Friday, October 24, 2014

Creating a Robust Brand Identity System

When most marketers think of brand identity systems, they typically think of visual identities – the logo or wordmark, the logo lockups, the color palette (primary, cool, warm, jewel tones, pastels, etc.), the type fonts, the typographic treatments or styling, a consistent image style and the controlled graphic elements. But people should not forget the name itself and the brand’s tagline or slogan. Also, the graphic elements can include specific textures, color blockings, document orientations, styles of photography or artwork and a general feeling (whimsical, professional, warm, avant garde, dreamy, cheerful, serious, juicy, etc.). Some brands make it mandatory that some combination of specific elements always appears with the brand. These elements could even be water or flowers or humans or sunsets or beach scenes.

But many brands look beyond the visual identity in developing their system. Harley-Davidson bikes have a unique sound. Leo Burnett consistently integrated subconsciously recognizable music into the Hallmark Hall of Fame commercials. The music created a sense of tenderness and built to an emotional crescendo. Cinnabon baked goods have a unique scent. And some brands even have unique textures. So brand identity systems can include elements that address every sense organ. But, beyond that, brands can have distinctive voices. With what voice does your brand speak? Is it authoritative? Friendly? Down-home? Eloquent? Affected? Reassuring? Intellectual? Overly familiar? Hip? Who could be a spokesperson for your brand? Alistair Cooke? Wilford Brimley? James Earl Jones? Sally Struthers? Ricardo Montalb’n? Orson Wells? Alan Alda? Or someone else?

The more elements you are able to incorporate into your brand identity system, the more rich, flexible, distinctive and recognizable it can become. Creating a rich integrated system of brand identity elements that is flexible enough to address every conceivable use and situation is not as easy as it may appear to be.  Often systems with a large number of elements can become too rigid. Believe me, this is not an exercise for amateurs. Rely on highly experienced brand identity professionals to help you create the optimal system for your brand.

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