Category: Brand Development

Thoughts on brand development

How Disney Does Brand Guidelines Everyday

Brand guidelines, also known as brand standards are something that is essentially a set of rules on how your brand works. These guidelines typically include basic information of your company such as history, vision, personality, and key values. Organizations use these guidelines to ensure consistency and strengthen their brand recognition. While working at Disney this past spring, I was able to experience how one of the most recognizable brands in the world manages their image across tens of thousands of employees.

A unique challenge Disney has is managing cast members. They have to make sure that every cast member is representing their brand and that character properly. In learning about branding and brand guidelines in the marketing world, I can see a lot of similarities between the cast member guidelines and the brand guidelines we put together for our clients. Here’s how Disney puts their “brand guidelines” to work everyday with their cast members (using the words cast members instead of employees is one).

The “Disney Look”  vs. Logo/Face of the Company

There is a great big book all about the Disney Look. Have you ever gone to Disney and seen how every cast member looks perfect? There is a reason for that. There is a 28 page book of guidelines each cast member must follow. All the way from hair color to tattoos to nail polish. The Disney Look can compare to the logo and or face of the company. Disney wants to be portrayed a certain way therefore all of their cast members must look that certain way. Brand guidelines do the same thing. They want their logo to look a certain way. It cannot be discolored, cannot be tilted, or shrunk down too small. That is exactly what Disney is doing with their cast members with the Disney Look.

Character Autographs  vs. Typography

Almost everyone has seen the famous, Mickey Mouse’s autograph. There is only one Mickey Mouse therefore his autograph is the same every time (with a lot of training that is). Mickey learns how to do his autograph over and over again just like how you learned to write your name! (If you learned how to write your name blindfolded) Mickey’s iconic autograph can be compared to the typography a company may have in their brand guidelines.

Face Character Voice  vs. Voice of your company

If you ever met a Disney face character you know how they talk. How Belle great’s you with a “bonjour”. If you think these characters are talking silly it’s because they are required to speak like that. Belle is from France so obviously she speaks french to her guests. Every face character is required to speak a certain way to keep their story alive and brands do the exact same thing. In brand guidelines, the voice of the company is a huge part of how the company as a whole should be portrayed. How they speak, how they want you to great guests, how you can advertise and so much more.

Disney is a great company for all companies to learn from because they put the forefront of their brand guidelines to work every single day at Disney locations. These are just three examples but as a former Disney cast member I can promise you there are many, many more. The attention they pay to every detail attributes to their success. These details matter for a small business as much as a they do for a large Fortune 500 company.

What file format should your logo be?

Firle format

When working with a new client, one of the first things I ask for is a copy of their logo in a specific file format (usually a vector file). I’ll get one of the two following responses: “whats a vector?” or “will a JPG work?”. There are many different files types for graphics and they all work for different things.

If you’re a marketer and want to understand when to use which file format, then look no further. Even if you’re not a marketer this information can come in handy when working with a logo. 

Raster Graphics

The most common images that people are familiar with are raster images. GIF, PNG and JPEG (JPG) are the most popular. Raster Images are made up of small colored pixels on a grid that create an image. Since raster images are created with an exact amount of pixels, they become grainy and distorted when stretched or scaled to a larger size.

Rasterized image resized


The JPEG (or JPG) file format is ideal for the use of photography and images that contain intricate colors. When compressed, JPEG files use an algorithm that creates a smaller file but loses quality at the same time. As the file is compressed the image loses information which can be referred to as “lossy compression”. JPEGs aren’t suitable for logos because they don’t support transparency and lose quality. You can pick out a misused JPEG when you see a logo with a white box behind it.

Jpeg file format


Pronunciation opinions aside (I pronounce it GIF, for the record), the GIF file format is best used with graphics that contain flat colors. GIFs use lossless compression that recreate the image using the original data. When a file is compressed to a GIF, the algorithm that’s used reduces the file to 256 colors. This method helps with decreasing the file’s size. If you are creating a flat animation to be used on the web, GIF is the best format to use. The GIF will compress to a small enough size without losing the quality. They also can be animated, so that’s pretty cool. 

Animated GIF file format


Similar to GIFs, PNGs are formatted using lossless compression. Ironically, the PNG format was created to replace the GIF file format. This happened because the GIF method for compression was patented. PNG files are better compressed than GIFs resulting in smaller sized files. PNG files also contain far more colors than GIFs which means they work well with complex graphics. PNGs have transparency options that are useful for web and print. Say goodbye to that annoying colored background that makes your logo look like cheap clip art.

Advantages of using PNG

Vector Graphics

Vectors are mathematical expressions created using points, curves, lines and shapes. Vectors are more flexible than raster images. Vectors can be edited and sized infinitely without losing quality. All logos and graphics should be created using vector software, and they should always be used in print if possible, especially large format print. The most common vector formats are AI and EPS. If a vector graphic is unavailable or you’re using a photo, you need to make sure every graphic is 300dpi when it’s being printed. Something that looks great on your screen could look horribly pixelated when it comes off the printer.


An AI file is a vector file that was created using Adobe Illustrator. This file can only be opened and edited using Adobe Illustrator. Adobe Illustrator is the most popular software used to create logos and illustrations.


An EPS file is a universal file that can be used with vector software such as Adobe Illustrator, GIMP, Sketch, Affinity Designer etc.

When in doubt, talk to your production team before sending over files. And make sure you have your logo in every file version stored in a few different places. You should have, at the very least, the following file types of your logo:


For each version (CMYK, RGB & Black/White)


  • • EPS
  • • PNG
  • • JPEG
  • • GIF


25 Tactics Great Websites Use

When to consider rebranding


Are you thinking of rebranding? There are many reasons to why your company may need to rebrand itself. I’ve put together a small list that can help when thinking about rebranding.

Brand Recognition
Having a recognizable brand helps customers identify your products and services with visual indicators such as logos, colors and slogans. It can be harmful to a company if their brand isn’t easily recognized. It’s worse if your targeted market confuses your brand with your competitors’ brands.
Outdated Brand
Pretend for a moment that your company was founded in the 60’s. Would it make sense to keep the same branding that was created when your company first started? As your company matures so should your brand. Your brand doesn’t have to have an extreme makeover but should stay relevant. You can always do research to see where your brand stands against the competition when it comes to relevancy.
Business evolving
Occasionally a business will grow and venture into new products and services. Recently while watching tv at my friend’s house, a Domino’s Pizza commercial came on. You may have already came across it since it aired more than a few months ago. If your one of the few people that hasn’t seen the commercial it says, “We’ve changed from Domino’s Pizza to Domino’s. Cause were more than pizza”. Once the commercial revealed Domino’s new brand, my friend reacted by saying, “That’s stupid.”
He may think it makes no sense but in my opinion, this rebranding should have happened a long time ago. From 2008 to present, Dominos began to serve other foods besides pizza. It should also be noted that when it comes to the name of the company, subconsciously everyone called Domino’s Pizza, Domino’s in the first place. Have you ever heard someone say, “Lets get Domino’s Pizza,” instead of, “Let’s get pizza from Domino’s?”
Trusting a company is very important to consumers. Some brands just aren’t trustworthy and companies have lied to buyers. These hidden secrets may effect the way customers view their products once they’re made public. Take the food industry as an example. Consumers nowadays want to know what they are eating and if it contains harmful ingredients. Once its revealed that there are harmful ingredients in a food product, consumers will avoid purchasing this product in the future. In most cases this can result in a bit of change to a product as well as rebranding. In worst case scenarios the company may attempt to change their name, logo and rebrand completely.
Rebranding isn’t always the best decision. If your brand is still relevant and works then it might not be the right time for you to rebrand. If you rebrand too soon it might hurt you instead of helping you. I would do as much research as possible before making a decision about rebranding, and find some trustworthy branding experts.

25 Tactics Great Websites Use

A Logo is Art

A logo is art

This morning, Ryan Davey (our front end developer) and I were having a conversation which I think is always brought up when discussing logo design. We both agreed that we think a lot of people don’t understand or appreciate the true value of a quality logo. We also agreed that logos aren’t always perceived as art.

When a new logo for a company surfaces for the first time on the internet you usually read a familiar comment “ My (insert age) year old cousin could have made that for (insert low payment) in (insert short time frame) ”. Im not sure if thats a compliment to your little cousin or your disapproval for your little cousin’s artistic abilities but it never seems positive. These statements from viewers are common when it comes to art and here is why.
You can’t rush art
I think this is always forgotten by the observer. There’s a lot that goes into creating something that is aesthetically pleasing. A logo that you think took 5 minutes realistically could have taken an artist several days or weeks to design. There are various steps that are taken by a designer before finalizing a logo. Here is a quick list of steps that I take:
1. Identifying the brand
2. Research the industry and company’s competition
3. Conceptualize in black and white
4. Simplify concept
5. Create variations for different formats
6. Use color theory for symbolism
7. Make modifications after client feedback
Remember that this is just one logo that is created. In most cases there are multiple logos that will be designed and shown to the client.
Art is opinionated
Artists hear positive and negative remarks all the time because art is a communication of emotion. Art is supposed to make you feel emotion and this is why I think logos are always criticized heavily. The criticism is simply based off of either loving it, hating it or having mixed feelings about what you see.
It can take time to appreciate art
There are occasions when time will tell if your dislike will transform into love. I think a great example that I can give is the Nike swoosh. The Nike swoosh was created by Carolyn Davidson a graphic design student at Portland State University in 1971. The swoosh was chosen by Phil Knight who taught accounting at the university. Knight, who needed to meet production deadlines for Blue Ribbon Sports (now Nike) said, “I don’t love it, but it will grow on me.” His comment couldn’t be more true.
We are all individuals and we have our own opinions throughout our lives. Next time when critiquing a new logo, view it as a piece of art. You don’t have to love the logo but maybe with more insight you’ll appreciate it for what it is.

25 Tactics Great Websites Use