Brand styling secrets: how to choose meaningful keywords

Styling your brand becomes a whole lot easier when you have keywords that lead your creative decisions.

Without these keywords you’re more likely to choose fonts, textures, colours etc based on personal taste rather than making style choices which help communicate your brand values. In order to attract your ideal audience, your brand aesthetic needs to visually communicate what your brand stands for. If your audience believes they share the same values they are more likely to buy your product or service, making doing business a whole lot easier.

This is the power of great branding. 

Therefore choosing the right keywords to lead creative direction is a crucial step in the brand design process and the part I find most beneficial deep diving into and spending time on with my 1:1 design clients.

But here’s the tricky part - visual keywords are not always the same as your brand values.

If you’ve worked through my brand style sheet, you’ll hopefully by now have a clearer understanding of your brand story, the ‘who, what, why’. From here you can pull out values or keywords which are important to communicate in your brand identity. I recommend shortlisting 3-5 adjectives or keywords that can act as a guide for making style decisions and setting your overall design aesthetic.

However if your keywords are leaving you stuck and confused - below are a few steps you can take to gain clarity and focus.

Brand style secrets_choosing right keywords.jpg

avoid the vanilla - choose KEYWORDS THAT INSPIRE

One of the most common pitfalls in choosing the right keywords is listing words that sound good for business. Words like:

honest, trustworthy, authentic and professional

These values are great guidelines for running your business but not so useful for inspiring creativity.

If any of these words make up your brand keyword shortlist then I’d suggest rethinking your choices. The reason keywords are limited to 5 is because anymore and your message becomes diluted, 3-5 keywords creates a cohesive vision. Don’t use up your word limit on generic business terms, what we’re looking for here are visually inspiring words which are unique to your business.

get specific

But authenticity is really important to my brand, I hear you cry! Well in this case we need to drill a little deeper in order to make the keyword useful to your visual direction.

What exactly do you mean by authentic? Is it the way you produce your products or the materials you use? Perhaps you want to communicate that you are an authentic service provider, a small agency that is hands on and gives a personal touch?

Start with the overarching keyword and begin to dig a little deeper.

So authentic could become …..heritage, boutique, specialist…. can you start to get a feel for words which are immediately more visual?

internal values vs. external values

Not all values need to be communicated visually through your identity. Take trustworthy for example, this can be communicated and expressed through your brand’s tone of voice and consistently delivering your brand promise. This also applies to how you apply your visual identity. If you are constantly switching up your style because you are unclear of your brand values then this can confuse your audience which reduces overall trust. Oh the irony!

Same same but different

Choosing words that are very similar can limit your overall design thinking. Take authentic and trustworthy as an example, when you look at the dictionary definition, both words incorporate similar concepts and synonyms. Coming up with an alternative word which combines the two meanings but is also more specific to your brand could ignite that creative flow.

Pro tip: Check out - a great tool for generating alternative keywords.

I hope these tips help in your journey to creating a cohesive and compelling brand identity.

What are your visual brand values?