Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Brand Identity for the 21st Century

Brand identity management is a key component of brand management. The number of brand identity firms and graphic design firms that create identity systems and logos are practically countless, though their capabilities typically vary widely. Traditionally, brand identity systems have included one or more of the following:
  • Name
  • Graphic mark, emblem, symbol or icon
  • Typefonts
  • Color palette
  • Tagline/slogan
  • Subrands, endorsed brands and other related brands
  • Prescribed spatial relationships between all of the above

But identity systems can also include scents (Cinnabon), sounds (Harley-Davidson), tastes (Bowmore) and textures (Mrs. John L. Strong). In fact, scents are the most effective at encoding and decoding brand associations in memory. 

Other elements of a brand identity system include brand voice and visual style and visual patterns and blocking. A brand spokesperson (Motel 6's Tom Bodett) or character (GEICO's gecko) might also be a part of a brand's identity system, as might specific types of music. Hallmark Hall of Fame commercials in the 1980s and 1990s featured a specific style of piano music. The brand's identity system should communicate its archetype and personality. 

Product and package design might also be a part of the brand's identity system. Consider Coca-Cola's bottle shape, Absolut's bottle shape or Tiffany's distinctive robin egg blue color packaging. Or consider Christian Louboutin's red soles. Apple products also have a consistent distinctive look and feel. 

The typical logo must be recognizable on a business card or above a store entrance. The Internet requires a version of the logo in the form of a badge or button. But all uses should be considered - letterhead, website, vehicles, employee uniforms, insignia merchandise, building signage, etc. 

A brand's identity system must be flexible enough to be experienced consistently regardless of communication vehicle, venue or use.

At a minimum, you should have the brand's identity system and standards accessible digitally to all relevant parties within your organization and outside of your organization (strategic business partners). Ideally, you manage this through a digital asset management system. 

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