When one thinks of a brand identity, most people tend to think of the logo design. While a logo is one of the most important elements of a brand identity, there are others that are as important and perhaps sometimes even more so. In this article, we talk about the various elements of a brand identity and how they all come together to constitute a Brand Identity System.
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What is a Brand Identity System (BIS)?
A Brand Identity System is a collection of elements which work together to create unified, consistent and flexible brand assets that communicate the brand value to the target audience effectively.
This collection of elements constitutes of 6 major brand assets including the primary brand mark or logo, secondary brand mark, color palette, typography, visual brand extensions (such as official brand pattern, iconography etc) and brand tone (which includes visual image and photo standards as well as the tone of voice in all messaging and communications).
While each of these brand identity system elements is a topic onto itself, in this article we will define each briefly to create a context for the importance of having a brand identity system for a successful brand development.
This article is one of the lessons from my Ultimate Brand Builder Course. By completing the course you will have built a robust and stunning brand that will be poised to attract your target audience and dominate your market space.
Brand Asset #1: Primary Brand Mark
The first and the most visible symbol of brand power is the primary brand mark or logo design. It should be as simple as possible and tend towards conceptual and abstract visual elements rather than literally trying to show what your brand does or stands for.
The primary brand mark should be flexible enough to work well across various different media and at all sizes. It should be easy to reproduce and must use solid design principles. At the very least, a good logo design should have these six qualities:
- The logo should be scalable
- In most cases, the logo should have solid colors
- The logo should be adaptable
- The logo should be memorable
- The logo should be unique and
- The logo should be on message
Brand Asset #2: Secondary Brand Mark
For many the idea of a secondary brand mark may be alien. In fact till recently the golden rule of branding was to have one single logo that was consistent across all media and used unchangingly for years. But the landscape has changed now and so has the definition of a brand identity.
Every one is a publisher these days with their own publishing channels such as blogs social media channels etc. The internet has become more than an information super highway. It has become a noisy and chaotic environment where information is dumped at an alarmingly fast pace. The signal to noise ration is so high that people are starting to block out and filter the internet.
In such an environment, how is a brand to stand out and thrive? This is where the secondary brand mark comes into play. It supports the primary brand mark and enhances the message funnel of the brand. It is used on secondary touch points such as merchandizing, marketing collateral, social media campaigns and more.
For lifestyle brands such as clothing and fashions brands, a secondary brand mark serves a supremely important role. It is used to create brand recall and is used on touch points such as labels, tags, etc.
Brand Asset #3: Color Palette
Most brands have a signature color scheme, whether it is black and white or a more creative palette. However, many companies think that their carefully chosen colors are limited to their letterhead, logo, and signs. However, using your colors throughout your business will give a better rounded experience to people who interact with your business while helping to make those colors synonymous with your brand.
Owning a color in your market segment should be one of the goals of your branding. If used strategically, you can own a color which your target audience come to associate with your brand. At times, this can be so effective that just the color will remind people of your brand with out the primary or secondary brand marks visible.
When choosing colors for your brand, base them on their suitability to your brand along with ensuring they align with the world view of your target audience. Your personal preference as the stake holder of the brand should come last.
As with your brand mark, you should have a primary color and secondary and tertiary colors. This color palette should then be used effectively to communicate the essence of your brand.
Brand Asset #4: Typography
Typography is fundamental to establishing a robust brand identity system. Selecting the right fonts to represent your brand could be a daunting process and most brands simply make random choices based on personal preferences.
Type faces have personality and you should try and identify typography that matches the personality of your brand. Different types evoke different feelings. For example, typically serif type faces represent tradition while san-serif ones stand for modernity. Some fonts look friendly while other look corporate.
As with colors, your brand should have a primary type face which is usually used in your primary brand logo. Unless you have a custom type face in your logo design, you can also use the primary type face for headlines and other important messages of your brand. You have to use this primary font judicially so that you do not dilute the primary brand logo. Secondary and tertiary type faces should ideally be complimentary to the primary typography.
Brand Asset #5: Visual Brand Extensions
Visual brand extensions are design elements that support and enhance the brand’s visual experience. These could be things such as the official brand pattern, iconography etc.
Having an official brand pattern that is used as subtle part of the brand’s visual makeup can go a long way in creating a high level of brand recall. They reinforce the brand’s message and let the audience know that the brand cares about details. This in turn expresses the message that the brand is consistent and trust worthy.
Iconography can be another powerful tool in your brand’s arsenal. Custom icons created specifically for your brand can establish a direct subconscious connection with your target audience. Icons can be used to create visual anchors that permeate your branding efforts and that enable you to broadcast the brand message effectively.
Brand Asset #6: Brand Tone
Last but not least, one of the most important brands assets is your brand tone. A brand tone can be simply stated as the personality of your brand. This is the impression or perception that you want your brand to convey when interacting with people.
A brand tone is what your brand says but more importantly it is said. Good messages take your competitive positioning and brand strategy to the next level. They hone in on what’s important to your market and communicate it consistently and effectively. How you respond when asked about your brand or service or product and the tone of your messaging has tremendous impact on how your brand is perceived by your target audience.
Your brand tone can manifest in the following ways: