Developer diary (1.1) - How to create a brand

I thought I’d lift the veil on what developers actually do. Today I’ll talk about web design in particular. What do you need to get right to create a brand?

  1. Brand colours (e.g. associations, aesthetic)

  2. Typography and Language

  3. Logo

Think about a particular brand you like. What comes to mind? When I think about Apple I think: privacy, intuitive, reliable. Start with what you want to communicate with your brand.

For my cooking app/blog it’s “funny, relatable, moody”. I’m looking for an aesthetic that communicates the opposite of what today’s cooking blogs are all about. The vast majority of them are from people who are passionate about cooking. I’m not. I’m passionate about automating all the parts of life that get in the way of living. Cooking, to me, is an annoyance. Have a look at a colour scheme I’m considering.

overview of colours chosen for my app

The base colour is grey. I think it’s called “space grey”. Doesn’t matter. It fits the “opposite” rhetoric I was talking about earlier.

Most cooking blogs are friendly and playful looking. 99% of them have a white shade as a base colour. I have tried darker shades before in my earlier designs but that seemed to erase brand identity in its entirety. Shades of black are hard to associate with an identity and difficult to pair with standout colours. I instead went with a base colour that won’t burn a hole in your eye sockets at night, but also still fits the “opposite” rhetoric.

The yellow is a contrast colour. Works particularly well for messaging that needs to stand out. Like messages delivered to the user. The remaining two are complementary colours meant to associate the brand with the colour of bread, pastries, cookies, root vegetables, mushrooms, and the adjective “earthy” (e.g. vegetation, roasted, cheerful, fragrant, humor, strong).

Together they form a palette of brand colours. You’ll go through dozens of these before you find something that feels right to you. Design is hard. You have to rely on your intuition to get it right. Tools that help me are and You can’t just pick a palette and run with it though. You must also consider its impact on accessibility and other elements of visual design.

For instance, I discovered while designing the logo that the colours I had picked made the logo communicate something different when paired with certain shades yet not with others within the same palette. You don’t want to confuse potential users with inconsistent messaging. I’m still not completely happy, but I’m in “good enough” territory now so I’ll run with it.

Also note that if you’re an entrepreneur and you’re in a hurry, which I’m not, then you shouldn’t spend too much time on brand identity. It helps to get it right from the start, but you adjust messaging later. Not too much later though. It’s difficult to decouple associations once they’re made, that’s why so many companies opt to rebrand instead.

Tomorrow I’ll likely talk a bit about the role of Language and Typography in creating a brand identity.

Created on August 23, 2021
Published on August 23, 2021