The 9 Important Elements of Brand Identity
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When you are building a company, one of the more important things you must think through is brand identity. As you are not only building a business or a brand but also an identity. So, you have to think through how the branding will work and be received by the general public.
Many elements can alter public perception. Of course, the company could claim its brand and values. But it will hardly do a thing on how the public sees the company. If anything, it will put them at a higher stake with less room for a mistake.
Therefore, a branding process is necessary. That is where several elements are put together to establish an identity for the product or service or the corporation as a whole. At any rate, branding is an ongoing and always evolving process that will need all hands on deck.
What is Brand Identity?
Brand identity is defined as how the company is perceived by the general public. Having a clear and memorable logo or tagline is only part of the identity. It takes a lot more than being present for the time being.
Brand identity is often mistaken to be limited to the logo and tagline. But it's nothing closer to the truth. There are many elements involved to build a brand and having the identity attached to the product or the company.
As the branding process takes years, if not decades, to build, you should expect constant evolution on the elements. Do not take this as a bad thing. Some of these elements should stay up-to-date while retaining the old values to bring history forward. Successful branding will result in a solid identity that will last for many years to come.
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How is a brand identity matters to the company?
How far your company goes can be determined by how far the brand reached out to the people. Some more well-known names are willing to pay a lot for their branding to work as it has a lot of elements, and not limited to the advertisement.
Keep in mind that these days, a corporation has evolved from its traditional form that requires an office and board of directors. An influencer or social media celebrities could build their brand based on their public presence. They are their brand and corporation as one.
Anyhow, without a solid identity, any company will be lost among the massive sea where similar companies are offering the same service in the industry. It is best if they could maximize the elements to create ongoing branding for a clear brand identity.
Branding works in many forms. Advertisement, public relations, product release, are just to name a few. Having a clear identity and purpose will help the branding process to be a lot easier and smoother.
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What are the important elements?
Among many elements of identity, we have singled out nine of them that are considered being important elements that a company needs. Most of these elements are visual, in the sense that it is visible to the public for the identity. But it doesn't mean you can overlook the other elements to build the identity.
When a company is already associated with a specific color, it's a lot easier to notice them. People would often refer to that color by mentioning the brand. A popular example would be the Ferrari's red. When you see a bright red color, you would think of a Ferrari.
This is not a new practice. In sports, a lot of football clubs use colors as their branding identity. Manchester United and Manchester City with their red and sky blue respectively. Juventus with their white and black stripes. And in the national level, Nigeria, Sweden, and Argentine are easily recognized for their unique jersey.
In terms of building a brand identity, the color you choose is important. But it's not the end of the world if the color resembles other brands. Many vegan or organic-based vendors use many shades of green and other earthy colors. It doesn't mean they lost their identity as an organic producer.
Color is undeniably essential as one of the elements important in branding. But it is not the most important value. Branding takes more than just color and visual appeal. When you can't use colors as a pivot point on branding, then you can work it around the other parts.
Finding a specific color to be part of your brand is a natural process that will happen along the way. You can't force a claim on a certain color. You have to incorporate it into your branding process.
Anyhow, do not limit the color as one of the elements that must appear in the logo. To have color as part of the branding process can happen in many ways. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have been using shades of blue in their official portraits, resulting in many reporters and fans calling the color Cambridge blue.
As you can see, the color branding process can be done subtly or not. There is an option to have history incorporated for a direct visual that enforces the color branding. A good example of this is Wimbledon's regulation to wear white for the competing athletes.
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This one goes almost without saying. A logo is often the most definite value that a company must-have. A logo could be anything. It could be a simple company name or a shape in any form. At any rate, it's one of the important elements for branding to succeed.
Many people believe that the logo equals the brand identity. Many have used the term to define each other interchangeably. While it's not exactly wrong, but the logo is only one among many elements of the brand.
The logo, among many elements, sure is an important part of the brand. However, it doesn't mean that the logo is the only thing the company must be focused on. Other elements are equally important to build a solid identity for the brand.
Don't forget that branding can work even without a specific logo. Coca-Cola, Pepsi, RC Cola, and Lays are some of the well-known names that have their products name as both logo and identity.
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Do not mistake shape with the graphic in general. A product with a specific shape will most likely be remembered and gained more popularity. Do not forget that there are other elements at play on branding. The task is how to build the shape around brand identity.
A well-known example would be the tabasco sauce bottle. Its unique packaging is part of the identity. It's an example of how shape is an important part of branding. To this day, when you see the small bottle, you will expect the spicy sauce right away.
The shape is one of the elements that could be employed in the website, name cards, and other advertisement forms. Even in a 2D form, the shape has to show and be visible. To have a successful branding phase, you must enforce the important elements to the public. And the shape is no exception.
Think out of the box to incorporate any shape as one of the branding elements. Do not limit the brand identity to only a single shape. After all, many products are made from several shapes that are mashed into one.
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Have you ever thought that the pattern chevron could come from the company's name and not the other way around? How often do you see a graphic shape that is easily associated with a company? One of the important elements of brand identity is the brand's graphic representation.
The graphic has a strong connection with other elements such as logo and color. However, it doesn't mean that they are exclusive to each other. Graphic as a brand identity could be translated into the product or the printable ads.
The most common example in the branding process has the right graphic in an advertisement. However, the graphic could happen right from the start to separate the values from each brand. For example, not many people are aware that Bentley is a subsidiary of Volkswagen. This is because each brand has employed different graphics for their public appearances.
The branding for Bentley and Volkswagen are different because they have different markets. Volkswagen provides the more affordable vehicles while Bentley is far more luxurious. And these shows in the elements they use for their advertisements and products. You could see in the shapes and the colors they used.
For the social media influencers, the graphic could be taken as how they should arrange their feeds. What aesthetic elements that they should put in their Instagram feeds, how to incorporate it with their identity, and how it will appeal to their audiences.
In general, the graphic refers to how the brand appeals to the audience. How effective is the branding elements work on building the brand identity can be seen from the responses from the public?
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Among other elements, movement is the tricky one because it is not easy to translate on print. However, some corporations patented a certain movement as part of their brand identity. This is allowed as part of the branding process as well as keeping the intellectual property within the company.
An example of movement as brand identity is the assembly line in McDonald's. Being the first fast-food chain that developed a swift assembly line to deliver the customer's order within one minute. This branding works as McDonald's is now known as a brand that put swift service as one of their main values.
Another example is when Lamborghini patented the wing door that swings upside instead of right or left on the hinge. It also can be something inside a program or application. Like when Apple introduced its swipe to unlock and turn off iPhones and iPads.
Among other elements, movement may be one of the least popular ones. However, it still should not be overlooked since it can be incorporated in many branding ways, whether it's applied in value or the product. In the end, it's an integral part of the brand identity.
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6. Tone and Sound
To associate a specific sound with a brand takes more than just clever advertising with a catchy tune. McDonald's branding on the term Big Mac for their largest burger managed to have people call other large burgers as big something.
Many people lump both tone and sound as the same thing. However, they are two different elements. They could be related, but also very much different depends on the usage. Tone branding refers to the specific terms that a brand used for its products—Burger King with their Whoppers and Starbucks with their Tall sizes.
Setting the tone, as one of the branding elements, is important in a sense to create a phrase that product or customer-specific. It is an important part of building the brand identity because it will create a brand that has an exclusive identity that is only known and familiar to the customers.
Using sound as branding elements can be tricky because it limits the media to those that can provide sounds, such as TV advertisements. But for companies that work in the TV and movie business, sound is an integral part of their branding elements. These corporations know that they could hook their audiences with the right sound.
HBO and Netflix managed to maximize sound as part of their brand identity. This branding method works because both companies put their trademark sound at the start of their shows. As a result, the audiences could tell which show is originated on which network only by listening.
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Finding a catchy line that can capture the brand as a whole can be a very difficult thing to do. But before thinking that it's a matter of heavy branding force, you should think about how the tagline could encapsulate the brand identity.
The tagline as part of the elements that work on the branding has to be there to support the logo and make the company more memorable. After all, that's the reason for the whole branding task. But when the other elements are already doing a great job, a tagline can be seen as too much.
Most people would think that getting the right tagline is the break or make of the branding process. But you shouldn't worry because the branding effort could still work even when the tagline is generic or not memorable. All you have to do is to make sure that the other elements do great in their places.
There is nothing wrong with focused the branding on the tagline. But it can set you back a couple of notches when you have the other elements ready. The tagline is part of the identity, but it should not be the only thing that brings people back to the brand.
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Typography is an identity that should not be taken lightly. It's more than just a visual identity for the company. It's also one of the integral elements in the brand identity to deliver a message to the public. Choosing the wrong font can impact the audience to wrongly understand the message.
As a part of the branding elements, font and typography is often overlooked. Many people forgot that font is one of the elements that build popularity. Take Star Wars, for example. Even when you don't watch the movie, you will recognize the unique font used in the title.
There are a lot of examples of how a specific font is easily associated with a brand. Coca-Cola with the swirly text, and there are Disney and Netflix with their respective fonts. Each company has specific branding that involved typography as part of its identity.
Typography itself has many elements, such as colors, shadow, and size, to name a few. When the idea of the product or service is already solid, finding the right font that will fit with the branding process will be a cakewalk.
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9. Imagery and Interaction
Many people don't expect interaction as part of a brand identity. This is because the interaction is effective only to a specific line of work. Such as food vendors or other service areas. But including interaction in the branding elements could propel the company forward.
Even when your company only has a product instead of a service, the interaction matters still since the people associated with the company will be seen as the brand's face. Understand interaction as taking the imagery one step further.
While imagery can be a one-way interaction from the company to the public, interaction can take place as to how to support the imagery on establishing the brands. Wendy's managed to merge both elements and to create a sassy and snarky social media persona, pulling more customers in.
Among these elements, interaction is often overlooked because the companies are not sure how to maximize it. Most people forgot that having a good interaction with the customer from any level is important for the branding process, regardless of the company's size.
Some companies merge interaction with tone. This is meant to keep their initial market base while still expanding their identity to appeal to a larger audience.
To build a company takes more than just an investor and determination to make an idea happen. It also needs a solid brand identity to separate the company from the others in the same market niche. The brand relies on these elements to have a solid identity where people could easily associate with.
Keep in mind that branding is a process that can take years before it settles in with the public. A solid brand identity does not happen overnight. Even when you have maximized these elements, the result won't happen as quickly as you would like.
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What you have to do is to figure out many ways of branding, keep an open mind for any changes that you just incorporated. After all, a good brand will evolve with time while retaining its core values. What more important is how you could manage to keep the brand identity solid over the years.
It is best if you could have all these elements to work for you. After all, you could combine two or more branding elements into one. That way, you won't lose your identity while expanding the market. Keep the initial identity intact while being flexible on the other elements. That way, you can maintain the branding process with minimum effort.