Updated: Nov 19, 2021
A strong brand identity is not about making pretty packaging; it’s about communicating your brand story effectively. Design is a powerful tool that can transform how people interact with your brand in three important ways.
Differentiation: How can you stand out in a crowded marketplace? Your brand identity can play strong role. Whether you want your product to stand out on a shelf, or you want your ads to stand out on Facebook, creating a consistent, cohesive presentation is the secret to success.
Connection: The more effectively you communicate who you are, the easier it will be for people to engage with you and, ultimately, join your community of lifelong fans.
Experience: Everything you create reflects your brand. Thus, if you want to create a consistent, cohesive brand experience, you need to present a consistent, cohesive identity. From your website, to your social media, to your sales brochures, a strong identity is the key to elevating your brand experience.
Some brands elevate brand identity to an art (think Apple, LEGO, or Levi’s). Some brands make it their entry into the playing field (think Warby Parker or Casper). Others struggle because they don’t know who they are or don’t know how to communicate it effectively. (The truth is too many brands fall into this camp.)
Regardless of where you fall on that spectrum, one thing is certain. If you want to be a competitive and successful company, crafting a strong brand identity is mandatory.
What Does a Brand Identity Include?
When you create a brand identity, you’re basically building a toolbox of visual elements to help you communicate effectively. This can be basic or extensive; it all depends on your brand’s needs.
Regardless, every brand needs a basic identity, which includes three core elements:
• Color palette
If you create a wider variety of content (or plan to), you may also design additional elements to express your brand across mediums, including:
• Data visualization
You don’t have to design everything all at once. If you don’t have a ton of resources (or don’t know what your future needs will be), start with the basic logo, color, and typography. You can build out additional elements as you need.
Developing Your Brand’s Strength
Having a brand identity on paper doesn’t mean your identity is good or effective. Even if you design every element needed, it may not help you achieve your long-term goals.
A strong brand identity needs to work for everyone, both your internal team (e.g., brand ambassadors, content creators) and the people who will interact with it (e.g., customers). To truly succeed, you need to build a brand identity that is:
Distinct: It stands out among competitors and catches people’s attention.
Memorable: It makes a visual impact. (Consider Apple: The logo is so memorable they only include the logo—not their name—on their products.)
Scalable: It can grow and evolve with the brand.
Flexible: It can be used in many different applications (web, print, etc.).
Cohesive: Each piece complements the other.
Easy to apply: It’s intuitive and clear for designers to use.
If you design an identity that doesn’t resonate with your target audience, or doesn’t truly reflect your brand, you will have wasted a lot of work. (Luckily, we created this guide to ensure this doesn’t happen.)