How to Build Your Own Brand Identity
September 8, 2015
Whether you believe or not, there’s actually a difference between the definitions of “brand” and “identity.”
Seth Godin once said, “A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories, and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.” Meanwhile, identity is the visual devices used to represent the company such as packaging, signage, messaging, and stationary etc. Combined, brand identity is how everyone sees you. It is a concept that can be your logo, business card, and your website. While many companies take years to perfect their already established brand identities, others have been sloppy with this craft. Without a clearly defined brand identity, consumers will not be able to distinguish between your service and that of another company’s.
But how do you exactly build a solid brand identity? Here are some tips you can follow to establish your company in today’s competitive market.
Research, research, research
Like all great projects that need to be tackled and accomplished, research is the foundation that your entire project relies on. Start with answering these questions:
- How is your brand already perceived against competitors?
- Who is your audience?
- Are they digitally savvy?
- Where will your products and services be in contact with them?
Use these questions to build the core principles that you build your brand around.
The next step is to create a design brief. A design brief is essentially a blueprint of what you want to accomplish. Trying to create a brand identity without a design brief is like trying to build a house without a blueprint. Without having a clear and detailed outline of what you want, where you want it, and what resources are available to you, any attempts at branding will be mediocre at best.
Design briefs also help the design wheels in your head rolling, as well as help you think strategically about solving any problems that come up. Most importantly, design briefs are a great tool to help to stay on track in your branding process.
To design a proper design brief, it should contain information about your target audience, messaging objectives, values and mission of the brand, and the brand’s products and services that are offered. It may also be wise to include budget figures, project schedules, file formats for delivery, and other practical needs.
One of the easiest ways you can make your company distinguishable from others is by sticking to the same design style. Your brand design needs to be cohesive across your social media platforms as well, allowing your clients to separate you from others in the same market field.
Your logo can be done professionally by a skilled graphic designer or even by yourself if you have the right tools and skill sets. The key to a designing a good logo is to try out as many styles as you can before deciding on one you love. Logos shouldn’t be changed that often so you want to make sure that you’ve seen it all before making up your mind. You should also have variations of the logo (different colour schemes, simplified versions, etc.) so that it’s useful and applicable in any situation. Logo designing can be long and tedious – but don’t be so quick to throw away the drafts and sketches of your design process. Keep them for creativity inspiration or as building blocks should you choose to redesign your logo in the future.
Style Guideline and Brand Board
The style guideline should contain and describe the logo usage rules, typeface system, colour palette, layout guidelines, and more so that everyone in your company can keep track of what to use and when to use it. Style guides are essential in maintaining a consistent and solid brand identity. Alternatively, you can also create a brand board, which is a shorter, more compact version to keep track of your brand elements. Here is some of my favourite brand boards:
Source: x / x /x
Monitoring and Rebranding
Think about the last time you rebranded your company. It might have been a couple of years, or it might have been a couple of years. While it is important to remain consistent and committed to your brand, it’s very easy to fall into the trap of remaining static. The market trends are always changing and therefore, so should you and your brand. Your target audience might not be the same as it was when you first started the company. As the market evolves, or the products and services you provide change, you should take some time to think about rebranding. To begin, it’s best to monitor the current conditions. Search up competitors and see what they are doing to get an idea of what you should be doing and what you shouldn’t. Take advantage of what your competition is lacking and focus improving your own services to satisfy your current clients and gain new ones in the process.
Creating a memorable and coherent brand is hard – but it’s essential to your company and more importantly, how others perceive you. Take time to develop a vision for your brand and then use these five steps to guide you to your goal.