The big picture

Jan 06, 2020

A constant focus on your firm’s brand is essential. If you let it slide, you’ll send mixed, confusing messages.

The brand elements that have been created for your company are such an important part of your brand’s identity. Think about it. Everyone has the same features on their face – a mouth, nose, eyes, and ears – yet every person looks different. Brand elements can be the same for each company: a logo, color palette, marketing materials, graphics, websites – all tangible elements that create the identity. What makes them stand apart is what makes all of us unique as individuals, the way the elements are designed and presented. So why focus on these elements? To help your company’s brand put their best “face” forward.

So often the logo is the only element that surfaces when talking about brand identity, but that is just one of many brand elements that consumers see that identify who you are. As designers it is up to us to make sure we completely understand all elements and know how to properly utilize them in order to ensure brand consistency and strength, and to maintain brand awareness. If you lose focus, the ways in which these elements are used will start to decline and create confusion surrounding your company’s brand identity.

The question then arises, how do we maintain focus on these elements?

  • Communication is key for making sure the elements are being used properly. Create a digital brand book, or a brand guide communicating the appropriate use of all of your brand elements. Be specific if you have ways in which your logo, graphics, or color palette must be used.
  • Show examples of marketing materials that demonstrate your elements in use. Everyone enjoys looking at good visuals and seeing examples of your brand identity in action.
  • Don’t be afraid to speak up if you notice a brand element isn’t being used properly or to its full potential. Sometimes people are unaware they’ve used something incorrectly. As designers, we’re here to explain why we don’t use the elements in the way they were presented, and to help come up with a creative solution that uses the elements properly to fit the scope of the project.
  • Schedule periodic meetings with your design team to discuss your brand elements. Talk about what’s working and what isn’t working. Discuss ways in which you can continue to maintain focus surrounding the brand. This is also a good opportunity to brainstorm any changes that should be considered, and how to properly implement the changes.

Very early on in my career, I was fortunate enough to be part of a team that did an analysis for a company’s brand elements. When discussions started, we knew we didn’t have a clear path or a solid focus on the elements because so many of the materials had their own “face.” The overall consensus was that all these pieces of collateral, when laid side-by-side, looked like they came from multiple companies, not one company. How confusing – and what an eye-opener! Upon wrapping up the analysis we knew what we had to do. We had to shift our focus to the importance of these brand elements, fully understand the value they added, and implement a strategy that supported the brand identity.

In this ever-changing, fast-paced environment, it is so easy to lose focus as you try to keep up with the demands of the day-to-day. However, if you take a moment to step back and truly understand the value of the work you do by using your firm’s brand elements correctly you’ll see the impact it has on your firms brand image. Remind yourself and others to look at the big picture.

Pam Wood is the graphic design manager at Geosyntec Consultants. She can be reached at

About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.