A small business guide to defining a memorable brand identity
The word “brand” gets thrown about constantly.
“That’s not on brand.”
“Let’s stick some branding on it.”
“They have a strong brand.”
But what is it exactly? You may have a rough idea but would probably struggle to define it in a sentence.
Put simply, a brand is how people perceive a company. It’s not what the company tells people it is, it’s what the people say about the company.
Let’s think of Apple. Many people will think of them. as the leading tech company that produces stylish and premium products from phones and laptops to headphones and watches. That is part of their brand.
It goes without saying that it’s a pretty big deal, and something you want to get right. So where do you begin?
Let’s begin with brand identity.
What is brand identity?
Your brand identity is all the design elements that create your brand image.
It is made up of 7 key elements:
- Colour palette
- Form and shape
- Tone of voice
Get these right and you have a solid representation of who you are and how you’re perceived.
So how do you do it? We’re going to tell you exactly what you need to do.
1. Research your target audience
Before we get to designing we need to do one thing.
It tells you what it is you should be doing, instead of attempting a stab in the dark and hoping you get it right.
For this, your target audience is key. You need to know what they respond to.
If you have customers or clients already, put down what you know about them already and find some trends.
Make sure to include demographics (age, sex, location etc.) and psychographics (likes, dislikes, values, goals etc.).
You’ll also want to ask current customers to fill in a survey, and you may want to consider getting in a third-party agency to help.
Once you’ve got the data, craft them into buyer personas and use them to guide you through the rest of the brand identity process.
2. Design your logo
Your logo is what people first think of when they visualise your brand.
Think of it as the shop window that visitors look at before deciding to go in or not. It represents your company as a whole and is on almost everything you produce, from your website right through to company stationery.
Begin by finding inspiration by looking at logos you like. These provide a good starting point to help get the creative juices flowing.
You then want to introduce a style that represents you as a company, but also something that appeals to your target audience. If your demographic is teenagers, they’re probably not going to respond well to a corporate style.
Keep your logo simple, it needs to look good in a variety of sizes, which also helps make it memorable. It makes it easy for people to bring to mind and recognise it when they see it.
3. Choose your typography
Your typography is a set of fonts used across all your written messages.
Different fonts provoke different feelings and emotions. You therefore want something that represents your brand's personality and, that’s right we’re saying it again, resonates with your audience.
Are you an artsy and chic brand that represents style and sophistication? Italiana could be for you. It is inspired by the calligraphy of the Italian masters and oozes elegance.
Just look at a brand you know and really analyse the font they’ve chosen. What does it say about them? How does it make you feel?
These are the key questions you want to keep in mind when making your choice.
4. Identify what forms and shapes you use
Forms and shapes are design elements that can be used throughout your brand.
Again, like typography, they emit a certain feel as to who you are.
Take circles and rounded edges. This promotes a feeling of warmth, comfort, community, and love.
Straight edged shapes are quite a contrast creating a feeling of strength and efficiency.
You might consider having these shapes influenced by your logo and vice versa. This creates consistency.
Let’s look at Headspace as an example. You’ve probably heard of them, and used their app, where they provide many different types of meditation.
Their logo is an orange circle. And their website is a mixture of curves and rounded corners.
This makes sense. They want to create feelings of calmness and the shapes they’ve chosen do just that.
5. Craft your tagline
A tagline is a memorable phrase that summarises your business.
It’s there to advertise your company and to stick in your audiences' heads.
There are different formulas to follow when coming up with a tagline. Neither is better than the other, it just depends on you and your audience.
If you’re just starting, follow these three steps:
- What’s your mission? Perhaps you’re building a coffee company. Your mission could be to “serve quality coffee”. It’s tempting to try and be clever. Don’t. Just be clear.
- Give people a reason to care. An audience doesn’t care what you’re selling if there’s no benefit. So tell them. Let’s try, “to experience new flavours”.
- The final step is to add your personality. Perhaps you found in your research your audience like inspirational messages. Add that in if it reflects who you are. So when we put it all together you could have something like, “Quality coffee to unleash new flavours.”
6. Establish your tone of voice
Your tone of voice is the way your messages come across.
It’s created through word choice and writing style.
You want to identify what your tone of voice is and use it across the board. From social media to website copy.
Some brands really leverage this to stand out from the crowd, especially if they’re willing to take risks. Perhaps your industry doesn’t really swear, so maybe yours does?
We’re very sorry because we’re going to say it again, but it depends on what your audience likes.
For example, if they like direct content that gets to the point, then give them that. Use simple language. Cut the fluff. Just hard facts.
It’s helpful to create a tone of voice document and put all of this in there. You can identify good words to use, how they’re used, as well as writing style and anything else.
7. Select appropriate Imagery
What type of images are you going to use?
Is it going to be photographs or illustrations? Perhaps a combination of both?
Think about what feeling you want to convey and deliver just that.
Perhaps you want to promote feelings of calm.
You’ll want your images to depict serene and still places. You’ll probably choose neutral colours with few objects in shot.
Give guidance on how to select an image, and perhaps identify what you definitely don’t want to use and go with it.
Clarify these six elements based on good research and your brand is ready to go.
But who should you trust to design this?
Your brand is your company. It’s how you’re seen by the world.
You have the potential to make or break when it comes to these decisions.
Your small business design is handled by experts at Moken. We specialise in working with small startups to deliver outstanding work.
Pop us a message, and let’s get your brand ready to go.