The 7 Pillars of Brand Identity and Why They Matter for Business
When it comes to establishing a brand, it might be tempting to design a webpage and logo and call it a day. After all, these efforts can require quite a bit of consideration and work. But these efforts won’t cut it.
True brand identity design represents an opportunity to shape how your customers perceive your business. Think of it as your chance to help the world fully understand what your company is about. What feelings do you want your audience to associate with your business? How do you want prospects to perceive you? These are the questions we’re lucky enough to ask (and answer) when we’re approaching a brand building strategy.
“Branding adds spirit and a soul to what would otherwise be a robotic, automated, generic price-value proposition. If branding is ultimately about the creation of human meaning, it follows logically that it is the humans who must ultimately provide it.”
– David Aaker
Remember: Your brand identity is more than just an isolated interaction with a customer. It’s how your company presents itself across every customer touchpoint, from building awareness in prospective customers to nurturing loyalty with your existing customer base.
To build a brand identity that works and ensures you’ll stand out from the competition, it’s important to address the 7 pillars of brand identity.
A company’s logo is like a person’s nickname. It identifies a brand in an emotive and stylistic way without delving into the literal and comprehensive scope of what that company does. Which is good, because a logo’s primary goal should be identity – to state who the company is – and that’s pretty much it.
With your company’s logo at the forefront of many customer interactions, it’s a significant element to any brand strategy.
While there aren’t necessarily rules for professional logo design, there are tried-and-true guidelines that can help designers make the most of a business logo. Luckily, these guidelines can be remembered with a clever acronym: SMART.
Simple: An easily recognizable logo gives the viewer an instant understanding of your brand.
Memorable: Your logo should be easily recalled.
Appropriate: Design your logo with your audience in mind.
Resizable: Your brand needs to be easily identifiable, regardless of display size.
Timeless: Consider how your logo design will look in 5, 10, or 20 years.
2. Color Palette
The types of emotions and associations that you want to evoke will impact your color palette choices, so choose wisely. Your color palette is also one of the easiest ways to affirm and identify your brand. For instance, if you look at these colors…
…you’re probably going to think of Google. And that’s the power of a well-designed color palette.
Creating a perfect color combination requires an awareness of your brand and message, an understanding of psychology and design theory, as well as a strong intuitive sense for color.
Getting typography right can make or break your brand building efforts.
While written communication generally refers to the content of the text that we deliver to a given audience, it’s worth noting the significant role that typography plays in this communication process. After all, typography contributes to legibility, and the easier it is for someone to read your content, the more likely it is that they’ll stick around as a customer.
Here are a few typography tips to get started with:
Limit the number of fonts your brand will use – too many can make your brand design appear busy and cluttered.
Choose appropriate font sizes based on the specific use cases – the size of your text will impact your audience’s reading experience.
Establish line spacing standards – because good typography is all about the proper use of whitespace.
4. Visual Assets
In the same way that we use written or spoken language to communicate our brand, there is also a visual language that’s unique to every business. Focusing on the visual components that convey your brand values can help customers create a frame of reference regarding what your business stands for.
It’s easy to think in images, so be sure to provide your audience with plenty to think about!
Your visual language might be stunning outdoor scenes, compelling interior shots, or perhaps a series of contrast and saturation rules that you apply to any image. Regardless of your unique visual assets, establishing a clear and consistent visual language is a fundamental component to any branding initiatives.
5. Brand Voice & Tone
Your company’s voice is what you say, and your tone is how you say it. Both of these stylistic considerations should consistently represent your core messaging across every touchpoint of the user experience.
While it’s possible to focus on very nuanced elements of your voice and tone, establishing just a few broad guidelines can go a long way in establishing your style. For instance, a consumer-driven business would benefit from the following personality attribute examples:
Simple copy recognizes that too many words can be off-putting and that every word we write needs to serve a purpose – even when we’re being friendly.
This concise and finely-tuned style of writing should be a consistent consideration across every copy element.
When writing friendly copy, we always talk directly to the user. We speak conversationally, even colloquial, and sometimes even with humor and delight.
Friendly copy is often (but not always) a good fit for taming user anxiety around privacy and security.
Assured copy says what it means, knows what’s important, and efficiently addresses the things that matter most.
Critical notifications and potentially confusing states should adopt an assured tone.
Informative copy works hand-in-hand with visual content to make learning curves as flat as possible.
Every headline, subhead, body paragraph, and CTA should make important information and next steps absolutely clear.
6. Brand Strategy (Competitive Analysis)
When considering your brand pillars, you should ask yourself, “Where do we fit within the competitive landscape?”
This isn’t just a question to ask yourself when developing your core offerings or value proposition, but it’s also something that you should ask when developing your brand design strategy. Understanding how your competitors have designed themselves into the marketplace can show you where your potential strengths might lie or where there’s an opportunity to design yourself in a way that’s different from your competitors, thereby opening up a competitive advantage.
For instance, a primary competitor in your industry might have designed themselves with a look and feel that is similar to your desired look and feel. However if you document the competitor’s visual assets, brand voice logo and other brand design pillars, you will likely find that there are gaps where you can establish your own identity and speak to an underserved need held by your target audience.
One of the common themes throughout the brand identity conversation is consistency. If you’re able to create a consistent brand experience across all of your channels, you’ll be more successful at engaging and converting leads into customers.
But consistency in a growing business can be a difficult goal to achieve. This is where templates come in handy. Whether you’re trying to achieve uniformity within graphics that you post to social media or establish alignment amongst the structure of content in your blog posts, templates can help. The great thing about templates is that they don’t have to impede creativity. Because consistency doesn’t mean doing the same thing over and over again. There needs to be room for breathing new life and experience into your brand.
Developing your brand pillars is as much art as it is science. Understanding the nuances and considerations of brand identity will serve your business well. Why? Because our constantly evolving digital world has introduced nearly limitless consumer choices.
In order to attract and retain your customer base while maintaining a profitable business, it’s necessary to provide a foundation and personality that help your users understand that your brand is the brand to do business with.
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