You know you need to invest in your brand identity and build awareness. But it can be a minefield, so where do you start?
We talk about brand, branding and brand identity every day so it’s very easy to conflate them. But they’re not the same things.
A common misconception is that your logo is your brand, but this isn’t the case. Whilst a well-designed logo is important, it is only a small part of a brand identity.
In fact, the different elements of brand, branding, and brand identity can all significantly affect the internal and external perception of a business.
Helping to evolve and influence these elements all fall under the remit of a branding agency which shows that great design is much more than pure aesthetics. Approached correctly, it can provide elegant solutions to many real-world business issues.
So let’s take a look at what we mean by brand.
Many people use the word “brand” when they talk about the logo or mark. But the brand is so much more. It includes the entire spectrum of intangible assets of a business, product, or service. It is represented not just by your visual appearance but manifests itself through your personality, attributes and culture. Ultimately your brand will define the relationship between your clients and the business.
Critically, the success of a brand will be defined by how it is perceived externally, and this won’t necessarily align with the in-house view. Therefore brand creation should always be founded on solid research and listening and learning from your clients, prospects and internal stakeholders. Businesses must ensure their service offering really meets the needs of their audience… and then deliver on that promise.
And in today’s crowded global market clients and prospects are provided with overwhelming choice. So a brand that is appealing, distinctive and truly connects with its audience can make all the difference in attracting and retaining business.
What about brand identity?
Brand identity is tangible. It’s everything that you can see (i.e. the visual language), from typography, colors and logo; from web design (digital design) to brochureware (print design) through video and social media assets.
The number of elements required for a successful brand identity depends on the brand’s exposure across multiple channels and platforms. All of this should be thoughtfully designed and come together in a Brand Guidelines document (your ‘Brand Bible’).
Once created, a set of Brand Guidelines helps to ensure that the investment made in developing the brand identity is protected; the guidelines provide clarity on how the brand identity should be used and they should be reviewed and updated as the business develops.
A designer’s task is to work within the framework of the Brand Guidelines to create the desired perception of the business or product, using an appropriate form of visual language.
What is branding?
We’ve established that brand is an intangible sense of a business offer or product which influences customer behaviour and brand identity is the tangible visual design, developed to help build a brand.
Branding is a disciplined process driven by research and insight, influenced by a brand strategy (which should support the business strategy). The design process can start with creating a unique name or logo for the business and then developing an effective brand identity. And it drives success…or failure.
Great branding is achieved with the consistent use of the brand identity to deliver the brand strategy.
- It’s about maximizing every opportunity to reinforce why your audience should choose your brand over another.
- It enables business to outpace competitors and gives employees effective sales tools.
- It communicates the characteristics, attributes and values that clarify what a particular brand is (or is not).
However, remember that not everyone will perceive a brand in the same way. You may intend your audience to think of your brand as trustworthy, forward-thinking, and friendly.
But how they really see you may differ – it’s important to do the research and tackle any uncomfortable truths.
Here’s a list of some other branding terms:
Brand Personality: A set of human characteristics that are attributed to a brand. Brand personality is something to which the customer can relate. An effective brand is stronger by having a consistent set of personality traits that their consumers enjoy.
Brand Values: A set of values acts as a code of conduct by which a brand lives. Values act as a guide to the decision-making and behavior of all employees, and a benchmark for performance.
Brand Proposition: A declaration of intent or a statement that tells consumers what a company stands for, how it operates, and why it deserves their business.
Tone of voice: The way that your brand speaks. Your brand voice directly affects the way your clients and prospects (your audience) will view and respond to all your communications.