to mean something to your target audience, its essence should be consistently reflected across all aspects of your branding. Any creative elements should be aligned with the brand personality, ethos and messaging. Once you are clear on these aspects of your business you can begin to create a truly meaningful, cohesive and strategic visual identity.

One way to guide consistency in the look and feel of your brand is to define an overall design direction or visual ‘mood’ using a mood board. A mood board – or inspiration board – is simply a collection of images, words, colour palettes, patterns and textures that work together to convey the overall feel or vibe of a design. They are used in fashion, interior and graphic design, but people also create them for weddings and event styling. Moodboarding is a really useful tool to help you distil your brand essence into a visual direction, and can be done either manually or digitally. Pinterest is my personal fave for this stage of the design process. 

Here’s how to use Pinterest to create a brand moodboard, step-by-step:


  1. Take your brand essence (core business values, mission, brand personality, value proposition, and customer persona) as your starting point.
  2. Write down 10-15 individual words that you feel best describe your business in relation to these aspects, and how it makes people feel (or how you’d ideally like it to make them feel).
  3. In Pinterest, search for two or three pins (posts) for each of the brand words you’ve come up with and save them onto a ‘longlist’ Pinterest board. Try to include a mix of photography, graphics, typography, words, colour palettes, patterns, and anything else that catches your eye.
  4. Once you have put your Pinterest board together, start rearranging the pins into groups: those that work really well together, those that speak loudest to you, those that evoke a particular emotion or feeling – whatever works for you. Be guided by what’s in front of you – this bit can be as intuitive as you like.
  5. Once you’ve had a good play around with your longlist, select 6-9 pins that you feel work best together to sum up your brand vibe or essence.
  6. Now, you can either add them to a new brand board on Pinterest, or copy the images into a template in Canva or a photo collage app to create your final mood board.
  7. If you’re a perfectionist like me, you’ll probably want to switch the images around until you’ve got a vibe and composition you love. Once you’re happy, it’s good to go!

Why not print out your brand mood board and pin it up in the office? You could even print the individual elements and arrange them on the wall or a pegboard for a Pinterest-worthy aesthetic of your own!

Then you’ll have a visual cue to guide the rest of your brand identity and creative elements, and help maintain consistency whenever you are creating marketing collateral in the future. 

While you’re thinking about your brand identity, you may wish to read about 8 creative branding elements that are as important as your logo. Or if you have any questions, feel free to drop me a line:

Limelight’s ‘SmallStars’ Small Business Gift Guide – Christmas 2021

Supporting small this Christmas starts right here! With my favourite pick* of ethical, artisan and alternative gift ideas, with love from Cornwall, Devon and beyond.

Skills-based small businesses are my jam, and I wanted to do something to give back to them this year (particularly for those on my doorstep).

*None of these recommendations are sponsored or affiliated. If you click on any of the links in my gift guide, I’ll receive nothing in exchange (except for the warm, fuzzy feeling of connecting more people with the little indy businesses I love).

So dive into my handpicked selection of one-of-a-kind Christmas presents from this year’s SmallStars and find all the festive shopping inspiration you need. There’s something nestled in here for everyone (even the trickiest to buy for!)…



Crafty gifts for kids and grown-ups




Decorate Your Own Gingerbread House



Comes as a kit with the house built and ready to decorate with all the trimmings included – or you can build your own house if preferred. This would make a lovely activity to do with your kids over Christmas, or as a gift for a young family. She also makes the most incredible decorated Christmas bauble cakes.




DIY Christmas Wreath Kit



Get creative and make your own Christmas wreath, or gift the kit to a loved one before the big day! They’re offering free delivery to the Bude area, or will send it in the post for £5.





Paint Your Own Pottery Kit



A great little gift idea to get the kids creative. Buy online or from their cute pottery painting cafe in Falmouth.





Make Your Own Sea Glass Art Kit



Contains everything you need to create your very own bespoke sea glass artwork inspired by the ones made by Black Rock Designs. They recently sold out but are making some more, so be quick if you want one. DM them to pre-order one or pop into The Workshop Collective in Bude if you’re passing.




Gifts for foodies




Kalkar Coffee Spirit



Move over, espresso martini. They’ve blended coffee and raw cane sugar with their Cornish rum to make all of our indulgent booze x coffee dreams come true. I don’t know about you, but I think this sounds like the perfect after-dinner tipple. Buy it here.





Devon Reared Meat



For the person who has everything, you can never go wrong with food. Get them a gift voucher so they can fill their bellies (and their fridge) with locally-reared meats, Cornish dairy, homemade cheesecakes and local chutneys. Not just for Christmas (dinner!)… If you like to know where your meat’s come from, and guarantee it’s going to be reeeally good, then this is the place to go.





Cornwall-Roasted Speciality Coffee



Sabins is our speciality small batch roaster of choice (and not just because it’s only down the road from Limelight HQ!). They have amazing taste in ethically sourced beans from all around the world, and introduce new lots regularly, so we’re always compelled to try the latest arrival! 

Sabins’ brew box is the perfect grown-up alternative to those chocolate selection boxes we all loved as kids. For just £5 you’ll get three samples of their latest coffees to try, with details of what you’re brewing. Order online and you can have it delivered directly either by post, or by Fiat 500 and a friendly face (if the recipient lives in the vicinity of Bude). Be warned, though: whoever you’re gifting will be hooked.

If they’re already a fan of Sabins, keep them in their favourite beans with a Coffee Club Subscription. In fact, they’ve just released their Amazing Christmas Coffee Subscription Box, the first of which includes two Sabins refill tins brimming with coffee beans (or your choice of ground), a personalised Christmas card, tasting notes, and a cheeky little extra sample.




Classics with conscience




Funky Bamboo Socks



Socks have got a bad wrap when it comes to Christmas presents, so it’s time to un-boring their old ways. Get their Cornish Christmas on with these Red Seagull EasyFit Socks that come in both men’s and women’s sizes. (His and hers, anyone?!…) They’re made from sustainable bamboo, organic cotton and recycled polyester, so they’re kinder to the planet, too.





Recycled Gold x Salt and Pepper Diamond Shoreline Necklace



I fell in love with Elle’s handcrafted jewellery as soon as she launched in 2020, and her beautiful seaglass pieces have been on my wishlist ever since. This necklace is from her new Tidal Collection, which is inspired by the ebb and flow of the ocean, and the organic geometry found along the shoreline. She individually handcrafts each piece from her home studio in Cornwall, with only a limited number of stock pieces available to buy at any one time – so you have to be quick!




Handcrafted Soap Selection



These dreamy little soaps are made right by the coast in Clovelly, North Devon, using all natural ingredients. With no nasties, they’re kind to skin, eco-friendly and smell incredible (my favourite is the rosemary and orange). They come packaged in the most exquisite art papers that make them almost too good to open, and the perfect pre-wrapped gift or stocking filler.

The 10 Bar Guest Soap Gift Set includes a lucky selection of gorgeous soaps from the full range for £19.50, or you can choose your own 10 soaps from the list to create a soap gift set bespoke to the recipient.


I also had to include this Orange and Cinnamon Candle from them, which is basically the smell of Christmas in a jar! Made from clean-burning soy and coconut waxes, hand-poured into a glass jar with essential oils and a cotton wick, for an all-natural way to get your hygge on this Christmas. They also do these cute scented soap decorations in the same scent which’ll make your tree or gifts smell divine.

Ok! I’ll stop now. Shop online or in store at their little shop in Clovelly, Devon.





Handwoven Lambswool Scarf



Add some sunshine into their lives with one of these gorgeous colourful scarves, all handwoven in North Cornwall, so each one is unique. Buy online here.




Wave Project Calendar 2022



A year of colourful surf screen prints from Devon illustrator Tushka, with a 10% donation of the sales price from each calendar going to Wave Project North Devon. It’s like two gifts in one! Pre-order here.




Handcrafted Leather Tote Bag



Made from decommissioned fire-hose and rescued Burberry leather, their Fire & Hide Square Tote is a bag with both style and conscience. What a fantastic way to repurpose something so niche that would otherwise end up in landfill. Even better? Half the profits they make go to Barefoot College International and The Fire Fighters Charity.




Unique experience ideas




Surfing Experience



If you’re looking for something a bit different to give them this year, how about a fun experience in the water learning to surf while making lasting memories? What a great gift for families, couples, kids, friends or family members of all ages. Get them a gift voucher and they can book their session whenever it suits them throughout the year.





Permanent Makeup Beauty Treatment



If the lady in your life needs a little pampering or a big confidence boost, then a gift voucher towards a permanent makeup beauty treatment could be the one. Kelly Bate PMU is an incredible Bude-based permanent makeup artist who specialises in transforming eyebrows, lips and lashlines with her magic inks, and has built up a flawless reputation in the area. Contact her through the Facebook page for vouchers or more information.





Martial Arts Classes



Looking for something that lasts beyond Christmas? A set of martial arts classes or a fitness membership would make a fantastic gift for kids or adults who want to start something new or continue their training in the new year.





The Ultimate Tennis Trip



If they’re an avid tennis fan, you can’t possibly go wrong with tickets for a Grand Slam final. Why not push the boat out with the ultimate four night tennis experience, staying at a 5-star hotel. You can even add on a cruise if you’re feeling generous. Luxury tennis packages with Courtside Hospitality start from £2200.




For the nature lovers




Ceramic Hanging Bird Feeder



How cute is this? It’s the prettiest bird feeder I’ve ever seen. What a lovely gift for someone who likes watching the birds come and go from their window or garden seat.





Winter Wellness Medicine Box



This gorgeous set contains homegrown and foraged herbal-infused products specially designed for the colder months to help them through the winter naturally.




Gifts to inspire them




Foil Quote Wall Print



Designed and made in the UK, you can buy these quote prints framed or unframed. There are so many to choose from, but this is one of my personal favourites. You can also order bespoke quote prints.





Christmas Kindness Box



Curated by a mother and daughter duo, these cute little care packages contain items from small businesses, and you can even add your own message and have it sent straight to the recipient. This one caught my eye because of the warm gingerbread wax melts (hand poured in Devon) and – let’s be honest – the Bailey’s millionaire shortbread heart. But they’re all super lovely, so give yourself plenty of time to choose! Or you can create your own.




“When you buy from a small business, you’re supporting a dream.”

Happy shopping everyone, and Merry Christmas!

Love Hannah x


8 creative branding elements that are as important as your logo

As a small business owner (and wearer of so many hats you could open a shop), your net can be cast wide. I get it. It’s all too easy to overlook the fundamentals of branding in favour of getting our message out there and driving sales. But with so many new businesses popping up every day, taking the time to work strategically on the creative foundations of our branding is more important than ever if we want to stand out from the competition. 

You’re bound to have heard people say that your logo is not your brand – and it’s true. But they rarely go on to tell you what branding actually is. Simply knowing that your business success rests on more than a clever logo or eye-catching colour palette isn’t enough. 

Below, I’ve outlined the creative elements you should be considering if you want to build a cohesive brand identity, together with tips on nailing them first time…

Brand identity: it’s not just a pretty face

Various definitions of ‘branding’ and ‘brand identity’ have been bandied about over the years. But one thing I’m sure everyone would agree on is that it’s about more than just good looks. Several well-considered, strategic elements need to work together to shape our audience’s perception and build a compelling brand. There’s the product or service itself, of course; but what about the story behind the business? Its personality? The words and visuals used to emotionally connect with the right people and help them understand our offering?

Think of Nike’s “Just Do It” tagline. It’s a motivational message that also clearly sums up their values and persona, and is consistently woven throughout the company’s marketing collateral. By tapping into the minds and emotions of its customers, Nike’s creative strategy goes far deeper than simply adding their infamous ‘tick’ onto everything. They carefully select the right words and visuals to resonate with people who will ultimately buy their products and, hopefully, remain loyal followers of the brand.

Put simply, how we communicate with our audiences – both verbally and visually – massively shapes how our business is perceived. And perception is ultimately what makes or breaks a brand.

Here’s the secret ‘5 Vs’ formula I use to help my clients build a fully-rounded and meaningful brand identity:

Vision + Values + Voice + Visuals = Brand Vibe

Setting the mood 

As with any part of an effective brand strategy, the creative begins with a clearly defined core message; the mission, vision and values of the company, product or service in question. These are the foundations around which we must build our creative – not just to ensure alignment with the core brand messaging, but to clearly express what the brand is all about and how it wants to make people feel. Its essence, if you like.

One way I’d recommend for you to guide consistency in the look and feel of your brand is to define a visual mood around your core values and messaging. Moodboarding is a great way to distil your brand foundations into a creative direction (Pinterest is my personal fave for this stage of the process – learn how to create a brand moodboard using Pinterest here).

This can then be used to guide all the other creative brand elements down the line, like social media posts and print graphics, for example.

Articulate your messaging

The art of using the right words to convey a brand’s value proposition to its potential customers is fundamental in how they perceive the brand. What and how brands communicate with their prospects and customers helps them form opinions about whether they like or trust them, if they’re going to buy, and how long they will remain loyal to the company.

“In the war for customers’ hearts, messaging leads the charge.”

The most successful brand messaging is shaped from one core brand message that has been crafted around the values, mission and vision of the brand – as well as its positioning, value proposition and differentiators.

Help keep core messaging consistent and build a distinctive voice and vocabulary, by creating a bank of brand words that can be incorporated across marketing copy.

Find your brand voice

For a truly cohesive brand identity, voice and tonality need to be completely aligned with the brand personality, core messaging and creative elements. It’s not just about choosing the right words to convey your message. How you say them has a huge impact on your audience’s perception of you. 

Defining and consistently using a distinctive brand voice across marketing materials is crucial if you want to become recognisable, create emotional connections with your target audience, and provide joined-up customer experiences. Done well, the same brand voice will be used across every single touch-point – from your ‘Thank You’ pop-ups and ‘Error 404’ web page, to the inside of your mail-order packaging. 

Taglines: they’re grrreat!

A tagline (or slogan, for the old-schoolers amongst us!) can become as recognisable as the logo itself – especially if it’s quotable. By conveying additional information such as brand values (e.g. “Just Do It.”) or value proposition (e.g. “Eat Fresh”), taglines help give context to the logo and let the customer know what to expect. These few select words can provide a powerful opportunity for brands to differentiate themselves from the competition. So this is one area where I would recommend investing in an experienced copywriter to help you.

Brand colours matter

Our choice of brand colours also plays a crucial role both in the audience’s perception and recognition of the company. Different colours can be used to convey specific values and personality traits, both through their conscious associations, and their subliminal effect on our emotions. There’s been a lot of research into the psychology of colour over the years, and the science is certainly worth considering when selecting the palette to represent your business. But cultural associations and our own experiences are just as vital to choosing the right colours for our branding.

Take red, for instance. Colour psychology says it’s the hue of danger, blood, fire, love. But that’s not necessarily true of the brands that use it in their identities. When you think about Coca-Cola, Virgin, Netflix or YouTube, what does red say to you then? Bold, youthful, passionate, exciting? And if our brand values are none of these things, would we choose to use red in our own branding? Probably not.

Shape up your brand visuals

Similar to colour, shape can be used to express brand values and personality traits. Not only within the logo, but also in other design elements like background patterns, fonts, photography, graphics, and even products. There’s a great article on the psychology of shapes in branding and logos over on Fabrik’s website if you’re keen to learn more on this.

Tell your brand story through imagery

Now, this is where that moodboard we talked about really comes in handy. Visual imagery is what really brings the brand to life and therefore has a significant impact on audience perception. The photography, patterns, illustrations, video and graphics we choose each help to convey a feeling, an emotion, a story, and build the bigger picture of a brand. Our job is to make sure that every single visual element we use is aligned with the brand’s vision, core messaging, and personality. 

Considerations like colour, light and shade, setting, composition, and of course subject matter, will all affect how successful an image is for the brand. And maintaining a consistent style of imagery across your website, social pages, emails, packaging and print collateral serves two purposes: 1) it quite literally illustrates what the brand is all about, and; 2) it helps build instant recognition and brand recall, keeping your business top of mind.

Choose typography carefully

Selecting the right name, words and brand voice is one thing; how these words look is another. Our choice of typeface can completely alter the perception of a message and who’s communicating it (much like the use of shape and other graphic elements in branding). The fonts used by a brand should not only be consistent across textual elements but truly reflect the brand’s personality and values. For example, a natural skincare brand with clean, eco-friendly values would be best using a simple sans serif typeface than, say, a fussy gothic font, to reflect its value proposition and communicate the right vibe.

Typefaces are usually defined as part of the overall visual identity design package, alongside logos, brand colours, imagery style and brand patterns. Brand font pairings usually comprise one ‘body text’ font for blocks of content – which needs to remain readable at smaller point sizes – and then a complementary header or title font. Generally, no more than two to three core font families are specified, one of which may or may not match the logotype design. 

Last but not least, it’s your logo design

We’ve already established that a logo does not constitute a brand, but it is arguably the most universal – and memorable – element of your brand identity. Generally used across every asset, a good logo communicates who you are, encapsulates your brand essence, and drives recognition. 

In the digital age, however, a single logo is not enough. Experienced brand identity designers will normally provide you with a suite of logotypes, including a primary logo, secondary logo and submarks, formatted in different layouts and resolutions for use across social profiles, websites and printed materials. 

In a nutshell

We’ve barely scratched the surface of branding creative, but if there is one common thread that runs through all of these elements, it’s consistency. Without that, our audience can feel confused, disconnected and fail to recognise us.

For every creative element, we also really need to think about what matters to our audience. Whatever we do, and however we communicate, the most important thing is that it is relevant to our potential customers. 

“The goal of a brand is to be noticed, remembered and desired.”

Ultimately, we must dive deeper than eye-catching photography, beautiful fonts and clever captions. A compelling creative strategy requires both style and substance. There needs to be science and logic behind the choices we make for our branding to do its job successfully. Every creative decision should be as conscious and intentional as any other branding decision, not made purely because we like it. 

After all, it’s not really about us. It’s about our customers.


If you have any questions on this or would like some help with your branding let me know: