How to Design a Brand Identity (With Elements and Steps)

Updated 10 February 2023

Brand identity includes all the visual elements of a brand, including the design, colour, logo and font that distinguish it in consumers' minds. Brand identity is tangible, appeals to the senses and aims to create instant brand recognition through visual associations. Learning about how to design a brand identity can help you build a brand that consumers recognise, which may contribute to professional and organisational growth. In this article, we explain why it's important to learn how to design a brand identity, list its elements, describe how to build one and discuss jobs you may consider when developing a brand.

Why is it important to learn how to design a brand identity?

Learning how to design a brand identity is important because it can contribute to the success of a brand. If you work at a start-up or small business, consumers in your target market may not yet be aware of the products or services the company offers, because they don't know about the business. Developing, designing and maintaining a brand identity may help you attract customers, earn their trust and increase the company's revenue.

Related: How to Become a Brand Strategist: A Comprehensive Guide

Elements of brand identity

The elements of brand identity include all the visual and physical factors a company uses to attract consumers' attention and keep a brand engaging. Branding appeals to one or more of the five senses. Some companies even use taste, touch or smell, which they call sensory marketing, to appeal to current and potential customers. A brand's identity helps them gain and keep customers by portraying an image that's consistent with the company's ideal. Some basic elements of brand identity are:

  • Brand name: Choosing a brand's name may seem simple, but carefully crafting a memorable name that becomes part of consumers' daily lives is challenging. Being selective in naming a brand can help companies overcome this challenge by building brand recognition, which may encourage consumers to pay more for products from that brand.

  • Logo: A logo is a visual trademark or symbol that identifies the brand, similar to a sports mascot. Companies may choose basic logos or create complex images for their brand, depending on the company's size, reputation, purpose and marketing goals.

  • Motto or catchphrase: A motto, catchphrase or theme line is simply a brand's position stated in a few memorable words. Companies often repeat a catchphrase throughout a marketing campaign and often over a long period, which contributes to brand recognition that persists over years.

  • Colour: Unique and specific brand colours may instantly increase product visibility. A little box in eggshell blue and red-soled high heels are examples of colour branding that differentiate brands and products from their competitors.

  • Shape: The visual appearance of shape consistency identifies some brands and the companies they represent. For example, the unique, square-shaped bottle of a soft drink or a game system's controller shape can help consumers immediately identify the brand.

  • Graphics: Distinct patterns can also help build a memory structure around a specific brand, making identification instantaneous. For example, using specific fonts or writing styles may identify a particular brand.

  • Language: Specific word choices or diction can be used in the vocabulary associated with the brand and this can help shape the brand's tone and attitude. The type of language used to communicate to consumers may dictate the type of consumer the brand attracts, so it often represents the personality of the target market.

  • Sound: A brand's sound or a unique set of notes and tones like a musical jingle can help to raise brand awareness and build brand identity. The crinkling or cracking sound of a particularly crunchy bag of chips or a mobile phone's recognisable ring tone can contribute to the tangible connections that make brand identity methods effective.

  • Taste: The flavour or flavour combinations offered by a brand play a key role. For example, a restaurant might offer a secret sauce in a specific dish, while a certain brand of soft drink might have 5 flavours that are uniquely their own.

Related: What Is Brand Marketing? (And How to Do It)

How to build an identity for your brand

Establishing a brand identity that helps your products or services perform well on the market requires a structured process. Here are four steps you can take to design a brand identity:

1. Conduct research

Before you build your brand, start the process by performing market research. Explore what consumers within your industry want and look for in a product or service, and learn about problems they have that your offerings may solve. Then, evaluate the company to determine how you might meet the needs of consumers. By using research about the company and the consumers who buy what you offer, you can determine the optimal target market for your products or services. Understanding who your market is can help you create a brand identity that appeals to them.

2. Determine business goals

When you're developing a brand, it's important to understand what you want the company to accomplish. You can use the company's mission and vision to help you determine short-term and long-term goals for branding. If the company doesn't have these, consider creating them. The company mission is what it does, what it plans to accomplish and how it plans to accomplish it. A vision is a long-term statement that describes the position of the company in the future. These can help you outline your goals, which you can use to develop a brand identity.

3. Determine personality and message

Once you understand the company, what the company offers, your target market and the company's goals, you can determine what you want its personality to be. Brands send a message that tells consumers about what the company represents and how it can help them. Companies can develop their brand using many elements, but it's important to remain consistent across your branding. For example, be sure to use the same voice, colour schemes and typography to help you develop a personality for the company that resonates with consumers.

4. Begin brand design

Once you've researched and decided on the brand's message and personality, you can begin creating a brand design that aligns with organisational goals and appeals to consumers in your target market. Remember to use stylistic choices that attract consumers for specific reasons. For example, if the company manufactures baby clothes, you might use soft colours and wispy fonts on the branding to send a message that the product is gentle. Similarly, if the company makes sporting equipment, you might include bold fonts and colours on the branding to represent confidence.

Related: How to Write a Brand Developer Resume (With Example)

Jobs to consider in brand development

If you're interested in brand identities and jobs that may allow you to design or manage them, you have many options in fields like graphic design, marketing and technology. Here are four related career paths to consider:

1. Graphic designer

National average salary: $71,684 per year

Primary duties: A graphic designer is a design professional who creates images and other visuals to inform, persuade or entertain consumers. They may create print or digital designs using specialised software, meet with clients to determine specifications about projects and create branding products such as logos and illustrations. Graphic designers may work at an organisation or run their own businesses.

Related: 12 Careers in Graphic Design (With Average Salaries and Primary Duties)

2. Brand manager

National average salary: $96,165 per year

Primary duties: A brand manager is a marketing professional who ensures a company's offerings align with its target market. They may perform market research, evaluate the performance of products and services in the marketplace, analyse product positioning, assess the effectiveness of brand messaging and work with other marketing and design professionals to improve the brand's identity.

3. User experience designer

National average salary: $104,330 per year

Primary duties: A user experience (UX) designer is a software development professional who focuses on making a product accessible and enjoyable to use. They typically work as part of a development team to learn about the target market, customise features to suit users, correct bugs, complete user testing programs and update apps and platforms to make them more user-friendly.

Read more: What Does a UX Designer Do? (With Skills and Daily Duties)

4. Creative director

National average salary: $120,092 per year

Primary duties: A creative director is an advertising professional who leads a team to develop the marketing and advertising strategy of a company. They may plan advertising campaigns, supervise teams in developing and creating new advertisements, monitor campaign performance and present project updates to colleagues, management and stakeholders.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.


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