We’re not here to baffle you with jargon or to overwhelm you with marcomms terms. So before we get into the nitty-gritty of brand identity, let’s take a step back and simplify
What is brand identity?
A brand identity encompasses all of the different elements that make up and distinguish a brand, helping to set your business/product apart from your competition, while building a clear picture of who you are and what you stand for.
Your brand identity is the personality of your business, made up of your values, communication style and ultimately how you want people to feel when they experience your product/service, making you instantly recognisable.
Sure, that sounds straightforward enough, right? And we certainly don’t want to teach you how to suck eggs. But brand identity is far more than the logo mark, your imagery or the colours you use. It’s a lot to think about, but giving consideration to your brand identity is essential to making the right impact.
So let’s delve a little deeper here. Onwards…
How do I get started with brand identity?
A brand identity should always be underpinned by strategy. So let’s start at the very beginning. And for us, that’s a workshop with all the key stakeholders to reflect and THINK about your:
Whether you have a solely commercial focus, such as taking a percentage of market share, or are driven by more socially conscious motives, like creating sustainable solutions for future generations (you may have both). Consumers agree that authenticity needs to be front and centre, with 86% stating it is a key factor when deciding what brands they like and support.
So how do you create a brand identity that is authentically ‘you’ and delivers on your goals? The first step is taking a long hard look in the mirror and gaining clarity and agreement on who you truly are, why a customer should pick your product or service, and who you are for (to begin with). If you aren’t sure, your target audience certainly won’t be.
Speaking of which, you also need to understand your target audiences:
- Who exactly are you talking to?
- What are their wants and needs?
- What are their challenges or ‘pain points’?
- What are their values?
- Where are they looking and listening?
- How can you help them?
- How can you best communicate with them?
- How do you want them to feel when they interact with your brand?
Notice how we’ve asked a lot of questions? We do that.
But we encourage you to think before you CREATE, or COMMUNICATE. You may not have all of the answers, but that’s where research and data-driven analysis comes in. Dare we say it – is it time to review your value proposition?
The important elements of a brand identity
It takes just 0.05 seconds for an audience to make a decision about your website, the digital store window of your brand. What are these elements saying about you? Are they memorable? Are they consistent? Consistent presentation of a brand has been shown to increase revenue by 33%. Just saying. So what elements should you focusing on?
Elements of brand identity include:
A logo mark is a recognisable symbol that helps audiences to identify your brand quickly. First impressions count right? It’s an asset we’ve come to expect, but it’s not the summation of brand identity and anyone who tells you that it is should leave the room right now. Although it may be compelling, it is not the only element that will convey your story.
2. COLOUR PALETTE
A recent study showed that a signature colour can cause an 80% increase in consumer brand recognition.
The same research indicated that after 10 minutes of studying a logo, 78% of consumers were able to recognise the colour of the logo but only 43% were able to remember the name of the brand.
Colour matters, but are you considering the psychology behind your choices rather than what simply looks ‘cool’ on that one social media post you’re hoping to publish? Do you know how that one colour choice could be interpreted by your target audience?
If not, it’s time to press pause on that Canva template, don’t you think?
3. TONE OF VOICE
Your tone of voice is how you talk to your audience and the unique perspective you can bring to the conversation.
But before you get started ask yourself – does it match your values? Does it convey what you hope it to? One of our values is Honesty and we hope that’s pretty clear in the blog you’re reading right now. Some brands may have a more colloquial, friendly tone (👋🏻) while others will want to be serious and formal.
It depends on your values, sector, audience and goals. See how we’re always coming back to that value proposition? And this should translate across all comms channels.
Did you know that 33% of consumers say they favour brand social accounts that have a distinct personality?
Your typography speaks volumes about your brand identity. With a variety of weights, fonts and colours, you can land your personality, core values and prioritise your messaging.
NOTICE HOW YOUR BRAIN READS THIS IN A SHOUTY TONE? (Dear Reader, sorry about that). Be considerate with type
5. GRAPHICS AND IMAGERY
Graphics can help effectively communicate your brand’s core values. Are you trusted, experienced or sustainable? Then show it.
Imagery can create an emotional connection which is part of the reason why an over-reliance on stock libraries can damage your brand. Yes, it’s important to be consistent, but be original too, and remember…be memorable (for all the right reasons).
While these may be the high-level elements you may choose to start with, they are not the be-all and end-all. Your identity should be unique to your business needs.
For example, let’s say you’re a craft beer brewery hoping to attract the 18-25 Gen Z market with a new sour beer. You wouldn’t take the same approach to brand identity as the leading Irish dry stout brand, Guinness, would you? No, because you’ll be appealing to very different audiences who have alternative expectations. But of course, your audience research will tell you more about that.
Why is brand identity important?
Brand identity can help to shape ongoing trust with customers and audiences by creating an emotional relationship. Customers want to engage with brands who make them feel good or do good themselves and the research backs this.
A Harvard professor found that 95% of purchasing decisions are driven by unconscious, emotional urges so brands need to be accessible to consumers (both in terms of their communication strategy and overall customer experience).
Think about the beauty brands who tap into our feelings of self-worth to sell the latest product you just ‘have’ to have in your bathroom cupboard. Or fitness brands who reel us in with visuals of aspirational physiques and adventure-driven copy?
However, brand identity also works to:
- Communicate key messages quickly and effectively
- Attract new audiences
- Shape a recognisable, consistent brand
- Increase recognition
- Help you stand out from competitors (particularly in a crowded market)
Examples of a good brand identity
We’re glad you asked. We’re not going to take the obvious approach and delve into the brands that have been leading their markets for some time. Think Coca-Cola, Google, Cadbury’s, IKEA etc – need we go on? No, we want to talk about the upcoming players, those who have succeeded in creating a strong brand identity that cuts through the noise in the age of information overload, despite the myriad of options available to consumers every single day.
Having undergone a new brand identity in 2021 with Ragged Edge, the iconic stationery brand (a firm favourite of ours) revolves around an artistic identity with typography, space and composition taking centre stage, as well as a colour palette to showcase the range of products.
It’s not just a notebook or a planner, is it? It’s an outlet for creativity and a way to discover who you are (notice that emotional pull right there?).
2. LILY’S KITCHEN
With more than 3.2 million homes adopting a pandemic pet, it was only a matter of time before a pet company decided to push the boundaries of brand identity beyond the traditional pet aisle conventions (usually found alongside cleaning products).
In 2020, Lily’s Kitchen announced a brand new look with a bold, impactful colour palette using ‘performance’ icons to communicate pet personality. How many of us instantly thought of our own four-legged friends when we saw this packaging? Our beagle-loving content strategist is a marketer’s dream will tell you first-hand, into the basket it went.
Despite being a 20-year-old brand, it wasn’t until its re-launch in 2016 after appointing John Schoolcraft as creative director that the alternative milk company cemented its place as a consumer lifestyle brand.
Thanks to its ‘packvertising’ approach and a new, bold message which cleverly communicated its values, the brand quickly gained momentum, targeting younger, activist consumers. This was amplified by changing consumer habits during the pandemic and a growing focus on environmental factors. Oatly went on to achieve $421 million in revenue in 2020.
These are examples of brands operating in highly competitive spaces. Yet during a period of global change, they adapted to consumer behaviours to captivate and capitalise on new opportunities. They are the types of brands that we expect to see in years to come – the ones that can pivot and stay authentic, too.
So there you have it. We can’t condense all the intricate elements of brand identity into just one blog article – and *ahem* our creative services director would be pretty miffed if we tried to (Hi, Matt 👋🏻). That’s why this will be a continuous series on our blog.
In the meantime, if you want to chat about design and brand identity in more depth and perhaps how we can support you in this area, drop us a line and we’d be happy to set something up.