Demystifying brand identity projects
Your brand identity is not just your logo. It’s made up of range of elements that collectively let your audiences know who your organisation is and what you stand for. It’s about how you are perceived – how people see your organisation against everyone else.
You may be considering a complete rebrand, including a change of name. Or you may think it’s time for a brand identity refresh. You may simply be interested in the subject.
In any case, we have curated a set of observations and ideas about brand identity projects from our experience working with membership organisations, architects and the hospitality sector.
We’ll post them here on LinkedIn in bite size pieces over the next couple of weeks. Please feel free to share with your network and comment.
Reasons for a rebrand or brand refresh
This is a set of reasons why our clients have set out to rebrand or refresh their brand identities. Do you, or anyone in your network, fit into these?
The key inputs and outputs of a brand project
Image © Loud Marketing
Brand identity project inputs
In the first of this series of branding articles and posts, we mentioned that your brand identity is not just your logo. That’s usually the part that people seefirst. But good communications design should be employed across all marketing materials that carry you brand identity. So, that includes any digital or print communications as a minimum. You may want to produce marketing materials in-house (if you have the skills and resources). You may want a number of design agencies to do this for you. In all cases, you will need a comprehensive set of brand identity communications design guidelines. This document clearly shows how to apply you logo, colour, fonts, layouts and other design elements to digital and print communications. Without it, you cannot expect your marketing materials to consistent or high quality.
Marketing is a term that covers a whole range of activities that promote your business, products and services to consumers (clients, customers, members, etc). It’s about understanding them and communicating with them in ways that encourage positive engagement. Your marketing plans and objectives must feed into your brand.
Your organisations will a range of audiences that will come into contact with you via your brand and your communications materials. Arguably your most important audience is your clients, customers, members, etc – past, present and prospects. Other audiences include: investors; financiers (including your bank); suppliers; competitors; collaborators and government / regulators / legislators. There may be more and they all engage with your brand. You can get involved in sophisticated analysis like audiences mapping and use qualitative research to investigate needs and test messaging. But at a basic level, you just need to take account of the fact that you have a range of audiences with differing views and priorities and they may all have an impact on your plans.
We tend to use the term “product” to define whatever you produce and this could be a professional service or membership as well as a physical product. In any case, your brand identity must be appropriate to your product category. FMCG brand identities are not the same as those for financial or B2B businesses.
Behaviour and Culture
You could have the most dynamic, professional and contemporary visual identity and a great range of marketing communications. But, if someone comes into contact with a member of your team and has a bad experience, then that is what they will remember. This includes, how people dress, how they answer the phone, their presentation and speaking skills, your tone of voice in written communications, and so on. As we said, it’s not just about your logo and it’s not just about design. It’s about people too and training is hugely important so they can carry your brand and be real ambassadors.
Brand identity project outputs
Your organisations name may have deep historical routes. It may be something that doesn’t fit with your strategy and plans. It may be both. If you are considering a rebrand or brand refresh, we suggest including a naming exercise, particularly if this hasn’t been done for some time. It will determine the extent of the project and the next steps. You can of course decide at the outset to keep your name and focus on the other elements.
Your brand identity is not just a logo, but a logo can speak a thousand words. A logo that is formed of typography (letters) is known as a logotype. Strictly speaking, a logo that is formed of a symbol or other graphic device is called a logomark. Some brand identities have both. For each, we use the umbrella term, logo.
When an organisation finds its “voice”, it is more effective in articulating its message to those that matter. Our organisation’ voice describes howyou speak to your audiences. Your organisation’s voice is made up of elements including writing style, tone and vocabulary.
In marketing, content refers to whatyou say, what you are talking about. Every piece of written or spoken communication is a piece of content. It should be consistent, meaningful, usable, easily found and shared.One piece of content that is important to look at as part of rebrand or brand refresh is your key messaging. These are the absolutely essential pieces of information we need our audiences to understand.
A strategy clarifies the purpose of an organisation and defines a high-level plan to achieve one or more goals. Your brand is an integral part of your strategy.
The branding process
Summary of the branding process
Critique current brand ID
Before we start looking at what a new or refreshed brand might look like, it is essential to understand the existing brand identity. A simple critique is a good starting point. We critique a brand’s name, graphical elements of a logo or logotype and the overall application of the brand.
Assess competitors and peers
It’s never a good idea to copy competitors or peers, but much inspiration can be had from looking in detail at what they are doing well and not so well.
At the concept stage we agree detailed identity objectives and explore options. This almost always includes a senior team workshop, which can include staff and or volunteers. We may carry out a naming exercise. The output is a range of initial identity concepts from which we choose an agreed route.
Brand development stage
This is all about refining the agreed route. This may include the redrawing of logo elements, refinement of typography, setting out size relationships and positions of graphical elements, introducing colour and showing how sub-branding / brand extensions work. We create your identity architecture and define out how the logo works across different platforms.
Create brand identity assets
A set of master logo files in various files types, (JPEG, EPS, etc.) and in high res and low res formats should be produced, to be used internally and by relevant external suppliers. Ideally a set of grids and templates would also be produced, so basic collateral can be produced in-house if necessary. For example, a Wordtemplate for headed paper and a PowerPointslide layout, a basic piece of printed material and an idea of how a website homepage may look.
Compile brand identity guidelines
A set of comprehensive brand identity guidelines is essential. The show how your identity is to be implemented, including logo relative size and positioning, typography, grid layouts, colour palettes, imagery, etc. This ensures any future collateral (print or digital) is produced in a consistent way and your brand identity is protected.
We will set up and run a training session for relevant staff and suppliers to go through the new identity, the guidelines and processes.
There are many ways to come up with a brand name. Even though you may need to go through a branding exercise without changing your name, especially at the organisational level, we thought it useful to summarise the main naming routes here. You can apply them to naming products or services such as events, magazines or journals, CPD or commercial activities.
What to do next
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