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I’m Jacob Cass, the founder of JUST™ Creative. I’m a multi-disciplinary graphic designer, working with clients all around the world. My specialty is logo & brand identity design. JUST™ Get in touch.

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Establishing a Brand Identity

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Branding

This is a guest article contributed by Zac Kenni*.

Once the domain of multi-million dollar corporations, the concept of branding is being embraced by individuals and small businesses as a means to distinguish themselves from the competition. It takes time and patience to develop an effective brand, both in the creation and the implementation phase. A brand cannot be created overnight; it is planned, maintained, groomed. But, if done effectively, the process is well worth the energy.

Simply put, a brand is the public image of a business, product or individual. It is reputation. It is a promise. When delivered consistently, a brand shapes consumers’ perceptions and expectations. A successful brand celebrates personality, honors values and embodies the spirit of the subject that it represents.

The objective of a branding strategy is to develop clear, compelling, consistent messages that are easily conveyed. A good brand contains messages that can speak to multiple audiences, including current customers, potential patrons and people who hold misconceptions. Yet, this needs to be delivered in a short, simple way.

Creating a Logo

Apple-Retro

A crucial part of developing a branding strategy is the creation of a strong logo, but it’s important to remember your logo is not your brand. This visual element symbolizes the brand and can play a large role in establishing an emotional connection with the product. Integrating the logo into all corporate communication elements, including media relations, information packets, brochures, advertising, videos, fact sheets, newsletters, the website and social media, is an important part of building brand identity. Consistency in design, look and tone is vital in building credibility.

The number one rule for logo design is that it must be able to speak for itself. Effective logos do not have to be explained. Take a look at some of the world’s most successful brands: the Nike swoosh and the Air Jordan jump man logo, the golden arches of McDonalds, the interlocking rings of the Olympics, the colorful peacock of NBC. It’s almost impossible to think of Yahoo! and not hear the country twang. Both Google, with its ever-evolving doodles to celebrate special days, and Twitter, with its simple blue bird, have become so successful that the American lexicon now includes “googling” and “tweeting” as verbs. Brands & strong visual identities help this happen.

Investigating a Brand Identity

Branding Identity Logo Design Explained

It is easy to hire a graphic designer and writer to assist in the creation of the branding elements. But, significant time, money and energy will be lost if a well thought out plan isn’t created first. The first place to start is with a SWOT analysis. When evaluating the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats to a company, it is crucial to be brutally honest. Inflation of successes and marginalization of limitations will set this project up for failure.

A thorough review of the business should include what it accomplishes, how products and services are delivered, why it exists and what it makes it different from competitors. Also consider the target audience, what their top concerns are and how the business can help. Be careful not to quickly reject an idea as ridiculous during this brainstorming phase. An off-the-wall suggestion, once examined, often has practical applications.

When the list is able to be narrowed down to the three best ideas, a focus group of five to ten people should be assembled to gauge their reactions, perceptions, misconceptions, connotations, feelings and general opinions. A separate focus group of staff and board members, as well as current customers, should also be gathered.

Building a Branding Strategy

Questioning Attitude

Negative feedback about products and services should be considered when developing the branding strategy. Make a list of the current public perceptions, then take a critical look at how those beliefs can be repositioned. For example, a product that is perceived as being outdated can be repackaged as something that is traditional and timeless.

At a minimum, the focus groups’ opinions should steer the final branding position statement. Typically one to two paragraphs, this descriptive statement must embody who the company is and what it uniquely delivers. From these sentences, cull sound bites (short phrases) that can be incorporated any time someone speaks or writes about the business.

Once this is accomplished, visual and textual elements can begin development. These should reflect the personality and values of the brand, but also match the interest and lifestyles of the target audience. For example, if a surfboard company wants to attract a young, athletic audience, the messages, fonts and artwork should be playful and outdoorsy. In contrast, a retirement savings company needs to build a more subdued brand in order to portray an image of trust.

Utilising a Tagline

M&Ms-Melt-Hand

A tagline should also be developed to define the business to its audience. When customers hear a tagline, they should immediately think of its associated company. For example, when someone says, “The happiest place on earth,” the first thought is Disneyland. Other large corporations have been extremely successful with this tactic, including M&M’s “It melts in your mouth, not in your hands” and Campbell Soup’s “Mmm, mmm…good!”

The point is to keep the tagline simple and easy to remember. Being clever or witty is only advised if it doesn’t complicate the message. It also needs to remain short since the tagline is typically incorporated into the logo design, as well as all collateral marketing pieces.

As the brand is implemented, it is imperative that everyone affiliated with the business is able to articulate the messages. Each person who represents the company is a brand ambassador, from the CEO, to the sales manager, to the receptionist. Embrace it.

*Zac Kenni is a senior writer from a trusted hosting reviews company. Webhostgear.com, provider of good quality webhosting reviews and rates hosting services through a collaboration of thorough research, data analysis, performance and user feedback.

Retro Apple logo photo by Kitcowan. M&Ms photo by JDHancock.



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18 JUST™ Creative Comments

  • vistaprint Reply

    In today’s time to create the brand for the business is highly necessary in order to survive in cut-throat competition. The best way to create the brand is with the help of logo designing. Logo represents the company and it establishes the solid relationships with the customers as well as with the clients. Your article is informative and it has given the inspiration. Thanks. Good Work.

  • Stephanie Reply

    Great article. I’ve been mind mapping basic business keywords to get to the logo design, but I’ll definitely take it one step further and make a SWAT analysis for my clients.

    Cheers

  • Paginas Internet Puerto Rico Reply

    Trust and credibility are essential to establishing a relationship with customers. Without them, people have no reason to believe or purchase anything on your website. Site Branding is one of the issues related to trust and credibility.

  • Derek Oscarson Reply

    I emailed this link to a client/in-law starting a consulting biz and she told me “At this point, I’m more concerned about business…”

    I understand, but then again, I don’t. It’s like being more concerned about steering than where you’re driving.

    Any advice on how to respond is much appreciated.

  • Kelly Muir Reply

    I agree with Derek (above); the product/service might be top notch but without some sort of brand identity what’s going to attract the consumer to it? I think some companies miss this critical aspect of their business module.

  • Zac Reply

    @Derek In my opinion, I think you can tell your client/in-law that it is good to worry about the business, but it’s not the only thing that needs attention. Establishing a brand is as easy as a thought but as tough as making it to reality. It’s not enough that you have all the means of running the business but without the power of giving the “call” to your customer/audience that you are what they need, it will be hard to guarantee that you’ll be able to keep your ship on sail.

  • Web Design Barnsley Reply

    This will be useful to us when starting new branding projects. One problem we encounter in this field with our clients, is maintaining brand consistency once their identity has been established.

    I wrote a related article here: http://www.hardgraftcreative.com/maintaining-brand-consistency/

  • Derek Oscarson Reply

    Thanks, Zac. I think I will try to explain to her that while it’s great to focus on securing the next client, you also need to think 3 clients ahead. I have another client who is reluctant to use social media or blog. They have enough business but is it the business that they really want? I think branding strategy is really about positioning yourself for the clients that you really want.

  • Mark Cook Reply

    Nice Article,

    I think what is also worth mentioning to people or to consider yourselves, is the use of flexible identities. These are very fitting to the few rather than the many, but businesses that operate solely online or whom are involved with a fast-paced, evolving market such as technology or social marketing may benefit from a brand that develops/grows/changes to reflect this. A good article on the subject can be found here.

    http://www.sumodesign.co.uk/insight/being-brave-flexible-identities.html

    Good post

  • Joffrey Reply

    Very informative post Zac. The most difficult must be to make a logo that can be recognized with its full colors, in black and white, and even reduced from its original size. I always try to do my best when designing a new one, but it’s really hard.

  • climax media Reply

    I agree with Mark – having a flexible identity and an image that grows with your brand is key. Things change too fast, including the market! Website’s need to be able to adapt quickly – with style :)

  • MicroSourcing Reply

    Redesigning logos for established brands tends to be very tricky, because the result isn’t always a hit with the existing consumer base.

  • Virtual Agents Reply

    Great post, trust and credibility are essential to establishing a relationship with customers. Without them, people have no reason to believe or purchase anything on your website.

  • Genesis Merano Reply

    Your pointers will do well with Advertising….this is so helpful. Thanks so much for sharing.

  • Alex Lee Reply

    Great article. I always feel a good tagline should be a specific, positive message that people feel good about supporting. Assuming that your company does positive things, of course. :)

  • Anthony Spence Reply

    Another great article by Jacob, Branding your image is the most important part of business. This post simplifies the whole process.

  • Edelmira Reply

    A brand cannot be created overnight; it is planned, maintained, groomed. But, if done effectively, the process is well worth the energy.

  • Ivey Louis Reply

    Good evening,
    That’s absolutely true; I would also like to add that a Brand Identity is of the Consumers one, it’s what distinguishes you from others. What you do, wear, what you speak is what defines you! For that reaching the right target audience is the core of brand identity in which will build customer relationship & loyalty that will result in easier promotion phase production now that the identity is established. Along with the logo, business card, letter head & envelop they should all follow a signature technique meaning of same criteria.
    Sincerely Ivey Louis

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