I love designing logos. It tickles me pink to know that the logo I am creating is going to be the face of a company, slapped everywhere for everyone to see! But it wasn’t until I had more experience from years of working with different clients on all sorts of projects, that I understood that a logo is not everything. Your logo is the first thing that people see, but it isn’t ALL they see! Clients come to me and say “I want my logo to represent modern, traditional, fun, serious, sophisticated. I want it to represent my entire brand.” Ha! News Flash, it can’t! I often have to teach clients that a brand is not just a logo, but all the additional pieces that support the logo as well. For example, you can’t just have the conductor of an orchestra. You have to have the woodwinds, brass, percussion, and strings, led by the conductor, to make the music! Below are five essential elements that make up your brand’s identity in addition to your logo.

1. Colors and Typography

Starbucks color palette

Once your logo is created, it may use colors known as your primary colors. These are the more prominent colors of your brand, but you can also have supporting colors that are used in various elements throughout your material. For example, Starbucks’ primary colors are two shades of green, black, and white. There are also over nine secondary colors and another nine or more accent colors used strategically in all of their materials. When looking for your brand to have visual legs, include at least three additional colors to your secondary palette so it has dimension.

Typography is also used in the same way as color. People will know the font used for your logo, but you don’t need to use that font throughout your material. In fact, your logo may be the only place you use that particular font. Having additional fonts that work well with your logo help give you some range within your brand when used throughout social media, printed materials, and your website.

2. Supporting Graphics (Photography and/or Illustrations)

Supporting graphics are an extension of the logo and build consistency and brand recognition across all your materials. It could be everything from patterns, to photography, to illustrations. For example, if you have a brand pattern, you can use it on the back of your business card and on the inside of a brochure, but it doesn’t need to be seen everywhere.

3. Tone and Voice

Tone and voice are the way that you talk as a brand. They represent your brand’s persona and story. It’s important to identify and have guidelines for how you speak to your clients and to the world so that your voice is consistent and on-brand. It can be fun and cheeky or serious and factual (or somewhere in between!), but either way, your unique voice will attract and help you emotionally connect with your dream clients.

4. Social Media

Instagram grid

A great platform to express your brand personality is through social media. Developing a strong visual brand strategy is the key to setting yourself apart from your competitors and helping your business grow – and once you do so, you need to be seen! Social could potentially be the first place people view your brand, making it your first impression to a customer. Planning out your Instagram grid and overall aesthetic is crucial to building and marketing your brand. Make sure your photography, graphics, tone and voice are consistent across platforms to support your story. While I do think this is a space where you can expand and have fun with your brand, don’t stray from your mission, voice and visuals. But it really is the perfect place to show your personality.

5. Brand Style Guide

Spotify style guide

A brand style guide is a great way to keep your brand consistent, especially as you grow and get more people involved. Consistency shows that your brand is professional and legitimate. The guidelines can consist of just a couple pages showing how to use and not to use your logo. Or they can be as extensive as including your mission, values, voice, tone, messaging, color palette, fonts, photography style, graphics, etc. as well as showing how to use and not use these elements. Either way you go, having some guidelines will help define and control your brand to keep it strong and not get diminished over time. Plus you don’t want anyone to misuse your beautiful logo, do you?

Now go build the brand identity of your dreams and remember to have fun with it!


emily johnston

Design Director

Denver, Colorado USA

Bringing happiness to the world through creating beauty has been Emily’s mantra and driving purpose during her 11 years as an Art Director & Graphic Designer, setting the vision and strategy for brands, and delivering innovative and creative solutions for clients. Joining forces with the women of Wildernest has made her feel seen, heard, and reassured that she’s not on this journey alone – and she wishes to bring the same feeling to all the women who join our flock!

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