Six simple steps for designing a powerful brand identity…
Want to develop and design a strong brand identity in 6 simple steps? Just take a look at our easy to follow guide and you will be well on your way.
Brand vs Brand Identity
Before we get started, it is important to understand the difference between your brand and your brand identity. Yes, there is a difference and in order to develop an existing brand identity or create a new one, you will need to be clear on this.
A brand is really the emotional connection your business has with its audience. People can trust, respect and love brands, which for businesses is invaluable. A strong brand will stand out and be immediately recognisable within a crowded marketplace. Here is a list of the top most valuable brand for 2018 www.forbes.com/powerful-brands
Brand identity is the various visual aspects that your brand sustains. It is described by US branding guru, Marty Neumeier as “the outward expression of a brand, including its trademark, name, communications and visual appearance.” So essentially, a brand identity covers all visual and vocal grounds of your business, from your look and feel, to your voice and message all the way through to the font you use!
Okay, so now we know what we are developing, we can begin. It is worth mentioning that each step below is fundamental to the process of creating a thorough and powerful brand identity, so make sure you dedicate the time and resource required.
Step One: Have a clear strategy
Like with every journey you embark on as a marketeer, you need to start at the very beginning and this process is no different. Whether you are creating a brand identity from scratch or building on an existing identity, you need to have a strategy in place. In a nutshell this is all about how you plan on connecting your brand with the rest of the world. It should outline what you are trying to achieve, how you are going to achieve it, your current brand situation, what it is aspiring to be, and of course what your business purpose / solution is.
Step Two: A complete brand identity
As this is such a time-consuming process, you only want to be doing this once. So now is the time to make sure you do it right and don’t overlook anything which may play a crucial part for your business in the future! Below is a list of everything that a brand identity covers:
- Colour Palette
- Photography / videography
- Web design
- Interactive elements
It is also worth noting that just because you have these elements already, does not mean you have a powerful brand identity. To optimise your time and the results as much as possible, you need to ensure that all the above are cohesive and work together.
Step Three: Research, Research, Research!!
Before going any further, it is important to understand your industry and what your competitors are doing. You have probably done this many times throughout the year for your marketing plan, and yes it is a tedious task, but now is the time to really identify and understand the details of any key industry players brands and how they are communicating with the rest of world. Without this, you won’t have the adequate foundations needed to begin developing your own brand identity.
During your research, you also need to establish your position within the market currently and how those who are better placed are presenting themselves, understanding why it is working, as well as any points you notice that do not work so well. (Don’t worry about being over critical, because the next stage is looking at your brand in as much detail).
Step Four: Evaluate your existing brand.
Now you have your strategy in place and are have a full understanding of your industry and what your competitors are doing, you need to carry out a full assessment of your brand as it stands. This involves looking at your logo, strap line colour palette, font, look and feel etc, and understanding how all these core elements could be better aligned with your goals (outlined in your strategy). This is a key step for building the brief for your brand identity development, so don’t rush it.
When analysing your brand and how it could be better, always remember and never underestimate the importance of what makes a brand powerful.
To us is should be memorable, distinctive, cohesive and flexible. Distinguish these for yourself and outline what you value as key elements of a strong brand, then keep them at the forefront of your analysis.
Step Four: Engage with your employees.
This stage involves a lot of ground work and conversations / surveys with your clients and most importantly, your employees. Remember your employees are your brands biggest ambassadors through the products you create, the services you provide and the interactions they have with your clients. One way we achieved this, was by sending out anonymous surveys using www.surveymonkey.com to our team and existing clients, asking them questions about our current brand as a whole. This enabled us to gather an in depth insight into how our brand was perceived both internally and externally, therefore establishing a better understanding of what works and what doesn’t, again creating the brief for our brand identity development.
Step Five: Conceptual design – there is no such thing as a bad idea!
Now you have built the necessary foundations, this is the stage for brain dumping all of your ideas! Get your team in front of a white board and just map our everything you want to work on and how you are going to do this, always referring back to your strategy to keep you on track and ensure your goals of what you want to achieve stay at the forefront.
For this stage we held a workshop for 2 hours (not thinking we would need anything close to that amount of time) but to our amazement we ended up leaving the room almost 3 hours later. I would advise coming equipped with laptops, print outs of inspiration, your results from your competitive analysis and plenty of highlighters for scribbling – because once your ideas begin flowing you will need these materials to hand!
Step Six: Ready, Set, Build your brand identity!
You now have all the information you need about the business, its people and clients, your competitors and an idea of how your brand identity should be, so this stage is the fun part, enjoy it!
For this, we started at the beginning and work our way forward, considering all of the key elements discussed, and using our strategy as a reference throughout.
Don’t forget your key elements of what makes a strong brand!