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What is Brand Identity?

As Richard Grant once said, “The value of identity of course is that so often with it comes purpose.” Much like your personal identity is who you are, your brand identity is the final say of who your business is and all it entails.

But what exactly does this mean? How do you achieve and maintain your brand identity and what is its makeup?

Let’s take a look.

Has anyone ever called you a “branded” person? If there were two coffee shops and you only had a moment to swing by one as you dash off to work, which coffee shop would you run to – the Starbucks Drive-Thru around the corner or the local roasting company that just opened a block away? If you chose the Starbucks – well, chances are you’ve been branded!

Instead of grabbing a “coffee” someone might just say “I’ll grab a Starbucks on my way there.” Instead of driving to the bar downtown, you can just “Uber it” and when your nose is runny, well grab a “Kleenex”.

A brand is simply the perception of your company in the eyes of your audience, or the public. 

Creating a “brand identity” is the art of collecting every element within your company associated with your brand, to form the face of your business. What image do you want to create for yourself? What vision do you want to conjure up when someone mentions the name of your company or when your logo appears during scrolling? The action you take to achieve this is the art of gathering your brand elements.

black and white nike logo

Break It Down

Let’s look at NIKE and see what makes up its brand identity. The word NIKE comes from the Greek Goddess of victory, and the swoosh beneath is the “wing in the air” that represents the fibers of the shoes they make. Simply looking at this famous logo, it evokes speed, youthfulness, fitness, and ultimately – victory. These are the tangible elements that give NIKE its brand identity.

In a nutshell, this is what your customers instantly recognize about your business. It builds the connection between you and your customers and inevitably leads to trust – once you’ve gained that, your brand identity has been established.

Many businesses have a clear idea of what their mission is and what their service or product will do for customers; however, they have not spent adequate time pondering the brand itself. Without this, it can lack personality and distinctiveness in the market against competitors.

Brainstorm Your Brand Identity

It’s not all that simple either, establishing the elements. You must take an in-depth look at your business goals, and work backwards.

Think of your brand as a human being and ask yourself, what character traits and personality would they have? How do they communicate with their peers?

Address these questions and intertwine it with the mission of your company. What was the original reason for founding it and what are the beliefs behind your system? What sets you apart from competitors and what words would you want your customers to use when they praise you? This is all part of the brainstorming process.

person sitting at desk with papers

Design – Nail It!

Think about where your brand identity is going to be shown: the logo on your stationary, perhaps apparel that employees or players will wear. You’ll likely have business cards, package labels, letterheads, signatures, and your website. Don’t forget to focus on the fonts and give some thought as to why you choose a particular one. The design of your brand elements need to be accurate and directly tied into how you want to be perceived by your target audience.

When you choose your font, be sure that it will be consistent across all interfaces and on printed materials. You’ll want to ensure that your team has access to the same fonts and don’t forget that it should look the same whether your customer is viewing it from their phone, tablet, mac or PC.

Remember, when you choose colors, there are psychological factors at play.

McDonalds and other fast-food restaurants tend to have red and yellow lettering because these colors instinctively make people hungrier. Brighter colors are fun, enthusiastic, and positive, whereas black is classic, elegant, and sophisticated. Blue is a popular color used by companies because it tends to evoke trustworthiness and stability.

When designing a picture or creating a style for images, concentrate on the shapes and the linearity – circular designs often represent togetherness, sometimes feminine depending on the product or service. Think how your customer will react when viewing the shape and form of your design. Don’t forget that the styles of your image(s) should be relevant and consistent to your business goals.

The Building Blocks of Your Brand Identity

Before piecing the elements together, break it down a little more by focusing on the makeup of each. For your logo, make sure its simple but communicative, visually aesthetic, and timeless. Don’t go with what is popular in the moment.

If you run an online business, customers check out your website before touching anything else.

Work with your web designer to perfect the layout so that its user-friendly, and clear. Your website should addresses everything your customer would want to know when browsing.

After going to the website, the customer may click on your social media buttons to get a better idea of who you are and what you advertise. They also want to know how popular you are in the market. Be sure that your profile name, picture, and logo are consistent with your brand identity design. Customers trust a business that is confident in not just who they are, but how they look and convey themselves. If you offer an app available for download, the same rules apply here!

Perhaps one of the best opportunities for your product to really stand out, is the physical packaging and labeling.

Again you’ll need to carefully choose relevant colors, fonts, and wording that is attractive and aesthetically appealing to the first glance of an eye.

black and white umbrellas floating with a yellow umbrella in the middle

Set Yourself Apart    

Building up your brand identity is what distinguishes you from your competitors. If you focus on these elements and give thought to every piece of your identity, the customer will see it. It should make sense, it should be simple, and it should build trust. In essence, your brand represents your business, and your brand identity represents the whole nine yards of it, from services and products to goals and its core mission. Nail it, and you’re off to a solid start.


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