What is 'Brand Identity'?
Making you brand stand out in the market by understanding and establishing your brand identity, discover why brand identity is important before determining your visual identity.
A good visual identity will reflect everything you are as a brand. The synergy of all design should encompass your messaging, tone of voice and values - marrying everything together within your core band identity will speak directly to your target audience, and soar you forward as a brand.
At the end of the day you can download a standard stock image, and have your chosen brand name in a favourite font underneath, and say you have a brand, or, you can have a designer create a stylish logo that looks the part, and say the same thing. But the truth is, the next day you wont get anywhere with either of those logos unless you truly know your brand, who you are, and what you want to achieve, clearly defining your brand identity. This is a mistake a lot of small business' tend to make and there are so many more elements to creating a brand.
Breaking down brand identity to truly understand your brand, and get to grips with the basics:
What does the term 'Brand' actually mean?
The term 'brand' can be tied to multiple graphic elements that represent a brand, but the core of what a brand is, is to identify a product or service within the market. Before creating beautiful branding elements (brand kit; logo, colours, business cards, headed paper, compliment slips, folders etc), it's important to establish what makes your brand special from the rest, who you are, what you want to say and what you want to achieve.
Brand = How everyone, from competitors to customers perceive your brand
Branding = The visual route you. take to create a specific look and feel for your brand
Brand identity = Elements that best describe and support your brands core
How to understand your brand
Who you are as a brand is generally made up of a few key factors:
What are your values?
What is your mission?
What is your brand USP (Unique Selling Point)?
What is your brand message?
Who is your brands target audience?
What is your brand TOV (Tone of voice)?
These key factors are what define your brand, and before you start building your brands visual identity, it’s important you have a clear understanding of each of these key brand points.
If you are struggling to have all the answers, a great way to kick off understanding and establishing who you are as a brand, is by a classic brainstorm.
What are brand values?
Brand values are your beliefs and what drives you, creating a compass that guides your brand story. Brand values can be underrated, but they sit within the core of your brand and drive your brand's tone of voice and customer relationships, acting as fundamental principles for a company.
Brand values help to capture the three P's of your brand; Proposition, Personality and Purpose, without brand values your brand doesn't have any defining qualities to stand out from the crowd, values support your brand to be distinct and recognisable, and will support your business to grow.
What are the beliefs and values that are important to us as a company?
How to choose the right words to act as your brand values?
Start with a verb; Brainstorm verbs that best suit your brand. For example; a well-know value is 'innovation' - the word innovation is a generic word used to describe a variety of businesses, but to make the choice word more active and inspirational make the word an action, 'be innovative'.
Be specific and relevant to your brand segment; What does being innovative mean for your brand? For example; it might be; 'create new products', 'finding new designers', 'new inspirations', 'new solutions'. Think what applies best to your specific business segment so that people can have a clear idea of what your company is about.
Ideally write 3 to 5 brand values; Less than three values makes your only values and your brand identity weakened, as well as making your brand not specific. More than five values tends to overly complicate your brand ethos and not be memorable. You will never be able to encompass all aspects of a brand in brand values, however they sit at the core of what your brand stands for to you and your customer.
Be memorable; True brand values should be inspirational, motivational, and easy to remember, so that people can implement them in their work and into the content about your brand. For example; one of IKEA's brand values is, ''Daring to be different. We question old solutions and, if we have a better idea, we are willing to change.''
What is a brand mission?
By creating a mission statement about your core brand purpose echos your brand values and in essence your brand identity. By having a brand mission you can then inspire your customers with your content, as well as providing a strategy to always refer to so your brand has direction in everything.
What do you want to achieve? By establishing your brand or product aspirations you will help to understand and shape your brand, defining brand goals from your brand mission.
How to write your brand mission?
Your vision statement; Write a statement that defines your long term and future brand aspirations. It should explain what you're doing and where you want your brand to lead to.
Your mission statement; Writing a mission statement should explain the route you'll follow to achieve your vision. Your mission statement defines the purpose of your work and the effect you intend to have on the world around you. It should state what you do for others and the approach you intend to follow as you aim to achieve your brand aspirations.
For example; Chanel's brand mission is, "To be the Ultimate House of Luxury, defining style and creating desire, now and forever."
What is brand USP?
Understanding your brand's USP (Unique Selling Point) is knowing what defines your brands service / product and establishing your unique positioning, differentiating yourself from the competition and within the market place.
A brands USP can represent its core values and mission as a brand. So it is important to establish what makes your brand special from other brands / products, and what is unique about your brand so you can stand out in a saturated market.
A compelling USP should be:
More than a slogan; A tag line can hero your USP on brand collateral, however your USP can be embodied in other areas of your business, it can be reinforced within your customer service, end of service communication.
Focus on what your customers value; Consider your target audience persona, and what they value.
Assertive and different from competitors; Having a specific position that makes your service / product more memorable and creates a case against competitors.
Why did we start this business?
What do we do better than anyone else?
What makes us special?
For example; Apple's USP is; ''A simple, user-friendly interface; sleek, appealing design; and vibrant, beautiful display''.
What are your brand messages or tag lines?
Is your brand message a reflection of your beliefs and your brand values? Your messages and tag lines to support marketing or advertising your brand can evolve and change. Fashion brands output campaigns seasonally to work with their collections, thus creating messaging / tag-lines that revolve around the launch of a new season.
Creating messaging to support your brand and reinforce values can be determined by the nature of your brand or product. It's important to develop a strategy to strengthen understanding of your brand and communicate valuable messaging, whilst always encompassing the brand's tone of voice and voice identity.
For example; One of Coca Cola's tag lines; “Coca-Cola is a Delicious Beverage, Delightfully in Harmony With the Spirit of All Outings,”
Who is my brands target audience?
Consider if your brand was a person, and create an ideal customer, their lifestyle, job, and personality type, creating a brand persona. This will help with marketing strategies, as well as knowing how to communicate to your audience.
How you write your copy and speak to your audience is just as important as how your logo looks, it establishes the type of brand you want it to be, humorous, serious, formal, or informal? What demographic are you trying to speak to establishes tone and language.
How to establish brands (TOV) tone of voice?
What are the three words we would want our customers to use to describe us?
If we could describe our brand in three words, what would they be?
Aim your language, tone of voice towards your target audience persona, and communicate directly to that persona in all you do as a brand.
Tone of voice identity
Tone of voice is taken from your brand values and who your target audience is, both key factors that help to define a guide on how to how to communicate your brand within written branded material, such as tag-lines, tone, and communication style.
Your brand persona should be the person speaking as the brand, and spoken to, as the target audience, so you always have a direct understanding of the character of your brand and ensure that comes through with everything you do. Your brand voice comes from the language, punctuation, and tone used, defining what you say and how you say it, this also encompasses not just the words you choose to use, but the rhythm and pace of the language.
Visual identity is a brands visual language, and is the first thing that everyone see's when connecting with your brand. A good design identity will reflect everything you are as a brand, the synergy of all design should encompass your messaging, tone of voice and values. Creating a visual design aesthetic which is consistent and recognisable as your branding. Marrying everything together within your core band identity will soar you forward as a brand.
Visual identity should come from all of the discussed brand identity elements, and form the basis for the visual identity of your brand. In order to truly design a strong visual identity your brands core identity narrates the visual story.
Core branding consists of cohesive design and styling within;
Typography, and typography treatment
Style, look and feel
Space and grid systems
In a nutshell, what is 'Brand Identity'?
Brand identity is what differentiates your brand form competitors on the market, and is the collection of key elements that shape your brand and portrays the right image to its ideal consumer.
Once you understand you brands core identity from all aspects, you need to create branding to voice your brands message and to tell your brands story through all those elements, using your core identity, tone of voice and visual identity.
The term 'branding' refers to the marketing practice of shaping a distinctive and cohesive brand using the 'brand identity' you have established, which encompasses all elements, values, mission, message, tone of voice, USP, audience and visual identity
Once you’ve decided who you are as a brand and built your brand identity, you need bring your brand to life and show who you are to the people who matter most, your customers.