What are the 3 main steps in creating brand identity

“Products are made in the factory, brands are made in the mind.”

Walter Landor

Creating brand identity is about perception – the perception of a company, its products, or services. Connections and emotional appeal must be made between a company and its customers through the consistent use of graphics. For some, a brand is about social status, convincing customers that they can afford a certain lifestyle or that they can appreciate luxury. For others, brands are about attitude and individuality.

Brands have the power to make customers identify with a product or a service, to feel as though they belong to something important. They affect purchasing decisions, persuading a person to buy one product over another, often to spend more money in the process.

The sheer power of brand identity on the audience’s psyche is a complex, creative challenge for the graphic designer, one that goes well beyond the traditional identity. Brands are much like corporate identity in that they require visual consistency. However, the applications of a brand extends well beyond two-dimensional, printed collateral; it includes the entire customer experience, everything from the logo and packaging to customer service and the retail environment. The picture below shows one of great examples of recognizable packaging that would surely attract the attention of customers.

The packaging communicates to the user how a product looks, what it feels like when he picks it up, and how well it works or tastes; all these elements work together to help the user form an opinion about the company, its products, or services. This is known as the “brand experience”.

The brand experience starts with the core values and promise of the brand symbolized by a recognizable and unique mark. The brand package and retail environment help to sell the promise, while advertising is used to reinforce the message. Ultimately, however, it is the performance and use of the product, service, or organization, and whether it fulfils its promise that will determine its success. 

Brand Importance

In today’s ultra – competitive market, even celebrities have a “brand”. In the past, there were dolls made as celebrities lookalikes, while today they are clothing lines, sports equipment and makeup with a signature or a recognizable character. The reason for this is simple: brand identity sells. 

It creates a distinct image of a product or individual in the mind of consumers. For this reason, companies spend hundreds of millions of dollars each year on advertising and marketing to reinforce and evolve consumer brands so they remain “fresh”.The most widely accepted definition of a brand is “A brand is a highly perceived brand” and it is in the perception of the market, i.e. the audience to which it is presented to. Creating a brand is the most difficult job, but once created, it is important to invest in brand management. 

To illustrate the effectiveness of successful brand identity, in 1984 Jay Doblin of the Doblin Group created a quiz called “Brand Frags” that asks participants to identify brands based on viewing only fragments of their logo. The brands mentioned here included Al Jazeera, Apple, Google, Nokia, Samsung, Mitsubishi, Ikea, and Starbucks, which are worldwide popular even today after 30 years, and they didn’t make any big changes when it comes to their visual identity. 

According to Thomas Hine, author of The Total Package, in an average half-hour trip to the supermarket, consumers are bombarded with the brands of up to 30,000 different products. In other words, if the product does not have a strong visual identity, i.e., it does not have a memorable packaging, advertising or the key characteristic by which it stands out, it will be lost in the sea of other products, it will not attract attention and bring results to the company. It is also important that various promotional activities are included in the process of creating brand identity, which will encourage customers to try out the product.

Visual identity plays a big role in the success of companies, and you can see below what are the 3 main steps to start creating your product’s visual identity. 

Step 1: Defining brand’s audience

To develop and design a successful brand, the graphic designer must thoroughly research every aspect of the product, service, or company. A successful brand is a brand that achieves the goal we envisioned in the perception of the user.  

Unlike corporate identity work in which design is primarily dictated by input from upper management, employees and representatives, brand identity must involve feedback from the target market or audience. 

Some companies think they understand the market – which messages are most relevant and which type of graphics are most appealing – but may have no empirical data to support those assumptions. Proper market research will determine customers true opinions and impressions of a brand and what preferences ultimately entice them to buy a product or service. The logo and visual identity is one part of the brand, the part that follows the activities and content, shows that something’s done, written, placed, following the strategic plan of an organization.

Step 2: Market research

This is a necessary step to gain information about the market and assess the current conditions for the brand to enter the market, which includes entering the market, marketing campaign, cooperation with other manufacturers.. It may include interviews, surveying the target audience groups or employing mysterious shoppers, which can be quite expensive and time consuming, so usually only big firms and companies have the resources for such complex research. Of course, there are also ways to do this in a cheaper way – observing and jotting down what the competition does well or making statistics and collecting data on companies in similar industries.

Types of Market Research:

  1. Surveys and Interviews

They provide specific information about a potential customer’s perceptions and opinions of a brand can be collected and analyzed through surveys and face-to-face interactions.

  1. Focus Group

Customers with similar attributes such as age, ethnicity, or income are paid a small fee to meet and discuss a particular product and its features, packaging and advertising.

  1. Mystery shopping

The only way to gather true feedback regarding a customer’s shopping habits and preferences is to observe them in an actual retail environment. Mystery shoppers are paid professionals who visit stores unannounced and observe the behavior of customers and employees.

  1.  Usability Testing

Product packaging and design are determined through usability testing. Usability testing involves the use of focus groups comprised of people from various demographics to use a product and then remark on the product’s packaging or design, including its aesthetic and functional qualities. This is a good way to ensure that brands live up to their promise of ease of use, performance and quality.

Step 3: Added value 

Sometimes the difference is not necessarily in the quality of the product but in the impression that the customer has about the brand. The difference between Barilla pasta and some other pasta in the supermarket is that people are convinced that Barilla invests more money in packaging, production, equipment, and that the higher price of the product is therefore justified. In this regard, brands have the ability to significantly add real financial value to a company. 

Brands with a positive appeal and vast exposure around the world are at the forefront of customer purchasing decisions, translating to higher sales and increased stock values. According to an InterBrand survey, some of the most valuable brands in the world are Apple, Google, Ikea, Starbucks, etc. These brands successful branded their products through design and accomplished the following goals:

  1. It identifies and distinguishes the company or product from its competition, thereby building customer recognition.
  2. It gives meaning to a company by incorporating all of the organization’s core values and distilling them into a memorable form that resonates with the target audience.
  3. It positions the company in the minds of customers and promotes values such as performance, social responsibility and a positive image that is sent to the media. Premium quality of brands immediately increases their price and gives the product value.
  4. It creates product loyalty through positive customer experiences. A happy customer will tell three of their friends about experience and make repeat purchases, while unhappy will tell ten people about it and buy from different vendors. Companies that have built a tradition for service instill more trust in the customer.

Final thoughts

Brand creation is a personalized process that requires brand founders to be actively involved in the process and provide their own input on their own style preferences, company history and constructive comments that can accelerate and enhance the creation of a brand’s visual identity. A brand identity must present a clear vision of the company, the values it possesses and convey a message to customers about what the brand sells, what it does and what values it supports. A good visual identity is half the brand, so contact us to see how we can help you achieve your business goals with more ease.

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