What is a Brand Identity? A Study from a Brand Launch Studio called Partywave

The Definition of a Brand Identity

In its essence, brand identity is the collection of different elements that a company curates to portray the ideal kind of image in front of its customer. This can be across a variety of digital touchpoints, brick and mortar building and structures, printed materials, business collateral, and more. More often than not, people confuse brand identity with branding or brand image. They often use them interchangeably. However, the two are different. 

8 Universal Elements of a Brand Identity

  • Brand logo design. Inclusive of logos, logo badges, marks and wordmarks. 
  • Taglines. Sometimes. Think of ‘Just Do It, ‘You’re Worth It’, ‘Finger Lickin’ Good’.
  • Color Palette. Blue with Facebook or green with WhatsApp.
  • Shapes. These can be present in logos, on the website, embedded within social designs and more. 
  • Tone of voice. A law firm can be serious and businesslike, but can a badminton startup be witty and edgy?
  • Imagery. Grainy, monochromatic, faded – what images fit the brand. 
  • Fonts. 
  • Positioning

Think of these elements as the input that goes into creating a brand. However, that’s not the only input. It works in conjunction with things like brand personality, differentiation, and brand messaging to influence how you’re perceived in the market.

Other major influences include – online reviews, quality of customer services, press (both negative and positive), and whether or not you can live up to your promises.

How is Brand Identity Different from a Brand?

Branding is a set of practices that actively shape a brand and make it distinctive. It’s the perception people have about a company. In other words, it’s what people talk about you when you’re not in the room. 

So, when it comes to branding vs identity, the latter is the visual, the more concrete part that people can see as we mentioned earlier. The former is more abstract. It’s the practices that work behind the scenes to create the identity.

Let’s understand it with an example – 

Let’s say you’re a teacher who just got hired at a university. You want to establish yourself as someone your students will listen to, like, and also take seriously. But, since you don’t know the latest student lingo, you get into some preparation work.

To create the right image, you do some legwork. You go on to YouTube to stock up on the pop-culture references and how the kids talk these days. You even start listening to the latest music.

All of these actions you’re inputting to creating the ‘perfect teacher image’ are all part of your branding effort.

Finally, to look like a professor, you go out and buy yourself a suit. You get a new haircut. You also volunteer to head the upcoming elections.

All of these tangible/visual elements – the haircut, new clothes, and leading the elections – that’s brand identity.

A brand identity helps you become instantly recognizable among customers. Audiences mostly associate a brand identity with specific services/products. Eventually, it’s the cornerstone to securing customer loyalty and your overall market perception. Every design agency should work with this in mind.

Developing a Strong Brand Identity Via Branding Discovery Exercises

  1. Brand Keywords 

Your entire voice and vocabulary will depend on the brand keywords. For example, do you want to come across as a hip and trendy brand? Or do you want to be known as something posh and sophisticated? Perhaps you want a more traditional and conservative appeal. How about going with a touch of finesse? 

  1. Brand Discovery 

At this point, you need to think about WHAT, HOW, and WHY. This will pave a clearer way for all other efforts. Let’s break it down for you –

  • WHAT – This will entail all the services and products you have to offer. Think about what jobs you can work. 
  • HOW – Next, think about the guiding principles, actions, and values that make your brand stand out.
  • WHY – Some call it ‘value proposition’, others call it Unique Selling Points. It doesn’t matter. Essentially, you have to justify how you’re better or different from others.
  1. Competitor Analysis 

Competitive analysis is always helpful in drawing inspiration for marketing strategy as well as brand identity. You can learn a lot of branding lessons from competitions. However, the lessons will vary based on your industry and the current level of competition you’re at.

But, watch out. Your competitors may have a poorly defined brand identity with an unoriginal logo and design studio. Many have an inconsistent voice across digital mediums. Or maybe they do have something unique and memorable to offer. Regardless, always use competitor analysis as a starting point. In the end, always have an original stance. 

  1. Target Audience 

Your brand identity will only be as relevant as the target audience you’ve kept in mind. You will have to craft your message around them. That begins with creating a robust buyer persona. A buyer persona is essentially a profile of what your typical customer looks like and how they think.

It will tell you what they expect from the brand. Are they looking for a top-quality product or huge cost savings? Are they big on customer service? A knowledge of their priorities and pain points will help you formulate the right kind of brand identity.

  1. Brand Messaging

When you know your customers, you can draft the right kind of brand message that hits the right chords. Brand messaging communicates your values and how you can solve customer problems.

Can they expect peace of mind, better efficiency, time-savings, or exceptional customer service? Your brand message and delivery will form the foundation of your brand identity. 

In Conclusion

If you’re a beginner who’s feeling lost on how to establish the right kind of brand, it’s best to work with an expert. Hire a specialized brand studio that understands the psychology, principles, and nuances of branding and brand identity. They can help you see things that a novice or even intermediates can often miss.

This article is brought to you by Partywave, a brand design, and strategic launch studio. Partywave launches, refreshes, and grows meaningful and dynamic companies.