Dress to impress! Your brand’s outer appearance needs to attract and impress your audience. It’s time to invest in a brand identity. It’s not enough to just put your name on everything for people to recognize you. In a brand identity, all visual elements work together to create the look that appeals to your audience and represents your brand in the best way possible. In this post, I explain the 5 elements of your brand identity you need to have in place to make your brand image complete.
What’s a brand identity?
First of all, let’s talk about the term brand identity and what it means. As the name already says, it’s the identity of your brand. Particularly the visual identity because it includes all visual elements of your brand which I explain further below. A brand identity creates and defines the visual image of your brand or everything your audience sees from your product packaging to your newsletter signature.
Your logo is the main element of your brand. People easily recognize brands by their logos. That’s why it’s often the first thing we create for a new brand. I won’t say that you can’t create a brand without a logo. It’s possible. But I won’t say that it’s easy either. A logo reduces a brand (it’s image, purpose, and message) to the most simple form possible. That’s why logos are easy to remember and instantly recognizable. A logo does not only represent your brand, it also leaves an impression in your audience’s mind about who you are. If you want to know more about creating an impressive logo, check out this post: 4 principles of logo design
Related post: 4 principles of logo design
One logo often won’t be enough though. Depending on your needs or where you want to position your logo e.g. on your blog header, business card or even a T-shirt, you need different variations of your logo to make it work. Different usages require a different format of your logo. Some will need a rectangular format others a square one. Minimal lines or elegant curlicue can look great on huge blog header but on a tiny business card it quickly loses its value. Some elements of your logo might work for web but not for print.
That’s why you need variations. Variations in form and also in styling. Always create one very simple, abbreviated version of your logo. You can use this as a favicon for example. And in terms of usability, you also need to have one black & white variation to use as a watermark for images or in print where colors aren’t reproducible.
Colors are the second best option for your brand to be recognized. Your brand colors give you the possibility to implement personality. Colors always transport feelings. They can be masculine or feminine, neutral or bold, strong or soft. Use them to send a message to your audience. The colors you pick for your color palette should include 2 main colors. These are the colors you use for all your visuals and the colors people recognize you by. In addition, you need a couple of colors that work well with your main colors and build a cohesive overall image. Last but not least you always add neutrals like black, white and gray to your palette. You can use them to build contrast, create white space and of course for text.
Deciding what fonts to choose for your brand, you first have to think about what you need. Mostly you can get by with 2 to 3 fonts. One font for body text, one for headlines and one to set accents. Those fonts need to build a good contrast to each other but also build a cohesive image when put together. Read more on combining fonts: How to find the right font combinations
Related post: How to find the right font combinations
This is not the part where you create all the images you ever need but where you define the look and feel of the images you will use for your brand. This includes photos, graphics and other style elements you want to use e.g. patterns. All images should follow a theme and be compelling to your audience. Create patterns and icons you can use throughout all your visuals. Pick a couple of example photos to define the style you want to apply to all brand photos. They should all send out the same message. Remember that images say more than words. So this is something you don’t want to skip. Brand images can round off your whole brand identity and are used to complete your overall brand appearance.
How to make your brand identity work for you?
It’s always good to have a brand board or style guide at hand. Creating a brand identity won’t serve you much if you’re not consistent with your visuals. Having defined the key elements of your identity is only the first step. You then have to implement them in your day to day.
Creating templates is a good way to avoid getting sidetracked. It’s tempting to use a different color or font if you always start from scratch being it social media images or your weekly newsletter. A template where you only switch out a photo or some text helps you to avoid this.
Brand identity collateral design
There are so many more things you can create for your brand. Above are the main elements or the must haves. Collateral visuals are based on these elements. They are numerous and can include digital as well as print visuals. Before you start to create collateral think about what you really need. Every business is different. Depending on how and where you interact with your audience you need a variety of things. Collateral could include business cards, thank you cards, labels, a favicon, social media icons, blog header …
Do you have all elements in place? Tell me in the comments!