How to Create a Unique Brand Identity

You’ve created a fantastic product or service. You know that marketing it in the 21st century means you’re able to reach a larger audience than ever before. And, that even if you don’t have competition now, it’s only a matter of time until you do.

Positioning your business for success is challenging, especially for small businesses and entrepreneurs. Where do you start?

You create a unique brand identity.

What is a brand identity?

A brand identity is all the visual elements of a business (name, symbol, design, fonts, colors) that together identify and distinguish a brand in a consumers’ mind.

If you convey your unique brand with a powerful image, you’ve got immediate leverage to make your business more memorable.

How do you build your brand identity?

The powerful image that is the foundation of every brand identity is a logo.

Your logo is often the first impression your business has on a potential customer, so it’s important for it to be professional and memorable. With your company’s logo design, be sure you (and your graphic designer) consider these three basic fundamentals:

1. Your business/product name, also called the logotype or wordmark.

A signature font and/or a special type treatment of your name will aid public recognition of your business. Some companies use a logotype as their primary form of brand identity. Well-known examples are:


2. Your icon, the graphic image or symbol that often accompanies the name.

It’s not always necessary for a brand identity to include an icon, but it’s another recognizable element that distinguishes your brand, so I recommend it for new and small businesses. Once a brand is well-established, an icon can sometimes stand alone without a business name. Great icon examples are:

3. Your tagline, the phrase that explains your company’s mission.

Big businesses have taglines, too, but they are especially critical for new and smaller businesses. Because you’re not as well known, you must communicate what you do along with your visual image. An informative – and catchy – tagline can achieve this. It can be a couple of words or a full sentence, as long as it’s descriptive. Use it with your name and icon as much as possible. Tell your audience what you do at first glance.

After your logo is designed and tagline is created, your brand has a solid foundation on which to build both your online and offline identity.

To assure that every visual communication remains true to your brand identity, I recommend creating a simple Brand Style Guide for reference. Your graphic designer can do this for you, too. Be sure it includes the following:

  • Logo versions. You might have both a horizontal and vertical design of your logo, or a one-color version. Indicate the options here.
  • Color palette. Be specific. List the Pantone and HEX color numbers.
  • Fonts. List font names, and also font types, such as sans serif, or italic.

Refer to the Brand Style Guide when you reinforce your visual identity in the design of:

  • Your website
  • Your corporate stationery
  • Your online advertising buttons
  • Your packaging
  • Your printed marketing materials
  • Your Twitter and YouTube backgrounds
  • Your Facebook page
  • Your favicon, avatar and gravatar

If all the images associated with your brand are cohesive, you’re more likely to:

If you make a lasting impression and establish a memorable identity, you’ve created a powerful business strategy for your unique brand.

How do you use visual elements to create a unique brand identity?

Top photo credit

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Shannon Whealy

Shannon Whealy is a visual brand creator and the founder of Turnaround Design. She partners with small business owners to translate their brand messages and build memorability through design.
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9 Comments

  1. Laura

    Once you’ve decided on your logo and tagline, do you have to get it copyrighted or trademarked? I’ve heard trademarking is quite expensive. I’m confused!

    Reply
  2. Marla Murasko

    I think this is a great article. What I struggle with is having 3 different brands, and if it’s possible to merge them all into one basically just my name or will they loose their own brand identity? Basically I want people to know that I do several things.

    Reply
  3. tisha nagel

    I worked with a graphic designer recently to re-vamp my shop to fit more of my style. Having something that shows my creative side much more and something that I LOVE. Makes me proud to show off my business.

    Now just need to work on new packaging.

    Reply
    • marcos

      I have good ideas for a new t-shirt design or brands but I dnt know who to talk to

      Reply
      • Heather Allard

        Hey Marcos! You should check out – she’s had great success with her t-shirt company! 🙂

        Reply
  4. elizabeth lewis

    Great post. I especially liked the tip on creating a simple Brand Style Guide for reference. I have all the information but it’s in various places so whenever I need the exact #code for example, I have to remember where it’s stored. I just created a google doc so now I know where everything is all the time. Convenient and great piece of mind. Thanks!!

    Reply
    • Shannon

      Great! Love to hear that, Elizabeth. 🙂

      Reply
  5. Cheryl Pope

    I create brand identity with my Princess website. When people hear princesszaria.com they recognize it as a company that offers princess events, sells princess books, hosts princess parties, etc. Creating brand identity is a must in the book business!

    Reply
    • Shannon

      Yes, Cheryl, consistent wording paired with your visuals is a great way to reinforce your unique brand identity!

      Reply

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