Customers will buy from one of the 3 top of mind companies. Top of mind means the brand that your customer thinks of first when they think of the type of product/solution you’re offering.
For example, my 3 top of mind brands in design software are Canva, Figma, and Sketch.
Your objective as a marketer, whether you’re an email marketer or a paid acquisition manager, is to get your brand on the top of your customers’ minds. Make them remember you and think of you first, whenever they need something you can provide.
This can be done essentially by communicating a coherent message across all points of contact with the target customer.
On every digital or traditional platform where you and your future customer can communicate, make sure to always present them with the same brand voice, colors, and style. This will help them recognize you and build an image of your brand in their heads.
Think about it: all the famous brands we know are recognizable with one simple element: a logo, a shape, a font…
If I show you this, for example, chances are, you would instantly recognize the brand:
In this blog post, we will help you develop your brand identity, and provide you with the tools and techniques to create your brand guidelines and make them respected by every team member.
How to develop your brand identity
Before we start, we should first agree on what brand identity is.
Brand identity is the set of visible elements that constitute the visual identity of a brand. It is composed of the logo, color palette, typeface… But brand identity also translates the company values and voice. It is essentially the brand’s personality.
The purpose of a brand identity is to make the company visually recognizable by customers.
Whether you are developing a new brand identity or updating your old one, you need to first start by researching your customer base and target.
Know your audience
As every marketer knows, everything we do revolves around the customer. Your brand identity should resonate with your audience. If you are targeting Gen Z, you wouldn’t use the same brand elements as if you were targeting Baby boomers.
You can conduct market research: base yourself on internal information (data collected from your current customer base) as well as external resources (competition, studies, reports from psychologists, etc.).
Your goal is to get inside your customers’ heads: understand how they think, what they like, what makes them tick…
👉 You are looking for language elements that will guide your brand voice and tone.
Know yourself: Your value proposition and brand story
Now that you have a deeper understanding of your target customers, you should formulate your value proposition accordingly.
Start from the problem your customers are facing, and answer it with your offer. Your value proposition shouldn’t be longer than one sentence.
Unbounce, for example, summarizes their value proposition in this one-liner: “A/B testing without Tech Headache”.
From this concise sentence, we can easily define the problem, the solution provided, and the brand’s differentiator:
- Problem: “I want to conduct an A/B test”
- Solution: “You can use Unbounce for your A/B tests”
- Differentiator: “Unbounce is a no-code tool that allows you to conduct A/N tests without technical coding issues”
You should be able to summarize your whole product/service into a simple sentence.
Value proposition template
Here’s a value proposition template you can start with:
“Our [insert product/service] helps [target customer segment] who want to [job to be done] by [ – verb: reducing, eliminating] [customer pain] and [+ verb: increasing, improving][customer gain]”
For example, here’s how we would use this template to present Chamaileon’s value proposition:
“Our no-code drag and drop email builder helps marketers and agencies who want to create high-quality HTML email templates by reducing email production time and becoming 100% autonomous and independent from devs.”
⚠️ Important note: We mentioned previously the word “Differentiator”. It’s important not only to understand your offer but also to think about how you are different from your competitors. Ask yourself: “why should my customer choose me over my main competitor?”
👉 Once you define your value proposition and differenciator, you’ll be able to communicate it clearly and coherently to your target audience.
Create your logo
Your logo design is the primary visual identifier for your brand. It will probably become the most memorable and recognizable element of your company. You want to create a logo that reflects your brand personality, value proposition, and voice. Remember that your logo will be used on every communication material you create: on your website, newsletters, business cards, sales presentations, etc.
You should create a logo design that is coherent with your brand but stands out from the competition.
Remember those brand attributes we mentioned in the previous section? Make sure to keep them in the back of your mind. Let them guide you and help you refine your logo choice. Make your logo design appealing and aline it to your overall design.
Types of logos
There are multiple types of logos:
- Wordmark logos are simply a presentation of the company’s name, written out in the brand’s chosen typeface.
- Letterform logos include only the first letter of the brand name.
- Monogram logos are composed of the brand’s initials.
- Symbol logos are composed of a design, an icon, an illustration, or a picture that represents the brand. Usually, symbol logos represent an object or a concept from reality or imagination, meaning that it’s a concept that we are familiar with (example: Twitter’s bird, Instagram’s camera icon, etc).
- Abstract logos are also designs or icons just like symbol logos. The only difference is that abstract logos don’t represent something from the real world. Instead, they are, like their name suggests, abstract.
- Mascot logos consist of a character that represents the company (example: KFC’s Colonel Sanders).
- Emblem logos resemble a sort of badge. They are usually complicated in design and can combine both text and imagery.
- Combo logos are logos that combine an image (icon, illustration) and a text (usually the brand name).
- Dynamic logos are logos that don’t have just one form. They change and adapt to the situation and context in which they are being used (example: Google’s logo with each holiday, MTV…)
Tools to create your logo
There are many easy and free tools you can use to create your logo, without any design knowledge. We recommend Figma, Canva, and Visme.
Choose your color palette and typeface
Plan brainstorming sessions with your graphic designers, UX team, marketing team, and C-level executives. The goal is to pick a color palette and font for your brand that reflect your value proposition and are aligned with your customer research.
First, start by writing all the keywords you can think of post-market research and value proposition.
For Chamaileon, for example, we can think of: Modern, Playful, intuitive, Efficient, Simple, Innovative, Quality, Solution-oriented.
On the other hand, here are Spotify’s brand attributes: Adaptable, Diverse, Quality-driven, Warm and friendly, Human-centered.
Both keywords are relevant to each brand, however, they might be illustrated differently in terms of colors and style.
👉 You can use a color palette generator like coolors.com to find your brand’s color palette.
How to choose a font for your brand?
- Learn about the different types of fonts: Serif fonts, Sans-Serif fonts, and Script fonts.
- Get some inspiration from brands you like and brands that service your target market.
- Think back on your brand attributes: playful is illustrated by a different font than authoritative.
- Choose multiple fonts to start with, and then eliminate one by one.
- Conduct typographic hierarchy tests and ask for feedback to select your final fonts.
👉 You can browse Google fonts to find a font that you might like.
Choose your brand imagery
People tend to be more attracted to visuals (images and videos). If you want to increase your engagement and conversion rates, chances are, you’ll be using images in your communications. It’s therefore important to specify the type of images, illustrations, and icons your collaborators can use.
Think about what represents your brand the most? What relates to your brand identity?
How to create your brand style guide
Now that you have set up the basis of your brand identity, it’s imperative to make sure your communications are aligned across all digital and traditional channels. This means making sure that your sales team, product team, marketing team, support team, and even HR team (basically everyone who is part of your company), uses the same brand elements.
It would be a shame if your product newsletters, for example, had different font than your marketing newsletter. Or if your sales team used a logo in a color that is not part of your logo variations on their sales pitches.
In order to avoid these embarrassing mistakes, ensure an alignment between all teams, and always communicate coherently with your customers, you need to create your brand style guide.
What is a brand style guide?
A brand style guide is usually a PDF document or a PPT presentation that contains all the elements of your brand identity. It is usually developed by the design team in collaboration with the communications team and details the uses of your brand logo, colors, fonts, brand voice, imagery, etc.
The brand style guide assures that everyone inside or outside (your partners, marketing agency, etc.) your company has a clear idea on how to use your brand identity elements.
Creating your brand style guide
Start by creating the table of content of your brand guidelines. Your brand guidelines should include:
- Brand purpose
- Value proposition
- Brand principles
- Brand voice, tone, and personality: words to use and words not to use
- Your main product differentiators
- Main logo
- Variations of the logo
- Explanation of the logo (if needed)
- Logo do’s and don’ts
- Brand colors
- Primary color palette
- Secondary color palette
- Color palette usage
- Main typeface
- Secondary typeface
- Hierarchy of type
- Iconography and imagery
- Examples of usage
After setting up your table of contents, start filling in each section. Don’t be afraid to involve people from different teams to enrich your brand style guideline: sales can help build up the product differentiators, C-level can help clarify the vision, marketing can establish the brand voice and tone, and designers will know all about your logo and color usage.
Then, create the first draft of your brand guidelines and share it with a few people. See what they think: is it comprehensive? easily understood? clear?
Collect their feedback and use it to enhance your draft. Keep doing this until you have a clear, concise, and usable brand style guide.
Next step, make sure to publish it within your company. Make your brand guide accessible to everyone who needs it. If you are using Microsoft Office, you can add it to the company’s Sharepoint. If you are using Google Suite, add it to the company’s Google Drive. You should also send a company newsletter where you explain to your coworkers why and how they should use the brand guidelines.