Making Your Brand Sustainable

Reduce , Reuse, Recycle.  But not in the way you think.

Make your brand sustainable by using the principles of Reduce Reuse Recycle

Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! These important principles of sustainability are about more than saving the environment. They can be applied in many different ways to your corporate branding, and they benefit your company as well as your customers. 

A brand can be sustainable in a number of ways, such as incorporating sustainable practices in your branding, marketing and sales collateral:

  • Taking care to minimize waste during the design and print process by minimizing iterations and print samples. 
  • When designing printable PDFs that you’re sending out digitally, make sure to use light colors and avoid large areas of dark colors (because your partners may not appreciate wasting the toner on their home or office printers.)  
  • Creating simpler websites. People are surprised to discover how many resources online data uses. More complex functionality needs more computing power and storage space. (see this article in the New York Times) While we don’t often think about those servers located somewhere in Columbia that are hosting our sites, every single piece of content is hosted somewhere, and the more “brain power” your website needs to function, the more server space it takes up. More server space means more servers, and that requires electronic parts, electricity, ventilation, housing etc…
  • Printing all marketing collateral on recycled or reused paper may be slightly more expensive, but if it sends a positive message about your brand’s commitment to the planet, and set an example to others, it’s a worthwhile investment.
  • Creating a logo stamp or stencil to label found envelopes and packaging, rather than pre-printing branded business cards, letterhead, and packaging.

One great example of sustainable branding is #DressedbyDanielle. With her brand focused on reinventing previously-owned, made-to-last clothes, Danielle runs a beautiful store with a fabulous selection, and her whole brand reflects sustainability. She speaks out against fast-fashion and educates her audience about toxic materials in our clothes and slave labor in factories (#ImWithHer). She also extends her message to her branded collateral: instead of printing her own branded bags, she stencils her logo onto previously used bags with other branding already on them!

Dressed By Danielle

 These are some ways that a company can make its branding more sustainable, but there’s a whole other level of sustainability that has nothing to do with climate change. 

The Other Kind of Sustainable

It is in every company’s best interest to create a sustainable brand. It will save you time, money and stress. But what does that mean and how can you build your brand in a sustainable way? Let’s start by defining what sustainability means: 

Sustainable [ suhstey-nuh-buhl ] adjective

  1. capable of being supported or upheld, as by having its weight borne from below.

  2. pertaining to a system that maintains its own viability by using techniques that allow for continual reuse

  3. able to be maintained or kept going, as an action or process

  4. able to be confirmed or upheld

 

The goal of a logo and visual brand language is to reduce, reuse and recycle through the implementation of a system that allows for continual reuse. By doing it correctly the first time around, you’ll save yourself a lot of money and drama later. Let’s utilize the “reduce, reuse, recycle” mantra and see how very aptly it applies to branding.

Reduce

When you’re designing your logo, you want to get rid of all the bells and whistles. Don’t include an entire illustration. (No, that mother-and-baby drawing does NOT fit into the “O”!!) Tweak a letter. Create a monochromatic icon. Use only a few colors. Skip the drop shadow (or you’re gonna regret it later). Pare down, and pare down, and pare down, until you have a simplified abstract reference to the illustration which encapsulates your raison d’etre. Very often, the solution to a conceptual challenge is REMOVING elements, not adding them.

Not only does a simple abstract logo make it cooler, but it makes it more visually efficient. It’s less cluttered and therefore less confusing. Just like clutter in your house, clutter in your logo makes it hard to navigate.

More importantly, it’s literally more efficient. You can throw it on anything at any size and it’s still obviously yours. You can stick it in the browser tab (a favicon) and it’s still obviously your logo. (check out the logos in all your open tabs. You’ll see that the good ones are clearly visible at desktop distance and at a size of 16px, while the bad ones are indistinct blobs because they include undefined shapes and/or too many elements.) So reduce your logo to its barest minimum and discover how much better it will work.

Reuse

When you create your brand, the objective is to create a logo system and visual language that can be applied to anything your company will produce in the future. 

Usually it turns out you need more than one version of the logo: your brand will include a set of logo versions. You start with the logo that includes your wordmark, icon, and tagline. 

This whole logo will not fit in your FB profile pic or at the top of your website. So you need to create a whole bunch of versions of the logo: with and without a tagline, horizontal and vertical, and icon only. This icon is the one that people will see most often. You will plaster that logo on everything, so make it easily reproducible, with no special effects or tiny details that will get lost or ruined. 

A good graphic designer will provide you not only with web-friendly pngs of all your logo versions, but also “vector” files of all the versions (pdf, eps, and ai files). Vectors are transparent, can be resized to any size with no loss of quality, and can be copied with no loss of definition, whereas jpegs are called “lossy” files: they lose quality and definition each time they’re copied or sent. If you have vector files, every third-party graphic designer in your future will thank you.  

So, even though you’re creating multiple versions of your logo, they’re infinitely reusable. Now that’s sustainable! If you start out with clean, reusable files, you won’t spend time and money hunting down your original graphic designer five years later to find their draft version of your logo, so that, rather than inserting the pixelly version you’ve unearthed, your crucial industry magazine can show a clear, professional logo next to your company profile.

Recycle

When it comes to designing the visual language around the logo- the colors, fonts, decorative elements and styling- what you’re doing is recycling the look and feel of your logo and reimagining it for another purpose. Branding turns design into a no-waste process. No matter what people see from your company, whether it’s a social post or a storefront, they instantly know it is yours. An efficient brand can accomplish this without the logo.

When you create a thorough brand, this will give you tools to create any design piece you need without going back to the drawing board. You don’t need to engineer a new concept and look for every campaign, because all the information you need to create that campaign will have already been concepted, refined, and finalized. You will save myriad hours by NOT having to reinvent the wheel every time. If you need a flyer, you send your already existing brand style guide and brand kit to the designer. Because they know what it needs to look like, they can create something in days, not weeks, and charge you less. You save hours of time and stress for your team and for the designer. Everything you create will clearly belong to your company and you won’t have to jump through hoops to get there.

Sustainability for the Win!

Waste is a sign of bad design. Efficiency and sustainability are signs of good design. Branding is basically an infinitely recyclable language that your company can employ in everything they produce.  

So reduce the heck out of your logo, create reusable versions that won’t make future designers cry, and recycle your brand language endlessly. Invest in your future now!

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Making Your Brand Sustainable

Making Your Brand Sustainable Reduce , Reuse, Recycle.  But not in the way you think. Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! These important principles of sustainability are about

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ILAN UCHITEL
CAPS Medical

I turned to Rubberband Studio when my medical tech startup was ready to raise first-stage funding and I needed to design my investor deck. She