Deep diving into brand identity

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July 13, 2021

People tend to think that the conscious design of the unique identity of a business or service is a modern phenomenon. In retrospective, however, it becomes clear that it has a millennial past. Excellent examples of this phenomenon are the artisans who have carved their unique trademarks into their ceramic and porcelain products, thus certifying them and preserving the quality they guarantee.

As a result of the industrial revolution, the importance of identifiability increased significantly, the most important tool of which was the creation of the concept of “brand” as such. As the concepts of logo and brand image were born, companies finally could communicate their identities and objectives to their customers. The most spectacular development has been observed in the last two decades, when not only larger companies would advertise their products, but also various non-profit organisations, educational institutions or even individuals placed more and more emphasis on creating a conscious marketing strategy and a unified image.


Image

The image is nothing more than the collaboration of different visual elements (colours, shapes, fonts, logos), creating a unique, cohesive message about a company, brand, person or idea. Wherever we look, it is almost impossible not to see the logo of a brand. Why is brand identity so important? Because people tend to judge things based on their appearance and they will recognise what they previously liked. If the image of a company is aesthetic and clean, we pay more attention to it while we become interested and then we will put more effort into getting to know it too. According to an American survey, we run an average of 16,000 ads, logos or components of a brand image through our eyes on an average day. To illustrate this statement, while writing this article I looked around my work desk at home and made a collage of the brand elements that surrounded me. Here it goes:


Collage of brand elements - they surround us all the time, everywhere
Collage of brand elements - they surround us all the time, everywhere


Image manual

“Designing an image is the process by which we integrate the forms of a company's appearance into one image.” /ArtTender graphic studio/ 

The image manual contains the image elements, the formal principles of the company and the rules and regulations for the use of design. With the help of the manual, if a company orders any graphic design from a graphic studio or printing house it can adapt to the principles and graphic criteria regardless of the geographical location.


Elements of the image

For a successful design it is not enough to meet some company KPIs: a truly durable, iconic design is simple, relevant, unique, memorable and flexible. In most cases, the simplest solution is the most usable. The simpler the design the more adaptable it is: we need to think about a wide range of media support, such as business cards, single-colour notebooks or website elements. Simplicity helps to make the image and logo more memorable and durable. The logo should be consistent with the company’s activities. Characteristics and uniqueness are also key elements for the logo which thus communicates quality and a unique style to the outside world. A solid, iconic design can stay memorable even after the first encounter. Obviously, it’s not easy to follow all of these unwritten rules but using it as a guide can pay off.


Logo types 

“The logo is a straight gateway to the brand” /Milton Glaser, designer/

When we think of a company image, we often mistakenly think only of its logo. Naturally, the most iconic element is the logo itself. An image without a logo would be like cooking fish soup without fish. According to Milton Glaser, the logo is a gateway to the brand and the service itself.


  1. Illustrative logos

Illustrative logos are pictures with underlying meanings. Some of them literally refer to a service or product and some are just symbolically, loosely related.

“The best brands stand for something: a great idea, a strategic position, defined values, a voice that is different from the rest. The symbols are the ships of meaning.” /Georgetown University, Identity Standards Manual/

The logos of really big brands have already become symbols. They have evolved and strengthened over the past decades. Today, they are leaders in various market spheres. This is the case with the Apple brand, which produces technological products. The development of the logo chronology is illustrated in the figure below.


Evolution of Apple's logo throughout the years
Evolution of Apple's logo throughout the years


Apple customers are fanatical brand addicts. It is enough for them to see the bitten apple logo and they already see innovation, reliability and quality.

“The Apple logo was designed by Ron Wayne in 1976 (Newton and the apple falling on his head). In 1977, Regis McKenna’s agency (with designer Rob Janoff) created a new logo: an apple with a bite mark and horizontal, coloured stripes. The English word bite can be associated with a byte as a basic computer unit. The first Macintosh machine appeared in 1984 and the company's motto was "Think Different". ”  /Maczó Péter: Ön itt áll/

In my opinion, the Apple logo is one of the most stylish, most creative symbols in the 21st century.  Simple, durable, unique, memorable, and flexible. We mostly buy technical products depending on their level of development. An apple torn from the Tree of Knowledge works very well as a synonym for knowledge, thus informing the customer that it is a quality product family. It hasn’t even needed major changes in the last 40 years or so.

  1. Letter logos

Letter logo design is prevalent among graphic designers. The logo is usually based on the initials of the brand. The letter in this case is a unique and - of course - patented design. Such logos are for example the well-known McDonald’s logo or the logo of Motorola.

Logos of McDonald's and Motorola
Logos of McDonald's and Motorola


  1. Name logo

The name logo is built from a free-standing word or words. It could be the name of the company itself or maybe a mosaic word. The best name logos consist of easy-to-read distinctive letters that can even integrate abstract elements. The logo of the American FedEx (Federal Express) courier company is known worldwide for its dominant letters as well as its  hidden element in the logo (arrow).

FedEx's logo with its hidden arrow
FedEx's logo with its hidden arrow


Colours and typography

“Colour creates emotions and trains our memory.”  /Gael Towey, Creative Director/

Colours evoke emotions and they can help express personal traits. These are often based on cultural factors. Red suggests passion, anger, love and blood while blue indicates knowledge, serenity and peace. Colours help you associate with a brand, speeding up differentiation. It is enough to think of the red colour of Coca-Cola, or the unique magenta of Telekom which is immediately associated with the telecommunications company. Our brain first registers the shape of the object, then the colour and after these aspects will process the content itself. To choose the right colour we need to be aware of the importance of colour choice - we must identify what the business wants to reflect with the colour scheme of its image.


“Typography not only communicates information but also conveys a subconscious message.” /Erik Spiekermann, Stop Stealing Sheep/

Typography is one of the basic building blocks of an image. Successful companies - such as the aforementioned Apple - use an instantly recognisable, easily distinguishable and consistent typography, which is essential to create a unified corporate image. The most important rules of typography are the following:

  • readability
  • comprehensibility
  • grammatical correctness
  • aesthetics

If we strive for flawless typography, the coexistence of these conditions is essential.


As you could see a ton of important elements can determine the identity of a brand. The name, the logo, the colours, the typography: they all have a great impact on the company’s branding and on the relationship with their customers. They are all equally important, there is no such thing as a key branding element. Every company has to determine its own design principles and shape their image accordingly. A clear visual language that communicates well the image of the company is quite important mainly because this is how consumers notice the given brand while the company can increase its recognition which eventually leads to long-term customer loyalty.

We hope that you found this blog post useful! Do not hesitate to follow us, so you won’t miss interesting stories in the future either. The professional content of this blog post was provided by Gergely Diósi, Lead Designer at ff.next. Bence Siklós, Business Analyst and Melinda Havas, Head of Business Development & Marketing formed the material into this English article.

Sources:

Evolution of Apple's logo throughout the years