The basics of brand identity and why it matters

Think of some of the most popular brands you know. Apple. McDonald’s. Target. You can imagine exactly what each company looks like — the colors they choose, their advertisements, and even the inside of their stores. All these aspects are connected back to brand identity, which refers to all elements created by your company to help communicate brand values and develop an affinity between your company and customers.
By definition, when you build your brand identity, you need more than just your logo: Anything your customers see, read, or interact with is an extension of your brand identity. These parts of your brand are all controlled by your company, a key way it differs from your brand image, which is how the public perceives your brand. Below, learn more about the elements comprising a brand identity and how these factors distinguish your brand from others.

8 elements of brand identity development 

The most important aspects of brand identity are:

1. Your company’s name 

  • Why it’s important: This is the most essential part of your brand identity. Your name makes you uniquely identifiable so customers can easily point out which products or services connect back to your brand.
  • How to use it for your brand identity: Your brand name should always be distinct and easy to remember and pronounce. It should also connect back to your core products and services in some way. A great example is the store Five Below: Everything they sell costs $5 or less, and their name makes that fact undeniably clear.

2. Your mission statement and brand statement

  • Why it’s important: Your mission and vision are essential navigational tools when guiding the future of your company because they outline the values and goals underlying your brand. By identifying your mission and vision, your brand identity is anchored in a strong bedrock that provides the roadmap to shape all the visual elements of your brand.
  • How to use them for your brand identity: Your mission statement should define your company’s why internally, while your brand statement is what customers see about your brand. These statements should be clear, concise, and referred back to often to ensure they are aligned with one another and your overall company goals.

3. Audience research

  • Why it’s important: Through audience research, you get to know your ideal customers, what they like, and what they aren’t as likely to buy from you. This way, you can obtain important insights that can help you make the smartest decisions for your company as you woo new customers and work to retain existing ones.
  • How to use it for your brand identity: While you research your audience, prioritize key marketing demographics such as age, income, and gender. Once you have defined the audience you’d like to reach, you can tailor your brand statement and all other materials to help connect with that audience.

4. Competitor research

  • Why it’s important: Competitor research is a key part of your brand identity work. After all, how can you stand out from your competitors if you don’t know what they’re doing? Keeping an eye on their products, services, and marketing materials can help you understand how you need to position yourself to remain different and keep attracting customers who may compare you directly to those other companies.
  • How to use it for your brand identity: One of the main items you want to look for is how your competitors are communicating what they offer. How is their website laid out? How about their Instagram feed, the colors used in their logo, or how they talk about themselves? All of these elements should be evaluated, and any insights you take away can be used as part of your own brand identity work.

5. Your brand strategy

  • Why it’s important: Your brand strategy sets your company’s long-term goals for growth, expansion, and awareness. It creates a roadmap your company follows as you rise to the challenges of operating a business and helps retain an identity with and relationship to your audience. 
  • How to use it for your brand identity: Your brand strategy may pivot as needs evolve, but no matter what may come, your brand identity remains a constant so customers always have something familiar to engage with. Importantly, your brand identity is a reflection of your brand strategy, so make sure your visuals are tightly tied to your plans for the company.

6. Your brand’s personality

  • Why it’s important: Your brand personality comprises all the traits that make your brand its unique self — think of it as the ascribing of human qualities to an inanimate entity. It shapes how your consumers feel about your products and services, reinforcing some key brand values by using language and playful visuals to forge those connections. You may use a slogan, graphic style, or brand voice to communicate your brand’s personality.
  • How to use it for your brand identity: Before diving into your brand’s personality, think about the tone you want to set. Does your brand want to be authoritative, friendly, approachable, or even a little sarcastic or cocky? Once you select a direction, experiment with how you can use language on your blog, social media, and other touch points to drive home your personality.

8. Your brand’s visual elements

  • Why it’s important: Other aspects of your brand’s visual identity, such as your website, brochures, or nametags, need to be consistent with the standards you set for your brand. Together, they all come together to form your brand identity, no matter where your company may go.
  • How to use it for your brand identity: Consistency is key. As your company expands and appears in more places, consistent visual elements are going to play a major role in uniting all your company’s touch points under a single banner. As you build a website, launch a TikTok account, or put up a flyer in a local business, make sure you stick to the script and follow your own guidelines for using colors, logos, and other visual elements.

4 brand identity examples to draw from 

The best way to guide your own brand identity development is to look at companies that have done it right. These four famous names can help you see brand identity in action in effective and meaningful ways.

Google

Google is a great illustration of a brand responding to the evolving needs of their client base. The Google of 20 years ago looks and acts differently than the Google of today. That’s because the company and its audience have greatly evolved over time, and their brand identity helps reflect how the company keeps up, through animation, consistent color use, and sticking with a similar logo design over the years to continue holding that trust between the company and its consumers.

Photo by Shiwa ID on Unsplash

Starbucks 

Starbucks has gone from a humble coffee shop in Seattle to a global lifestyle brand anchored in its mission statement “to inspire and nurture the human spirit — one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.” From its essence, Starbucks is more than mermaid logos and unique roasts from around the world — the company strives to be a place of community and comfort alongside good coffee. With that brand statement at its center, Starbucks can then offer coffee, light food, friendly employees, and comfy seating to sit and write an essay or catch up with a friend.

Photo by S.Ratanak on Unsplash

Amazon 

Amazon famously guides you through the customer journey just by looking at its logo. The arrow on the bottom points from A to Z, indicating that the global powerhouse is a center for all types of items from anywhere in the world. To offer that wide an assortment, Amazon takes a journey from the customer experience to operational efficiency, becoming well known for centering both in its daily efforts to bring items to customers around the world. That commitment to customer service guides all its activities, including the convenience of fast delivery and experiments like drones.

Chick-fil-A 

When most fast food joints offered beef burgers, Chick-fil-A built its brand identity on something else entirely: chicken. That focus on being different shaped nearly everything the brand does in its marketing, from the chicken in its logo down to the famous “Eat More Chicken” campaign featuring a cow wearing a sandwich board. By knowing who they were at their core, the brand can hyper-focus on its brand identity to craft a meaningful experience for customers at every touch point.

Photo by Brad Stallcup on Unsplash

Create your own business design with Namecheap 

With Namecheap, you can bring many aspects of your brand identity to life in just a few minutes. Through our free logo maker, you can generate the ideal logo to represent your company with just a few clicks through our guided system. Site Maker lets anyone build their own beautiful website — no coding experience needed. And once your business is ready to make its debut, put your new logo on a business card and walk confidently into any networking event with your fresh new cards in hand. No matter what your brand stands for, Namecheap’s tools are at the ready to bring your idea from conception into reality.


Nick Allen

Nick Allen

Nick Allen is a writer, photographer, and content marketer. He’s also the founder of BrainBoost Media, a boutique content and operations studio. With a wide range of interests, he enjoys reading and writing about sports, entrepreneurship, and start-ups.
More articles written by Nick.

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