Brand Identity: Creating and Reinforcing your Brand
Functional products and services are the foundation of any company, and paying for advertisement space can bring awareness to your products. However, if you want your consumers to evolve beyond one-time purchasers and into loyal customers and advocates, you need to have an efficient brand development strategy in place. In the big umbrella of brand strategy, which involves creating the ''personality'' of your brand, you have visual elements that play into your brand persona. It's what we call ''brand identity.''
In the following article, we delve into what exactly ''brand identity'' is and where it can be applied to create more opportunities in reinforcing your brand.
What is Brand Identity?
Your brand identity consists of all the visuals elements your consumers see. The various components include your font, colour palette, graphics, and logo. By taking the initiative to consider and carefully craft these elements, you will be able to relay the emotional feeling and values your brand is trying to portray.
On a side note, the term ''brand identity'' is often confused with the term ''brand image.'' To clarify, ''brand identity'' refers to the constructed visual elements of the brand. In contrast, ''brand image'' refers to the reputation of the brand formed by the consumer impressions made of the brand from their experience with varying touchpoints.
Elements of Brand Identity
Any company's brand identity can be dissected into numerous components, including its colour palette, typography, graphic/photographic style, and logo. In the following, let's take a look at these in more detail:
For the colour palette, designers will often choose one to three dominant colours to feature predominantly across the company's consumer-facing touchpoints, and the choice of colours can significantly affect how your consumers feel while browsing your channels and contents. Below, we've listed colours along the spectrum of the rainbow and what they may convey.
As the most eye-catching colour of the spectrum, red has a compelling, passionate, and energetic tone. You may choose this colour if you want to convey your brand as one that is more exciting, young, and stimulating.
Example: Netflix, Coca-Cola, Red Bull
Orange is another warm and heated colour, only secondary to red. It is vibrant, fun, cheerful, and often linked to health and vitality. Similar to the colour red, you may choose orange if you want to convey a more playful and energetic image.
Examples: Fanta, Gatorade, Nickelodeon
Like the sun, yellow is often associated with happiness, optimism, and warmth. It is a more common choice for mass consumer brands.
Example: McDonald's, Sprint, Nikon
Soothing and relaxing to the eyes, green is most often associated with nature, harmony, and tranquillity. As the colour of trees and plants, green can commonly represent rebirth, growth, and renewal. It is often a popular choice for sustainability-centred brands.
Examples: Whole Foods Market, Starbucks, Animal Planet
As one of the most commonly selected colours in branding, blue is another colour that is particularly visually relaxing and comforting. It can convey credibility, stability, and intelligence, and is a popular choice for technology or finance companies.
Examples: Facebook, Skype, Goldman Sachs
Mix a fiery, passionate red with a serene, calm blue, and you get purple. Purple is a colour that is often associated with delicacy, imagination, and gentleness. If you want to covey a creative, respectable brand with a reliable reputation, purple is your colour.
Example: Hallmark, Cadbury, Babies R Us
While irrevocably associated with all things feminine and girly, pink is a far more divisive colour than some might think. From edgy and confident Betsey Johnson to seductive and sophisticated Victoria Secret, the use of pink can represent brands from innocence and sweetness to rebellious and independent – all depending on shades.
Examples: Barbie, Cosmopolitan, Lyft
Brown is an earthy, warm, and neutral colour that we commonly associate with reliability, comfort, and heritage. It is probably one of the least standard colours in branding and can relay vintage or masculine perceptions, mostly found in chocolate or coffee related brands.
Examples: Nespresso, J.P. Morgan, UPS
Though not technically a colour, the simplicity of black tones is most effective for portraying sophisticated, luxurious, and timeless images.
A tone that compliments every colour of the spectrum, white is again not a colour. Still, it can adjust in relation to the other colours of the palette to convey a more minimalistic or colourful look and feel to your various touchpoints.
Examples: Chanel, Apple, Montblanc
Your typography, or font, is another element of your brand identity that can affect how your consumers perceive your brand. In the section below, we explore the four types of fonts available for selection:
The word ''serif'' is a technical name for the fine line that finishes off each letter's main stroke. We also call these strokes the "feet." These fonts are more commonly associated with traditional and luxurious brands with a long history.
Font Examples: Times New Roman, Century, Georgia
Brand Logo Examples: The New York Times, Tiffany & Co, Coach, Rolex
Sans Serif fonts
If serif means ''feet'', sans-serif fonts are fonts ''without feet''. These fonts have square and smooth edges, conveying a more sleek and contemporary look. Sans-serif fonts are more often the choice for trendy and modern brands; in recent years, many fashion brands that once used serif fonts have rebranded with sans serif fonts to portray a modernization of the brand as a while, such as Burberry and Balenciaga.
Font Examples: Arial, Calibri, Helvetica
Brand Logo Examples: Google, Microsoft, Spotify
These fonts are essentially cursive writing, conveying an elegant, creative and fancy feeling or the personal touch of a handwritten nature.
Font Examples: Edwardian Script, Chancery Cursive
Brand Logo Examples: Johnson & Johnson, Coca-Cola, Cadillac
Display fonts are statement fonts. They are usually specially designed for the brand, with unique shapes, outlines, or shadowing. You may choose this type of font if you want to convey a bold, unique brand with an instantly recognizable logo.
Font Examples: Stencil, Rosewood, Magneta
Brand logo examples: Disney, Fanta, Lego
Distinctive images are one of the most effective ways to grab your audience's attention and start them down your marketing funnel. When creating your distinctive image style, you may want to consider the following questions:
What kind of mood do you want to convey through your images?
Will you be using photographs to represent your brand or graphics?
If you are using photographs, will your pictures be curated for a high-end, editorial image or will you mainly feature everyday users for a friendlier and approachable image?
If you are using graphics, will it be more modern and minimal or bold and decorative?
What kinds of icons and symbols will you incorporate in your images?
Where will your text be placed in relation to these images?
How will your visual placements vary based on different marketing channels?
The consistency of your images and style plays a crucial part in the formation of your brand identity. The more precisely your image style is defined, the more you can ensure that you present a unique and recognizable character in your future marketing activities.
Your logo is a crucial gateway to your brand identity. It may be one of the first things your audience sees, and you want to ensure that it is fully representative of your brand. When creating your logo, you may ask yourself the following questions:
Is it simple and unique?
Is it instantly recognizable and memorable?
According to your business objectives and planning, will your logo still be representative of your brand in 3-5 years?
Do your design elements, such as colours and shapes used, represent your company's core values?
Does your logo follow the patterns of those in your industry? If not, is that a deliberate choice?
Can your logo be easily applied across all your marketing channels? Will you need variations of it, such as a variation in black and white?
A great logo may not make a striking difference to your business's growth, but a bad one will definitely undermine it! Check your logo with the above questions to ensure it will be a suitable one for your company.
How to Activate your Brand Identity
Create a Brand Guide
After defining your colour palette, typography, graphic/photographic style, and logo, you will need to ensure that all these elements can be applied correctly and consistently to all your consumer-facing materials. We do this by creating a ''brand book'', also called ''brand guidelines''. A brand book is essentially a document that details all your design assets, including when to use them, how to use them, as well as any other notes for do's and don'ts when applying them. Consistency is crucial to your brand development and application. Your brand will only be able to stick with your consumers and feel credible if you can reinforce the same brand over and over again. Ensure that your brand guidelines are simple and easy to understand for all your employees, and enjoy seeing your brand identity grow through all your touchpoints.
Mainly, this brand guideline will be useful for all your consumer-facing materials. We have listed a few of the major ones below:
Most of your consumers will check your website to learn about your brand to establish credibility before purchasing from you. Applying your brand identity to your website reinforces recognition in the mind of the consumer.
Aside from digital design, an effective physical experience can make your company more memorable and distinguished. There are many creative ways to apply your brand identity into your physical stores, such as through interior design, banners, ornaments, promotional booths, and uniforms.
As an extension of the physical experience of your brand, your product packaging is both an attention-catcher and a representation of your brand identity. When done well, your packaging extends beyond the shelf life of its product and serves as a placement advertisement in itself.
Email marketing is still one of the most common and effective marketing methods. Differentiate your emails by incorporating your distinct colours, shapes, and patterns for frequent reinforcement of your brand.
Social Media Design
The successful growth of your social media profiles can mean reduced marketing costs, more control over discourse around your product, and increased brand loyalty. Apply your brand identity correctly and creatively through all of your visuals. When paired with good content, this is the key to the growth of your social media profiles.
Business cards are handed out on the daily but more often than not, end up in a pile with other cards, never to be seen again. Instead of the usual black and white template business cards, make your business card stand out by incorporating elements of your brand identity, such as your colours or even often textures and materials. Distinctive treatments, such as embossing, spot UV and hot stamping, will make your cards more memorable and more likely to come to your clients' minds when an area of opportunity arises.
Incorporate your brand identity into a presentation template. You can use this template for sales pitches, presentations with clients, internal company meetings, and more, creating another touchpoint to make your brand more memorable.
An expertly constructed brand identity can make your brand more visible, memorable, and distinctive. A consistently implemented brand identity can, in turn, drive brand awareness, brand loyalty, and growth for your company in time. Remember that the construction of your brand identity should not be a one-time project. Listen to what your audiences want and continue to evolve and grow with them to maintain a brand resonates with its audience. If you would like to learn more about how to do that, please check out our other articles on the branding process and learn how we have helped our clients effectively grow their company.
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