When you first have the initial thought and idea for a venture, brand, company or endeavor, that spark of excitement can drive you forward into planning and thinking about how to go about creating said idea and having it come to fruition.
But as you continue going down the laundry list of to-do’s and ruminating on your idea, the overwhelm and anxiety creeps in. It happens to all of us. Regardless of how confident we are in the potential success of our idea, it’s normal to get overwhelmed.
The initial creation of your brand identity alone can be a lot. There are many decisions that come into play straight from the start. Name, brand message, colors, fonts, websites, startup costs, marketing strategies, it’s enough to say, “you know what? Maybe this will be something to pursue in the future.”
WHY though? Why then and not now? What changes in the future? Some magician is going to come and grant you more time? No. Nothing changes and nothing is promised. All you have is today… and this post to help push you to move forward in your aspirations.
So, friend. I’m here to help you break it allllll the way down. From start to finish. Let me guide you and let’s make those goals become your reality.
Before we start, let’s do a quick Case Study!
Let’s break down one of the greatest brands to do it…Apple.
Steve Jobs had mentioned that he thought of the name after being on an apple farm. In his words, the name sounded “fun, spirited, and non-intimidating.”
What’s fantastic about Apple is that they have created this powerhouse brand that is rooted in two things… Emotions and simplicity. It’s all about the product and the way their products make us feel. For instance my phone can do everything which makes me feel pretty bad ass. But at the same time, it’s packaging is not distracting, everything about the brand is sleek and innovative, and it allows me to push the envelope in all areas creatively.
Another major win for Apple’s brand identity is its logo size on all of their products. It’s small enough to where it’s not super imposing, but big enough to where it’s easily recognized.
In addition, their marketing is phenomenal as well. They speak to the desires and aspirations of their consumers. They have integrated every tool possible into their devices to make life easier, so why wouldn’t someone want their product? They stay relevant with the times, their marketing speaks to the emotional desires of their consumers, and they stick to a clean and minimal design.
Last but not least, their customer support is equally another experience that for the most part is enjoyable. They’re committed to the happiness of their consumers which is stated in their brand identity and brand development. Because of all of these points, they have built the trust of their consumers.
1 | Brand Name
Alright, so you have this idea. Maybe the idea is well flushed out and you have a very clear picture of what it is. Or, on the other hand, maybe it is simply an idea. No additional thoughts have been put into it because it’s overwhelming. Either one is fine!
Regardless a name will come. When it comes to brand names there really isn’t any serious secret sauce on what the “right” name is. The right name is the one that your gut decides for you.
A good brand name will touch some of these points: it will relate to its industry or its brand words (we’ll talk about that soon), it will identify with the story of what this brand stands for or how it came to be, and it will be simple enough to where someone can remember it easily enough that doesn’t cause any headaches.
2 | Brand Message
Your brand message is probably THE most important part of your brand. Your brand message instantly tells a potential consumer or potential client whether or not you are right for them.
Your brand message will speak to the problem you are putting attention on and the solution that you can offer. Your brand message will always give you a very important opportunity to speak on why you are the right one that can do it.
For instance let’s take Nike. Their brand message is as legit as they come… “Just do it.”
Stop with the excuses, just get it done.
Nike is another brand powerhouse that has killed the game, just straight demolished it. Their brand message plays on three different parts. The exterior of the brand AKA the consumer, the interior of the brand AKA the brand message, and the competitors or the marketplace.
The consumer: This is where you are speaking to your target audience. What do they care about? What are they focused on? What do they give their attentions to? What do they like?
The brand: What does your brand stand for? What are your focus areas? What are your goals and aspirations? Where are you headed? What do you feel like you can offer?
The marketplace: Simply put, how are you going to stand out with your message? Is it too similar to any other leaders, or honestly anyone else in your marketplace or industry? What makes you unique?
For Nike, it’s plainly put. Opportunities. And that word can be the answer to those 3 key focus areas.
The consumer wants opportunities, Nike creates opportunities, and that can’t be said for their competitors. The marketplace doesn’t create opportunities like Nike.
Nike products give you the opportunity to smash your fitness goals or athletic aspirations. With Nike, there aren’t any excuses but the ones you create in your head. Point blank.
Just Do It.
3 | Color Palette
Now we get into the fun part! Your color palette. There are a few different ways to go about choosing your color palette.
- You can go the color psychology route where you base your color palette based on what emotions your brand stands for. If you are a fitness brand, maybe you’ll go with red which is associated with excitement and strength. If you are an eco-friendly/earth conscious brand, the obvious is green for its relation to nature and healing, etc.
- You can choose colors that depict the name. If you have a name that coincides with a color or theme, that would be an obvious choice. If your business name is something like Mello Yellow (horrible example of a clothing brand or who knows what!), it is likely that yellow and blue pop into your mind because of the word “yellow” obviously, but “mellow” is usually calm and “low” which can be related to blue.
- You go with colors that inspire you. This is typically where I start. I find a color palette that inspires me and then as I am building up my marketing and graphic materials, I let things shift if need be.
Create an inspiration board on Pinterest and start collecting inspiration photos as well that you feel like represent the vibe your brand will convey. This is important because we will use this inspiration later on in a mood board!
4 | Brand Words
Breaking down your brand personality and brand identity into approximately 5 words will help you when it comes time to integrate all of your brand design elements and logos into a full package. We want these words to represent feelings, emotions, or personality traits of your brand.
Maybe the brand is “quirky” or “edgy”, “playful” or “strategic”, etc. Come up with around five words that encompass your brand in full. Give the brand a personality!
If we look at Starbucks’ brand identity site, specifically this page: https://creative.starbucks.com/voice/, we get a glimpse into the creative branding side of Starbucks.
We see their two brand words are “functional” and “expressive”. They carry these two words in all aspects of their brand from logo, fonts, color palettes per season, illustrations, and their in-store vs. print design ads.
They want their customers’ experience to be easy and funcitonal. No complications.
But they also want there to be an expressive, artistic, and exciting side to their brand. This comes in their graphics, colors, products, and new flavor profiles.
This site is just phenomenally done. Explore to get an idea of how they developed their brand identity to stay current.
5 | Logo
Now that we have developed our brand from and idea to a developed personality, we get to add in the visual representation and acknowledgement piece, the logo.
Logo design can be tricky at times, but I think the moment you start to overthink the design is the moment it goes south. Some important things to consider are the following:
- Making sure your logo is legible.
- Is your logo memorable?
- Making sure it is simple in design.
- Is it flexible? Can it be resized or formatted to accommodate different sizing needs? Does it look good in a few different color options?
- Keeping it timeless. Don’t get wrapped into graphic design trends too heavy. Certain brands revamp their logo every few years or decades whereas Coca-Cola (est. 1886) has NEVER rebranded their logo. Keep that in mind.
- Does it relate to your brand message and brand identity?
- Making sure it includes quality typography that is legally acceptable to use commercially.
- Make sure your logo is vectorized.
- Have variations of your logo.
Have a logo that is legible and flexible go hand-in-hand. Can you logo be recognized both in a large scale and a small scale? Can it be read easily in a few different color ways?
Is your logo memorable? Having variations of your logo that is memorable helps.
If we take mine for instance… I have a header logo with my full name with my glasses everyone knows me for. Then my submark logo is literally my hair and glasses. Which is recognizable. Therefore memorable. Then my favicon is my glasses. So everything is consistent but recognizable has the nerdy gal with frizzy hair.
In keeping with your brand identity, we want to make sure your logo relates back to your messaging and your personality words.
Also, make sure you are paying for a font if it is not a free font that is approved for commercial use.
Last but not least, making sure it is vectorized. A non-vectorized logo is highly pixelated and doesn’t look smooth. It looks like it was created in Minecraft. A vectorized logo is smooth and can be resized while keeping its smooth lines. Pixel-based images using document format of .jpeg or .png becomes low quality when you enlarge the image or document. A vector file using the document format of .svg, .eps or .enf keep its quality regardless of sizing up or sizing down.
Think of Sisterhood of the Traveling pants…those were totally vectorized jeans. They looked good on every shape and size.
With variations we want to have a few different options…
- Your main design logo.
- Taking your main design logo and turning it into a horizontal header logo so it would fit into a rectangle.
- A submark which would fit into a circle or square that uses your logo icon and little to no words
- A favicon which is the little icon you see on each tab you have open in your web browser that helps you differentiate each site that’s open.
6 | Mood Board
My favorite part! I love creating mood boards because it takes all my ideas and creates cohesiveness through it all.
Your brand identity mood board should contain a few different elements that you already accumulated and created.
Things to include:
- Color palette
- Brand words
- Content like images you will use for your site and social media graphics
- Design Elements
Everything on this mood board will then be translated into your branded assets across the board from your website, business cards, email marketing campaigns, social media, etc.
You can easily create a mood board on Canva or Adobe Illustrator.
7 | Content
Lastly, it’s time to focus on how your brand identity plays into your content. Content includes social media posts, advertisements, website information, you get the point.
Your brand needs to solve a problem. Problems don’t need to be black and white either. A problem could look like a stay-at-home mom needing more inspiration in her life and your social media page of well designed interiors give her that. Maybe your brand is organic crayons. You’re solving a problem for the conscious, eco-friendly, organic mama that wants more “green” toys for her children.
You get my point. Find the problem of your target audience and speak to how your brand delivers the solution they need.
Brands solve problems. If we look back at each brand mentioned in this post the problems they solve are as follows:
Apple gives its consumers the freedom and convenience to live an easier life in the palm of their hands.
Nike gives athletes and fitness-enthusiasts quality products to increase their performance.
Starbucks gives its customers easy and enjoyable service with coffee they enjoy.
Sasha Monique helps brands find their true and clear brand identity while teaching them how to scale their business visually (subtle plug opportunity with a cringey third person voice moment).
When you are creating your content, be sure to find the platforms that make sense to your audience. Research where they hang out online. Each social media platform caters to a slightly different audience with a little overlap. Find your people and speak to them directly.
I think that covers it for brand identity and how to make sure yours is top notch. Have questions? Shoot me an email or leave a comment and I’ll respond ASAP.
Here’s to creating!
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