Brand identity: the secret to making meaningful design choices

Maggie Suter
15 min read

With a brand identity, every choice communicates something; every visual element encapsulates what a brand or person is all about, without saying anything. The font could speak to your attitude. The illustration style could represent friendliness with bubbly vector graphics, or innovation with straight lines and a minimalist aesthetic.

When they work together to communicate key messages, you’ve got a consistent and cohesive experience that meaningfully connects with your audience.

But when something feels off—or someone goes rogue with your brand in a presentation, for example—that hurts the overall experience and weakens the connection.

So how do you make the right choices when building your brand identity? How do you pick the right font, illustration style, and color palette for a brand? And how do you make sure they all work towards the same goals for your business?

Before building the brand identity, identify your brand essence

The elements of a brand identity communicate a brand’s essence—the thing at its core that makes it unique and valuable.

Communicating your brand essence effectively is a major factor in how your customers perceive your brand. I’m sure your brand has an ideal perception in mind: “We’re trusted and experienced.” “Our technology is the most advanced.” “We offer the best value and customer service.”

You want this perception to carry over from presentations to your website to conference booths and beyond. You want your brand essence to come through loud and clear in all the elements that go into the look and feel of those experiences.

The question then becomes: how do you pick a font that captures your brand essence? Or how do you find the right color palette that says, “that’s what we’re all about”?

It’s kind of a trick question. To find the right font for your brand essence, go back to your brand essence.

The brand essence is the golden thread that we need to keep coming back to. It’s what we hold these design choices against to see if they work. For example, for a staffing firm: do our choices speak to quality talent, dependability, experience, and partnership?

And it’s what we’ll use as a touchstone as we explore new directions. That makes for a lot less trial and error, which saves time and budget.

The essence of building a brand identity

What does referring back to the brand essence allow us to do?

We get the flexibility to try new things.

We can explore new takes on the brand, or create new customer experiences on new platforms, and everything will feel consistent, cohesive, and additive.

We have confidence that we’re moving in the right direction when we do.

Which saves resources and keeps your brand experience cohesive.

We have the discipline to make sure our choices work well together.

Consistency is key—no going rogue and turning the logo upside down.

Returning to that golden thread frees a designer to keep pushing the brand and creating exciting new experiences. They have something to build off, and know what will work with the elements that came before it.

Build your cohesive, compelling brand identity

Knowing how to translate your brand essence into an identity is based on years of experience. From design to video to messaging and beyond, we can help. Reach out through the contact form below.

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In addition, the situation analysis that we craft after the discovery session facilitates alignment. That is crucial here, and has some major benefits for your marketing efforts:

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It clarifies your value, differentiation, and vision.

And that helps your people and your experiences to tell a unified story.

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It builds cohesion across experiences.

Each element builds on and reinforces the others, which strengthens the customer connection.

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It maximizes your marketing spend.

You’re moving forward with what works. Or: measure twice, cut once.