Guide to creating a remarkable brand identity
The terms “brand” and “logo” are often used interchangeably and while a logo may be the symbol of a company, it does not actually represent the entire brand. In fact, creating a logo is only one small step towards developing a powerful brand identity.
With millions of companies trying to build a name, having a strong brand has become crucial in order to stand out from your competitors.
Index of contents
- What is a brand?
- What is brand identity?
- Brand identity elements
- Why is brand identity important?
- Differences between brand identity and personality
- How to develop a brand identity?
- Brand Identity Examples
If you are working to develop your brand identity or that of a client, you must understand what a brand is and what you need to create it.
What is a brand?
It is an organization with a distinguishing feature or set of features. It is generally made up of a name, slogan, logo or symbol, design, brand voice, and more.
The word “brand” was originally used to refer to the stamp with which ranchers “branded” their cattle. Currently, the idea of a brand has evolved and today comprises much more than a name or a symbol.
A trademark is everything that distinguishes a proposal, be it a company or its products. It is relevant to position yourself among the audience, talk about the origin of the offer, as well as create an advertising project around it. Now let’s move on to define brand identity.
What is brand identity?
Brand identity is everything that integrates the aspects that support a brand, both in visual terms and in terms of experience and principles. Its main objectives are: to create a factor of difference with respect to the competition and, thanks to this, to position itself in the imagination of its consumers.
The brand identity is built from the messages of the brand, the values of the company, how it communicates its concepts and the emotions it wants to evoke in its customers when it interacts with them. All this information is compiled in an identity manual or brand book , which brings together the essence. Your brand identity is the personality of your company and a promise to your consumers. As Jeff Bezos says, “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not around . ”
For example, when you hear the name Coca-Cola, it is very likely that you imagine its well-known logo, but it is also possible that you think of the polar bear, the color red, its “Share a Coke” campaign or the classic image present in their cans. All these aspects are what make the brand known; not just the company logo.
Brand identity elements
The aspects of this identity are not random, but are carefully chosen to be in tune with the values and experiences that the brand wants to convey to its audience. Some of the elements of identity are:
- Mission, vision and values: the document that contains your mission, vision and values is one of the most important elements of your brand strategy. Thus, you will be able to transmit certain principles and build a distinctive and unique culture.
- Customer experience: this aspect answers the question “What do I want my customers to feel when they come into contact with my brand?”.
- Logo: without a doubt, one of the most recognizable elements of big brands is their logo . It takes on a life of its own as it positions itself in the public mind.
- Color selection: the tones you use on your website, in your advertising and even on your packaging must be oriented to your audience and the emotions you want to arouse in them (and are part of your brand identity).
- Typography: Choose a distinctive font or a couple of fonts that really stand out and convey your brand’s personality.
- Images and photos: Decide what approach you prefer in the images that appear on your site or that are related to your brand. These guidelines will help you complement the viewing experience of the observer.
Later you will know in detail each of these elements and you will learn to choose them.
Why is brand identity important?
It is the epitome of almost everything your company is and does. A brand “lives and evolves in the minds and hearts” of consumers; This is why branded content has been the most used (content) marketing strategy so far and is expected to continue to grow even more. A well-developed brand identity also:
- Improves recognition, as it creates a personality of your company.
- Awaken credibility and trust towards your company.
- Create impressions through advertising.
- It guarantees business in the future, which generates financial value.
- Define the mission that your company has with consumers and employees.
- Attract new customers and delight current ones.
- It is safe to say that these are all advantages that brand identity can have throughout the life of your company.
Differences between brand identity and personality
As we have seen, it is very important to develop all the aspects that make up a brand. This is the only way to be recognized by our potential consumers and customers. However, there are differences between brand identity and personality, as we will see below. First of all, we must understand that brand identity is based on internal aspects that will be recognized by customers , while brand personality is reflected in the relationship you have with them.
This will be easier to understand with the following example. The brand identity can be seen in a brand book or brand manual, where the colors, proportions and ways of using the elements are reflected, such as the logo of your company. On the other hand, the personality of your brand is reflected in everyday aspects, such as the way you interact on social networks, in the verbal language of your content and in the images you use to illustrate your organization.
Below, we present the fundamental steps you need to know to build a brand identity that really stands out and is recognized by the public.
How to develop a brand identity?
- Investigate and be clear about certain elements such as the audience and competition.
- Design the logo and other components.
- Integrates the language and connection with the audience.
- Avoid common mistakes.
- Monitor the brand.
1. Investigate and be clear about certain elements such as the audience and competition
Just like starting a business, the first step in developing a brand identity is to do extensive market research. You must be clear and understand the following elements:
It’s no secret that we all want different things. You generally can’t target a tween the same way you would a college student. Knowing what the audience wants from a company in your industry is vital to creating a brand that people love.
Value proposition and competition
What makes your company unique in the industry? What can you offer your consumers that others can’t? Knowing the difference between your company and the competition is necessary to become a recognized brand. Observing your competitors will also help you learn more about branding techniques that work well and those that don’t.
You already know what your company offers, now make sure you have a clear and direct mission statement that describes your vision and goals.
In other words, you have to define the purpose of your company, since you will not be able to create a personality for it unless you know what its objective is.
Although you are not necessarily creating the branding of a person (but of a company), that does not mean that you cannot give it personality. Use fonts, colors and images that reflect the personality of your brand. Then enhance that visual representation with a tone of voice: Is your company confident and bold like Nike? Or is it elegant and professional like Givenchy? Either way, make sure your branding strategy represents your company.
While it’s true that research can be boring, the more you know about your business, the stronger your brand identity will be.
Finally, conducting a SWOT analysis can be advantageous to better understand your brand. Taking into account the characteristics of the brand will help you find others that you want to see reflected. In case you have doubts about what the acronyms of this analysis mean, we leave you a brief definition:
- Strengths: positive characteristics of your company that give you an advantage over the competition.
- Opportunities: changes and trends in your industry that provide opportunities for your business.
- Weaknesses: characteristics that represent a disadvantage.
- Threats: Elements in the environment or in the industry that can cause problems for your company.
2. Design the logo and other components
Once you know your company in depth, it’s time to bring your brand to life. In the words of graphic designer Paul Rand: “Design is the silent ambassador of your brand . ” Here’s what you need to know to take charge of your brand identity design.
Although the logo does not represent the brand identity in its entirety, it is a vital element in the branding process and the most recognizable part. It’s found in every aspect of your brand, from your website to your business cards and online ads. At the same time, it gives it a cohesive and uniform appearance, as you can see in the following example:
Although the logo is essential for your brand, it is not the only element that strengthens the identity. Your products, the presentation or the way in which you display your services must play a relevant role in your brand identity. Visually representing your company in everything you do will create consistency and help you build familiarity with your consumers.
Color and typography
Creating a color palette helps you enhance your identity. It gives you variety so you can create unique designs for your business while staying true to your brand identity.
Typography can be a double-edged sword if not used correctly. Although mixing typefaces has become quite a popular trend, that doesn’t mean that mixing a handful of fonts is a good idea for your company. There must be consistency in the use of typography in your logo, website and in any document your company creates (both print and digital). For example, if you take a look at the Nike website and its ads, you’ll see that the same style and typography is maintained in all sections. This technique works wonders.
You probably send emails, write letters, or hand out business cards to your potential customers on a daily basis. Creating templates (even for a detail as small as an email signature ) will give your business a more unified, reliable, and professional look.
As we already mentioned, consistency can make or break your brand identity. Use the above templates and apply other design options you’ve selected for your brand to all areas of your business. This way you will create a harmonious brand identity.
Consistency is essential, but maintaining flexibility in a diverse society is just as important. The flexibility allows adjustments to be made to ad campaigns and slogans, and you can even modernize your overall brand identity to keep your audience engaged. The key is to keep those changes consistent across all aspects of your brand (for example, don’t just change the design on your business cards).
One of the most effective ways to ensure that a company adheres to branding “rules” is to create a set of guidelines that document all the do’s and don’ts of branding.
3. Integrate the language and connection with the audience
Now that you have established the brand within your company and taken all the necessary steps to develop it, you can integrate it into your community. In HubSpot’s ebook on Branding in the Age of Inbound Marketing , Patrick Shea writes, “Your content is your online brand in every way. It’s your sales rep, your store, your marketing department, and your story; each content you publish is a reflection of your brand and defines it. So if you have great content, you have a great brand, but if your content is boring, your brand will look that way too.” So that you can integrate the elements in a more harmonious and simple way, consider the following aspects.
Use language that reflects the personality of your brand. If your brand is elegant and sophisticated, use professional language; if you have a relaxed attitude, you resort to a more conversational tone. The language you decide to use as a brand will be integrated into all the processes of the company, so it is important that you spend enough time to create a tone that reflects the personality of your brand.
connection and emotion
People love stories. To be more precise, they love emotional and inspiring stories. A strong brand identity can establish an emotional connection with consumers, which could lay the foundation for a long-lasting relationship with the brand.
Designing traditional or digital ads is the most effective way to introduce your brand to the world and get the message across to your audience, both visually and aurally.
Another great way to create a connection with consumers is through social media. The diversity of platforms that exist on the internet offers many digital opportunities that you can use to build your brand identity. Social networks are also very important when it comes to talking directly with your customers and for them to identify with your brand. If you’re mentioned in a tweet, status, or post (especially if the customer has a question or concern), make sure you maintain your brand’s reputation by responding effectively to your customers.
4. Avoid common mistakes
You can follow all the steps to create a strong brand identity, but if you do any of the following practices, your brand could fail. Keep them in mind and prevent them from happening at all costs.
Don’t send mixed messages to your customers
You must know what you want to say and use the right language and images. Just because something makes sense in your head doesn’t mean the same will happen to your customers.
Don’t copy the competition
It is possible that the competition has an exemplary branding, and since you sell the same products or services, you may think that emulating their tactics is a good idea. Do not do it. Better consider what they do and add your personal touch to make your company stand out even more in the industry.
Be consistent both online and offline
Printed materials may look a little different than digital materials, but colors, typography, theme, and message should all be consistent.
5. Monitor the brand
As with other aspects of your marketing strategy, it’s hard to know what you’re doing right (and what you’re not) without tracking key performance metrics . Use Google Analytics, surveys, comments, social media discussions, and other means to monitor your brand and get insight into how your audience is talking and interacting with you. This will give you the opportunity to implement the necessary changes to your brand, whether it is to correct a mistake or improve the identity.
12 Brand Identity Examples
Now that you know more about brand identity, here are some examples that can inspire you to create your own brand identity successfully:
The fast food chain undertook a comprehensive overhaul of its global visual identity to send clearer messages to its consumers. Its golden arches are the cornerstone of its new identity, which are used in a simple, dynamic and fun way in all its communication channels. Although the letter “M” has become a symbol of brand identity and is recognized globally, McDonald’s opens up creativity by allowing it to be altered or trimmed to communicate different ideas.
Nike has one of the most recognized brand images by consumers globally, and this is due to the success of its brand identity. For example, Nike Pro Services is an exclusive, invitation-only loyalty program, typically reserved for professional athletes. Nike created a sub-brand identity for this program inspired by its own brand. This is a manual that shows how the Nike logo should be applied to a fully customized welcome kit, so that it reflects the brand’s identity without losing its essence.
Skype is one of the oldest and most popular messaging and network service providers on the market. It is one of the companies that have done an impressive job of creating a clear and consistent brand identity that any company can follow. It’s a way to empower people to create content and share your brand, while maintaining consistency.
Although the logo is the heart of Coca-Cola’s brand identity, the truth is that this brand has more elements that make consumers identify it quickly and without hesitation around the world; for example, the shape of your bottle and its colors, even the feeling of “happiness.” The latter represents one of the characteristics that the brand has highlighted as part of its identity since the beginning of its advertising campaigns, and it is because its objective as a brand is to sell experiences and not a product; this has set it above its competitors for over thirty years.
Apple has millions of fans around the world who love its products, and that’s largely due to its brand identity. With more than 1.5 billion active customers , Apple has become one of the most revolutionary technology brands in history. It currently has more than 500 stores in 22 countries that sell its products worldwide, in addition to its official stores.
The guidelines that the brand determines for the use of its identity are very clear and are essential to maintain its essence. All aspects of its image are carefully established through Apple’s brand identity, which shows the correct way to use its logo, which is easily recognizable by users and also allows to distinguish authorized official resellers from its brand.
Airbnb changed its logo in 2014 with the purpose of creating a brand identity that would reflect a sense of belonging with its users. With the idea of creating a symbol that would be recognized anywhere in the world, Airbnb created “Bélo” which means “below”, which translated into Spanish means “belong”.
From its inception, Airbnb promised to transform the way people travel, allowing them to explore the world not as tourists, but as if they belonged to the place they are visiting. The image of your logo seeks to reflect that brand personality to reinforce the sense of belonging. In its brand identity, Airbnb makes clear the guidelines for its use and the typography of its image.
The chauffeur-driven transport technology platform changed its logo for the second time because, according to the company, its consumers were no longer connecting with the brand as they used to. Its logo changed from just the letter “U” to the entire company name “Uber”, written with a new typeface of its own, called “Uber move”. This also helped him generate savings on licensing costs across the enterprise. This new brand identity was also launched with a renewed company mission and security commitment. The company in charge of designing this new brand identity was Wolff Olins and ensures that the company increased its value by 51%.
Spotify, the music streaming service, has the color green as its brand identity and on its site it describes the guidelines for using its design correctly . Despite this, green is not the only color that it uses to catch the eye of its users.
In 2015, as part of the South by Southwest (SXSW) music festival, brand consultancy Collins helped revamp its brand identity by adding more dynamic tones, with the goal of achieving greater visual impact on users. In this way, Spotify ceased to be a technological brand to become a modern and fun entertainment brand.
Nintendo is one of the Japanese companies that have managed to stay in a special place with their audience. This business arose in 1889, so it already has more than 130 years of continuous operations. Like any organization that has endured over time, it has had to adapt to changes in technology and in the world, but since 1950 it has known how to remain in the minds of its consumers.
It is just from this decade when it incorporated the name of the company as the main axis of its brand, as can be seen in its corporate identity , in accordance with its brand manual
Since its founding in 1982, Adobe has positioned itself in the competitive market for digital solutions through software. Today, at least the reading of documents in digital PDF format is done thanks to this company, not to mention other features that this brand provides for its users.
It is just at the beginning of the 1980s that we can recognize the name of the company as part of its corporate identity. According to its brand manual , the choice of red and white colors are consistent with the values of originality and innovation present in the design of its logo.