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How to Design a Brand Identity

How to design a brand identity

brand design branding Apr 13, 2021

By Alice Ravenna - Senior Graphic Designer and Illustrator

 

A brand is much more than a logo, a name and a colour palette. A brand is the expression of the values and character of the company or product it represents. It helps to create an emotional connection with its customers creating a lifelong relationship.

The process to create a successful brand identity starts with the brief; a good one includes:

  • an overview of the business
  • the objectives of the branding project
  • the target audience and market
  • competitor information
  • project timescales
  • project budget

It may happen you would not receive a clear or complete brief; in this case it is important to ask questions to put together the missing pieces. This is a fundamental step: you can’t communicate a message if you don’t clearly know what this message is, or you don’t fully understand it.

Once you have all the information you need, it is highly recommend speaking with the person who prepared the brief to understand better the values of the company and what they want to communicate.

Now you have all the elements to start working. The first step would be doing a research of competitors’ brands: it is an helpful exercise to understand what works and also create something different to stand out from the innumerable existing brands.

The second step is starting with some logo sketches: I highly recommend, before opening any software, to get pencil and paper and draw down the first ideas. It helps a lot the creativity since you don’t have to concentrate on the technical part, but just let the hand and mind flow. 

Creating a good logo is crucial for a successful brand identity.

 

But what are the key features that make a logo working?

Scalability and adaptability

The logo needs to be reproduced in a variety of different formats, surfaces, situations, dimensions so it is very important for it to be readable and recognizable in all possible situations and sizes. Make sure to set a minimum usage size, provide vertical and horizontal versions, as well as black and white ones.

Colours

In some cases, you would need to use a logo in black and white, so before applying colours you need to make it work and be recognisable just with shapes. Anyhow the colour choice for your logo, and for your Brand, is vital to help communicating the message and the values of the company. Colours have a strong emotional response and each one raises peculiar emotions.

Alongside these technical aspects the ARMM model (created by William Lidwell) says there are other psychological aspects that make a logo effective:

  • Attention: to distinguish your logo form the background noise you need to attract the attention of the customer using new shapes and ideas, contrasting colours, negative spaces and so on.
  • Response: Using shapes and colours you can induce an emotive response according to the brand values. This helps creating a relationship with the customers. Rounded shapes and horizontal lines are friendly, pointing shapes and vertical lines are aggressive and authoritative.
  • Meaning: once you have caught your customers’ attention and summoned an emotional response, your logo can deliver its message and meaning.
  • Memory: people are constantly bombarded with many stimuli, a meaningless logo or a too complex one will be easily forgotten. It is crucial to make it memorable.

Now your logo is done, what’s next?

Colours II

You already choose a main colour palette while creating the logo, but usually it is not enough and, in some situations, you would need more colours, so a secondary colour palette is highly recommended

Typography

Select which fonts to use for the different text parts, channels and assets.  

Design System

All the marketing and corporate materials need to be consistent. It is a good practice to create templates or at least guidelines to keep the homogeneity.

Photography

Like the other elements above, the photos used should be aligned with the brand values and ideally all released in the same style: representing a specific range of subjects, with the same filters applied, similar shots, and so on.

Illustration

Same as the photography, if you need illustrations, they have to be created in a predefined art style, colour palette (usually the primary and/or secondary ones) and media.

Iconography

You should create a generic range of icons that may be used and define the guidelines to create more specific ones when necessary.

Video and motion

Same as the photography, videos have to communicate the brand emotions and values, and all made in the same style.

Web design

Again, the website needs to be designed according to the brand guidelines created above, using the same colour palettes, fonts, tone of voice, shapes and design system. 

 

In short, the brand identity is an organic asset where all the elements are integrated and consistent to deliver the brand voice, personality and value of a company.

 

Il Salotto di Mafalda (Mafalda's Salon) - CASE STUDY

I will provide an example of re-branding I did for an Italian pet shop.

The brief key points were to keep the same logo subject, giving it a professional look.

 

 

Premium Content: Do you want to follow the process of re-branding? Full Members can find this case study, explaining how the logo design principles described by Alice were used to (re)design the brand identity of a business.

Head to the Knowledge House to find out more.