Branding is not a task for the faint of heart. It's one part scientific analysis and one part instinct. Getting the balance right ensures your brand identity connects with your company's values and speaks to the target audience.
Your brand identity is your foundation. It lays the groundwork for every aspect of your business, from marketing to communications to public persona.
We are here to argue that you should wholeheartedly dive into the creative process, which feeds directly into brand identity. Because if you don't know who you are, how will your customers?
Most startups these days team up with a creative agency for all-things branding.
A creative agency brings on board a team of marketing professionals to suss out the philosophical aspects of your brand, like values, value proposition, and voice. They also have the expertise to pair those values with the logo, color palette, and brand name.
What can you expect? There isn't just one brainstorming session. There are many. There is an ongoing dialogue and repetitive cycling through three different phases:
At Amplify, we gather information, analyze it based on industry best practices, competitive analysis and our own knowledge base, and then distill it into a draft visual. Next, we gather your feedback and dive back in for rounds two and three, and however many more it requires.
Amplify brings both experience and a critical eye to the table. We know the creative process doesn't operate in a straight line requiring just one round of brainstorming to reach a final vision. Instead, we circle back around, reassess, and repurpose several times. And the final product is worth it.
In essence, the creative process requires a lot of heavy lifting for both the brand and the agency. But it always ends up with a highly refined endpoint — and a comprehensive brand package.
"Brand identity is the visible elements of a brand, such as color, design, and logo, that identify and distinguish the brand in consumers' minds. Brand identity is distinct from brand image. The former corresponds to the intent behind the branding and how a company does the following—to cultivate a certain image in consumers' minds." Investopedia
Whether you are launching a new company or revitalizing an existing brand, you need to start on a foundation of a strong brand identity. Your identity encompasses a brand's visual aspects — logos, imagery, color palette, typography, and more — which have been built off of core values and value propositions.
How do we get there? First, we go through an in-depth creative process that encompasses the underlying values, market research, and finally, the visual aspects.
Let's start with the very basics. What is your brand? What does it sell? How does it stand out? What are the core values? These questions help determine your brand's personality traits and its underlying essence that guides everything the company does.
This is a decisive first step for the brand identity process, but it also informs many other aspects of your business, from marketing strategy to target audience research, to new product development. So don't skim on this stage of brand development, as it will only end up with problems later.
Now it's time to identify your key competitors and thoroughly pick apart their branding.
Ask yourself what the competition is trying to communicate. Investigate what their imagery (logo, colors, fonts) expresses. What do these brands have in common, and how do they differentiate themselves?
For example, there is a reason so many fast-food chains all use the same red and yellow color palette. It’s based on marketing research. So, does it make sense for you to work within the industry standards or to step out into the left field? How much differentiation would alienate your target audience?
Once you've detailed your main competitors' brand identities, you can start building your own foundation.
Knowing who you are competing against can help you build visuals and an identity that stand out but still meet your potential customers' expectations.
This is where all that heavy lifting and deep thinking start to pay off. With so much foundational identity information to work with, we have the guidelines for drafting mood boards, logos, color palettes, and even choosing fonts.
The visual identity may start with mood boards and higher-level visualizations of where the imagery will go. Then comes a series of rough draft ideas submitted to you for several rounds of feedback.
Every round gets you closer and closer to the final brand identity. Once there are two to three top contenders, we pull these into a presentation on finalized design options. You can expect each option to be fully visualized, with complete details on color scheme, logo, and the other associated imagery.
When we get to this stage, the Amplify team puts together a complete brand identity package of up to three options. We helpfully include visualizations of your branding on letterhead, business cards, and swag to communicate the full effect.
What we have learned over the years is that the creative process leading to brand identity isn't always pretty. But it's essential.
If you go all out on brand identity, you'll have the tools for long-term success and a clear brand vision that guides everything you do. If we are honest with you, this nonlinear process of mapping out values, building mood boards, and crafting a logo is a character-building one.
So, we'd love to make this a smooth process from start to finish. Amplify's Branding Experts have worked through the kinks of the process, so you don't have to. Our client roster contains both brand new launches as well as companies seeking a branding refresh.