What is a brand identity?
Think of it as your brand in a visual form or at the most basic level, anything with your logo on it. From your business cards to the giant sign on an office building, they’re all elements which compose your brand identity.
It’s also known as corporate identity design but as a brand identity design studio we create dozens of logo designs in Essex and I work with businesses of all sizes and I don’t like the term corporate identity as it suggests that only corporate companies should have one. That’s not true.
As a small business you may not have a giant sign on your office building, you may not even have a fully fledged office, so why should your small business or startup need a brand identity design? The answer to that is a strategic one. The strategy behind any form of branding is basically marketing, and any business regardless of its size needs to market itself to stay in business.
You may not have a giant building sign to market your business but you do have assets of some sort. It might be a vehicle, a shop sign, a website or it might even be the shirt on your back! Any and all of these things can be used to build a brand identity and promote your business for you.
The basic premise of a brand identity design is to:
- Communicate a message
- Communicate it consistently
- Communicate it uniquely
- Communicate it repeatedly.
In doing so you’ll start to build a visual relationship with your potential customers. They may not know you but after seeing your logo design and other assets regularly, they’ll begin to recognise it. Soon enough they can identify it and once they do that, they’ll remember it. By remembering you through your brand identity design means that they’ve built a visual relationship with your business and when they need someone like you, they’ll think of you.
How to build a brand identity design?
An important aspect of your brand identity design will be a vectorized logo design. The logo design acts as a springboard and foundation for the rest of your brand identity design, allowing all other materials to be built upon it.
The logo design will set up the brand identity design and include elements of how your business image will look:
- The colours
- The shapes
- The typography
- The message
After creating the logo, your brand identity design agency should extend the theme using the above elements to create:
- Colour palettes
- Any additional brand imagery
This then becomes your brand identity design, a theme to recognise and identify with your business.
Applying the brand identity design
Whatever size business you are, think about your assets. What can you place your logo design on and why should you want to place your logo design on it. It might be your stationery, digital documents, email signature, website and business cards. Your business may have special assets though such as a van or shop sign. make sure the identity design is applied to them in particular.
Some businesses have everything matching (letterheads, comp slips and bus cards) but the stationery does not have to be exactly the same. Letters are used as a formal communication, where as comp slips and bus cards can be used in different ways so just be sure that they all contain a consistent theme (do they look like they are from the same company?).
Using matching or consistent stationery makes your business easy to recognize and essentially easier to market.
Now you should have the basis of a business theme but what else should you do?
Everything which displays your logo should reflect the theme that you’ve created. From car livery to shop signage, promotional gifts to web design and emails to TV, you should have a recognizable theme which reflects your business. You can alter the theme slightly according to a specific purpose but you should always be visually identified as the company you are, hence the term, “identity”.
Following Big Businesses:
You may not be a corporation but it’s good to see what they do and how you can take their actions into consideration. Some corporates tend to keep their logo and brand consistent but change the corporate identity elements according to the current marketing campaign they’re running. Some keep the company logo in the background whilst their product logos are propelled forward. These are strategic decisions to maximize the potential of their cause.
Corporate manuals are used as a guide to how their identity should be used and these guides will cover everything, even the way their office buildings are designed, inside and out.
All in all, this creates a strong and consistent identity affecting the business internally and externally. In return the result builds an identity which we become familiar with and can trust unconsciously.