Do you need a brand identity designer? If not, why not? Before we get too far into this, we have to start of with a clear definition of what a brand identity is and its purpose. Once you understand that, it may become obvious to some readers if they do in fact need professional brand identity design or not.
Realistically, every business needs some form of clear brand identity. In short, it’s the persona of your business, the feeling your potential and existing customers get when they think of your brand, and associate it with others. It’s a lasting impression that’s more emotional at times than just visual. Yet not all businesses need a specialist when it comes to identity design or branding.
What Is Brand Identity Design?
Brand identity design is essentially the design of elements which help create the ideal perception of a brand. Elements like a logo, business cards, letterhead, envelopes, website, promotional materials, etc… all make up part of that identity design. Typically a professional identity designer will craft a brand identity guide for a business to follow during their branding design. This guide will outline things like logo use and application, the brand fonts, colors, social media brand stlye and much more. These are essentially a brands law. Rules they must follow to maintain the brand image they have had designed. I know some readers may be wondering… No, a logo is not a brand.
In super simple terms, branding is the art of positioning and communicating an ideal to an audience. A brand isn’t just a logo, website or business cards. It’s an experience.
So now you’re aware of what identity design is and what it’s for – you’re probably starting to understand what brand identity is, right?
What Is Brand Identity
Brand identity/corporate identity – is the collection of visual elements which make up a brand. Things like colors, fonts, patterns, shapes, layout, business cards, logo, and website. A brand identity will vary from business to business, but there are typically core elements like these which will make up the brand identity.
A somewhat outdated but easy way to think of this would be farmers branding cattle. This was their mark that they put on assets to distinguish their property from others. Like a farmer branding cattle, your brand identity is what separates you uniquely from others.
Today, it’s not uncommon for a brand identity to stretch as far as defined layout and styles for social media posts, video, mobile applications, and more. Essentially, your identity belongs on everything your brand touches.
What Is A Brand?
A brand is simply the personality, emotion, and connection people feel, see and relate to on behalf of your businesses. Essentially the word “brand” encompass a lot, but definitively – it’s perception of a company, business and/or its products and services.
Some of my favorite examples to give when I get asked “what is a brand?” would be Apple, Nike, or Louis Vuitton. These are unmistakable brands due to positioning, identity design, and brand perception. What things come to mind when you think of these brands? Now that you know what a brand is, don’t think of them as a business – but a personality, or voice. How do they speak to you and what language to they use?
Now you can understand how branding could be a very complex and creative process. So what kind of business needs brand identity design?
You Don’t Need A Brand Professional If…
I was recently in conversation with a newer client that I’d completed a project with. Essentially this project was a couple smaller print adverts to build some visibility for the client. During this process it became apparent to me that they had no professional help previously with their logo or other materials that they used for promotional purposes or general operations of their business. We addressed this, got their logo professionally remade, along with letterheads and envelopes, for the client to use internally and externally.
Shortly after we wrapped up this project, I asked them if they were interested in actually having a cohesive identity designed for them. This would have involved redesigning a few elements like the business cards, and some other materials, along with creating their brand guidelines. A little after a week of discussing their problems with vendors and how others had been using their logo – they came back to me with basically a “no.”
For a moment I was quite surprised. I was pondering what their reasoning was, considering it was apparent they didn’t have any precise visual brand identity. They had their logo, and a few other elements. Then it hit me… I’d just given them everything a business in their situation needs. They’re a local business that works directly with local clientele, they’d just had their logo professionally remade, along with some of their office materials. They didn’t need more than that!
For most small businesses, if your main source of income comes from local clients or customers, you simply don’t need the type of branding and brand identity design that national or global businesses do.
Things like a new sign on your building, new business cards, stickers, envelopes, letterheads, and more… The cost of these quickly adds up. When you’re not trying to reach potential new customers on a grand scale, these just don’t make sense to a lot of small, local business owners.
That’s not to say there isn’t major importance in branding. This specific client interaction also further drove home how important getting identity design correct, from the start is.
Do You Need Identity Design?
The short answer is yes. Every business with a product or service needs a brand identity. However, each and every business will have very unique needs beyond a logo and basic identity including fonts, colors, and some standard materials like business cards, letterheads, envelopes, etc…
Ultimately, the best way to comprehend if your brand is on point is to speak with a brand design or identity design professional. Most small businesses with local reach will be perfectly serviced by a generalist graphic designer. They’ll have a good understanding of business visibility and how to help get your business off the ground.
If you’re a business that’s outgrowing your existing branding, you have a national or global reach, or you’re a new business with big ambitions and know how important branding and identity is – then you should consult with a specialist.