JUNE 2020

What is Brand Identity?

SARAH L. / Branding

We’ve come a long way since the days when a brand was limited to a logo. Although perceived as the face of the company, the logo was limited to business cards, packaging, and office stationery. However, that’s all water under the bridge now as the brands of today are their logos, and a lot more. Now, brands are much more than what you see. As branding expert Marty Neumeire defines, “A brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service or organization”. With brands becoming more human-centric day by day, they show emotions, evoke feelings, have a personality, and portray an identity. So what in tarnation is brand identity?

Brands have now ceased to simply be a graphic mark stamp on your office paraphernalia that people become oblivious to – they have now amassed tribes of followers that are dedicated to them and identify with them. If you want to come across as a successful urban professional woman, you find yourself buying into the classic image of a Starbucks-drinking, Louboutin-wearing, chic woman. As a person’s identity is defined by the way they dress, behave, and interact, brand identity is defined by the way it is designed, communicates, and services. To put it in Neumeire’s words again, brand identity is:

“The outward expression of a brand, including its trademark, name, communications, and visual appearance.”

Why is brand identity oh-so-important?

How do you think your customers identify you in a sea of brands? You guessed it – it’s through your brand identity. Your brand identity includes your logo, typography, jingles, and everything else visual, textual or auditoral that goes into communicating your message to your customers. Borrowing from the esteemed Mr Neumeire again, your brand identity is a ‘means of expression’ to influence your brand’s image in the customers’ minds. With several elements to it, building a brand identity is a multi-disciplinary effort where each element complements another to support your goal and message. If your message and identity are not in harmony, you fail to strike the right chord. And who likes listening to incoherent talkers and bad music? You guessed it again – no one. Especially not your customers. Brand identity thus becomes crucial to brand experience because of the following reasons –

#1: Your brand identity becomes the face of your business

As brand identity is more than your logo, it communicates your brand through other visible elements so that your customers can put a face to your brand. Once your brand becomes the face of your business, your customers will be willing to invest in it.

#2: Builds credibility and trust

When your brand identity effectively communicates your brand message, it builds credibility and trust among your customers. As they become familiar with your values and message, they think of your brand as reliable and actively seek out that it offers.

#3: Communicating the brand mission

Your brand identity consists of various brand elements that convey your message through various visual and textual means. These brand elements together give bite-sized chunks to your customer that together make the main course of your brand’s vision and mission.

Elements of Brand Identity

Your brand identity sums from the visible element of your brand. These tangible aspects of your brand leave an intangible impression on your customers’ minds to form an image of your brand.

  • An Unforgettable Logo

We’ve already established that a brand is not just a logo, but a logo plays a big role in contributing to a brand identity nonetheless. Just like the chicken-egg dilemma of what came first, branding puzzlers can ask – what came first, brand or logo? Instead of whiling away time trying to solve this unsolvable mystery, we need to keep up with the evolving rules of branding to create a logo that truly complements the brand. As your logo is the tangible part of your brand that will be exposed the most, it needs to be in-sync with the other elements. For example, Disney’s logo expresses magic, childhood nostalgia, fun, and all the joys and celebrations that we associate with that wonderfully unforgettable text-symbol combo.

  • Symbolic color palette

Colors bring joy to life. so your brand’s color palette affects how good your customers feel about your brand. Since colors affect mood, emotions, creativity, and interaction, a solid color palette is instrumental in building your brand identity. With different colors having different meanings that relay diverse emotions, you need to ensure that your color palette is pinned down to best reflect your brand’s value. For instance, the unmistakable Coca-Cola red and white palette portrays excitement, energy, power, and passion. Similarly, your brand’s color palette should symbolize the values and emotions you stand for or wish to invoke in your customers.

  • Matching typography

Just like your handwriting gives away your identity and personality, your typography also gives away your brand. Fonts can be subtly powerful in shaping your brand identity, so choosing the right font for your brand is very important. Your typography needs to align with your logo, purpose, and personality. Once you manage to match your typography with your brand, your customers will be able to recognize it anywhere. For instance, DC comics interestingly uses the serious and somber Gothic Bold font, making us wonder whether Gotham city got its name from the font itself. And have a look at the font for Goosebumps – doesn’t it automatically feel dark and scary?

All these elements are instrumental in creating a clear and consistent brand identity that effectively communicates the values your customers can identify. Yet, creating a brand identity is not enough. You can leave a strong impression on your customers’ minds by consistently advertising it across various channels. Ultimately, when you stay true to your brand identity, you can bridge the gap between your customers’ perception and reality. But remember – as time changes, people change. So brands need to keep evolving their identity too. As Donatella Versace put it:

“It’s very important for a brand to have an identity through the years, but it’s very important as well to evolve because time changes so fast.”

SimplePlan Media specializes in building a brand identity that effortlessly communicates your brand’s values, mission, and services. Have a look at our case study for our award winning concept and website for Support Inform, a universal e-learning portal to train anyone in the workplace to better support specially-abled people.


Case Study - Brand Identity Project by SimplePlan Media

Project: Develop a comprehensive brand identity for an e-learning platform, Support Inform.

Process: SimplePlan Media took up a project for Support Inform or SI, an e-learning platform that focuses on training the workforce across industries for better interaction with specially-abled people. This technology-led initiative by Support Inform revolves around making this world a better place for the differently-abled.

As the design and branding team, we were asked to come up with a comprehensive brand identity that is both highly communicative as well as scalable to reflect upon a wide range of disabilities across the entire spectrum – physical, mental, and social.

Undertaking this challenge, our team adopted an interesting approach by designing the brand’s identity around the brand’s core theme of inclusiveness, integration, and accessibility. To ensure that these values get communicated effectively, we represented it by an icon – The Orb, which became the core icon of the identity. While in reality, the ‘Orb’ is a spherical object, we used it symbolically to communicate the brand’s message across several customer touchpoints and real-world-situations. Through graphic representation of the Orb, we aligned the various elements of brand identity.

  • Symbolic representation – In Amazon’s logo, the arrow doesn’t just represent a smiley, but goes from A to Z to portray that you can buy anything on Amazon. Similarly, the orb can be molded to different situations and capacity issues while explaining features like simplicity, accessibility, complete support, and 360 degrees solution. Not only does the Orb reflect the values and offerings of the brand, but it also emphasizes the core focus to address the various capacity issues.

  • Logo designing – The logo is responsible for visually communicating your brand’s value. With the Orb as the core icon, we wanted it to be incorporated in the logo as well. We then designed the outlines of a sphere that was disconnected on both ends instead of a full circle, which could then be flexibly molded to fit different situations and capacity issues. Incorporating it in the brand’s name – Support Inform, the ‘O’ in both the words was substituted by the Orb.

  • Merchandise and advertising – To ensure that customers identify your brand anywhere, we ensured that it gets reflected across various platforms. Designing various templates for office stationery, merchandise, and hoardings, we ensured that the brand’s identity gets reflected for everyone, everywhere. Here also, the Orb became the focal point through which we project the brand’s message.


The Takeaway

As SimplePlan took up the challenge to design a brand identity for Support Inform, we learned a few lessons along the way that come in handy during branding, that includes –

Flexibility – For logo creation, we not only tried to come up with a logo that is simple and unique but also flexible enough to be replicated across various platforms and variations. With extra focus on scalability, we ensured that size and dimensions didn’t hamper the logo from effectively communicating the brand’s identity.

Consistency – Choosing the Orb as our core icon was an innovative step that was directed towards consistency. While assimilating the Orb into the logo was just one step, we also wanted to have it replicated across various platforms. With the Orb as the core focus, it would send a visually consistent message.

Cohesiveness – To ensure that the brand gets more exposure, we ensured that the Orb got replicated throughout. Also, it needed to be cohesive and recognizable, where every element complemented the brand identity. Designing the Orb with two simple curved lines and aligning it with the social situation and capability issues was another way we tried to establish cohesiveness.

From a simple and scalable logo to consistent branding, our efforts paid through when we bagged a gold medal from Indigo for creating a brand identity for Support Inform. This project was very lucrative as it made us explore the deep recesses of our creativity, and encouraged us to be more meticulous about developing a consistent and comprehensive identity for Support Inform.