Your brand identity is the representation of your brand that creates customer recognition. This includes the visual identity, which is the visual cues that your audience will grow to recognize and associate with your brand. These guidelines are most often outlined in a style guide or brand guidebook. Everything from tone of voice to colors, imagery and layouts contribute to your brand identity. Creating a strong brand identity leads to higher visibility and a professionalism that is appealing to your audience. Below is an outline and checklist for creating your brand identity, as well as my Brand Identity Workbook that you can purchase to create the strongest identity you can.
Your visual brand identity is made up of many things, such as:
- Color scheme
- Website design
- Direct communications (ex: email)
- Products and packaging
Just as you have a personal identity, like the music you like, favorite color to wear and places you visit, every brand has an identity as well. Successful brand identities create recognition through not just the logo, but the colors and typography, as well.
What’s the first step to creating your brand?
Before getting to the visual side of branding, the first step is to research and define your brand. Some questions to answer are:
- What do you stand for and what are the values you associate with your brand?
- What is the feeling you want your brand to invoke?
- How does your brand benefit people?
- Why will consumers continuously come back to your brand?
- How does your brand stand out from competitors?
Understanding the answers to these questions about your brand are fundamental in building your foundation of what your brand is and what you’re hoping to accomplish. This is the basis for how your customers will perceive your brand.
Choosing a Color Palette
Use the answers to the questions above to come up with some descriptive words for your brand. When you have a good list of descriptive words, read this article on the psychology of color. Knowing which colors evoke which emotions is helpful in creating a cohesive brand. For example, a spa is a calm, serene and relaxing place. The spa wouldn’t use bright reds and oranges as their colors because they are intense and create strong emotions. Vice versa, a place that wanted you to buy products quickly (example: car dealership) would not use muted, neutral tones that create calm emotions with no sense of urgency. Colors place a big role in defining your brand, because it’s the first thing the audience notices.
After you’ve defined your color palette, apply it to all aspects of your brand. Use it in your logo, on your web page and in your advertisements. As your audience sees the colors of your brand more and more, they will begin to recognize it by color alone.
Like color, typography is a huge part of brand recognition. As you saw in the examples above, a font is recognizable even if it says a word other than the brand name. Pick a couple typefaces that you feel represent your brand, and use those consistently across platforms. Here is a guide to typography 101 to help you understand the anatomy and importance of type. Together with color and typography, you can create a visual brand that is recognizable from a mile away.
Imagery and Graphics in your Brand Identity
Creating your visual brand identity also includes the graphics you utilize. Next, pick a style of imagery that you feel best represents your brand, and use that across promotions, the website and your social media. Maybe it’s beach, mountain or desert related. If you’re using lifestyle imagery, what type of feel do you want? It could be beautifully styled workspace images, coffee shop vibes or collaborative images. Pick imagery that you feel best represents your brand. Read my guide to stock imagery here to learn about styling and licensing.
Graphics that may not use images include the logo, promotional materials (ex: social media ads or pins) and icons. If you’re not using images, be sure to bring in the color scheme and typography that you’ve decided on into the graphics to create cohesion. Canva is a great free resource that includes sizes for all types of platforms. I’ve created a guide to using Canva, and you can read through it here. Maybe the icons you use are cartoonish and bubbly, or maybe they’re square and rigid. Think about the emotions you want your brand to invoke, and implement those in your graphics using color, shape and typography.