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D+ve: A strong brand identity can take you places

In his column, Manoj Deb, Founder and Specialist in Branding Strategy and Design, Venacava, writes about the nuances involved in building a strong brand identity

A strong brand identity is not built overnight. You can’t just pick up a few colours, quickly put together a logo and be done with it. The design has to be approached strategically to create a novel identity that reflects your brand and supports your growth. This needs deep thinking, a team with strong communication & design knowledge and an intimate understanding of who you want to be presented as in front of the world and what you are doing.

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This is not an easy job and is also not something that a brand can function without. So, if you’re going to do it, you would definitely want to do it the correct way. Of course, tackling a brand identity is often both intimidating and confusing. What should it include? How do you start? Who needs to be involved?

I have been an avid learner of the many factors which can help craft unique brand identities that stand apart. Throughout my career, developing brand strategies and brand identities have been my bread and butter. Yes, I have explored every aspect of design, be it print, OOH, or UI, but the satisfaction I get from building a brand's identity can’t be matched by anything else. This has helped me develop a process that lets me properly channel my ideas and thoughts to reach the desired goal. And that is exactly what I would like to share with you.

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If you follow this guide, you’ll find yourself with a nice, functional brand identity that will facilitate your growth and help you race ahead of the competition, attract the correct audience and narrate the story of your brand with every bit of communication you release.

So, what is a brand identity?

Is it your logo? Your colour palette? Your infographics style? It’s all that—and more.

Sol Sender defines it as “The strongest brand identity tell simple stories.”

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For a designer, the priority should be to make the design memorable and meaningful. It needs to say a lot while being simple. It must not try to bear the entire burden of the brand’s story. Minimal, classy designs are always the right way to go.

Personally, I feel that a brand identity is the sum total of how a brand feels, looks, and speaks to its target demographic. At times, it can also include how it sounds, tastes and even smells! Brands like Intel, Airtel, Coke, McDonald's are its prime examples.

That being said, when people talk about a brand’s identity, most of the time they are referring to its visual identity.

Why do you need a brand identity?

A strong brand identity does not just mean pretty packaging. Its main motive is to communicate a brand’s story effectively and design is a potent tool that can help shape people’s perception of the brand in a simple way.

If you develop an identity for your brand that your target audience can’t relate to, or it doesn’t capture the essence of your brand, a lot of the hard work is wasted. But with a little planning and know-how, one can avoid that.

Before starting, there are a few key things that you need to think about.

The Heart of your Brand: This is basically the brand’s core principles. Your mission, vision, values, etc.

• The Name: People will know your brand by this, so putting some extra effort into it is a no-brainer. Also, you can’t really design a logo without it.

• The Essence of your Brand: The brand needs to have a voice, a tone, a personality. This is what makes your brand relatable.

• Key Messages: What’s the value proposition? What’s the tagline? Build the messaging pillars first to ensure that the visual identity tells the right tale.

While developing an identity for most of my clients’ brands, I tell them that it needs to generate interest and start conversations. Basically, it needs to touch a consumer or someone who doesn’t have any direct connection with the brand.

First of all, you need to think of a differentiating factor. How can you cut through the clutter in the market? Your brand identity can play a strong role in that.

Whether you like your product to pop out on a shelf, or thumb-stopping ads on Facebook, creating a standardized, cohesive presentation is the secret to success.

Then you will have to make a connection. The more effectively you communicate what your brand is, the simpler it will be for people to interact with you and ultimately, join your community as lifelong fans.

Finally, you need to have synergy and give your audience a complete experience. Everything you create reflects your brand. So, if you want to create a consistent and cohesive experience, your brand’s identity needs to follow that blueprint, everything related to your brand, starting from your website to your social media page, to your sales brochures. A strong identity and a memorable story are the biggest differentiators when it comes to elevating your brand experience.

One of my recent projects was to revamp the brand identity of Juice, a cosmetic brand that was ready to shed its old skin and find a new look. Being a brand that operates in the beauty sector, it needed to appeal to young Indian women. With the majority of the target segment being career-oriented and confident women, it needed to have a certain zing to it and act as an enabler, in the sense that it gives them an added edge to shine in life. Here’s what I came up with after weeks of deliberation.

Now if you look at the logo after reading about the brand’s objective, I think you’ll be able to reverse engineer the entire process as per the steps mentioned above.

Some brands have mastered the art of elevating their brand identity - think Apple, LEGO, Nike. Others find it difficult since they lack the knowledge or the vision to communicate effectively. I feel that too many brands fall into the second category.

Regardless of where you fall on that spectrum, you can be sure of one thing, if you want your company to be successful, crafting a strong brand identity should be at the top of your priority list. Once you find your brand’s voice, everything will come together like a well-oiled machine. And the world will be your oyster.

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