• Kara Maddox

Building Your Brand Identity: Why It's Important And Where To Start


Just like you have an identity that is uniquely yours, your brand will have one too. It's not quite the same as your identity though - it does not develop over time as the brand ages, but rather it is an intentional set of characteristics and physical aspects that you ascribe to the brand.

You give your brand an identity to make it recognizable and stand out from the competition. Brand identity is incredibly important, but what exactly is brand identity, and how does it differ from a brand or branding?

Many use the three terms interchangeably; however, the definitions are different. Brand is how the consumer views your organization, branding is the active marketing and shaping of a brand, and brand identity is the collection of every brand element that a company uses to portray itself.

Imagine you're in this scenario. You're at the theatre watching previews before your movie starts when an advert for Coca-Cola plays. You notice the elements of the advert such as the polar bear sharing an ice-cold drink with his friends and the enjoyment it brings the bear.

Seeing this you feel thirsty, so you go to the lobby to purchase a Coke for yourself. Once you have the bottle, you notice the distinct Coca-Cola logo, the bright "Coke" red color, the shape of the bottle, etc. You finish the movie and the coke, and you have an overall favorable opinion of Coke and its product.

The advert you saw was Coke's branding of itself, the brand was the perception you now have of Coke, and its brand identity was the Coke itself, as well as its logo, its tagline, its taste, its shape, its color - in short, all its tangible elements.

Creating a definitive brand identity is crucial to your organization's success. Imagine you go to the store one day, and the Coca-Cola logo is now purple, and it's in a square bottle. You'd be confused, right? You may not buy this new and strange Coke.

That's because Coke's brand identity is so ingrained into our minds that we recognize a Coke not just from its name, but from its shape, color, and other elements – and that's a good thing! Imagine having such an absolute brand that it is recognizable by any one of its characteristics.

That's not to say these brand elements are set in stone once they are developed. Coca-Cola has had over 60 slogans since the company was created, yet we still recognize a Coke when we see one.

Dunkin' Donuts recently made a drastic change to its identity when it decided to drop the ‘donuts' off its name in an attempt to re-brand itself. IHOP also had a huge rebranding ploy when it announced it was now IHOB, in a prank it played last year.

However, your brand identity is what will make your product recognizable with the consumer, and what will ultimately help you forge a relationship with your audience.

Developing and Designing a Brand Identity

When developing your brand identity one question you must ask yourself is, is it cohesive? Does this look like it all came from the same place? Cohesion is key to making your product recognizable with the consumer. Before developing its identity, ask yourself about your brand and the image you wish to portray:

  • Who is your audience? Or who do you want your audience to be?

  • What is your company trying to accomplish?

  • What is the tone of your brand voice? Are you serious, playful, funny, relaxed, etc.?

  • What makes your company stand out from the competition?

  • How do you want to portray your company and how do you want to be perceived?

Answering these questions will give you a clear path to developing an identity that matches the personality of the brand. You should have a good idea of an answer to each of these questions before you begin to develop your brand's identity. If not, your brand may need to be more developed before you start.

Now for the fun stuff!

Logo

A logo is arguably one of the most important visual aspects of a brand. A successful logo should be simple, relevant, distinctive, memorable, and adaptable. It should also represent the tone and voice of your organization.

Simplicity

A simple logo is often easiest and helps meet the other requirements of a successful logo. It is easier to modify and can be used easily across all platforms and marketing collateral. Think of a few easily recognizable brands. Often the logo is simple, yet memorable such as the BBC, Nike, and Mercedes.

Relevancy

Making a relevant logo is quite self-explanatory. Are you advertising for a car company? You wouldn't include a plane in the logo. However, you don't have to be completely literal either. The Mercedes logo pictured above isn't a car, but it's still relevant to the company and their values.

Distinction

While you will want a simple logo, it also needs to be distinct and unique. Focus on a design that is recognizable, and aim to make it so without words and color. You can then add those elements in once the initial logo has been designed.

Memorable

A great logo will be one that consumers remember after a few seconds or less. Think of yourself as the consumer - where do you see logos? On billboards and buses perhaps, things that we pass by very quickly. If you were to see that design for only a few seconds would it stick out to you or blend in with the thousands of other brands we see daily?

Adaptable

Think small and big while designing the logo. How will it look on a billboard? What about a business card? Ideally, the logo should be able to be shrunk down to one inch without a loss of detail. This ensures the consumer can recognize the brand whether the logo is on a zipper pull or the side of a building.

Color Palette

Choosing a color palette is an extremely subjective task, as well as an important one. Up to 60% of the time, people will decide if they are attracted or not to a message – based on color alone!

Color also increases brand recognition by up to 80%. The colors you find pleasing may disgust others. There is somewhat of an art to choosing an appropriate color scheme.

Based on the tone you want to portray, certain colors may be more suitable than others. Just remember when selecting two or more colors, make sure they complement one another and are not already representative of something else that is widely known.

For example, orange and black are nice complements; however, a consumer may then associate your brand with Halloween. Some colors and their common associated adjectives are:

Red: Excitement, Youthful, Bold

Orange: Friendly, Cheerful, Confidence

Yellow: Optimism, Clarity, Warmth

Green: Peaceful, Growth, Health

Blue: Trust, Dependable, Strength

Purple: Creative, Imaginative, Wise

Pink: Sympathy, Health, Love

Black: Security, Sophistication, Wealth

Brown: Reliable, Traditional, Nature

Gray: Neutrality, Respect, Wisdom

White: Purity, Hope, Light

Typography

Think about your brand voice and the tone you are trying to portray when deciding on a font. Are you serious? Perhaps a serif font is best. Check out these examples below - which do you like best?

EB Garamond: THE QUICK BROWN FOX JUMPS OVER THE LAZY DOG.

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

Droid Serif: THE QUICK BROWN FOX JUMPS OVER THE LAZY DOG.

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

Cinzel: THE QUICK BROWN FOX JUMPS OVER THE LAZY DOG.

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

Georgia: THE QUICK BROWN FOX JUMPS OVER THE LAZY DOG.

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

Palatino Linotype: THE QUICK BROWN FOX JUMPS OVER THE LAZY DOG.

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

Are you lighthearted? A script or handwritten font may portray that well.

Belinda: THE QUICK BROWN FOX JUMPS OVER THE LAZY DOG.

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

Reklame Script: THE QUICK BROWN FOX JUMPS OVER THE LAZY DOG.

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

Segoe Print: THE QUICK BROWN FOX JUMPS OVER THE LAZY DOG.

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

Sacramento: THE QUICK BROWN FOX JUMPS OVER THE LAZY DOG.

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

Sarina: THE QUICK BROWN FOX JUMPS OVER THE LAZY DOG.

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

Are you a modern company? A sans serif futuristic font would look nice.

Avenida: THE QUICK BROWN FOX JUMPS OVER THE LAZY DOG.

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

Futura: THE QUICK BROWN FOX JUMPS OVER THE LAZY DOG.

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

Atlas: THE QUICK BROWN FOX JUMPS OVER THE LAZY DOG.

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

Marzo: THE QUICK BROWN FOX JUMPS OVER THE LAZY DOG.

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

Verdana:THE QUICK BROWN FOX JUMPS OVER THE LAZY DOG.

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

Tagline

When I say, "the snack that smiles back" do you think of Goldfish?

Or how about "taste the rainbow" do you now want some Skittles? Taglines are important because they're a few words that make your brand immediately recognizable. They also more or less tell the key benefits of your product.

For example, Facebook's tagline is "Be Connected. Be Discovered. Be on Facebook." Facebook wants you to be online and be connected with friends and discovered by others. It's pretty simple.

A tagline differentiates you from your competitors, as well. They may have the same product as you, but they cannot have the same tagline. When creating a tagline, write out a few sentences that you think sum up your organization best, then trim them down to a few words that are catchy and highlight your product.

Bottom Line

Brand identity is what sets your organization apart from the rest. The logo, color palette, typography, and tagline are just a few elements of identity, but they are all crucial to establishing your business and your values.

Now that you have the tools, get out there and build your brand identity!

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At KJMdigital, we connect artists to businesses and businesses to communities. And the KJM Team works because our mission and values align with what we value - radical transparency, autonomy, and flexibility.

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#BrandIdentity #Branding #identity

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