Brand identity is more than a logo. This is more than a brand style guide. This is an important way to differentiate yourself from the competition. Brand identity affects your customers' experience with every touch.
It subconsciously affects how they see everything, from your industry, to your relevance, to your credibility.
It's the sum total of how your brand looks, feels, and speaks to them - the elements that help them decide if they want to communicate with you.
Building brand identity
Some brands have increased brand awareness in art (think Apple, LEGO, or Levi's), while others have made their way into the playing field (think Warby-Parker, Snapchat or Casper). Regardless of your organization, your brand should be front and center.
But creating a brand identity is not an easy task. You need a solid foundation but flexibility, an identity based on your roots but looking to the future.
It looks like a tedious process - and it can be. It takes deep thinking and foresight, but the results are worth it. We have done this process many times with our creative partners and our rebranding, so we know very well what can go wrong and how to make sure everything is going right.
To demystify the process for you, we share our creative approach to building a brand identity, in particular the visual elements of a brand identity. If you've never gone through this process before, or thought your brand might use a small update, take a look.
What is brand identity?
This definition can be a little gloomy. Is this your logo? What is your color palette? Your infographic style? For us, it is the cumulative composition of elements that define how your brand is perceived. Some corporate identities are tied to practical elements: design, packaging, etc. Some even move into the realm of feelings: how it sounds, tastes, feelings and even smells (for example, cosmetics).
For the purposes of this post, we are focusing on the visual of your brand identity (as well as the visual language of your brand). This includes:
Photography / Graphics
Keys to a good brand identity
The logo and the color palette alone do not create a corporate identity. A good personality is well thought out to do this:
Different: It stands out from the competition and grabs the attention of your audience.
Memorable: It is visually impactful. (Think of Apple: the logo is so catchy that they only include the logo, not their name.)
Scalability and flexibility: it can grow and evolve with the brand.
Cohesive: each piece complements the corporate identity.
Easy to use: for designers, it is intuitive and understandable.
The process behind the brand identity
When we start a branding project, we approach each phase from a philosophical and highly critical perspective. We want to test, poke, and nudge until we get to the essence of the brand. Then we get down to business. This is what it looks like.
1) Research and research
This is the most difficult stage. It takes time, energy and labor. But it is important to create a foundation on which the visual language will stand. At this stage, we will learn everything we can about the brand. This research helps us create a brand persona, a complete picture of what a brand is. For this we ask a lot of questions.
Who is the audience?
One of the common misconceptions is that brand identity is exclusively informed about what the brand wants to present. This is not entirely true. We also need to understand what brand customers want to interact with.
This does not necessarily mean that brand customers will choose the logo color. But this means that we are well aware of their needs, needs and values. (Audience characters are incredibly useful here. If you've never created one, try this exercise for less than 60 minutes.)
In addition to the main audience (customers) of the brand, we also want to know what additional or tertiary audience it can reach (for example, other brands or potential employees). Brand identity is the “face” that interacts with the world. Everything we create must accurately reflect what the brand wants to do and say to specific people.
What is an existing brand?
Sometimes we build a brand identity from scratch. In other cases, we are updating outdated identification. In any case, we need a full estimate:
The current state of the brand's personality
How this brand label can be created or customized to align with future goals
We want to know how the brand is perceived both internally and externally. Getting an honest and accurate reflection is the only way to understand how and where he succeeds, or where we need the course to be correct.