07 Jun What Is A Brand Identity and How to Develop One
What Is Brand Identity and How to Develop One
7 JUNE 2019
IN BRAND STRATEGY BY GRANT DIFFORD
When it comes to creating a sustainable business, it is crucial to focus on creating a brand identity. And this is applicable regardless of your field of activity. If you don’t know the answer to the rather trivial question – what is a brand identity? – then this article will tackle the topic. This way, you’ll know the steps you should follow if you want to develop your brand identity.
Basically, establishing a strong brand identity will help you stand out among the other brands that operate in your industry/sector. Both the look and the overall feel of your business – and this includes your choice of typography, logo, and packaging – all these will impact the customer experience. In other words, your choices regarding branding can help you attract more customers.
At the same time, it’s critical to have a cohesive brand identity, in the sense that you should pick the content and visuals that represent the story you want to tell. You should understand that your brand identity delivers a message, and it’s up to you to decide what that message is.
Determine Your Brand Strategy
First of all, developing your brand’s identity requires a specific strategy, as you cannot act on a whim in this respect. To start, you should outline a detailed plan that will guide you along the way. You should identify your short-term and long-term goals and the approaches that will allow you to accomplish them. It goes without saying that the process of developing your brand’s identity can be tricky, as it requires time, dedication and research. But it’s the only way in which it can get done.
Simply put, a successful brand knows where it’s headed. In addition, it knows its target audience. In this view, when it comes to making decisions regarding your brand’s identity, you should always factor in your target audience – employers and customers.
For example, a logo that is targeted for millennials should look entirely different than a logo targeted for seniors. The same goes for any other details regarding the design, the overall customer experience and the vibe of your brand. The bottom line is that if you don’t have a specific audience in mind when crafting an identity, you will miss out on building a base of customers. When you don’t know who you are addressing, you end up not addressing anyone – it’s as simple as that.
What should you do when you come up with a strategy? Basically, it is a good idea to try to determine the vision you have for the brand. Do you want to create a trendy, modern brand image or a more classic, elegant one? Once again, considering your target audience should help you decide. Also, remember that it’s crucial to narrow down your demographic. Some examples of demographics include gender, age, income, occupation, marital status, and educational level. Another way to determine your target audience is by considering what your demographic thinks of an issue.
For instance, the people that are concerned about the environment are willing to pay more for something if it has been manufactured in an ethical manner. In the meantime, there might be a demographic that will always buy something made by an independent, small company, as opposed to a large corporation. There are only some ideas, as there are several ways in which you could narrow down your demographic.
Establish What You Offer to Your Audience
So, what is a brand identity? Well, brand identity is strongly connected with what you have to offer. In other words, what valuable item/service do you have to offer in return of your audience’s time, commitment and money? Let’s say that you’re thinking about setting up a YouTube channel with a focus on DIY projects. One way in which you could provide value is by creating high-quality content for your audience, by supplying 2 weekly videos on upcycling furniture or related topics.
When in doubt, you could always take the time to analyse what your competitors are doing. Regardless of the type of product or service you are providing, the odds are that you have competition. To that end, after analysing the approach of various competitors, you should point out a specific way in which you could distinguish your brand from them.
What Tools Are Used when Creating a Brand Identity?
Until this point, the odds are that you’ve already determined that brand identity isn’t made by picking out an eye-catching logo and a remarkable colour palate – although such details do matter as well. When designing your brand identity, one of the things you should focus on is creating a cohesive visual language. The characteristics of this visual language should be applicable to the packaging of your product, the business card, the website, the social media accounts, so on and so forth.
Simply put, the elements used in developing a brand identity are a logo, a cohesive design system, using the right colours, illustrations, typography, iconography, web design, video and motion, the use of interactive elements and data visualisation. We’ll look into more detail at some of these aspects in the forthcoming paragraphs.
On a different note, when choosing these elements, it’s advisable to carry in mind the sense of cohesiveness we discussed above. A powerful brand identity should work for everyone – this includes your employees and your target audience.
It should be different from other brands so that it could catch your audience’s attention. Another important aspect is to come up with something memorable, remarkable, which makes a long-lasting visual impact that will stay with your customer for a while.
Flexibility is another essential characteristic that is critical for developing your brand identity. In other words, your brand’s identity should be flexible, so that you can update and apply changes as your brand evolves. That isn’t to say that you are to change your brand’s characteristics depending on the trends that emerge in the marketplace. It merely means that you should be open to changes if they are the right thing, at the right time.
Choosing the Right Name
A brand’s identity is associated, to a given extent, with its name. This is why you should put a lot of thought into finding a meaningful or practical name. With that in mind, do you want to deliver a straightforward, to the point message, or come up with something unique and eye-catching?
One ground rule that applies in most scenarios, though, is avoiding long names, which are also difficult to spell. When you choose a name, it should be memorable. In addition, note that your name should be consistent, in the sense that the name of the website should correspond with the name of the social media account. Using different titles will only confuse your audience, making it very difficult for your target customers to find you online. And your goal should be to make things easy for them, not overcomplicate them.
When you do the brainstorming, make sure you do that with the entire team, as you don’t know where the best ideas will come from – if you are on your own, get feedback from friends and family, but remember they want to please you, they are not always going to be objective. Oftentimes, they come after hours of debating, so it’s best to use all your resources and creativity to find a great, representative brand name. Basically, even if the answer to what is brand identity isn’t the name of the brand, it still plays a part so don’t overlook this.
Designing a Memorable Logo
It would be safe to say that the logo of a brand represents one of the main elements that create a brand’s identity. Basically, the logo will appear on the packaging of the product, on the website, social media accounts, everywhere. To that end, a logo should address the following criteria:
Versatility | Simplicity | Remarkability
There are some people that assume the logo is the most important element that should be considered when crafting a brand’s identity. And while it is true that it is important, it is not the single most important thing – developing the identity of your brand is a more complex process, which entails several elements. In other words, there are several elements that go into creating the puzzle that is brand identity.
To that end, what do you want your logo to represent? Do you want it to be the name of the brand? Or do you want it to be in the form of a symbolic image? You might even go for a combination of the two – the bottom line is that a logo should be representative of your brand’s identity, and it should say a story.
In fact, if you were to do a quick research and analyse different logos of companies operating in the same industry, you’d come to realise that most of those logos are similar – at least colour wise. In this case, you should try to stand out from the crowd by choosing something else.
Picking out the Right Typography
We’ve mentioned that typography is another element that goes into the creation of a brand’s identity. It has to do with creating the right visual aesthetic that illustrates your brand, which will address the taste and preferences of your target audience.
You might think that typography is not that important. However, the details that go into the process of developing a brand are the ones that matter. This is why you should test different options before coming up to a final visual composition.
Even as an untrained individual, you will notice that different typographies convey different messages. Some work for fashion businesses, while others work for tech businesses, for example. The good thing is that you have a wide range of fonts to choose from – so, you can find something to your liking if you do your research.
Readability is of great importance when choosing typography; although you want it to blend with your brand’s identity, you want it to be easy to decipher as well. Once again, your audience should be taken into consideration. For example, a business manual shouldn’t be written in a Papyrus font. It wouldn’t work for the job.
Just as your brand’s logo should be timeless, the same goes for the typography you pick. Basically, you want your brand to last for many years to come, and you want it to remain relevant in spite of trends that may come and go. This is why it is a sensible thing to steer clear of trendy fonts and focus more on classic, timeless ones. The fonts you choose should be consistent for all your platforms so that your brand’s identity is easy to single out of a crowd.
Selecting a Representative Colour Palette that Is True to Your Brand
With the growing popularity of online businesses, you hear a lot about colour palettes and the importance of making the right decisions in this area. The truth is that in the society we live in, we rely more than ever on visuals to communicate and convey emotion. Of course, this has to do with the growing use of the Internet and social media applications that rely extensively on imagery.
This is why you should put a lot of thought into choosing the elements comprising the visual aesthetic of your brand’s identity. There are several stereotypes when it comes to the colour palette. For example, there is the general assumption that green is linked with growth and nature (e.g. Whole Foods, Animal Planet, etc.) while red is associated with creating a sense of excitement and urgency (e.g. Coca Cola). Basically, you should choose what mirrors your brand’s purpose.
To your mind, what are the shades that best illustrate your brand’s identity? Let’s say that you want to establish a company that provides newborn photography services. In this case, the colour palette that will most likely suit your brand’s identity would be a soft, whimsical one. Conveying feelings of serenity and tranquillity is far better than choosing something extravagant that will stand out from the crowd. You get the picture.
Aside from this, the colour palette shouldn’t be too extensive, in the sense that you shouldn’t be using too many shades. This can be challenging for the eye to grasp. Basically, the colour palette should be remarkable without being too much. Balance is the key.
Creating a Timeless, Cohesive Website that Communicates with Your Audience
When it comes to the question of what is brand identity, we cannot miss mentioning the importance of building a website that suits the overall feel and vibe of the brand. Essentially, your website should incorporate all the important information your customers should get if they intend to choose your product or services.
Creating a website allows you to provide more information than you normally would on your social media account, for instance. But this doesn’t mean that you should have unedited bulks of information that are a drag to skim. You should, of course, have an about us section, which should enlist a type of biography that gives insight into the motivation behind establishing the brand.
Authenticity is another critical element. Although we outlined that you should study what your competition is doing right, this doesn’t mean you should copy paste the approach of other companies. Your focus should be on finding your voice, as this will be associated with your brand’s identity.
At the same time, you might think of your website as a kind of portfolio that is open to the entire world to analyse, if you want. You might also see your website as an open business card, or a kind of resume. Your website can be many things, the key is to organise it in a smart, clean way so that the information is easy to scan. Basically, potential customers should easily find the information they are looking for. This is an essential ground rule to abide by.
Developing your brand’s identity is not an easy thing to do, especially considering that we live in a world where online content seems to be oversaturated. In spite of this, it is primordial to build your brand’s identity, find your voice and do it in an authentic manner. That’s what’s all about.
There’s no one-size-fits-all type of answer to the question what is a brand identity? Ultimately, it is a combination of elements that characterise your brand, your activity, your approach, what you intend to do in your domain of expertise. We hope that this guide has addressed some of the questions you had on the topic and the steps that you should follow to develop an authentic brand image.
Make sure you are cohesive and consistent – this applies when it comes to the content you post on social media and your website, as well as the aesthetic visual you promote. On a final note, stay true to who you are – communicate with your target audience, consider what your customers expect from you and don’t stress over the latest tips and tricks popular on Google.