How to Design and Develop a Great Brand Identity

Last time, we talked about what brand identity is and isn’t. You can read the post here.

Talking about brand identity without mentioning ‘design’ is like talking about a building without including its foundation. This doesn’t mean that brand identity ends in design. As a matter of fact, it doesn’t.

The job of a great brand identity is to shape a business or product into a persona consumers agree with. Therefore, a brand identity has to engage all five senses when possible in order to create the perfect impression and incite the right feeling.

  • Sound? Think of the sound that plays you turn on your Windows computer. When you hear that sound coming from another room, it makes you think of Microsoft windows even without you seeing the origin of the sound. That’s branding.
  • Smell? When last did someone pass you by and the person’s scent made you think of a perfume brand or even a friend that wears the same perfume? That’s branding. Another example, one petrol station mini-mart increase coffee sales by 300% by pumping the smell of coffee near its gas pumps. That’s branding.
  • Taste? Pick any three wine brands with the same ingredients and taste them. Why do you think they taste different?
  • Touch? Have you ever bought a coat, a dress, or even a duvet because of house it feels when you touch it?
  • Sight? This is where design comes in. In the case of a wine business, design as a branding tool can range from the wine label and the shape of the bottle to the wine company’s website and logo?

Any of the above mentioned senses can be factored in when developing your brand identity, depending on what your business is about. However, design is the most popularly used branding tool because of its versatility. And we are going to focus on that.

Developing Your Brand Design

To develop your brand design, you need to start with the basics. When you get seamingly tiny aspects of design like fonts and colours right, every other thing falls in place.

Typography

This is the font (or set of fonts) you select for your branding materials. Typically, you can choose from four main typography categories. Check below.

Serif Fonts. These are fonts like Garamond and Time New Roman. They seem a bit old school and traditional, but they are the perfect fonts to use when you are looking to incite trust.

Sans Serif Fonts. These are fonts like Franklin Gothic and Helvetica. Unlike Serif Fonts, the letters have smooth edges and are ideal if you are looking to give your brand a more modern and sleek feel.

Script Typography. This category imitates cursive handwriting and include fonts like Pacifico and Allura. They make for a more feminine or luxurious feel in designs.

Display Fonts. These fonts are perfect when you are looking to make a bold statement–something not easily forgotten. Metallica’s lightning bolt font is a great example of display font.

Now that we have acquainted you with the four main categories of typography, be mindful as you choose one, as whichever typography you go with will go a long way in determining how people perceive your brand.

Colour Palette

Next on the list of design attributes you need to worry about as you develop your brand identity is colour palette.

Believe it or not, colours are just ordinary. Each colour, depending on your culture or side of the world, denotes something. This means that when people see a certain colour, certain image, feeling, thought etc comes to mind. For starters, let’s take a look at the most common colours, what they denote, and how you can use that knowledge to your advantage as you develop your brand identity.

  • Black can be incorporated in your designs to give your brand a modern touch or a tinge of sophistication.
  • Brown: when you are looking to stand out from the crowd, this could be the colour to use, if only because it’s rarely used in branding. Brown may also be used to convey masculinity or ruggedness.
  • Pink. This is the mother of gender stereotypes. In most cultures, it is associated with femininity. If your target audience is women, this can be an ideal colour to incorporate in your branding designs.
  • Purple: This colour is often used to portray royalty. Thus, it might work for you when you are looking to give your brand a luxurious feel.
  • Blue: this is a colour that appeals to most people. It’s easily accepted by both genders. Perfect for when you are looking to appeal to a wide demographic, it can make your brand seem more trustworthy and stable.
  • Green calls to mind ‘money’ and ‘nature’ in most cultures. If your brand has to do with wealth or eco-friendly products, this might be the perfect colour to use.
  • Orange: This is often used to denote friendliness and playfulness. Use it when your brand is looking to exude those feelings.
  • Yellow makes most people think of sunshine. It’s the colour of happiness and cheerfulness. It can be the ideal colour to use when you want to portray your brand as fun, affordable, and accessible.
  • Red. This is the colour of excitement and passion. Do you want a youthful or loud brand identity? Red might be the perfect choice.

Shapes & Lines

Just like colours, shapes can incite various reactions in people. For instance, a person’s reaction to circle will most likely be entirely different from their reaction when they see a triangle. By researching the various reactions surrounding certain shapes, you can integrate a shape in your design to inspire a designed reaction with your brand.

  • Round shapes, for instance, often inspire feelings of love and unity.
  • Straight edged shapes like squares and triangles, on the other hand, can inspire a feeling of trustworthiness and stability, since they generally denote efficiency and strength.
  • Straight Lines too have their own connotations. While horizontal line can convey peace and calm, vertical lines often depict strength and masculinity. So pay attention to them as you develop your brand identity.

Designing Your Brand Identity

Now that you understand the foundation of your design, it’s time to choose your design assets and then work with a designer to bring them and your brand identity to life. Of course, the design assets you select should be dependent on the nature of your business. Below are the most commonly used design assets:

Your Logo

This is a must have design asset for every business. You should aim for a logo that achieve the following:

  • Make a memorable impression on your prospects.
  • Conform with your industry’s standards.
  • Favour a classic feel over a trendy one, as you don’t want a logo that could go out of fashion in a few months.
  • Is simple, uncluttered, and neat. In order words, visually appealing.
  • Clearly conveys your identity and value as a business.
  • Comes in various formats (JPEG, PNG, etc) and multiple sizes
  • Has a black and white version

Learn more about designing a great logo. https://99designs.com/blog/tips/how-to-design-logo/

Your Website

This is another vital design asset worth making part of your brand identity, especially in this digital age. This is where consumers find information about your business online. If you run an online business or sell digital products, not having a website or at least a landing page is like trying to fill a gallon without a funnel. You will end up missing out leads that could propel your business to success.

Learn more about building a website.

Your Product Packaging

Whether you sell products or services online or offline, how you present that product to consumers can make or mar its success in the market. They say don’t judge a book by its cover, but unfortunately that’s exactly worth people do. Therefore, never neglect your product packaging. Ensure that the designer you use gets it right.

Business Cards

This might sound a bit old fashioned, but trust me business cards are still in vogue. The best part is that you can reinforce your branding and the message you want to get across to consumers by having a stock up of business cards to give out. Who knows. A long lost customer could come calling simply because you gave them a way to reach you–a business card.

Remember to keep the design of your business card simple. The card should also have your logo and important contact details.

Your Email Design

If a website or landing page design number in your list of design assets, then so should an email design. Email marketing can become a means of reaching out to your customers once in a while to promote both old and new products or even educate about your company. While you are at it, remember that a simple design is better than a cluttered one. Also, stunning images can go a long way.

Your Branding Style Guide

This is a document that shows your design assets and how to use them. It can serve as a blueprint for your brand identity to ensure that future designs conforms to your original brand identity and inspires the desired perception among your prospects.

Now that You have learnt the most basic aspects of creating design assets for your brand identity, it’s time to reach out to a designer and give your business the best brand identity it can get.

What Brand Identity Is and Isn’t

What brand identity is and isn't - Macaulay Gidado

Before we dive into the topic brand identity, let’s try a more familiar question: what makes up your public image?

A typical answer can entail a host of things, from your sense of fashion to how you behave in public. These all come together to make up your public image or personal identity.

Brand Identity is similar, although it involves more conscious decisions. It’s simply the marketing elements and practices that shape your business’ public image (your brand).

Before we go forward, it’s worth noting that ‘brand identity’ isn’t the same thing as ‘brand’, as is obvious above. Neither is it the same thing as ‘branding’. The three terms are very different even though they are often interchangeably misused.

Let me explain.

  • Your brand is your business’ public image. That is, how people perceive your business. Sometimes, perception can be false. Kind of like how some celebrities drive very flashy cars, even though they are dead broke. Thus, a brand is sometimes not how a business looks on the inside. It’s simply how it looks on the outside. It’s simply a public image.
  • Brand Identity, on the other hand, is that selection of elements that make up your brand (your desired public image). For instance, take the James Bond character as a brand. Some of the brand elements that make up that brand would thus be: a dark fitting tuxedo, a pair of shiny Oxfords, a clean-shaven face, a Rolex watch, a fast sophisticated car, and a healthy dose of confidence.
  • And finally Branding is all about actively promoting a business or a particular product through advertising and distinctive design. Branding is simply where your brand identity and marketing meet.

Why do entrepreneurs have to worry about brand identity?

Well, I will tell you why. It’s all about perception. You are either in control of how people perceive your business or you are not. Brand identity helps you be in control.

How to Develop a Brand Identity that Works

The foundation of brand identity resides in design as found in elements like your logo, the packaging of your product, your business website, your paid media, and so on. But before you jump into design assets, you need to first reflect on your business. Otherwise, you could end up creating a brand identity that falls apart once your brand is out there in the world.

Look Within

Lots of brands out there are false public images. You don’t want to be one of them as you would be setting yourself up for failure in the future.

Therefore, in trying to develop your brand identity, look within. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What’s my mission? That is, why did you start your business?
  • What’s my values? What beliefs and values do you as a company identify with?
  • How is your company any different from other companies in your niche?
  • Is your company special? How?
  • In three words, how would you want people to describe your business?
  • If your business had a voice, what would it say and how would it say it?

Answer these questions and the picture of the public image you are trying to build for your business will become much clearer to you. Now, let’s do something else.

You As an Outsider

Remember we defined ‘brand’ as how people perceive a particular business. I want you to think of yourself as one of those people–you know, as a potential consumer.

Now, be honest. As an outsider, what do you think of the business you are trying to build? The image you have in your head, is it a good one? Does it match the public image you desire for your company?

Don’t panic if it doesn’t. It just means you have work to do.

Check back next week to learn how to shape your brand through design.

Seven Things You Can Do with Your Domain Name

Seven things you can do with your domain name - Macaulay Gidado

When people say they need a domain name, the first thought that comes to mind is, “they want to set up a website”. While that may be appropriate, a domain name can do much more. Are you holding off on registering a domain name? Perhaps because you are not quite sure what to do with it? Here are seven ways you can use it.

Secure Your Online Identity with a Domain Name

Cyber-squatters and domain investors are getting more desperate to make money online every day. Securing your online identity has never been more important. You may not need a website for yourself or company today (very unlikely). But you most certainly will in the future. Registering your ideal domain name now will save you the headache and cost of acquiring it tomorrow from any domain investor who beats you to it.

Also, if you own a company, then securing your domain name become paramount. You might also want to secure similar names relevant to your brand. This will protect you from competitors or traffic hijackers looking to divert some of your customers or site visitors to their websites.

Even if you aren’t currently making use of the domain name, you can let it sit there, until you are ready to use it. This is referred to as domain parking.

Make Money Through Monetized Parking of Your Domain Name

People sometimes confuse domain parking and monetized domain parking. With domain parking, you simply register a domain name without using it. But with monetized parking, you opt in for your registrar to set up a dummy webpage for your domain name and list adverts targeting type-in traffic to the domain.

Making tangible money with monetized parking is not as easy as advertised online. Going with the meaning of ‘type-in traffic’, your domain name should be a popular keyword or keyword phrase. One people are likely to type into the URL bar out of curiosity or when searching for a website related to the keyword. Example: people.com. Your domain can also be a misspelling like twtter.com. The goal is capture people searching for twitter.com, but who omitted the “i” by mistake.

In any case, the number of such domain names you register will also count towards how much you make from monetized domain parking.

Sell Your Domain

Many people are into domain investing. And it’s extremely profitable for those that understand the mechanics. It involves registering domain names you believe will be in demand in the future. It also involves a bit or a lot of waiting. After which you then sell the domains off to whoever is willing to pay the price you want.

While many domain investors make hundreds or thousands of dollars on a single name, some great domain names go ahead to land their owners deals worth tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars—sometimes even millions.

If you have some domain names you want to sell, here is how you go about doing it.

Set Up a Website

This is the major reason for domain name registration. When someone types in your domain name into the URL bar of their browser, your website is what they should find. It doesn’t matter what type of website. It can be:

  • A blog, where you share regular compelling content about a topic in which you are an expert.
  • An ecommerce website where you sell products online.
  • A company website where you display information about your company and your product or service, generate leads, and relate with your customers.
  • A personal website with info about you (this can come in the form of an author website, an online resume, even a virtual business card listing where you can be found online and offline, and so on).

You can set up a website at your domain by selecting a webhosting plan.

Setup a Personalised Email Address

Have you have ever wanted an email address that says @yourname.com? Perhaps for your personal use or for your business? You must have at a point wondered how to procure it. Well, it all starts with you registering a domain name that equally says yourname.com. Whether you set up such an email via your domain registrar or Google app, there is no denying that it will make you appear professional to whomever sees your email in their inbox.

The best part is that you can even set up as many email addresses as you want at that domain.

Forward Your Domain

There are many applications for this. You can forward your domain name to your website, Facebook page, twitter timeline, or to some other social media profile. This is especially handy when you have high-traffic domain names you simply don’t want to park. Instead of letting the traffic waste, you redirect it to any webpage of yours that needs it.

To forward a domain, simply login to your domain account manager, select the domain you want to forward, input the URL of the page you want it forwarded to, save, and you are done.

Lease Your Domain

This is another alternative when you don’t want to sell your domain name. However, it’s not a very popular one. Even so, if you find someone that is willing to pay monthly or yearly to host a website on your domain, by all means enjoy the opportunity. With leasing your domain, you can eat your cake and have it. But your domain must be a hot cake (commands much traffic or benefits whatever the renter wants to do with it) for anyone or company to want to lease it.

Just make sure that your contract with this person clearly states what they can’t use the domain for, as you don’t want them jeopardising its value by doing something illegal or something that may get it blacklisted by bodies like Google. The contract should also include the conditions under which any of you can terminate the lease.

These are the major ways you can utilise your domain name. Here are other alternatives, although most of them fall under the abovementioned ones. Learn more about domain names here.