06.12.2016 by Jon
Perhaps it’s worth beginning by reminding ourselves exactly what we mean by the term ‘brand identity’. In this context, the word ‘brand’ has its roots in cattle ranching, and the practice of using a hot iron (a brand) to stamp a unique symbol onto the hide of an animal – in order for owners to be able to distinguish their beasts from those belonging to others – and help prevent cattle rustling. Today, electronic tagging is a more humane means to the same end, but in marketing and advertising, the word brand lives on and has come to stand for the name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that defines a business or organisation and differentiates it from another.
While many tangible and intangible elements such as product, service, reputation and perception will combine to create a brand – what we mean by identity in relation to a brand is easier to define; it is the constituent, visual elements that are used to represent the brand in all marketing, advertising and promotional activity. Core among these will be;
Ultimately your objective will be to develop brand recognition, to encourage selection of your product or service over any other. Consistency in brand identity will build familiarity and trust – which will eventually lead to loyalty. This is not something which will be achieved overnight, but it will happen over time if, in parallel with strong and compelling marketing, you present your customers and prospects with an equally strong and consistent identity, whenever and wherever they encounter your brand. The most effective way to ensure this is achieved is by creating Brand Identity Guidelines which will clarify precisely how your brand is to be visually presented in any online or offline situation. Even if you have your own in-house design team, guidelines are important; it’s inevitable there will be times when you are going to need to entrust your brand identity to third parties – such as printers or outsourced designers.
Delegating responsibility for reproducing your brand identity should not mean relinquishing control; wherever your brand identity goes, it needs to be accompanied by your guidelines which will address in detail all aspects of how it should be reproduced.
Investing in guidelines will protect the integrity of your brand identity, ensuring that however and wherever it appears, it always adheres to the rules you have set out. Creating Brand Identity Guidelines for a small or medium sized business is not expensive – especially when the cost is set against the investment you have already made into your brand and the potential for damage if consistency is not maintained. Without robust guidelines in place to prevent ‘slippage’ and misuse of your identity, there is a real danger that you will confuse your customers and devalue your brand – put yourself in their shoes for a moment – how will they know they can trust your product or service if your ID is inconsistent?
Studio 18 can create Brand Identity Guidelines, and if you’d like us to, we can even be your Brand Guardian, taking full responsibility for making sure your identity is always consistent. Get in touch to find out more now!