Brand Identity: Number 1 Priority
Brand Identity Should Be Your Number 1 Priority
Alex Colburn, Brand Strategist and Graphic Designer
Colburn Strategic Partners
Why is a focused brand identity so important?
A focused brand identity is critical to transmitting your message or product. Knowing what your business or organization stands for also keeps you on track when making business plans. It’s easy to lose touch with the ideals you created your business around, or what your main audience cares about.
I had a logo designed, that’s my brand identity.
Yes, and no. Your logo is an important part of your brand identity. However, just like you as a person, your company’s identity is nuanced and elastic. And while your looks play a big role in your identity, they don’t define who you are.
(Investopedia has an excellent article on the definition of brand identity, here’s the link if you need a brush-up on what brand identity means.)
A brand is the visual appearance of your company or organization. It is often symbolized in the form of a logo or brand mark, though a brand can be simply a name. Your business’ visuals are important because people will see visuals first, and it is likely what they will focus on and remember. However, hiring a graphic designer to design a logo should not be the first step. The way you identify your business will ultimately shape the way your brand mark looks, so it is important to define your brand identity first.
Brand identity is what you look like, the things you say, and the things you stand for. On a larger scope, it is how people perceive your brand. The Pope is a brand and has a larger brand identity, as does the President of the United States. Coca Cola and Boeing have larger brand identities that extend past their trademarked logo. That is because brand identity includes your name, reputation, presence on the web and in society, and beliefs and views. Your audience/customer base also plays a big role in determining your brand identity. So what should you consider when you are creating your brand?
These questions should be considered, and constantly reevaluated, when you are creating your brand identity.
Who is my target audience/customer base?
Is my brand important to my target audience?
How will customers engage with my brand?
What does my audience care about when considering brands like mine?
Who are my closest competitors? How do they brand themselves?
How do I make myself unique and separate myself from my competitors?
Can you describe what your company does, or offers, in a sentence or two?
If you’ve created an “elevator pitch”, how have others responded to it?
After all of this has been considered (and more), then a logo can be created for your business. First, decide which imagery is related to your brand identity. If you are a technology company with a focus on high-quality products, then you want sleek graphics to match that identity. You should approach a graphic designer and be clear that you want their help to craft a brand identity, not simply a logo.
When I sit down with clients to develop their brand identity and logo design, the first thing I ask is for my client to describe their business where it is now, and where they would like to see it in the future. You will be able to get valuable information about their business from having a conversation with a client, more so than simply looking at their website. I write down keywords associated with their brand, and ask the directed questions above, so that I can get a full sense of how they would like me to approach their brand as a graphic designer.