In the business world, your brand is your lifeline. It’s how consumers perceive your business–the good and bad. It’s the feelings, emotions, and everything in between that come to mind when people think of your company.
While your brand encompasses emotional responses to your company, your brand identity refers to visible design elements. That means characteristics consumers can see (e.g., fonts, color schemes, etc.). The most important identifier is your logo.
Nike is a great example of a company known for its strong brand identity. Their logo alone is a sales tool. You need only see the famous swoosh symbol on a t-shirt, pair of sneakers, or a duffle bag to know where it was purchased. The brand is clear, as are the perceived benefits (e.g., style, comfort, and endurance on and off the court and field).
For many years, Nike has set the standard for brands everywhere–and they still do today. Their goal is to innovate and inspire athletes (i.e., “anyone who has a body”). By displaying their logo tastefully on their products and sharing stories that resonate with their followers, they embody their mission and ensure brand alignment.
Asana, a popular project management tool, also thrives on a unique brand identity. Their values say it all: clarity, co-creation, be real (with yourself and others), and more. The company name, inspired by a Sanskrit word that describes a yoga position, suggests the importance of attention management, mindfulness, and reducing distractions to complete your to-do list. Asana’s logo combines three dots in a triangle formation. Together, they symbolize collaboration and shared energy–which is what their mission is all about.
Another company with a great brand identity design is Apple. The partially consumed apple symbol is unmistakable on iPods, iPhones, and MacBooks. One glance tells you everything you need to know about the product in your hands. It’s Apple, so naturally, it must be high quality and easy to use.
Brand identity vs. brand image: what is the difference?
Anytime you hear about branding, the phrase “brand image” is likely to come up. Brand image is how customers, real and aspiring, perceive your business.
You can enhance your brand image by ensuring everything you put out into the world connects back to your brand and resonates with your target audience. Your brand image has little effect on your brand identity, but it can influence your decision-making and give you insight into when–and if–a rebrand is necessary.
Brand identity is comprised of the visible brand assets including your logo, colors, and typography. You need a unique logo to ensure your company standouts, no matter where you are in the branding process. While your logo isn’t your brand image, it reflects it. For instance, if you have a positive brand image and want to empower those around you, it’s best to consider a logo that evokes those same feelings (and complementary colors).
How do you build a solid brand identity?
Designing a brand identity that people will remember is possible with a little imagination and a lot of consistency. Here’s how to make a good brand identity a great one:
#1: Create an eye-catching logo.
First, you need a logo that represents how you want consumers to view your business. The icon should be simple and easily recognizable on all marketing mediums, from your website to social media and print materials.
Uniqueness and memorability matter most here. Ask yourself:
Will it draw attention?
Does it accurately depict my business, mission, and values?
Is it easy to recognize and understand?
On primary logos, you might have a tagline–another essential identifier. Like Nike’s “Just Do It” slogan, you need something catchy that displays who you are, what you do, and the reasons behind it.
#2: Choose your fonts wisely.
Typography is another essential part of your logo and associated marketing materials. Fonts say a lot about a company, and how they’re used can make or break your brand identity. Whatever options you choose, ensure they go together for a clean, cohesive image.
Before selecting a font, we recommend doing a competitive analysis to identify any general themes within your industry. Also, consider the right approach for your target audience.
Sans Serif: These fonts can simplify your brand identity and make it look more contemporary (a win-win).
Serif: If you’re looking for a timeless font that was good a decade ago and will still look great a decade from now, serif is the way to go.
In general, it’s best to use a primary font for your company name and a separate font for your tagline. Both fonts should be readable, but it’s okay to choose a more elaborate font for the business name. The tagline should be simpler so as not to distract.
Tip:Remember to stick to three fonts at most. Adding too many fonts can be distracting and take away from the logo.
#3: Select colors that evoke the right emotion.
Fun fact: color influences up to 90 percent of first impressions about a product, service, or brand. From a company’s standpoint, that means your choice in brand colors is vital.
Colors can distinguish your products and services from comparative options. They can also affect how people feel when they look at your brand.
Considering the underlying feelings you’d like to inspire in others is essential when deciding on a color scheme. Here’s a quick breakdown of what colors can mean in branding:
Red: This color is all about intensity. It can drive you to take action just as easily as it can make a brand look bold and alluring.
Orange: If innovation and creativity are the goals, orange is your friend. It symbolizes results and positive thinking, inspiring people to make the connection that using your products or services can give them the solutions they need.
Yellow: It generally translates to positive, friendly, and carefree. When the goal is to make a brand look warmer online, a yellow color scheme is perfect.
Green: You’ll see this color most often in natural brands. It gives off feelings of balance and a journey toward “growth” and personal development.
Blue: This color is serene and peaceful–and brands who use it often hope to convey those traits. It can also represent dependability and a solid foundation.
Purple: Like red, purple can signify strength. It can also show class, making a brand look more luxurious and desirable.
White: Most minimalistic brands opt for white. It looks clean and simple, and it pairs well in the tech world–making complex products look less intimidating.
Black: You can’t get more sophisticated or professional than black, which complements many logo colors. It also looks secretive, which begs people to look.
What is the importance of brand alignment?
The definition of brand alignment is ensuring uniformity among all marketing platforms. That means that if you’re sending a new newsletter, you must:
Incorporate your logo.
Adhere to the brand standards you’ve established for typography and color usage.
Use consistent on-brand elements such as texture or patterns.
If your brand colors are red and orange–colors that spark passion and creativity–your target audience might be confused if they see several blue graphics populate on your Facebook page. That could cause them to scroll past your page, which may cost you, potential customers.
You’ll know if your brand isn’t aligned if consumers get confused when interacting with your company online. Some signs of brand alignment are positive feedback and engagement on social media.
If a consumer can’t tell that something is your product or service because it looks too different from the rest of your offerings, then it’s best to revise. Brand alignment is essential for long-term, loyal customers.
How can you ensure brand alignment?
When a brand’s behavior makes sense, that’s brand alignment. The concept isn’t as confusing as you might think. It simply indicates that you’ve made the right design choices and used them across all platforms in a consistent way.
Nike, Asana, and Apple are some of the best examples of brand alignment. If you’d like to follow suit, here are some suggestions:
#1: Produce an identity guide.
One of our best tips for brand alignment is creating an identity guide that covers all visual elements associated with your brand, including your logo.
The guide should feature your primary logo and any alternative versions, along with examples of when, where, and how to use them. For instance, you might only want your logo to appear on a white background to give a clean, minimalistic vibe. If so, your identity guide is a good place to list this so that your designer and other marketing team members are on the same page.
What to include in your identity guide:
Logo versions (primary and secondary) and approved examples of use for each.
Logo usage and restrictions including allowable white space, placements, and size requirements.
Typography usage and examples of each as well as recommended sizing.
Examples of how the logo should not be used, such as color changes and placements.
Patterns or textures associated with your brand and how to use them.
#2: Follow through.
Once you have an identity guide, the next step is to activate it. That means creating all content and marketing materials as laid out in your reference materials. Not only can this make them easy to duplicate, but it can also keep things authentic for your brand.
Consistency in brand alignment is important because it helps consumers know what to expect. It also suggests that you’ll deliver on your brand promise–which is what every consumer wants to hear.
Examples of assets to create based on your new identity:
Updated profile and header images for social channels.
Templates for collateral such as flyers and brochures, both digital and print.
What about rebranding?
If you plan to update your brand identity, we recommend announcing it on your social media. This builds trust with your target audience.
Think of it this way: if your followers visited your website, and suddenly, it had a new logo with a different icon and a new color scheme, they might think they landed on the wrong site.
It’s best to implement small changes over time–or publicly announce the large ones–to keep from confusing consumers. Taking these steps also adds to your brand authenticity, which is always the goal with brand alignment.
In simple terms, your brand identity consists of unique markers that help people differentiate your company from the next. These markers include your logo, brand colors, and typography.
To maintain a strong brand identity, it’s best to be consistent offline and online. That means adhering to your brand standards in all placements.
The goal is to ensure that when people notice these colors, fonts, and icons, they’ll associate them with your company. You’ll know you’ve achieved brand alignment when more customers pour in–and they know what your business is just by glancing at the logo, browsing your social channels, or pursuing your website.
Need some help with branding? BrandCraft offers branding services for businesses of all sizes. Reach out today for a free consultation.