When you think of a brand, the first thing that often comes to mind is that brand’s logo. Businesses use logos to represent their brand, but a brand is made up of so much more than just a logo. While it is an important part, it’s one of many elements that come together to create a brand’s identity.

There are 6 key elements that make up a brand identity:

  1. Brand strategy
  2. Colour palette
  3. Logo
  4. Typography
  5. Supporting graphics
  6. Name

Keeping these elements in line with one another is important for making sure your brand consistent and recognisable. The components of your brand identity should be the same no matter where you display them.

1. Brand strategy

Before you start with design or any tangible elements, you need to establish who you are as a brand. Finding your brand’s purpose is an important first step.

Your brand’s purpose is why you do what you do. To help you discover your ‘why’, ask yourself,  ‘what are you best at?’, ‘what are you passionate about?’ and ‘what difference can you make?’. 

But, discovering who you are as a brand involves more than deciding your brand’s purpose. You also need to determine:

  • What your mission is (how will you achieve your vision?)

  • What values your brand holds (what beliefs drive your business?)

  • How your brand voice sounds (how would your brand communicate if it was a person?)

  • What kind of personality your brand has (if your brand was a person, what would they be like?)

  • Your value proposition (how are you different from the competition?)

These components define your brand and form the foundations for developing your brand identity. If you’re struggling to work out who you are as a brand ask yourself these questions:

  • Why was this business started?

  • How do we stand out?

  • What beliefs are important to us?

  • What do we do better than anyone?

  • How would we want customers to describe our brand?

  • What 5 words would we use to describe our brand?

Asking colleagues or customers for their answers can show you how others already see your brand which may be a good starting point.

2. Colour palette

Colour improves brand recognition by up to 80% and the colours you choose have a huge impact on how your customers perceive your brand. Different colours evoke different emotions, that’s why it’s important to get the tint and shade right. So, when choosing your colour palette, stick to a maximum of 3.

To select your colour palette, think back to who your brand is, and how you want your customers to see your brand. Remember, each colour communicates something different:

  • Red: Excitement, energy, passion, danger

  • Orange: Confidence, success, bravery, sociability

  • Yellow: Creativity, happiness, warmth, cheer

  • Green: Nature, healing, freshness, quality

  • Blue: Tranquility, peace, integrity, competence

  • Pink: Compassion, sensitivity, romance, playfulness

  • Purple: Royalty, luxury, spirituality, ambition

  • Brown: Dependability, resilience, security, safety

  • Black: Mystery, power, elegance, sophistication

  • White: Innocence, cleanliness, purity, simplicity

But, it’s not all about the colour you choose. The lightness or depth of a shade can indicate different things. For example, darker blues communicate competence and integrity. The lighter blues communicate tranquillity and peace.

3. Logo

People often ask whether they should work on their brand or logo first. The truth is that a clear brand should always come first. So, only once you’ve got points one and two ironed out should you begin to look at developing a logo that complements and enhances your brand.

Your logo is the element of your brand identity that people will be most exposed to. It’s central to your brand identity and needs to be consistent with the other components and emotional appeal. But, make sure you keep things simple because when it comes to logo design, less is more. A simple logo increases your chances of it being memorable and recognisable. Your logo should:

  • Communicate clearly who you are and what your brand stands for

  • Be appealing, simple, clean and uncluttered

  • Be classic rather than fashionable. You do not want to create a logo that looks outdated within a few months

  • Cohere to your industry standards

  • Make a lasting impression

Let’s take a look at the logos for the world’s most recognisable brands:

Every logo uses simple elements; one line of text, one font or minimal graphical elements. Each one is simple and you recognise them straight away. 

Finally, consider the places where you will display your logo. It needs to look just as good on a huge billboard as it does on a social media profile picture. The simpler the logo, the easier it is to adapt.

4. Typography

We’re going to put it out there: the right font can be powerful. Even the wrong font can remain seriously recognisable. Think Comic Sans, Times New Roman. Without us even showing you what they look like, we bet you can picture them.

A single font should be at the head of your brand design, and, like your logo and colour palette, be clean and simple. But, to find the right font for your brand identity, you’ll need to think back to your brand’s purpose and personality. That’s how you’ll find a font that synergises your logo and colour palette. You’ll also want to keep in mind these best practices:

  • Avoid overly complex fonts

  • Don’t shy away from default fonts i.e. Arial, Sans Serif. They’re easy to read and to make it stand out, you can change the size, letter spacing and letter weight (boldness)

  • Choose the right font size and line length for readability

  • Stick to one font family rather than going mix and match

  • Left-aligned text is standard practice in the western world. Aligning to the right can look untidy and be more difficult to read

  • Avoid using all capital letters to emphasise text. Instead, increase the weight of the font (i.e. make it bold)

Knowing why these rules work is important for building your brand identity and making typography work for your business. But, if you’re experienced with typography, don’t shy away from bending the rules slightly.

5. Supporting graphics

Supporting graphics include photography, iconography, videography and other imagery. They can be simple like the blue gradient and bubbles that O2 uses or more complex like Red Bull’s cartoons. With both examples, you don’t need the logo to recognise the brands’ distinguishable styles.

Supporting graphics add a visual language to your brand identity and help your customers to relate to your brand. So, when choosing supporting graphics for your brand identity, only curate elements that are in line with your brand strategy. 

6. Name

Just like the other elements, your brand’s name has to match your brand strategy. It should:

  • Capture your brands’ personality

  • Cultivate a positive emotional response

  • Be unique, memorable, and stand out

  • Be easy to pronounce, spell and interpret 

  • Not go out of fashion and can grow with the company

  • Be something you can buy the domain for and trademark

72% of the world’s most recognisable brand names are made up words or acronyms so don’t be afraid to create something new if it captures the essence of your brand.

Next steps

Once you’ve finalised the core elements, the next action is to establish clear brand guidelines and put them in a brand style guide. The style guide should give clear instructions on how to use all the elements that make up your brand identity.

Key takeaways:

  • Your brand strategy should be complete before you start working on a logo

  • Keep it simple, don’t overcomplicate elements

  • Always relate elements back to your brand strategy

  • Align everything with your brand values

  • Maintain consistency

Ready to start building your brand? Get in touch with us here.