Just like your personal identity makes you unique, your brand identity is the “special sauce” that sets you apart from every other competitor on the block. But what is brand identity? What does it have to do with design? What elements contribute to a cohesive brand identity?
We’ll kick things off with defining a ‘brand identity’.
“Brand identity” is the collection of all elements (name, logo, slogan, image, website) that a company relies upon to deliver the right message to its customer. Other words like brand image and branding are often used interchangeably with brand.
Brand identity isn’t just a logo or an advertising campaign; it’s the way a brand presents itself to the market and connects with its audience. It covers a wide range of things, starting with product design, through promotion/advertising and ending with customer support. Market giants like Amazon, Apple, and Google have created a solid brand strategy over the years and have established themselves as strong competition for both large and small businesses through their powerful brand presentation.
Brand constitutes the promise you make to your customer and the experience that you provide them through your products and services. Your visual identity helps consumers get an idea of what to expect from your products and services and what makes them different from other competitors. Brand creates a ‘tone’ for your messaging. Playful, professional, luxurious or no-nonsense.
A brand is an intangible asset, and yet may be one of the most valuable assets of an organization. Having a strong brand identity can certainly be a competitive edge over other businesses in the market. Building and maintaining a strong brand identity comes with many benefits, including an easy introduction of new products. It is less expensive to test out new products and market them to an existing pool of customers and a recognizable brand builds increased customer loyalty and credibility.
Always remember customers are attracted to a brand that they share values with. A strong brand creates an emotional connection with customers which leads to a positive word-of-mouth. Ultimately – your brand is what differentiates you in a marketplace. So, what tangible elements make up your brand identity?
Corporate branding involves more components than just a logo. Let’s look at the top 6 elements that you should incorporate in your branding, from the most basic to the more complex.
1. Brand Name
Brand name is the most important element of brand identity as it captures the central theme or key associations of a product in one or a few words. It gives consumers the perception of who you are, and it creates the first impression they have of your brand. Brand names are often defined as ‘effective shorthand’.
Creating a perfect brand name is the most difficult challenge for marketers to implement. Entire industries exist around the naming of Brands, and these language professionals can provide great insights to what a brand says. Selecting the right brand name is certainly not less than any art or science. Like any brand element, brand names must meet the six general criteria of:
In order to select the right brand name, it’s always good to follow a few basic principles to make sure the name improves the branding strategy:
- Simplicity and Ease of Pronunciation and Spelling
Simplicity reduces the effort consumers have to make to understand and process the brand name. Short names facilitate recall as they’re easy to store in memory – consider Dove shampoo, Apple gadgets, Coach bags.
To improve overall brand awareness, it is important that brand name has a clear, understandable, and unambiguous pronunciation and meaning. The easier it is to pronounce the name; the less marketing efforts have to be executed in teaching customers how to pronounce the name.
- Familiarity and Meaningfulness
The more familiar and meaningful the brand name, the higher the memorability. When brand names involve the names of people, objects, birds, animals, or intangible objects, consumers have to do less learning to understand their meanings.
- Differentiated, Distinctive, and Unique
Businesses should go with brand names that are distinctive as they are inherently unique. Distinctive brand names make it unchallenging for consumers to grasp intrinsic product information.
Although a brand name is the central element of the brand, visual elements play a critical role in building brand equity and enhancing brand awareness. A logo is the visual trademark that utilizes a distinct visual or typographic treatment. A logo is as recognizable as the brand name as research shows images are often remembered easier than words.
Logos range from corporate names or trademarks to entirely abstract designs that may be unrelated to the corporate name or activities. They are literal representations of the brand name that enhances brand meaning. Logos can be both concrete and pictorial such as American Express, McDonald’s, and Coca-Cola.
Slogans are short phrases that communicate descriptive or persuasive information about the brand. These powerful brand devices play an important role in the packaging of products and in other aspects of the marketing program.
Careful selection of slogan is required as you’ll need to reinforce the brand values and tone. You wouldn’t want to create a funny catchphrase if your business offers finance-related services – unless that fulfills the tone of your desired brand. The slogan you choose should have the ability to resist brand innovations and evolution throughout the years.
Sometimes making modifications to an existing slogan is more fruitful than introducing a new slogan with a completely new meaning. When you update a slogan, it should match with your brand vision and the way your customers perceive you. Although slogans are more expensive, they are one of the essential elements that help reinforce the message of a particular campaign through campaign-specific tag lines.
Jingles is one of the branding elements with the power to get stuck in our heads. These musical messages can be thought as extended musical slogans that often have enough catchy hooks and choruses to become permanently registered in the minds of consumers.
A unique, catchy jingle often helps set the brands apart from other competitors. Used as an audio element to your website or marketing videos on your YouTube channel, this brand element can encourage word-of-mouth. Because jingles are typically fun and lighthearted in nature, they can convey brand benefits and meaning in a non-direct and fairly abstract fashion.
Packaging involves the activities in the preparation of products or commodities for effective storage and/or transportation. It constitutes bracing, cushioning, marking, sealing, strapping, and wrapping.
Packaging must achieve a number of objectives:
- Identify the brand
- Communicate descriptive and persuasive information
- Assist in at-home storage
- Aid product consumption
- Enable product transportation and protection
Structural packaging creates a point-of-difference that permits a higher margin. New packages allow companies to expand to different markets and capture new market segments. Packaging is the most cost-effective method for increasing brand awareness. The right packaging can create a strong appeal on the store shelf and can encourage customers to make impulse purchases.
Designing a package has become a sophisticated process. These days, designers use various techniques and scientific skills in the packages to meet marketing objectives for a brand. They decide on the optimal look and content of each component and choose which element should be dominant in any one package – whether it’s the brand name, slogan, logo.
Brand associations are also dependent on the color palette of each package. In fact, packaging color can influence consumer’s perceptions of the product itself. Some examples of the brand color palette include:
- Red: Colgate toothpaste, Coca-Cola beverages
- Orange: Tide laundry detergent, Crush soft drink
- Green: Starbucks coffee, Simple skincare line
- Blue: Windex cleaner, Dell laptops
- Yellow: McDonald’s restaurants, M&M’s chocolates
Like other brand elements, color plays an important role in packaging; therefore, it should be consistent with information conveyed with other aspects of the marketing strategy.
Now that you’ve seen the 6 areas of a great brand – think about a product you recently purchased. How did the brand fare with these 6 elements? Are they memorable, unique and were they cohesive? If you need help with your brand – we hope you’ll get in touch!