What is Brand Identity?
Simply, brand identity is style. If a company were a person, brand identity would be how that person dresses, their favorite type of wine, the way they sign their name, the music they listen to. The culmination of all these elements is what we call brand identity. And just as with people, there is no right and wrong of style, only a failure to refine, embrace, and maintain that style.
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Why do you need one?
Customers want to feel like they’ve found the real deal. A strong brand identity conveys a company’s strengths, vision, and style to their customers. If a company’s brand identity is weak, inconsistent, or non-existent, customers may wonder if that company is worth their time.
Developing a Strong Brand Identity
This is the big-picture question of what the company is about and what its personality is. Determining the company’s mission and brand essence are key in choosing the brand elements later.
This step looks at a company’s current branding and asks, "Is this the kind message we want to send? Is this the personality we want to convey?" If not, determine which aspects should be revised in the following steps of the brand identity process.
3) Audit Your Competition
A strong brand identity should stand out in a crowd. Assessing the competition is a good way of seeing what kind of company personalities are already in play and how the current branding compares. This assessment will highlight areas in which to emulate competition and also areas in which it may be beneficial to differentiate.
4) Visual Direction
This isn’t designing the logos and colors just yet; this is asking what kind of elements could be used to convey the right brand personality. This could be likened to an interior designer choosing what colors, textures, and finishes might be right before buying the drapes, furniture, and flooring. In the same way, a company should decide what elements are right for the brand before actually designing the logo and other materials.
5) Branding Brief
This brings the previous four steps together into one succinct brief. This brief should outline the company’s mission, core values, brand personality, target audience, competitors, competitive advantage, and key branding elements going forward. This should give a good overview of the brand without being overwhelming.
Using the elements outlined in the branding brief, create a variety of possible logos. This can be done by hand or using design software. Creating multiple logos helps to show the options available and what elements work best. Make sure to keep the logo relatively simple and easy to reproduce in multiple media and sizes, such as online, on letterhead and business cards, or on apparel.
7) Choosing a Color Palette
Turning again to the branding brief, outline possible colors that work well together and would be fitting for the brand. Think of the colors used by the competition and whether the brand should emulate or differentiate from competing brands’ colors. Color palettes should include a few main colors, several complementary colors, and accent colors.
8) Choosing Font Styles
To start, a brand should have two to three fonts that are commonly used for headings, subheadings, and text. Depending on what the font is used for, some fonts are most effective than others. Serif fonts (like Times New Roman) are easier to read in long, uninterrupted breaks, but it’s more traditional. Sans Serif fonts (like Calibri) lend a more modern look, and script fonts (like Allura) are more organic and playful. Choose a grouping that works well together, is easy to read, and fits the brand style outlined in the brief.
9) Additional Elements
Depending on the company’s needs, other branding elements may need to be designed. This could extend to specialty packaging, images and music used for websites and advertisements, vehicle wraps and decals, or even the color of the packing peanuts. Every element that can be branded should be considered in brand identity process.
10) Build Brand Guidelines
Create a brand style guide that outlines how every aspect of the brand can or cannot be used. This guide should cover every medium in which the brand is used, from the website to print to products. It should outline margins, appropriate colors and backgrounds, sizing requirements, and all acceptable deviations (such anniversary or special event logos). The guide should also include font types, icons, taglines, and any other elements that should not be casually reproduced.
When these steps are completed, a company is ready to implement the new brand identity across the entirety of the business.