The Definition of Brand Identity
In its essence, brand identity is a collection of different elements that a company curates to portray its ideal image in front of customers. In short, brand identity is what we can see, the visual elements of the brand. This can be across a variety of digital touchpoints, brick and mortar buildings and structures, printed materials, business collateral, and across websites and social media. More often than not, people confuse brand identity with branding. They often use them interchangeably. However, the two are different.
8 Universal Elements of Brand Identity
- Naming. A key differentiator from competitors and positions the brand.
- Brand Logo Design. Inclusive of logos, logo badges, marks and wordmarks
- Color Palette. Example: Blue with Facebook (Meta) or Green with WhatsApp.
- Shapes & Form. In logos, on the website, embedded within social designs and more.
- Personality. Example: a law firm - serious and businesslike, a badminton startup - witty and colorful.
- Imagery & Art Direction. Grainy, monochromatic, vibrant – images that fit the brand.
- Taglines. Think of “Just Do It”, “You’re Worth It”, “Finger Lickin’ Good”.
- Typefaces. Used across the website, marketing materials, business cards, and more.
Think of these elements as the various inputs that go into creating your brand experience.
How is Brand Identity Different from Branding?
Branding is a set of practices that actively shape a brand and make it distinctive. It’s the perception people experience about your company. In other words, this is what people are saying about your business when you’re not in the room.
So, when it comes to brand identity vs branding, the former is the visual, more concrete part of your brand that people can recognize. Strategy and design are front and center when creating the identity. Branding is more abstract, a sum of all expressions that a company or business creates to attract and retain customers.
Developing a Strong Brand Identity via Brand Discovery Exercises
Your entire voice and vocabulary will depend on the brand keywords. For example, do you want to come across as hip and colorful? Or do you want to be known as sleek and sophisticated? Perhaps you want a more traditional and conservative appeal. Or sporty, with a touch of finesse?
At this point, you need to think about What, How and Why. This will pave the 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 how people will use you and how the brand fits into their lives.
- How - Next, think about the ways you are going to reach your audience. Where are your target customers, and what are the best methods to speak to them.
- 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.
Competitive analysis is always helpful in drawing inspiration for marketing strategy as well as brand identity. You can learn a great deal on brand success and failures by analysis. However, the lessons will vary based on your industry and the level of competition.
A campaign built on strategy encompasses a deep dive into the competition to understand the landscape, including strategic positioning. From there, finding the white-space opportunity or main point of difference can lead your brand position and strategy.
Having a poorly defined position or an unoriginal brand identity design can damage your brand. Inconsistencies across digital mediums can lessen brand cohesiveness and recognizability. Regardless of your research, always use competitor analysis as a starting point. In the end, strive to be original.
Your brand identity will only be as relevant as the target audience you’re pursuing. Be sure 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 likes, how they think, and their age group.
This can help you define what your target audience will expect from the brand. Are they looking for a top-quality product or huge cost savings? Are they big on environmentally friendly packaging? Having insights on user priorities and understanding their pain points will help you design the right identity for the brand.
When you know your customers, it’s important to craft the right brand message that resonates. Brand messaging communicates your values but is relatable to your customers.
Can they expect peace of mind, time-savings, or exceptional customer service? Or simply a beautiful product that is easy-to-use? The brand message and delivery will form the foundation of your brand identity.
Let’s look at a real brand identity project that involved rebranding a popular fitness studio.
In 2021, we partnered with Lagree Fit 415 to help them rethink and reshape their existing brand identity. Our objective was to create a new brand identity to better communicate with a fitness-forward audience while creating an experience that would encourage new studio members and clients to return for years to come.
The Brand Discovery
What is Lagree Fit 415?
Lagree Fit 415 (LF415) is a premier workout studio founded in 2018 and based in Mission Bay, San Francisco. They believe that when you commit to working out and getting stronger, you will see the benefits in other areas of your life. They are hands-on, passionate, and push their clients to be the best versions of themselves.
Lagree Fit 415’s brand personality + keywords:
During our research phase, we discovered a preexisting brand loyalty among a devoted client base already attending the studio. Because of the strong positive associations of these clients with the brand, we concluded that the name should remain “Lagree Fit 415”. We also looked at factors like SEO (search engine optimization) and found that because “Lagree” was in the name of the studio, it helped local search engine ranking.
Brand Logo Design
Our primary research found that the current logo read too small and emphasized “LF” instead of the full studio’s name. We also found that most LF415 clients felt that it was sporty and slightly masculine, even though the majority of the client base is female (+80%).
After reviewing the competitive landscape, considering design trends and LF415’s current audience’s tastes, here are the changes we made to the logo:
- “Lagree Fit 415” reads clearly
- Everything is weighted equally
- We used a customized typeface unique to Lagree Fit 415
Despite some of the negative feedback from the current logo, we found that clients loved the colors, which they felt were “cool and friendly”. We found that the brand could use a lighter blue / cyan as a complementary color, so we went with a baby blue to compliment the middle cyan and dark blue.
Shapes & Form
Lagree Fit 415 is a block from Mission Bay in the heart of San Francisco, and we loved how the brand had colors reflective of the ocean. We talked in great detail about the fluidity and slow, low-impact movements of Lagree moves, and the machine called the Megaformer that allows you to flow from one move into the next seamlessly.
With these brand descriptions, we added a wavelike dynamic shape to live across various touchpoints, like on the website, social, on marketing materials, and more.
With the tone we were trying to set, we chose to round the corners of imagery and all buttons for a softer feel on the website.
Imagery & Art Direction
Bright, clean, and inviting. We decided to continue using images that focused on people, demonstrating various Lagree moves and having a good time. Some photos show light shining through the windows, and others show blue lights surrounding the studio.
We picked a font pairing that is both modern and fitness forward. For headers, we chose Eudoxus Sans, a geometric font with character, and for body paragraphs and subheaders, we chose Inter.
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.
Whether you’re a new business owner or run a mature company, your brand is vital to your success and growth. Hiring a specialized brand studio that understands the psychology, principles, and nuances of branding and brand identity is a valuable and advantageous investment.