What Makes a Brand

When you approach an Apple store, you know it will be brightly lit, with sleek, clean lines. There will be polished screens with colorful graphics on a black or white background. All of this speaks to their iconic electronics, but it’s more than that, it’s their brand. As the customer, you know the experience you can expect to have by walking through their front door. A true brand goes beyond the logo by establishing a consistency in the usage of their identity. The question is how do you go about building a brand from the ground up? We took a look at our own branding to give you a better idea on how this can be accomplished.

Building a Brand

What's in a Name?

The building blocks of a brand start with choosing a name for the company, one that communicates your company mission, this will be the basis of your identity. We like to think of it this way, if you do not have a vetted concept for who you are, you cannot even begin to define yourself with one or two words. If you want to be proactive as a company, you have to think about what you are and then become it, rather than be purely reactive to your climate and clients. As a result, when John Yarnell and Jason Keeble were looking for their name, they knew they wanted something that described their vision.

“The name ‘Trademark’ was chosen because it fits perfectly with our mission, the definition of the word trademark is; a distinct mark or feature particularly characteristic of or identified with a person or thing.”

John pointed out that the name Trademark is exactly what we do as a company, we give people the ability to speak succinctly to their audience, whether that is to their customers or employees. 

Chosen Identity

When developing a logo mark or identity for your company it is important to understand that you are establishing the face of your company. It will be the imagery associated with your company and will give people something to rally behind. When creating Trademark’s logo there was a need for something that was not only unique, but demonstrated what we do. John and Jason began to develop a logo, a mark that was easy to read and would provide flexibility for multiple applications. 

Bulk it up

Clearly defining your colors, typography and secondary graphics is important to the future success of your established identity and will further support your name and logo. The fundamentals of the brand lies with the name and the logo but these building blocks need additional pieces in order to succeed. Trademark’s colors were carefully chosen to be black and grey with vibrant red and have been fully integrated into our branding efforts. Our typography consists of four fonts; two options for main bodies of text that are similar to each other, and two fonts that are used for our logo. The creation of secondary graphics allows us creativity in our branding options. These elements were built off our logo and brand colors to support our story and environment. An example of this would be our angular T and M, which plays directly off of our primary logo and includes our brand colors. Another example of secondary elements would be our thumbprint, which by nature is a unique mark that identifies individuality and echoes the meaning behind our name. Additional graphics include illustrated versions of our building and some simplified geometric lines.

Show it off

Once you have your foundation for your identity and have established all the supporting elements, it only makes sense that you should share your branding with the world and in the process, make your company more easily recognizable. At this step in making your brand, you will want to apply your company graphics in the form of branded clothing, vehicle graphics, business cards, website and all other collateral.

Build your Space

Not only should you be recognizable by your identity out in the world, but your space should represent your brand in a way that integrates both your customers and employees into a branded environment. This means physical branding in the form of exterior and interior signs and environmental graphic design that accents your physical or virtual spaces. We supply you with all the tools necessary to make your physical and virtual spaces in line with your brand.

Applying our extended branding features to our location took some thought. John and Jason took the same approach as they would with a customer. They looked at our building from all angles and evaluated how individuals would approach the space. They then applied as much of the company’s personality to both the exterior and interior of the building utilizing our thumbprint, geometric lines, and color palette. From the red and grey building, to our portfolio prominently on display in the entryway, to the thumbprint graphic swirling along the side of office desks, we wear our brand to impress.

Enforcing the Brand

With all the thought you have put into developing your identity, consistency is your best friend. The logo, colors, typography, secondary graphics, branded applications and physical branding are all the tools you need to build your brand but it is up to you to enforce it. Consistency is key. This comes in the form of never wavering from your logo, colors, fonts and extended branding. When we develop an identity, we include brand guidelines which clearly outline your branded elements and how to use them. These guidelines include primary and secondary logos, the exact specs on your brand colors to assist in printing, painting and web-based usage. These guidelines also cover how you can and cannot manipulate your logo and how to apply all such assets. By staying true to these rules, your company identity will become more and more recognizable, people will begin to associate your colors, fonts and logo with what you do. If you stay true to the brand guidelines, your identity will become like a familiar face for your customers to pick out of the crowd. You will build a base of loyal followers because they will know what to expect and they will rally behind your brand.

Upkeep of your Brand

A good brand can be like a favorite piece of clothing, the more wear it gets, the more it evolves. As the company changes so does your affiliation with it, it begins to influence your identity in ways you didn’t imagine, forming a symbiotic relationship where you impact the brand just as it impacts your business and customers. Brand evolution is inevitable and can often be a positive thing. Which is also why you should be aware of how your brand changes overtime and make adjustments to help guide these changes and keep your company looking fresh. 

When John and Jason decided to move away from their roots in the sign world they had to choose their next steps carefully. As a business philosophy, we place high importance on design because a good design differentiates from the everyday mundane and guides what you present to your audience.

"We wanted Trademark to migrate towards a design-focused studio that can boast a full understanding of fabrication, based on our history in that area."

When updating our brand, we considered our legacy customers who return to us for high-end physical branding services. To avoid disassociating those customers, John and Jason chose not to abruptly shift their name and branding. Choosing to tip-toe into the change, they slowly swapped out old business cards for new ones, altered vehicle graphics, and updated graphics on clothing over the course of several years. Feeling that it was still relevant, the updated identity stayed similar to the old one with subtle renovations.

Part of what we do at Trademark is offer design consultation and as a result, when working with customers that are ready for a similar change, we would help them determine how to go about it. The gradual process we implemented during our own shift may not work for every company. The dynamic of the business would dictate the rate at which they should transition from an old identity to a new identity. Part of what we offer here at Trademark is design consultation, and as a result we would collaborate closely with the customer to figure out the best way on how to roll out a new identity along with just how drastic that shift would be.

"Some companies are reborn, but if you feel like your framework or DNA is the same, then having your legacy identity match your new identity is good. It’s one thing to rebrand but another to evolve, we evolved as a company."

The brand of Trademark Design and Fabrication will continue to grow, just like any other company, which is why we understand the importance of a good brand. Creating their own identity, has given John and Jason a unique perspective on what goes into making a brand and has made them contemplative developers and creators of identities. The process brings into hyper-focus the details relevant to your business and how to illustrate everything it has to offer. Trademark brings all these tools and more to every branding project we do, helping our clients guide their businesses into future growth.