Brand Identity. A badge you wear with pride.

So what exactly is Brand Identity? I suppose if you asked the proverbial person in the street he/she/they might say it’s a logo or a symbol that represents a company. 

They would probably think of the most obvious examples of brands like the McDonalds golden arches or the red and white Coca-Cola can with its distinctive script. Common and obvious examples they may be but at least it demonstrates how Brand Identity affects every single one of us in our everyday lives. 

Brands are all around us, big or small they determine the way we think about the services and products we use and influence our lifestyle and our purchasing decisions.

Consciously but often subliminally, we make judgements based on how we feel emotionally about the brands that surround us and that’s because they actually speak to us in a range of different ways. 

Fundamental to this communication are ‘Brand Values’. These are the foundations, the DNA of any Identity project and are determined by a process of discussion and self examination. Many companies will know instinctively what their brand values are, others will be unaware that certain values underlie everything they do. 

How your employees speak to your customers, how they dress, what your office or shop looks like, how motivated your staff are, how you regard your Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and many, many other factors will determine these values.

So say them out loud. Write them down. Don’t be modest and above all try to be absolutely honest. Typical values may be: experience; integrity; transparency; expertise; friendliness; informality – there are no rights or wrongs. 

Feel free to suggest values that you may not have at the moment but to which you aspire. Think about your Brand Goals. The type of company you might like to be in the future may entail embracing new values.

Becoming aware of and framing these Values then allows us to effectively tackle the next stage of the process  – The Brand Proposition.

The Brand Proposition should use the Brand Values to establish what the company feels its point of differentiation in its marketplace may be. Sometimes called the Unique Selling Point (USP) or company mission statement the proposition is the vital piece of communication that any brand will want a consumer to be aware of and to influence their thinking. 

There have been many examples of how brand experts have explained this proposition. The ‘Elevator Pitch’, ‘Vision Statement’ or what you might say to your potential customers if they were in a theatre audience and you had a microphone and 30 seconds to tell them why they should pick your brand.

If you’ve done the groundwork, you should be aware of your values, know why they make you unique and why your customers should find that attractive. Then it’s on to the next stage and letting the Creatives in on the act.

We’ve established that we’re not starting to design an Identity or logo from a blank page. Using the knowledge gleaned from the process to date, an experienced designer will use the Brand Values and Brand Proposition to create a design that works, differentiating the company from its competitors.

Iconography, typography and colour choices are all vital components of the brand’s structure and should be carefully considered and implemented.

The process is a bit like having a bespoke suit made by an experienced and talented tailor. It should reflect character and personality, feel comfortable and appropriate and above all should fit the wearer so that they feel confident and reassured about how they are regarded by others.

There’s also a reasonable amount of due diligence required in terms of checking competitor activity, and making sure that (probably unintentionally) the brand doesn’t look like anyone else’s. Registering copyright with the Intellectual Property authorities should help in this process.

Someone who knows a lot about these things once said that a great Brand Identity should be “a badge you wear with pride”. So a new identity should make everyone associated with the brand feel better about themselves and confident that others will feel the same.

The story doesn’t end there however. Making sure that your new brand is “rolled out” effectively and implemented consistently so that it is always seen in its best light is vital to its success or failure. So I think that’s maybe the subject of the next Brand blog sorted. 

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