As a designer, I struggle with the phrase “don’t judge a book by its cover.” After all, behind every good book cover is a designer who knew that many consumers would judge that book solely by its cover, and they better design something that stands out.
Okay, so maybe I’m taking the phrase too literally. What the phrase really means is that the quality of someone or something cannot be determined by their outward appearance.
Make no mistake about it, humans value beauty. If you’ve ever been in high school you know this to be true. However, the good news for all of us is beauty isn’t the only thing that matters! At the risk of sounding like my mother, what truly matters is what’s on the inside.
Brand identities are a lot like books.
Imagine yourself strolling through a bookstore when your eye catches the most glittery, gorgeous and glowing book you’ve ever laid eyes on. You’re immediately enticed by the cover. However, upon closer inspection, you realize all of the pages inside the book are blank. Chances are likely you’re not going to buy that book.
The same applies to brands. You could have the world’s swankiest logo, but if there’s no story or personality behind that logo, the entire brand identity falls flat.
Here are 4 key items to focus on when developing a comprehensive brand identity:
1. Define Your Audience
- What is their age, gender, occupation, income and education level?
- What are they passionate about?
- How do they spend their free time?
- What issue(s) can my brand solve for them?
- What brands and products are they already using?
As you dive deeper, the face of your customer will go from being a blurry silhouette to a breathtaking portrait. With this information, you will be able to better position your brand in a way that will best appeal to your desired audience.
2. Identify Your Brand Personality
Brands with well-defined personalities will attract consumers on a personal and emotional level, giving them an edge against their competitors. Additionally, a brand’s personality will help determine what tone and voice you should use to best resonate with your audience.
3. Develop Emotional Impact & Appeal
To do this, ask yourself:
- How was my audience feeling before they discovered my brand?
- What emotions show up when my audience interacts with my brand? Is this the desired emotion or would I like to shift it? If so, what would I like to shift it to?
- Can my audience trust me? Why or why not?
- How can I reassure my audience that my brand is different than my competitors? Arguably more importantly, how can I prove this to them?
4. Build a Consistent Visual Brand
Once you know your own brand inside and out, you can start developing your visual brand. Remember, if you immediately pick up the paintbrush before priming the canvas, your brand may not have the foundation it needs to be long-lasting, stable and secure.
One of the many benefits of taking things slowly is that throughout this process you will naturally start to conceptualize and visualize what you want your brand to look like.
Here are some items you’ll want to consider when bringing your brand to life:
- Color Palette – There are many tools out there to help you determine a color palette. My personal favorite tool is Coolors. Always consider color psychology when picking primary and secondary colors that best match your brand personality.
- Explore Typography — You’ll want to find at least 2 typefaces that compliment one another. I typically choose one headline font and one body-copy font. Always consider whether the fonts you choose are web safe, meaning the font can be rendered on a vast majority of computers. As a web designer, my favorite place to find free web safe fonts is on Google Fonts.
- Photography — Develop guidelines around what type of photography best represents your brand (colorful vs. black and white, photography vs. illustration, etc.). It’s equally as important to determine what kind of photography you do not want to use.
- Logo — The logo is not the be-all and end-all of a brand identity. But it is an important part of the branding process since it will be on all of your branded pieces. Logos should be impactful and memorable, yet simple and flexible enough to be used on a large number of assets. Be sure to develop guidelines for how the logo should and should not be used.
- Brand Guide — A brand guide is an essential document that outlines all of the above visual brand assets and how they should be used in correlation to one another. Brand guides ensure cross-platform consistency which, over time, leads to brand loyalty.
Starting a brand identity can be overwhelming, but following this guide will ensure that you lay a solid foundation for a memorable and reliable brand identity. Need some help? The experts at Americaneagle.com have what it takes to get your brand off the ground. Just reach out or explore some of our design offerings here.