A Brand Identity System is all the visual elements that are part of your brand. The ‘System’ is an essential aspect of the term. Really, an identity system is the visual language of your brand. A system means you have rules in place for your individual visual brand elements. As you can tell, that can hugely benefit you. This is some interesting stuff, right? It may seem dry at first, but let’s dive into what elements can make up your brand identity.
A logo is like your brands' mascot. A logo will be the first thing the public sees of your brand. A logo is not your full brand, but it is a significant aspect of it. A lot of times a logo will set the tone for your visual brand, and inspire all kinds of magical elements.
In this new digital age, a logo will need to have a system for its use in the wild. Your logo needs to be able to work in a square, landscape and portrait formats. Your logo needs to look crisp on digital applications as well as print. An excellent logo will work as one color, multi-color and look fantastic as white on black. That is just scratching the surface. There have been so many times where we work with a new client after a logo is developed, and they only have a few elements available. It hurts you, in the long run, to not have as many elements already developed.
A color palette is a set of colors that work together to create cohesiveness with the application of your visual brand. Usually, color palettes are developed at the logo stage. But, they can be developed after a logo - although it can be hard. Another step in your brands' maturation is the website design. A website will naturally extend your palette (sometimes a lot, and sometimes not a lot).
Your color palette will need to be usable in print and digital, with additional methods for print depending on the print process. A color palette is instrumental in helping your visual brand be cohesive and consistent in application. Also, by having a color palette in place, you are less likely to go willy-nilly and throw fuscia around. You can add to your color palette later down the line, but always be very aware of how it can disrupt, or enhance your existing brand identity system.
A brand font or typeface (Typeface is the actual physical piece of type while Font is the digital form) is ESSENTIAL. To your brand identity. Sometimes, a logo will just be a font. Whoa, right? Different weights of the font will be part of your system as well as multiple font families, or typefaces. We even encourage you to commit to a sizing scale right away. While the scale may change, or be added to, it will give you boundaries to implement consistency and cohesiveness.
Patterns, Icons, textures
A very practical element to your brand can be icons, patterns, and textures. These are sometimes the more abstract part of your identity but can be very fun and thought-provoking. I would say these elements are auxiliary in your overall system. I only say that because a pattern, or texture won’t be remembered as your logo will. So, these elements need to compliment your main components like your logo, colors, printed materials and of course your website. With that said, you can have a ton of fun developing and using these elements.
Icons will be another feather in your brands' cap. An extension of your visual language there to delight the viewer. Think of icons as a little injection of whimsy or joy for your audience.
Printed Materials or Collateral
Collateral is a funny word - but it is a pure element. It is all of your professional printed materials. Business cards, letterhead, posters, signs, brochures. This is a significant aspect of your brand identity most of the time. This is a chance to take your logo, color palette, brand voice, textures, patterns and icons, and really craft some impacting materials in the print medium. When creating your printed materials, it is super important you have a good portion of your system in place. How will you use your logo? What colors will be the main accent? How will you use imagery?
In this last element we are going to talk about, it is certainly not the least. Your website. The monolith culmination of your brand identity in the digital world. A website will really combine a lot of the aspects we have talked about here and will attempt to communicate your brand to the public. A site will also really expose any weaknesses you may have with your identity system, and even help you add to it. While it can expose weaknesses, it can also amplify the fantastic magic you have created. Really fun, right?
The more you know
There are many more aspects to your brand identity, but these are some huge ones we have explained. If you are not familiar with a brand identity than this little intro article will set you on the right path.
We hope that you can see how doing the hard work of making sure you are setting up a system for your brand will benefit you in the long run, even if it slows you up on your dream timeline. Another aspect of a brand that is part of the identity, while not entirely visual is the visceral parts. We will go into that in another post!
Another piece to chew on; a brand identity can be like a person, ever evolving. A brand identity really is an extension of you. Be honest with its communication and don’t be scared to be different - or just you. Give yourself some grace as well. Be good with making tweaks, or not ‘nailing’ an element. At the end of the day, we are learning as we go. That’s the fun part.