BRAND IDENTITY: why it’s design’s MVP
From startups to businesses that need to reposition themselves, individuality is expressed through identity. Brand expressions are born out of a need to connect and be kept front of mind amidst countless indistinguishable services and products, as well as competitors.
While a brand is about establishing or reinforcing desired perceptions in the mind, brand identity is the tangible medium for delivery. It begins with the design of a brand mark (i.e. logo/logotype) and evolves into a complete, distinctive system of visual assets, which can serve as a constant, ubiquitous reminder of a brand’s essence and value. To appreciate the real-world value of a properly executed brand identity, it useful to know the players…
What’s a brand?
Let’s begin from what a brand isn’t: the logo. It’s more useful to think of the logo as the doorway to a brand, an entryway that opens into a brand’s unique and storied house – a domain where associations are felt and emotional connections are made. When encountered again that door (logo) serves as a reference to those associations or experiences. Likewise, other tangible assets such as websites, packaging, business cards, and collateral also provide access, and offer an invitation to connect.
The brand is intrinsic to a company’s perceived culture, legacy, value, credibility, trust and status. How we perceive brands constantly influences our thinking and behavior, and how we share, talk, and relate to them. We can more easily relate to authentic brand identity because it demonstrates rather than declares its competitive advantage and unique value.
Every business has one (even when they’re not expressing it).
Some companies take a hands-off approach to a “foreground” brand presence, missing opportunities to command a narrative and build brand equity. Businesses avoid leaving money on the table when they recognize the value of honing their brand message. Consistently demonstrating effectiveness and relevancy draws recognition and membership.
Making strengths visible
Brand identity begins with self-reflection. A company must be defined in terms of who it is, and where it wants to go. To do this (in short), essential assets are weighed, goals and competitors are assessed, then research is played back to paint a clear picture. Who is the audience? How should the brand be positioned? Strategic imagination and unconventional thinking is needed. A brief is co-created that lays out a strategic course. All research comes together to serve as a framework for logo design.
A set of basic, value protecting imperatives apply to logo design and deployment:
-Differentiation (a demonstration of leadership, and to stand out against a sea of indistinguishable products and services)
-Authenticity (demonstrating genuine strengths makes brands more relatable and trustworthy)
-Consistency (repeated exposure builds recognition)
-Endurance (brand equity is built over time)
Bringing it all together
Brand identity works with and beyond the logo. It fully illuminates a resolved brand through a versatile visual identity system, capable of aligning all brand material into a cohesive army of brand expressions (applicable to website, advertising, business material, collateral, packaging to name a few). This is achieved through a flexible visual language using typographic style, imagery, graphic elements, and color. A style guide is created for in-house use. Aligning all brand touchpoints, as they’re known, demonstrates the laser-like focus of a company, making it one of the most powerful marketing tools a company can deploy.
The main objectives are to insure distinguishing strengths endure over time, and competitive advantages are clear immediately. Inspiring brand membership is a central goal, because that builds brand-advocates that share their experience.
Authenticity aims for genuine value
Authenticity is what separates meaningful design from merely attractive design. It’s a key asset because it allows behaviors and performance to clearly synch with brand expressions, helping them feel more genuine and relatable.
Brand identity matters because it carries Intrinsic value. Business that strategically seize its potential can command a premium. Meaningful, resonating, consistent brands are recognizable and build awareness, which grows business.
Contact us to today to seize control of your brand message.