Getting your colors right, having a clean typeface, and everything else you have heard about branding is probably, mostly correct.
However, this is where many entrepreneurs and brand designers fall short: aligning everything to form an identity. There is a difference between creating a memorable logo or color palette and the concept of Brand Design – the intersection of ‘Branding’ and ‘Brand Identity.’
Brand Design is what bridges the elements of a brand with the way it is perceived in the market – its true meaning among consumers. Let’s take a closer look at branding 101 and these various definitions.
Brand Identity vs Branding vs Brand Design
The concept of branding is more than just a logo or color palette – it’s a sum of all those parts and more. Branding is an ingenious collaboration of all the components: logo, tagline, typography, color palette, website design, and visual communication tools, that form a recognizable depiction of your business.
One of the best and closest definitions of a brand identity is given by Marty Neumeier in his book The Brand Gap.
“A brand identity is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service, or company. You can’t control the process but you can influence it”.
It is all about what your target market thinks of you, which is based on your branding efforts. You need to be authentic with your branding efforts and strategies; in order to grow in the long run in today’s competitive and ever-growing world, it is important to stand your ground and connect with your audience.
As discussed, brand design is the common ground that connects brand identity to branding and leaves an impression of a brand in the minds of the respective target audience. It represents the holistic personality of the brand.
In order to create an effective, unique, and consistent brand identity, it is essential to lock in the basics of brand design elements which will be used in all the components of your brand, such as a logo, website, billboards, social media pages, etc.
Elements of brand design
You have likely come across phrases such as ‘less is more,’ ‘be unique,’ ‘design to be memorable,’ and many more. While following these is certainly a great idea, it all boils down to brand design. The more well-thought-out and assembled the elements of brand design are, the better all design decisions will be. Eventually, this will lead to a better brand identity.
Of course, this is one of the most obvious and known design elements; even confused as the brand identity itself (which, of course, is not true). Be that as it may, with logos being the foremost of brand identifiers, it is important to be highly attentive when it comes to designing your logo.
When it comes to typography, also known as font styles, I would suggest you select the main font – this could be the font you use for your logo or major headings – and one or two secondary fonts. This may not seem as crucial, but if you want to set the style of your brand from scratch, it’s important.
As typography sets the style and tone of your brand, the color palette is what sets the overall mood of your brand and its graphics. In order to get this right, it is important to understand how different colors have different effects on people. After a bit of research concerning color psychology, you can come up with a color combination that aligns with other brand design elements.
Now, this may seem a bit out of the ordinary, but integrating a photography style with your brand can bring out excellent results. After all, photography is a bit more real than all others. Therefore, when it comes to making your target customers feel associated with your brand, this is quite an underutilized design element.
This is by far the most flexible brand design element. From an icon of a gaming console to an arrow, there are generic icons for numerous things. Selecting a style of icon to be used specifically for your brand is an extra mile that many brands don’t take. One of the best examples to prove this are Apple products, from its laptops’ keyboards to its different set of stickers and symbols, the brand shows that it doesn’t shy away from going all unique while being relevant.
This is not for everyone. Not that it cannot work for everyone, but most brands go with either an illustrations style or photography style. Having said that, illustrations have been acing design elements recently, especially when it comes to the IT, entertainment, clothing, health, and FMCG industries.
Audio and Video
As people are experiencing brands in different ways, which is changing faster than we notice, exploring audio and video as visual communication tools can hardly go wrong. Elements such as podcasts and YouTube videos are only going to be increasingly important from here, but it is also important to know when is the right time to get on board with this. As these are capital-intensive strategies, I would suggest keeping these at a medium on your priority list.
More often than not, we interchange the meaning of patterns and textures with each other – somewhat, at least. Consequently, we presume that pattern plays an important role in design only when a product is involved. Nevertheless, this is one of the most flexible brand design elements.
Motion and Animation
With the digitization of the world, experiences, and branding strategies themselves, there has been an unbelievable growth in brands getting online. The more they focus on the online presence, the more interactive websites and applications tend to be. Besides websites and applications, there are several other opportunities for brands to add animation; these may range anywhere from animated characters to the use of motion graphics for your logo design in your videos.
While the above-mentioned elements of brand design are all about tangible aspects of your brand, it is not all that encompasses brand identity. You should consider brand positioning all throughout your brand design decisions.
Some questions to help you address the positioning of your brand:
- Which unique market do you dominate (or plan to dominate)?
- How are you better than your competitors? (Answer this positively by understanding and communicating what you bring to the table that is exclusively associated with your brand)
- What are the benefits of your products and services?
- Is there is any proof to your claims to increase credibility?
There are a few things that you need to know before diving into brand design:
- It is the powerhouse of your brand. While quality, marketing mix, and all other aspects are important, your target customers will never care unless it feels right to them. With well-structured brand design, you can lay out your brand identity to your customers, and welcome them instead of vigorously advertising.
- Storytelling never gets old. From ancient wall scribbling to today’s storyboards, stories are the most engaging and effective manner to represent your brand. With the help of all brand design elements, you can tell your brand story, your customers’ stories, your opinions, and everything else to be more inclusive of your target audience.