How to create a brand identity design for your business

Identity design

Setting yourself apart from other companies is a tall order these days. The internet has opened the marketplace from a local landscape to a global one, and anyone with the expertise can start their own business. From there, it’s a matter of fighting to the top of the list, which isn’t as simple as being good at what you do; you have to become a recognised authority within your niche. 

Here are five things you need to know in order to create a brand identity design for your business:

  1. What is brand identity?
  2. What Is Corporate Identity Design?
  3. What Is Visual Identity Design?
  4. What Do Brand Identity Designers Do?
  5. Why Work With a Brand Identity Designer?

In this article, we will be discussing brand identity, what it is, how to create it, and the finer points of the topic. We’ll also cover how exactly to answer these questions and implement the strategies in your business.  

What is a brand identity?

The general concept of brand identity is a fairly broad one. It is every visual element of your branding, including logos, letterheads, email headers, social media graphics, stylistic choices for videos, and the look of your advertisements.

It doesn’t stop there, though; you also need to consider the visuals you establish in the real world, like the uniforms worn by employees at brick and mortar storefronts. 

The critical thing to remember is that it must remain consistent across the board when establishing a brand identity. You can’t use one colour scheme in stores and another on your website. 

Everything from your logo to your shopping bags should look like they match. Consistency is vital and will include:

  • Colours
  • Font
  • Placement
  • Graphics
  • Clip art
  • The art style, and more. 

But how do you achieve this?

Think of your branding as a project. In a group setting, it’s easy to delegate and have individuals do different sections, such as the logo, email headers, and social media graphics. 

Though each team member is talented, creative, and sure to create something eye-catching, their styles likely won’t work as one cohesive piece unless they’re all on the same page. 

Creative team

Now, let’s change the scenario. 

You’ve got the same group of people, only this time, they have a list of rules for your brand:

  • They can only use the same three colours. 
  • They have to base their work on a central theme. 
  • They must work together to form a cohesive picture that uses elements from each of their art styles. 

With these guidelines, you’ll be more likely to find individual aspects that look more alike. 

Of course, this will be easier to achieve if you hire one designer to create your brand identity from the start. They will use your guidelines to create something fitting for your business, and then any future projects can be based on this original design. 

Branding is like a mural. Each element is another part of your strategy (i.e. advertisement, social media, video outreach, logo, website design, etc.). You can implement any styles, colours, or ideas you like, but they have to fit in a way that meshes with the whole piece. 

If you establish your branding rules early, it will be much easier to end up with a well-established strategy that represents your company on every front, each piece working together to give your brand an overall impression. 

That image will become the lingering identity that your audience will associate with your product. 

Brand identity for employees

There is one other important role of brand identity to discuss: how it impacts employees. 

A study published in the Business Research Quarterly found that brand identity can impact employees’ behaviour and work ethic. 

For example, having a negative or unclear brand identity led to workers being less loyal to their firm, less tolerant with customers, and more willing to ignore policies.

That shows that public perception has a marked impact on the way employees dedicate themselves to their jobs. Thus, an identity crisis could have real consequences on everything from the treatment of customers to our employee turnover rate.  

What is corporate identity design?

Corporate identity design is brand identity applied to a corporate structure. Your visuals represent the total identity of your business, services and products. For instance, your corporate logo is a single element of your identity design. 

When that logo is used on an official YouTube video, placed in the corner of an infographic, or stamped onto graphics created for social media profiles, it represents everything you are. 

YouTube

It is essential when finding this identity that you are breaking it down into smaller chunks that make up the finished product. Some of the considerations that will be most critical are: 

  • The colours you choose for your website, logo, communication templates, billboards, advertisements, etc. 
  • The font chosen for everything from site graphics, to banners, to emails. 
  • The overall style used (quirky, professional, calm, energetic, etc.). 
  • The style of physical items like uniforms for staff, the look of brick and mortar stores/layout/architecture, product packaging, etc. 

What is visual identity design?

Visual identity design establishes two critical elements of your business: who you are and what you are. These are two facts that every company has to present when they begin their branding journey. Therefore, your visual choices should reflect each to leave a lasting impression on the customer.

Many global brands have been able to do just that. So, let’s take a look at some examples. 

McDonald’s

One of the largest global conglomerates and a powerhouse in the food industry, McDonald’s is one name no one is likely to forget. Part of their success has been adapting corporate brand identity that has changed with the times while still keeping that core image that is so familiar. 

They have always used the same bold shades of gold, yellow, and orange. Their enduring logo has remained the same through some tweaks to the golden arches’ shape, size, and style. 

McDonald’s

In 2019, they decided to make some changes. They chose to lean into the positive, feel-good vibes they had been pushing with their friendship and pay with love campaigns

The visual approach matched that tone and still does to this day. 

Chanel

Fashion design house Chanel has always exuded a sense of classic beauty and sleek luxury. Much of this is established through the company’s products, especially in the popularisation of the “little black dress” made famous by the founder Coco Chanel. 

But their brand strategy has always been to capitalise on her image rather than the other way around. 

Everything from their perfume bottle designs to their visual storytelling on social media platforms expresses this idea. 

Chanel

You can pull up their logo, visit their official website, or check out their Instagram and feel as though you have been swept away into the world they are portraying. 

What do brand identity designers do?

Brand identity designers take the primary concept and establish a visual blueprint to follow across all lines. This gives a solid image that will associate your company with whatever theme you have chosen that best represents what makes your brand unique. 

These experts have been working through their careers to take complex concepts and narrow them down into an idea that can be captured on sight. 

Looking at the average services these companies provide, they usually offer a “brand guide.” Rather than merely create a standard design for you to use, they want to help you remain consistent as you move forward. 

A brand guide is a collection of materials that instruct anyone who works for your company to maintain that branding. It will generally include: 

  • A customised logo in different sizes, which can be applied to any form of media or platform. 
  • Visuals for stationary, communication, press releases, etc. 
  • Personalised typography, explaining where and how each font should be used, including visuals and graphics. 
  • A breakdown with full instructions on how to implement branding. 
  • Colour palettes for all branding, for both web and physical design. 
  • Style manuals for design and sometimes for content used in marketing structures such as blogging and social media. 

Why work with a brand identity designer?

Companies should work with brand identity designers who are both artists and strategists. They should aim to give you a solid footing for building every part of your business model. In the beginning, they take what is already there, then find what lies at the heart of your brand.

What is that heart? 

On the surface, you may think you know. But, when you look deeper, things can get a little murky. 

Let’s say you wish to promote a service that protects medical information while giving you and your healthcare team the tools they need to monitor and manage an ongoing medical problem. 

The features of that service include the:

  • Monitoring itself 
  • The capture of current vital signs 
  • A complete record of all appointments and visit summary notes 
  • Medication lists with Rx refill tracking 
  • Ability to transfer that medical information between networks 
  • Journal for logging daily symptoms

At first glance, the goal is to improve overall health by gathering all of the information you and your team need to make informed decisions. But, how do you express that in a logo? How can you convey such a mission statement in a colour palette? What imagery will bring that aim to mind any time a customer sees it stamped on a pamphlet? 

You don’t. That may be the general idea behind the product, but it isn’t the heart. By sitting down with your brand identity designer, they can burrow under the surface to find what lies beneath. 

You aren’t merely giving your customers health monitoring: you are giving them peace of mind. You’re giving them control over their health and the best chance at finding the proper medical treatment provided by the right doctors. In addition, you are giving them a longer, more fulfilling life. 

Now, it has become less challenging to see the bigger picture. As a result, all of those pieces are starting to come into focus to create our mural. 

Brand identity designers can find the best visual style to promote health, peace, control and life. It is no longer an abstract concept hiding beneath a layer of practical feature recitation. 

Brand guide

Finding the right brand identity design manager

Not all graphic designers work with full branding. 

If you are looking for a complete campaign and brand/style guide, you want to make sure you are targeting a professional who is up for the job. Having a creative brief already written up will save you a lot of time and grief. 

This is a list of everything you need to be done:

  • A guide 
  • A logo
  • Social media
  • Website design
  • Typography and colour manual, etc. 

Bidding and freelance sites have the benefit of reviews from past clients right there on their profiles. In addition, the wide array of eligible candidates gives you a chance to hire someone who fits within your budget. 

For small companies and startups, this is a huge check in the “pro” column. But, unfortunately, they also have a higher concentration of less than stellar designers who may not be up to snuff. 

We can mark that down as a serious “con”. 

The other option is to search out agencies and contact them through their website. You won’t have the convenience of reviews to draw from unless they have testimonials available, but you can typically view their portfolio and request analytics on past campaigns. 

Final thoughts

Brand identity design is more than just a pretty logo and colourful website header. Your aim is to take everything that makes your brand unique and find a single graphic representation applicable to everything customer-facing your company does. 

Professionals who work in the industry can establish that image, which is critical in developing long-standing relationships with your target audience. 

However, you don’t have to take anyone’s word for it; the proof is in the pudding.