What are the elements of brand identity?

DSM Digital School of Marketing - brand identity

Building a reliable, consistent brand identity is critical for marketplace success. Consumers want something they can relate to, and a brand’s identity is what the potential customer relates to. Investopedia, in an informative article on brand identity, defines brand identity as:

“…the visible elements of a brand, such as colour, design, and logo that identify and distinguish the brand in consumers’ minds.”

Before looking at five essential elements every successful brand identity should include, this article offers guidance on how a company can go about building a brand identity from scratch in four steps:

How to establish a brand identity:

1.Analysis of company and market

Like most industry professionals learn in Marketing 101, a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis should always be the point of departure when building a brand identity and preparing marketing. This shows the company what it does well, where it needs to improve, and a possible brand niche to tap into.

2.Determination of business goals

Why did the business go into business in the first place? Marketers and managers should collaborate to identify, on a deep level, the purpose behind their products and services, and what they hope to achieve should the company flourish. One brand’s goal might be to stop rhino poaching and may incorporate wilderness-themed elements into their identity.

3.Identification of ideal customers

Step three involves persona development, where much brainstorming should take place to determine one thing: who is the brand’s ideal customer. Not necessarily the largest demographic, but the perfect demographic. If you know your customer, and you know who they’d most likely relate to, you can start building a brand personality to cater to the customer’s preferences.

4.Establishing of personality & message

To create the brand’s personality, which includes how it will communicate with stakeholders, the company must understand its clients and what they want. If the business goals are to make customers laugh, improve their lives, and save the oceans, a brand should think about what type of person would have those similar aspirations – and personify them.

What your brand identity should include:

  • Logo and wordmark

The one thing customers will see more than anything is your logo. A strong brand identity has a unique logo that immediately catches the eye; that is easily recognisable and incorporates the brand identity. The wordmark is the name of a brand written out, using fonts that should correlate to the underlying brand personality and tone.

  • Varied logo versions

Marketing a business reveals, in the early stages of campaign development, that having one universal logo is not complimentary to the promotional process. For instance, a brand might have a black logo. When this logo is positioned over a dark section of a graphic, the logo will disappear as it blends into the background. A white version of the logo, however, would look excellent.

  • Core colour pallet

Colour theory is a fascinating field of study. It reveals that colours can communicate emotions, and represent notions such as love (red), sophistication (purple), trustworthiness (blue), and innocence (white). A company should decide on a handful of colours that fit into the brand’s personality and use these throughout its public-facing content.

  • Consistency in image style

A brand should ideally try to remain consistent in terms of the imagery it uses. This does not mean the same images should be used over and over. Instead, the graphics used on promotional material and corporate communications should be of the same style. For instance, some brands like using imagery with models looking directly at the camera, while others prefer ‘action’ shots of models that seem unaware they’re being filmed.

  • Consistency in copy style

A big part of a person’s personality comes across when they open their mouth. What we say and how we say it can either drive people away or invite them in, and the same is true for a brand. The words and sentences that are written on a company’s website, social media, printed material and other content can say a lot about its identity. So too can the way in which the information is being communicated (tone).

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