Branding does not stop at your logo!
Repeat that again, a logo is not a brand.
What is a brand? And what makes for good brand identity?
Most people start with logo design and think they’ve created a brand. We don’t want to steal your thunder if you think you were killing it with a logo. On the contrary, we want to make sure your brand takes people by storm. This article will help you analyze your current branding situation or inspire the process if you’re only getting started. These questions are tough to ask yourself, take the time to take it all in, and remember to be yourself throughout the branding process.
So what’s the difference between a logo and a brand?
A logo is the image/symbol/word that people use to identify your brand. On the other hand, branding is using all the visual/non-visual traits that define your identity. In other words, the logo is only one part of your branding identity package that creates the emotions and experiences people remember.
Now you know the difference between a logo and a brand, this alone is half the battle. There is still a lot of work to do to ensure your logo is creating the right brand image in the minds of your target audience. Below are three steps to take to see if you’re taking the right measures to create powerful and meaningful branding.
STEP 1: Check the wardrobe: What does my brand identity package have?
The best way to look at brands is how we look at people. As we get to know other people, we identify them by their names, personality, fashion style, tone of voice, and other traits that make us unique individuals. Very much like people, brands have names, styles, personalities, and other elements that make up the brand’s identity. Everyone is different and so should brands, that said, every brand identity package may differ but here’s a checklist that covers all the basics you need to check off to ensure you’re building a solid brand:
- Design System
- Data visualization
- Interactive elements
- Video and motion
- Web design
If you’re having trouble checking these off as you think about your current brand identity, chances are you’re missing out on connecting with your customers and creating long-lasting impressions. When you read off the items on the list you should be able to picture them in your head and see the consistency immediately. These are the most basic traits you can define to create brand identity, start with what your brand image needs before worrying about how it will all look.
Take the time to think about the items listed above and think how you want your brand to look and behave with each brand trait. These will be the traits that people will use to describe your brand, relate to your brand, and remember your brand. Each component is essential to creating a strong brand identity package. The more you can check off, the more opportunities you create for your brand to connect with people.
STEP 2: Look into the mirror: What does my brand identity look like?
This next part is key because we don’t always like to be critical or because we feel everything is working right. Take a step back, remove yourself from the project, look at your brand objectively, and pretend to be someone new meeting your brand for the first time. Make sure the brand image doesn’t just work for YOU, but also make sure it works for everyone: your team, the people you interact with, and the people you hope to attract. As you start your design process or look to refine your brand image, here’s a list of items to check off to make sure your brand is strong and stands out:
- Authentic: The best brands are the ones we consider original, in other words, brands that have their own sauce with the right look, style, voice, and more.
- Distinct: Study your competitors and look through their branding, this helps create a brand that’s different from theirs to stand out and catch more attention.
- Cohesive: One of the first things we look at when working with clients is if the brand’s consistent. In other words, do your branding pieces look like the same brand, or do you have different fonts, colors, logos, and other irregularities? If so, we need to fix that ASAP. Cohesive looks to create trust, build credibility, and become more recognizable.
- Adaptable: Can your brand’s image stay true on something as small as a business card to something as large as a billboard? Strong brand image can be scaled to any size and maintain brand integrity, having this flexibility will ensure your brand’s image is strong no matter how it’s used throughout time.
- Memorable: Your brand identity should have a striking presence, it should be easy to see, read, and understand who you are and what you do. The most trusted brands are the ones that make branding easy to understand, but never easy to forget.
- Easy to Evolve: Any brand should always be open to improving and consistently looking to see where it can. The world changes every day, especially now with e-commerce moving faster than brick and mortar. The key is to create branding that can withstand the test of time.
STEP 3: Dress the part: Where to improve my brand identity to make sure I attract the right crowd?
Having a bunch of brand touchpoints is nice, but if it’s not hitting the right chords you have nothing going for you. Maybe it’s not the right image, messaging, colors, or other issues that are keeping your brand from creating the intended experiences. The list above will guide you in the right direction and inspire a brand image that resonates with many.
After looking through your brand’s identity materials and evaluating how strong your image is, you’ll start to see opportunities to level up your branding. As we mentioned earlier, brands are like people. As you look to polish up or add more brand touches, think about the brand persona you want to create. Every branding piece should be consistent with the perception you want people to have of your brand. The strongest brands don’t rely on good looking visuals or depend solely on presentation. To create a brand that resonates for years to come you will need to discover what your customers want to engage with. The key to brand identity is being able to create a brand that people can relate to. Very much like people, the person in the room with the most expensive suit can be the most unattractive person when it comes to personality.
The more you can look at your brand as a person, the easier it will be to make the right brand identity decisions. Take your brand and literally create a person out of it. In other words, give your brand a name, arms and legs, age, sex, social status, marital status, financial status, wardrobe style, interests, and other characteristics that make humans unique. After you identify your brand as a human, you’ll start to see your brand as someone that can connect with others rather than a brand trying to promote a product or a service. This will help you understand your audience a lot more; to create memorable and attractive branding.