How to create your Brand Identity
Learn how to create your brand identity, improve consistency, elevate trust, and set yourself apart from everyone else.
Starting a business – let alone growing one – isn’t as easy as it used to be. Every niche is full of competition, which makes it harder than ever to stand out. But if you understand how to create your brand identity, you’ll have no problem attracting the attention you want.
Creating A Strong Brand Identity
When it comes to brand identity, what do you think comes to peoples’ minds first?
Chances are, it’s all of the above. After all, visual elements are often the most memorable.
But brand identity is more than the visuals that represent your company. So while your logo and web design are crucial, they alone don’t embody the big picture behind your brand.
We’ll take a look at how to choose your brand name, slogan, and voice, but before that, take some time to reflect and fully understand your brand. Our process for reflection has worked for our clients and us. Read more about it here.
Choosing Your Name
The name of your business lays the foundation for everything you do. But it’s also one of the trickiest steps in the brand identity development process.
It’s not enough to have something 100% unique and reflect your company or its value offering. It also has to…
- Follow trademark laws
- Be short, pronounceable, and easy to spell
- Be something you can use in a URL
And that’s just a few considerations to keep in mind.
On the other hand, a bad name is something that is…
- Subject to abbreviation
- Unclear or complex
Additionally, great brand names convey abstract concepts or feelings; they don’t simply describe the company’s value offering.
It seems like a tall order, but the payoff is well worth your time and effort if you keep these factors in mind.
Creating Your Slogan
As you learn how to create your brand identity, you’ll find that your slogan (or tagline) is an excellent place to highlight your values in addition to your service offering.
Ideally, slogans should meet one or more of the following points:
- Explain your product or service
- Denote a key aspect of your company
- Express your positioning
- Make you more memorable
Of course, not every slogan hits all four, but that doesn’t mean it’s terrible. After all, Nike’s tagline, “Just Do It,” is incredibly famous but doesn’t explain its product or service, nor does it state its positioning.
Alternatively, many companies use descriptors in place of slogans. Descriptors are simple one-line descriptions of their service or product offering. They are beneficial for startups and newer businesses that are still unknown.
Whether you choose to keep it simple with a descriptor or want to try your luck with a more clever tagline like Nike’s, just make sure your audience will remember it and associate it with you.
Finding Your Voice
Your brand voice refers to how you write your brand’s messaging. A strong brand voice is loudest when it matches your brand identity.
Take American motorcycle manufacturer Harley Davidson, for example. It generously uses adjectives with connotations to freedom and movement.
If Harley Davidson suddenly changed its language tomorrow, its audience would immediately notice the inconsistency, which could lead to lower sales.
So as you learn how to create your brand identity, treat voice as the personality your brand would have if it were human. For example:
- Are you friendly and open? Professional or laid back? Serious or playful?
- What type of writing would fit this personality best? Short, punchy sentences? Or something more straight-laced?
- Is humour something that would fit your brand?
As you establish a definite voice for your company, consider making a Tone and Voice guide. Like branding style guides (which we discuss later), this document provides a framework for internal and external pirates who need to write or speak on your company’s behalf.
This document can be as complex or generic as you want. For example, some businesses provide specific language guidelines for email responses or phone conversations. Others may just cover the broad strokes. What you decide to do will depend on your particular company.
How To Create Your Brand Identity With Design
For many, brand identity and design are so entwined they’re almost interchangeable. It’s the sign of successful branding (think McDonald’s, Apple, Nike), but it’s also a common misconception that the two are the same.
It’s tempting to dive head-first into the design process when you’re a new business or overhauling your brand. After all, creating the visual aspects that people will eventually see and connect with seems like the obvious first step. Not only that, but it’s also fun.
But the truth is, doing so before going through the brand identity development process is a big mistake.
Brand identity includes intangible concepts such as your…
- Mission and values
- How you train your team
Branding design makes these characteristics tangible so customers can connect with them (and subsequently, to you). This includes concrete elements like:
- Packaging design
- Website design
- Employee uniforms
You may have an idea of the design elements you want, but before you go out and hire a graphic design agency, it’s crucial that you fully understand your brand.
Brand Design Basics
Design assets include typography, graphics, images, videos, audio clips, and databases. But before you begin developing any of these, you have to start at Step 1. It seems tedious, but it ensures you nail down the fundamentals of your design structure, which is the cornerstone of your brand identity.
Typography is the font you use in various branding materials. Fonts say a lot about your business, so you’ll want to be discerning about your final choice. There are five major types of fonts:
Your colour palette can significantly alter how people view your brand because colours often connect with people psychologically.
The following should help you think strategically about your brand’s colour palette:
Shapes And Forms
These design assets don’t always come to mind when learning how to create your brand identity.
However, they add something to your overall brand design – even if it’s not always noticeable. (think about the bold straight lines in the Supreme logo compared to the soft curving lines in the Cartier logo).
Generally, there are three shapes to keep in mind when developing your brand identity:
Once you pinpoint the typography, colour palette, and shapes you want for your design, the next step is to make the intangible tangible.
This is when you can hire a graphic design agency to create something real your audience can connect with. In addition, a branding agency can help you distinguish your brand identity through many aspects.
Your company, industry or even value offering can determine the weight of each design asset to the brand identity development process.
For instance, website design would be paramount for a digital marketing agency, while a local cafe would prioritize the ambiance of their store and menu design.
Your company’s logo is the defining feature of your brand identity. An effective logo should:
- Convey who you are as a company and the value you offer customers
- Be aesthetically pleasing and relatively simple
- Have longevity and be free of short-sighted design trends
- Align with your industry (though if it doesn’t, it breaks the rules purposefully)
- Be memorable to your target customer
A good logo designer should provide your logo in various formats, such as black and white copies or a range of sizes, so you always have the right file on hand.
You know when you walk into a store that looks like it just went through Black Friday? But it’s the middle of August, and no one is in the shop? Usually, those indicate something off about the business.
Just like a store’s appearance gives off certain impressions, so does your web design. If you’re a small business, web design is particularly true if you don’t have a store front or are online-only.
If you don’t have a brick-and-mortar location, your customers will have to come to your website. And if it’s outdated, in disarray, or runs slowly, then they’ll turn tail without a second thought.
Email marketing is one of the best ways to grow and connect with customers. You can also use it to say a lot about your brand identity.
Just like brand identity differentiates you from others, the correct email design can help you stand out in your customer’s inboxes.
Consider why you’re sending an email. Do you want to get personal with your customers? Then stay concise and friendly.
If you want to inform, such as a newsletter, then make it scannable and add images or videos to add interest.
If you’re going to educate people about your latest product collection, showcase a couple of eye-catching product images.
Don’t Forget Your Brand Style Guide!
Now that you have your design assets nailed down, your next task is ensuring they’re utilized in a way that aligns with your brand. This is accomplished with a brand style guide, which illustrates every element – including both look and feel – about your company.
Brand style guides are important to upholding the purpose of brand identity, which is to create consistency. They ensure that your brand stays consistent across all channels, from your social media and website to your different marketing campaigns.
Without a brand style guide, you risk inconsistencies slipping through and potentially affecting customers’ perceptions and loyalty. So when you work with a branding agency, make sure you also get a style guide.
Understanding how to create your brand identity starts by understanding your company inside and out. Once you define what your brand stands for, you can select the colours, font, and forms that best align with your values.
While you can take on the brand identity development process independently, working with a branding agency or graphic design company can make the process much easier. Reach out to learn more about how to create your brand identity.