Successful businesses attest to the advantages of creating a strong brand identity. They know that having consistent visual language builds credibility and recognition. And with today’s discerning audiences, good branding is no longer an option but a vital part of your success.
The Why and the How of Building a Strong Brand Identity
Establishing your brand identity doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, effort, and enough patience to get your business to enjoy the full benefits of unique branding. To design a brand, here’s what you need to know and do:
Get to Know Thyself
Starting a business or reinventing one begins with plenty of market research. A complete understanding of your company paves the way for better designs, identity, marketing, and other business processes. The following are what you need to focus on:
Your Company Mission
Determine what your business is all about by understanding your mission, vision, and goals. Know what your business’s primary purpose is to design a brand identity that gets you the recognition and ultimately, the revenues.
Your Brand Personality
Your company’s visual representation also needs its voice. Aside from your logo, colors, or fonts, your brand should have a personality. An example: imaginative is to Apple while energetic is to Nike. Think of a trait that best describes your brand and use that all across your strategies. Identifying the right brand personality is critical in connecting with your target audience.
Your Target Audience
No single business can target everyone. It just doesn’t work that way. You need to choose a specific demographic and focus on it. To design a brand that people will love, you need to know what your target market wants. Again, the key to this is research.
Your Unique Value Proposition
A unique value proposition is what will set you apart from the crowd. Determine what makes you different from everyone else and capitalize on that. Show people what you can do that others can’t. This way, your target audience sees the value you offer, and will be compelled to subscribe or purchase.
You also need to know who you’re up against. Get to know your competitors and see where and what they’re lacking. Then go in for the kill to make your brand get ahead of the race. As renowned novelist Anthony Horowitz said, “You cannot defeat your enemies until you know who they are.”
Your SWOT Analysis
To get a better idea of who you are as a brand, get a SWOT analysis. SWOT stands for:
- Strengths – these are your brand’s positive characteristics that help you stand out from the rest
- Weaknesses – these are the disadvantages that hold your brand back
- Opportunities – these are the favorable circumstances that offer opportunities for your brand
- Threats – these are the projected issues and concerns that your business may face
Identify these, and you’re on your way to creating a great brand identity for your business. Once you know your business inside and out, you’ll have a list of actions and courses to take to address them. You can boost your strengths, lessen your weaknesses, exploit opportunities, and diminish threats.
Design a Brand Identity
Design is the foundation of your brand identity. It is from where you build and develop what you want your audience to see you as. To create a robust branding identity, you need to have the following assets:
The most recognizable part of your brand identity is your logo. It’s what represents everything you are as a brand, and will help customers discover your branding. You’ll have it on your website, print ads, letterheads, and just about everything else. One of the world’s greatest graphic designers, Paul Rand, said that “a logo is a flag, a signature, an escutcheon, a street sign.”
A logo design should identify your brand and stay inside the minds of your audience. Here are the elements of a great logo:
- Simplicity – Not only is simplicity vital for recall, but it’s also practical. A simple logo gets seen even from afar, such as billboards or in small spaces such as business cards.
- Balance – Your logo is the reflection of your company. It has to be strong and balanced to give it professionalism with a heart and soul.
- Memorability – Making a memorable logo means keeping it simple, using appropriate colors, telling a story, and evoking emotions.
- Versatility – A versatile logo will look good wherever it is placed. Whether it’s on a mobile app or when done in black and white, it will still look as great.
- Timelessness – Timelessness in a logo means having longevity. You may update and upgrade, but the main message must always stay.
Your brand identity tells your customers who you are. Your logo isn’t the end-all-be-all of your identity, you have to have your company colors. These are what will add a significant impact to your audience’s emotions.
Colors can influence how people see your business. It is a powerful tool that adds recall as well as beauty to your brand identity. They have specific mental associations, below are a few examples of this:
- Some secondary colors (orange, purple, green) are more calming than primary colors (red, yellow, blue).
- Blue has the most calming effect of the primary colors, it is also the most used in logos all over the world.
- Red and orange encourage good appetite, it is the most used in restaurants and food products.
- Children prefer primary colors.
- Green is usually associated with wealth and nature. You can find many banks and organic products that use it.
- Red can project love, power, but also war and anger.
- White typically conveys cleanliness, purity, and simplicity.
- Black represents power, elegance, mystery, and sophistication, a reason why most couture fashion brands use this color.
- Grey conveys balance and neutrality. Apple is an example of a brand that uses grey in a lot of its products.
There are no strict rules in choosing your brand colors, but the point is, colors have the power to influence consumers’ purchasing decisions. Make sure to choose wisely.
Your visual language should be cohesive, and so, an appropriate font style is what you need. Your logo, colors, and typography should work together to give your brand a harmonious look. If you already have chosen a font style for your logo, you need more.
You’ll also be needing secondary and body copy fonts. Use these fonts in all your marketing materials to give consistency to and tie-down your whole branding identity. Take a look at this example typography guideline from Harvard Library.
You may want to look at this article: Best Fonts for Logos That Won’t Make Your Brand Look Cheap.
Here are a few basics to learn when choosing fonts for your brand identity:
- Familiarize yourself with the different types of fonts: serifs, non-serifs, scripts, bold, narrow, open-source, or custom.
- Go for legibility more than decoration. Your font should easily be read and won’t tire the eyes.
- Avoid fonts that closely resemble other brands’.
- Experiment with different font pairings to find out which ones would suit your brand the best.
A website is a gateway for consumers to reach a business. This is where they get information from you and take your desired action. Make sure that it plays a major role in establishing your brand.
A web design that aligns with your branding supports authenticity and consistency. Make sure that your website design has the following:
- The right images – stock images and graphics are tempting as they’re cheap, however, avoid them at all costs. They wouldn’t help you with differentiation.
- The focus on your logo – ensure that your logo is seen throughout the website. People should know and recognize it, your website is the best place for this.
- Featured calls-to-action – the end goal is to make visitors take action. Emphasize your call-to-action buttons to encourage people to buy and engage.
- Highlighted core message – when visiting your website, viewers must feel why you started the business. In short, you want them to know about your core message. Make room for white space, simplify your design, and choose colors that show your message.
- Originality – be unique always! Don’t follow trends that tend to make you look like all the others out there. Instead, look at what the competition is doing and steer away as far as possible.
Social Media Platforms
Just like your website, your social media pages should also show your brand identity. This is one of the reasons why your branding should be cohesive. Using a style guide can help you personalize all your social media platforms to have one harmonious look.
Your tone of voice is also a vital part of branding, as you’ll be using this on all your pages. If you still haven’t established these, now’s the best time to do so. Go back to your style guideline and marketing materials. Identify the way your brand communicates with your audience.
If you have a physical product to sell, package design should also reflect your brand identity. The packaging does transport your product, but it is also an excellent way to get your brand to shine. You can use the following for this:
- Box designs
Ensure that your product packaging shows your brand personality, is consistent with your marketing strategies, and isn’t overly designed. Getting your customers excited about your product even before they open it is worth the investment. An excellent unboxing experience is part of the buying process, so consider this when marketing your products.
Other Brand Identity Assets
There are many ways to make people recognize and remember you. The following are brand assets that you can design to help you connect with customers. Although they are optional, it would help if you use them for your brand identity as well:
- Business Cards
- Brochures, Leaflets, Flyers
- Email Signature
- Staff Uniforms
How to Tell If You Have a Strong Brand
After making all the suggestions above, how would you know if your brand identity is now a strong one? Let’s make a quick comparison between a strong brand and a weak one:
A weak brand identity is:
- Connecting with your audience is a struggle
- Your brand identity does not align with your goals, visions, culture, and mission
- People find it difficult to describe what you do and offer
- People confuse you with your competitors
- Customers never come back, much less bring referrals
- Your staff isn’t enthusiastic about wearing your brand or telling people about it
- Marketing channels look inconsistent
- Your brand is easily forgettable after launching and operating for months or years
A strong brand identity is:
- Your target market recognizes you
- Your brand is a reflection of your culture, vision, and mission
- People know precisely what you offer
- Your image is unique and memorable
- Customers refer you and give glowing feedback
- Your employees feel proud of what you do and are your biggest advocates
- Your branding is consistent across all platforms
- People remember your brand even after a few years of launching the business.
Remember, a strong brand identity is one that is distinct, memorable, versatile, and cohesive. Next, learn what you need to do to get all these.
Design Your Brand with Penji: A Quick and Affordable Solution
All these can be overwhelming, especially for startups and small businesses that have limited resources. There are several ways to get a graphic design partner to help you with these. Sadly, you’ll have to choose between high-quality but expensive or cheap but low on quality.
Penji is an unlimited graphic design service that can get you both. Our team of professional designers can create top-notch branding assets without breaking the bank. Watch our demo video here to learn more.
Better yet, sign up today to get your brand identity designs started.