By Suzanne McGinnis, Cofounder of ThreeDefined

When you think of some of the most successful companies in the world, an image probably comes to mind. They all attain a level of quality, a feeling, a color or an icon (think: Starbucks, Coca-Cola, Apple). That image you hold, in-a-nutshell, is branding. Consumers are visual people — if it pleases our eyes and hearts, our brains and wallets will follow. Smart businesses understand this and invest time into it. As easy as it sounds, we talk to many companies who are unaware of the importance of visual appeal and branding. Here are some basic mistakes we see and some simple tips to consider:

1. Doing Too Much: 10 fonts, 25 colors, 9 photos, 5 charts and 3 tag lines all shouting for attention. When it comes to branding, keep it simple. Create a basic “guide” with 1 main font and another that work well together. Try Googling “good font pairings” for online help. The same goes for colors: start with 1-2 and use a couple accents. If you’re unsure, check out, Pinterest or ask a designer for advice. When using photography or illustration, make sure it’s high quality. Lo-res/non-cropped photos look unprofessional. One gorgeous photo or a smart graphic can do wonders and speak volumes.

2. Being Inconsistent: changing a logo or website every few months or adding new colors just for fun. Once you’ve done the work in creating your brand “guide” of some kind, stick to it! Swapping out colors, fonts, messaging or the overall look is confusing. We all recognize those glorious “golden arches” from anywhere in the world because of consistency. Stay true to your brand across all platforms, including print, online, etc.

3. Making Us Think: the logo is a random shape, the name is vague, we can’t find the 1-800 number, graphics don’t make sense. Being abstract is cool. Being clever is awesome. Mazes are fun. But not when it comes to your brand. If customers don’t understand what you are or can’t find answers to their questions quickly, they will move on. If your logo or name is abstract, add a tagline or headline that qualifies it. Be certain photography and charts make sense and are easy-to-read. Align things whenever possible to create order. Your website should be logical and easy to navigate. Unless you are in the treasure-hunting business, don’t make potential customers search for anything.

Suzanne McGinnis/Creative Director is ThreeDefined‘s idea person. Suzanne’s traditional art school background at the Columbus College of Art & Design, combined with more than 15 years specializing in advertising and design, makes for some very un-traditional thinking. When she’s not coloring outside the lines, you’ll find her running, traipsing thru the woods, strumming her ukelele, adventuring with her family, or laughing with friends over a glass of bubbles. Follow at @threedefined.