Brand identity is defined as the visible elements that consumers associate with the brand.
However, a brand identity is more than a visual representation. It is how this set of carefully selected elements and communications make people feel—and more importantly, act.
In this article, we’ll explain what elements make up the brand identity and why they are important. Then, we’ll share some insight on the brand discovery and brand identity development process. Lastly, we’ll reveal the secret to developing a unique and remarkable brand identity for your business.
What Is Brand Identity?
Brand identity, also referred to as corporate identity, is the set of elements used to create a brand image. These elements are chosen or created to reflect the company’s mission, desired positioning, and business goals.
Core elements include but are not limited to: the company name and logo, typography, tagline, collateral, and corporate photography. In addition, the colors, materials, and patterns used throughout the branding and physical spaces are extensions of the brand identity. The tone of voice in brand communications. The texture of print collateral.
A strong brand identity helps differentiate the company from others in the market. It influences brand positioning, and communicates the personality of the brand. It adds character and authenticity to the brand offering.
A unique and remarkable brand identity is memorable. It builds trust. It communicates a perceived value of the product or service without saying a word. This is achieved by thoughtfully creating or carefully selecting a group of elements, that together, form the brand identity.
The Core Elements Of Brand Identity
A brand name should be easy to pronounce and easy to remember. It should clearly distinguish who the organization is, and what they do. But an effective brand name can do so much more.
Effective brand names maximize the organization’s branding and marketing potential. They begin to define the brand purpose and identity with immediacy and clarity. A unique or clever name can increase brand recognition, or connect on an emotional level. Think Panera, Disney, or Coca-Cola.
Furthermore, a strategically chosen brand name can add tremendous SEO value. This should be a top priority for any organization that plans to rely mostly on digital channels to generate leads and revenue.
The logo is the centerpiece of the brand identity. It is a symbol communicating the promise and unique personality of the brand.
Great logos are simple. Scalable. Versatile. They are timeless, while still representative of their time. Great logos are memorable, and purposeful. They invite the target audience into the brand’s arms with alluring features and polish.
A great brand identity design can take one moment of inspiration, or eighteen months of dedicated effort. There is a delicate balance of symbolism, typography, and color psychology that must be achieved for a great logo to come forth.
3. Brand Colors
Colors affect the way consumers interpret and react to the brand identity. They subconsciously evoke emotions and moods that influence buying behavior. For example, many interpret blue as a calming and serene color. Red, on the other hand, can be interpreted as energetic, aggressive, and dangerous.
Choosing colors that appeal to the target audience and differentiate the brand from competitors can go a long way in developing the unique and remarkable brand identity companies desire.
Typography is more than fonts and typefaces. It is the practice of arranging type in order to convey a message. In this case, the message is your company name, values, character, and sales pitch.
Establishing brand typography and font hierarchy brings consistency and clarity to communications. It provides structure and organization to your brand communications. That’s why it is critical to choose the fonts best suited for the brand and all its applications.
The brand voice communicates personality and authority. It needs to be consistent, confident, and clear.
When consumers are asked why some brands stood out more than others, the brand voice played a significant role in their responses. Forty percent said memorable content, thirty-two percent said compelling storytelling, and thirty-three percent said distinctive personality.
What a brand says, and how they say it, matters.
Think of a tagline as a three-second elevator pitch. It should describe what the company does and why someone should buy from them. “Subs so fast you’ll freak!” It’s hard to miss the point.
Effective taglines highlight the mission and purpose of the brand. An effective tagline delivers the promise, and dares the consumer not to try their amazing product.
Imagery includes corporate photography and illustrations, but also shapes, patterns, and textures.
Curating a library of original, high-quality imagery that can be used throughout branding and advertising should be a top priority for any brand. Make it accessible for designers, social media managers, web developers and other vendors, as well as employees and the sales team—this will add consistency and quality control to visual communications.
8. Brand Collateral
Brand collateral is a broad term that encompasses all media used to promote the brand. This includes but is not limited to: materials that support sales and marketing, exterior signage, business cards, and digital assets.
It is critical for the brand colors, fonts, and logo to be reproduced accurately across all channels and applications. Take into consideration both online and offline usage of the logo. In addition, anticipate print limitations and utilize the Pantone color system. A clear set of brand guidelines can ensure consistency and style are maintained throughout all brand collateral.
What unique need does the brand fill? Where does it rank among the competition in the mind of the consumer?
An effective brand positioning strategy provides clear differentiation from the competition. It shapes the desired brand image, and strengthens the connection with the audience.
“Corporations are people too, my friend.” This line made famous by Mitt Romney is not far from the truth when it comes to branding.
Brands have personalities just like people—some are exciting and confident, others are dull and uninviting. Unique and interesting personalities tend to draw attention while confident personalities instill confidence in others. They inspire, and form bonds that are unbreakable.
Bonus: Brand Style Guide
Think of a style guide as an owner’s manual for brand communications. A style guide is a set of standards for the elements described above, from logo usage and collateral design, grammar, tone, and everything else.
Which Pantone colors should be used to reproduce the logo accurately? What fonts are approved for digital media applications? How much negative space is needed on signage? The style guide will explain.
Style guides serve a dual purpose—first, they bring clarity to internal communications and brand messaging for employees. Additionally, they provide guidance and rules for outside vendors and artists who create for the brand later on.
The collection of these elements and the consumer’s experience with them will define the identity, image, and culture of the brand. They are an integral part of the brand identity, and are what makes a brand unique or remarkable.
Discovering Your True Brand Identity
Now that the definition and core elements of brand identity have been established, let’s look at how they are selected and created.
Creating a unique and remarkable brand identity begins by exploring the question, “Why does the brand exist?”
It is the purpose, the people, and the product, that inspires brilliant brand identities. With a true understanding of who the brand is, what it does well, and what it aspires to become, logos and taglines begin to materialize naturally.
A comprehensive brand discovery process will reveal and clarify a brand’s purpose. Done successfully, it closer aligns business goals to brand strategy and explores who the brand is, and aspires to be, on a deeper level.
Here are a few areas of brand discovery that begin to shape brand identity.
Know thy self.
The purpose of brand discovery is to gain a better understanding of the brand, its goals, and its values. This will require answers to the questions:
What is our brand mission?
What are our core values?
Where are our strengths and weaknesses?
Know thy audience.
Market research is one of the most important aspects of brand identity development. Understanding why a certain audience buys your product, or why they don’t buy your product, is the key to reaching them.
Make an investment to truly get to know your customer. Who they are and who they aspire to be, where they engage with brands like yours online. Walk a mile in their shoes to gain a deeper understanding of what motivates them to buy.
Know thy competition.
Researching the competition will not only help avoid using similar color schemes or iconography, but also provide valuable insight in to what works, what doesn’t, and what hasn’t been tried yet.
In order to understand your brand’s own positioning, it must have a deep understanding of the competition.
Know thy story.
Effective brand stories connect with the audience and evoke emotion. They humanize the brand.
The brand story should explain the motivation for starting the business, its history of success, and most importantly—why people should care about the brand. A compelling brand story builds trust, and is an opportunity to express the personality and core values of the brand.
Ultimately, a compelling story helps the brand stand out from others with a less compelling one, or no story at all.
The Secret To Developing A Unique & Remarkable Brand Identity
We see hundreds, if not thousands, of logos and brand elements each day. Only a handful are memorable or effective. Even fewer are remarkable.
Why is it so difficult to create a world-class logo and brand identity? Math is easy, design is hard. Anticipating what different audiences will react to and fall in love with is not an exact science-yet.
There is a secret ingredient to the most successful brand identity designs. It’s something so simple and inconspicuous that many organizations miss the mark entirely.
The secret to a successful brand identity design is authenticity.
First, because authenticity builds trust and dependability. If a brand pretends to be something it isn’t, consumers will catch on and cash out.
Second, because another brand can’t be your brand, which is what makes your brand truly unique. It is critical to express these unique characteristics and qualities to differentiate your brand from the pack. Be different. Be you.
Choosing The Right Brand Identity Agency
Brand identity design and development should not be a DIY project, or an afterthought when making a budget. It is the most important investment you will make in your brand.
Hiring the right brand identity agency to lead your organization through this process is critical to long-term success. Their work will play a major role in how your audience, employees, and the world perceive the brand for years to come.
From the strategist who forges a personalized plan, to the copywriter who helps tell the story, or the designers who develop the brand collateral-they all must understand your goals and values. They must have a deep understanding of your buyers and competition.
But first, you must know your goals and values. You need a deeper understanding your buyers and competition.
Joint Media Marketing specializes in remarkable brand identity design and development for small and mid-sized businesses. For more information on our brand identity design or branding services, use the contact form to schedule a free consultation.