Designing a Brand Identity – What’s Involved?

Nabeel Khalid
Apr 26, 2019 1:05:00 PM

Designing a brand identity is an important part of marketing your business and establishing your brand. Your brand identity helps determine how customers remember you, how they connect your services and products to your company, and how they distinguish you from the competition.

Designing a brand identity is not easy – even companies that offer professional brand identity design services sometimes get it wrong. This is often the case because good brand design principles are either ignored or forgotten.

Good brand design principles:

  • Match the values, style, and tone of your business
  • Appeal to your customers
  • Are unique
  • Stand out from your competitors
  • Are easy to remember
  • Are easy to understand
  • Are timeless
  • Work well on a variety of media types

If you are using brand identity design services from a media agency, make sure these principles are followed. They are a good starting point for creating an effective brand identity.

What is Brand Identity?

Before going any further, it is important to properly identify what brand identity is. It is a term that is commonly misunderstood - some think it is simply a logo. However, there is much more to a brand identity than this.

Brand identity is made up of various components that determine how you want customers to perceive your business. It is different than brand image, which is how customers perceive your brand. You will have created a successful brand identity when how you want to be perceived (brand identity) and how you are perceived (brand image) are aligned.

Most brand identity design services will use a range of components to create a brand identity. This includes the company name as well as the logo. Straplines are also important to brand identity as is the tone adopted by your company. The typeface you use on your marketing materials is another key factor to consider.

Steps to Creating an Effective Brand Identity

Designers and marketing professionals use a range of strategies and methods to create your brand identity. Broadly speaking, these strategies can be defined in five steps.

Step 1 – Strategy

The first step is to produce a strategy document. This document should outline the values of the company and the value proposition it offers to customers. It is not important to go into detail about products, services, types of customer, etc. at this stage. Instead, this is a high-level document that will give those working on the brand identity a starting point from which to proceed, as well as something to benchmark creative concepts on.

All too often, this is a step in the process that is skipped. Describing what your values are and your value position is very different than describing your company or its products. Therefore, it is important that this step is completed before continuing.

Step 2 – Research

The next step in the process involves going into detail about your company, often using research. This includes getting an understanding of the ethos and business philosophy of the brand. For example, are you innovative, flexible, and fast-paced? Or are you solid, dependable, and considerate?

It is also important to look at the history of the company, as this is an important part of understanding the brand.

A thorough understanding of the products or services offered by the company is essential too. Crucial to this part of the process is understanding why a customer would choose your products over the products of a competitor.

You also need to understand your customers: who they are, why they need your products, what motivates them to buy, what their expectations are, how they generally perceive the products or services you offer, and how they perceive your brand.

At this stage of the process, design concepts should be starting to take shape. However, you are not in a position to finalise those concepts until the next stage is complete.

Step 3 – Competition Analysis

Analysing the competition is important for a number of reasons. First, it is important to understand how competitors position themselves in the market and what their brand identities are. This means looking at everything, including logo design, colours, typefaces, and more.

The second main objective of analysing the competition is to make sure your design concepts are sufficiently unique. You want your brand identity to stand out, so you need to know what the competition looks like in order to achieve this.

Step 4 – Bringing All the Elements Together

As already mentioned, a brand identity is about more than simply a logo. This stage of the design process involves bringing the design concepts together to see how everything integrates. It is also important to analyse how people will interact and engage with the brand if these concepts are in use.

This is still a conceptual stage of the process, so it is important to keep an open mind. You will need it for the next step.

Step 5 – Looking for the Nugget

This is the most difficult part, but it is also the most important and rewarding when you get it right. It involves looking at the design concepts, which you will have in front of you by now. These concepts will be based on all the work and research conducted in the previous four steps. You then need to use this to identify something that customers will remember – a design or branding nugget – that will make you really stand out from the competition.

One trick for doing this is to go back to your customers. Try to think like them, try to understand what is important to them, what pain points can you alleviate, what will get them excited in relation to the products you sell. If you can understand these things, you will have found the nugget. Reflect your understanding of your customers in your brand identity, and you’ll be on the path to success.

Consider running a survey if you have the resources for it. It will help you hit the bull’s eye more accurately.

Coming up with a new brand identity is an involved process. This applies whether you are starting from scratch or if you are modifying or changing an existing identity. Following the design principles and steps outlined above will help you with the process.

If you need help with your brand identity, why not get a time in our diary to discuss the process and how we can help you?

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