What is Brand Identity?
Your Brand Identity is a prime ingredient that sets your business, products and services apart, it goes towards solidifying your reputation, makes you stand out from your competition and projects your value and ethos to associate and entice your ideal audience.
But How Does One Define Brand Identity Exactly?
How does it refer to design, and how does it relate to enhancing your business?
Brand Identity makes up all the visible and tangible elements that depict a brand, such as the color palette selection you choose, the overall shape and use of lines, icons and symbols, and font. All the things that distinguish your brand identity visually, in the mind of your consumers.
Brand identity is not to be confused with brand image. Brand image is the current perception your audience has about your company, brands, products, and services. It can be referred to all associations a consumer holds deep in their mind, in terms of their ability to recall and the set of perceptions they may have concerning your brand.
Much of what “brand image” may contain, can be used to help shape, conceptualize and design your brand identity.
The term branding refers to all marketing and advertising practices that go towards promoting your company by means of utilizing a unified design system. Building a brand is essentially about shaping a brand in the consumers’ minds.
It refers to all elements associated with the visual aspects of your brand, including corporate logos, color pallets, icons, graphics, fonts, packaging and message, essentially all tangible and visual elements. It is designed to shape consumer impressions and status.
Your brand identity should make you recognizable and memorable to your customers. Audiences should associate and recall your brand with your company, brands, products and services. A symbol that connects your audience, urging for brand loyalty and positive perception.
Important Features of Brand Identity
As already mentioned, brand identity refers to all visual aspects associated with your brand. And so, it goes without saying you want to ensure you are designing content that represents your company, brands, products and services appropriately.
Building a positive brand image aligned with your brand identity can produce the potential for consistency in terms of sales.
All aspects involved in the development of your brand identity require Brand Research, to properly comprehend the market, goals, customers, and message that refer to your company, brand, products and services.
How To Create a Brand Identity
Know Who You Are and Where You Stand in The Market
Before you can outline the types of tangible elements you want to create as part of your brand collateral, you need to know some fundamentals to ensure you place your brand in a way that reflects who you are, or want to be, and target the type of audience you have determined is most optimal for the needs and objectives of your company.
To create your brand, consider answering some of these types of key questions.
The more you know about your company, brand, products, and services, and how they are perceived the better it goes towards aligning your design team appropriately:
- Who is your business in terms of personality?
- What type of perception or reputation do you want to convey?
- How do stand amongst your competitors visually and contextually?
- What is the nature and reality of your market?
- What are your key business goals?
- How do you differentiate – What is your positioning?
- How do you identify with your audience / Customers?
- What message do you want to convey?
As indicted previously, these elements are what define your brand, and they help you to view the conditions of your market, in terms of where you sit, how people perceive your brand, how you sit amongst your competitors’ brands, and so on, all these factors go towards creating some form of understanding, which then goes towards assisting your design teams in building an appropriate brand identity.
Research must be conducted before you start building any brand identity, otherwise, you may end up sending the wrong message to the wrong audience.
If you don’t know how to conduct this type of research, please consider hiring a professional team that conducts this type of program as part of the day-to-day business, or contact us anytime.
Essentially, what you want to do is clarify the basics as to who and what your brand stands for, and who is more likely to respond or be attracted to your companies’ offerings.
Additional Questions to Consider:
- Why did you create this business?
- What aspects make your business valuable to consumers?
- What perception do you want to create?
- Define your brand in a short sentence
- What words would people use to describe your company, brands, products and services in terms of who you are, what value you provide, what reputation you have and what type of perception you create?
Once you have sorted and decided on all the determining elements ad factors that would shape your brand, it’s time to conceptualize and implement your brand identity in visual terms, bringing life as a symbol for the people that matter most: Stakeholders, employees, and of course your audience and customers.
Design: The Foundation of Your Brand Identity
Your visual outlook and or design is what will define the Brand Identity of your persona, business, products and services.
Branding assets are the tangible features that meld how your brand is perceived. As previously mentioned, things like your logo, your product packaging, your instore design and interior layout, signage, apps, website, social media, uniform and so on.
To build a successful business brand identity demands that it represents your brand precisely.
How to create a Brand Identity that facilitates all those aspects?
Constructing Your Brand Identity
To begin the design process, you should begin by considering the fundamental elements that will go towards building your design. These foundational elements of your brand identity include:
It is a form of non-verbal communication that expresses a certain context and personality associated with your brand. It could express and traditional, romantic, modern, technological, natural perception just by choice of typography, it can also create the wrong impression if done wrong. It is a powerful means of tying in your communications, starting from the typo used on your logo, to all copy used throughout all aspects of your brand communication. From the copy on your brochures, pamphlets, business card, websites and so on.
Be sure your font creates the right impression, is easy legible, memorable, and used consistently.
As implied previously, Typography hold meaning, similar to color, it expresses and emotion and a personality, ensure you know the subconscious associations assigned to the font face you end up using.
Below Are 5 Main Types of Fonts Types:
- Serif Fonts (Times New Roman) typically uses what looks like an anchor on the ends of each letter. This typography often perceived as a traditional and classic, commonly used to portray a sense of trust. Thing Time magazine, Vogue, Tiffany & Co.
- Slab Serif – Almost the same with Serif fonts they too display an Anchor. However, the anchor is usually thick and block edge. Think Honda, Sony, Volvo, Wikipedia
- Sans Serif Fonts (like Helvetica) Unlike Serif fonts, this font typically appears using sharp, or flat edge letters, lacking the ‘anchor’. they generally create a sense of modernity. Think Netflix, Google, Facebook, Spotify, Panasonic, Kawasaki, Jeep.
- Script Typography these fonts typically try to emulate cursive handwriting. Think Kellogg’s, Coca-Cola, Carlsberg, and Disney.
They are often used to personalize and to portray a sense of luxury, and or even a feminine characteristic.
- Decorative or Display Fonts – This type of font theoretically could use a mix of all the previous fonts. However, they differ in that there are additional design elements that affect the visual design of the font. To describe them easily, think Guitar Hero Logo, IBM, Def Leppard, ESPRIT, and Harry Potter.
They are used to create a unique type face that not only creates a powerful and creative statement, they form an identity that will theoretically be easier to recall.
Again, typography says a lot about who you are. Be sure to consult with a professional design team that understands the nuance of typography. Otherwise, you might be targeting the wrong audience and creating the wrong perception.
When it comes to conceptualizing your brand identity, color will be a significant factor, since color contain their own meaning and projects its own set of implications. And so, selecting the best color palette will aid in solidifying the first impressions people will have when experiencing your brand.
Color goes way beyond simply providing an aesthetic appeal, colors connect with consumers on an emotional and psychological level, whether it’s conscious or not. Ensure your color palette generates appropriate emotions and associations that you are trying to project.
Below are some examples of color and their meanings:
- Black: Black represents danger, mystery, power, elegance, and sophistication. It also compliments and acts as a perfect base for all colors.
- White: Generally, the base for all colors, represents purity, innocence, luxury, space, virginity, but be careful since in certain parts of Asia it represents mourning.
- Green: Green is typically associated with nature. Versatile and often calming. But when used in the wrong situation can also create a negative effect, as associated with jealously, poison, greed and so on.
- Brown: While not commonly used due to its obvious connotation, Brown can provide a positive feeling related to nature, earth, solidity, flexibility, reliability, safety, and protection.
- Yellow: Yellow, It’s the color that captures attention more than any other color. It’s a color that is commonly associated with happiness, optimism, and sunshine.
- Red: Red refers to heat, passion, and excitement. Appropriate for high-energy type products.
- Pink: Pink is culturally associated with being a feminine color. It is a more playful, innocent, softer version of red.
- Orange: Much like red, it is a more approachable color that still exudes energy.
- Purple: This color is generally associated with royalty, extravagance, imagination, knowledge, self-respect, magnificence, piety, peace, pride, unknown, individuality, sexual energy and magic.
- Blue: Blue is probably one of the most used colors since it appeals to almost all demographics. It is generally associated with serenity, constancy, stimulus, insight, or health. It can also represent sadness and depression.
As with color, shape and form can also imbue different perceptions and emotions, let us take a quick look at how some shape features can ‘shape’ the way in which your brand might be perceived.
- Rounded Shape – This form usually projects a positive emotional message, one that it youthful, feminine, fun and also suggests stability and endurance.
- Straight Edged Shapes – typical imbue a sense of stability, balance, professionalism, seriousness, power, masculinity,
- Straight Lines – Vertical lines we associate with masculinity, strength and aggression, while horizontal lines, we associate with stability, tranquility and calm.
Designing The Brand Identity
After determining the base elements that will shape ad define your design, it is time to translate that essence of all you wish to project into an actual tangible asset of which can then be used during all phases of advertising and marketing your company, brands, products and services.
The number of platforms and mediums you could use to display your identity are endless, so focus on what matters to you and your audience. For example, a shoe store should focus on its retail store and catalogue. Digital service companies should focus on their website and so on.
Below are some of the deliverables you may or should consider developing.
Your logo is the most important feature of your visual brand identity. Ensure that your brand
- Communicates who you are and what you value as a brand;
- Is aesthetically pleasing and simple in design to limit possibilities for confusion and loss of recall.
- Sits within the expectations of your industry, while also differentiating yourself.
- Is something that will stand the test of time. Not something trending. Where 6 months later it feels old, cliché, and irrelevant.
- Create an impression that appropriately reflects the essence and message of your company and brand.
You will also want to create a number of variations of your logo, such as a black or white-colored version or an array of varying sizes.
What are the 7 Types of Logos?
- Monogram Logos – known also as Lettermarks are logos that consist of letters, usually brand initials, such as: ABC, BHP, IBM, WB, EA, VW, CC.
- Wordmarks (or logotypes) – Much like a lettermark, is a font-type logo that typically depicts the name of the business.
Think Nescafe, Disney, Visa, Google, Canon, FedEx, Yahoo.
- Pictorial Marks (Logo Icon) – is often called the brand mark or logo symbol, it refers to an icon or graphic type logo.
Think Target, Twitter, Apple, MacDonald’s, Dominos, Starbucks.
- Abstract Logo Marks – This format is essentially the same as Pictorial marks, but they use visual elements that are not typically identifiable. Like Pepsi, Mitsubishi, Google Drive, and Adidas.
Abstract marks provide the ability to convey what your company does and or represents symbolically, without having to deal with cultural implications. Think about Nike’s swoosh, which suggests movement.
- Mascots – As the name suggests, this form of the logo contains an illustrated character. Usually cartoonish in style, and generally depicting something that expresses fun. Mascots are proven to be successful in representing your brand as spokespeople and brand ambassadors.
Famous mascots include the KFC’s Colonel and Ronald McDonald, they are also often used for food products, sports, and appeal to families and children.
- The Combination Mark – A combination mark is a logo that could consist of a wordmark, lettermark, and potentially a pictorial mark, abstract mark, or mascot.
Think Pizza Hut, Rolex, Puma, Master Card, and Dropbox.
Using the format provides brand owners versatility, i.e., the mascot and or brand icons can be utilized individually down the track.
- The Emblem – These types of logos generally consist of some form of typography, a symbol, or an icon encapsulated within a container of sorts. Similar to ancient seals and crests. They often exude a sense of the traditional and are predominantly used by government agencies.
Think university logos like Yale, Harvard, NFL, Harley Davidson, and even Starbucks.
The problem with these types of logos is that they are not as flexible in terms of resizing, for example if an emblem logo design is very intricate, it won’t be easy to replicate, or shrink without losing legibility and so on.
Your website is one of the most valuable marketing and or branding resources due to the nature it runs 24/7, globally. It is the face of your company. And so, it makes sense to invest to ensure it generates optimal impressions from your audience and or customers. Specifically for companies managing their business primarily online, as your customers will more than likely check your site out before considering whether or not they want to conduct business with you.
Make sure you invest in this since it is arguably one of the most important features that represent your brand. If you don’t, chances are you will lose out on potential opportunities because you underestimated the value of your website.
There was a time when packaging was simply about containing and ensuring the safety of contents. Nowadays product packaging can play a crucial role in the selling products, support the growth of your business, marketing and branding efforts. Much like your website, it is a face of your brand, be it before and after, it is the final touch point, an addition to your marketing commination channel, a salesman, and a valuable takeaway aspect to creating positive unboxing experiences, to create a memorable, unique experience for your customers.
Form the shape of a bottle, to the package you sent via courier. It’s a vital marketing tool that compliments branding, highlights your product, and creates a memorable experience.
Again, just like your other marketing apparel, business cards represent your company’s brand. Besides providing important contact details and information about you, such as name, title, email, website, address and phone, and so on, it often acts as the first tangible touchpoint that not only promotes your brand, it expresses an impression and image of your brand. Much of what we have previously discussed will be applied to your business card, such as your logo, typography and fonts, color, and even the type of texture you choose to use, all of these elements go towards reinforcing a positive opinion related towards you and your brand.
Much of today’s business communications are conducted via email. Ensure you utilize the right design strategy to differentiate yourself from the clutter (spam). Regardless of your intentions, keep the content and design as simple as possible so it is legible. If you are promoting products, make sure all images are top-notch. The simple fact is most people delete emails from people they don’t know. But if you create something that can be scanned visually within a few seconds, you may gain traction where others won’t.
Produce a Brand Guideline
After all design aspects have been selected conceptualized and finalized, you will want to create a document that outlines all your design assets, and explains how to use all your branding features. Much like a design do’s and don’ts instructional manual for your brand. This will aid in assisting your or any external parties in designing all your marketing applications follow a strict guideline to ensure your brand is consistently implemented. This will go towards building and maintain positive perceptions that hopefully instil a sense of trust and professionalism across all mediums, be it social media ads, print production, packaging and so on.
Reduce negative limitations that could reduce your brand’s ability to be recognized or generate long-term brand loyalty.
Final Takeaway to Creating Brand Identity
The first part involves developing a visual identity that differentiates you from the crowd, and that you align it with the essence of how you wish to be perceived, create an accurate, positive perception, one that projects a sense of professionalism for an audience that is most likely to purchase or interact with your brand, services or products.
Secondly, after research, and developing your brand identity, you should monitor and keep abreast of how people perceive your brand on a regular basis. Conduct various aspects related to market research, urge customers to provide reviews or simply communicate directly.
Deliver an experience that consumers would expect and maintain your visual branding identity consistently across all mediums and platforms.
And get with the times, create networks, communicate with your audience, stay relevant.
Need help with developing your brand Identity? Please contact us at lia s. Associates | Branding and Design agency in Surabaya, alternatively we could offer a series of research activities, or even offer a customized course on the subject to better educate your team.
Click to view our Brand Identity Projects
Written by Michael Jordon
15 Jun 2021