Brand Identity Design — You’re Doing It Wrong

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Ah, the subject of branding! No other topic can seem more simple, more straightforward, and yet be more confusing than any other aspect of starting a small business.

There are a lot of pitfalls that you can fall into when trying your hand at brand identity design for your business. Unless you have a background in branding, design, or marketing, the whole process can seem really simple at first.

All I need is a logo, right? I’ll just pick some colors, something sort of related to what I’m selling, and there it is! Brand identity design—complete.

Please. Stahp.

Before we go any further, let’s make sure we have a common definition of what brand identity design is. Brand identity is your message communicated through your name, logo, communication style, and all the visuals you use in communication.

Good brand identity design is a strategic process that includes research, audience evaluation, self reflection, and the ability to organize those things into a central visual and contextual theme.

As simple as creating a brand can seem on the surface, it’s actually much more complex than coming up with a logo (and logo design is not something to take lightly either, for what it’s worth). If you’re still a little unsure what the difference between a brand and a logo is, we’ve got a spiffy little primer for you here. Go on then, read it and come back. I’ll wait.

You see the difference now. While a logo is an important, central piece of your brand, there are many different angles you need to consider before putting one together.

Your Brand Identity Design Should Start With An Evaluation of Your Audience

Before you make a logo, before you choose a color scheme, way before you even think about making a website, or writing your first bit of copy you need to consider your audience.

At first, this might not make a whole lot of sense. Shouldn’t your brand be all about you and what you do?

To some extent yes—your brand needs to be authentically you. The best brand identity design springs from the ideals, beliefs, and character of their founders. They’re real, not a trumped up image of what they want you to think they are.

That being said, your business isn’t all about you (and you know that). You wouldn’t be at the point you’re at if you didn’t care about your customers and giving them the best product possible. So thinking about your audience, determining who your ideal customers are, who you want to attract, will help you shape your brand. Great brands, classic brands, aren’t just well known: they resonate in the minds of their audience over months, years, and decades.

Let’s make your brand resonate. Download the Customer Persona Worksheet to get started.

Your Brand Identity Design Should Reflect Who You Are As A Business

This is the fun part. Once you’ve fleshed out your audience persona and you know who you’re targeting, you can turn your sights to your business and what it represents. Remember, the realer you are, the better. Be authentic. Be true. Be you, whoever you are, and you’ll resonate with your audience.

You want to reflect that in your brand identity design. This doesn’t just cover the logo—this covers every piece of marketing or business material your company has. It includes every online or offline interaction people have with your company. So every bit of printed material, from your stationery and business cards to posters or brochures and every online opportunity for interaction, from a webpage to a social media post should all reflect your business.

Part of doing this is creating a logo that resonates and putting it on all these materials. Part of doing this is keeping the color scheme consistent across all these documents. Part of it is keeping the language and voice the same (funny, we’ve got an article on that too).

Brand identity design comes down to one thing: consistency. If you’re consistent across the entire marketing and business materials spectrum, you’ll reinforce that brand image in the minds of the consumer.

This idea of consistency applies to all your digital marketing as well. Making sure your social media accounts all have the same backgrounds and pictures, making sure your website has the same header and footer on each page, making sure your emails all have your logo—it’s all a part of creating an overarching brand identity.

Creating a brand persona is an excellent way of codifying your brand identity design — what it is, what it isn’t. Use this brand persona template to begin the process of building a complete brand identity.

This Is Just the Tip of the Marketing Iceberg

This article is a simplified version of a lot of very complicated ideas. If you want to learn more about brand identity design, brand image, and how to create a brand, check out this article by Creative Market.

If you’re ready to get some professional branding help, click here to contact us about creating a brand identity design strategy for your business.

Adam Fout

Adam might be a little crazy, but we love him anyway.   Weaving beautiful paragraph-baskets into blog posts ain’t easy, but we couldn’t think of a better job for a recovering tech writer.   Follow him on Twitter @adamfout2, LinkedIn, Facebook, or our blog if you like valuable information accompanied by snarky simplifications of complex subjects.

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