In today’s diverse new world of growing consumer demands, what is better: having a better brand or having a better product? If you are just starting with branding, here’s our little cheat sheet to get you through the first meeting with designers and branding experts, when they will throw all sorts of unknown terms at you.

Brand vs. product
Let’s start with basics. Because brands create trust and build loyalty, it’s more difficult for consumers to switch brands, than it is to switch products. Marketing expert Geri Mazur puts it this way: “A brand is not the same as a product. People buy products but they have relationships with brands. If you took away a person’s product, they would just buy the next one on the shelf. If you took away their brand, they would miss it.”

Some marketers define a brand as  “a community formed by people who share the same beliefs”. Building a brand thus requires defining your belief (brand core value), finding a symbol (logo) to represent it, and a system (identity system)to spread the message to the public effectively. 

Finding a representation

Every community needs a representation. From ancient Egyptians claiming their ownership with a mark, ascend of the coat of arms to establish an identity on medieval Europe’s battlefields to the modern age—the need for an identity symbol is fundamental.Now the consensus in the design community is that brand logos should be simple, unique and immediately recognisable. For decades, however, people thought a logo should be able to present their brand story, core values, and character. While this is true to a certain extent, expecting a logo alone to convey everything about a brand is unrealistic.

 

A system for communication

Logo design tends to be more flexible so that it can be applied on different occasions and on different materials with the same effectiveness.

Nevertheless, a logo is just a starting point of brand communication.

In order to convey your brand, a visual identity system is needed. VI System is a “package” of different elements that help a brand to build consistency and recognition, at the same time spreading the brand values and character to the public. Colour, typography, graphics and even image style—these visual elements can enhance the effectiveness of brand communication.

Consistency helps the customers to build connections, remember, recognise, and hopefully, prefer your brand when it comes to a choice. A successful identity system can be recognised even without showing the logo.

How does your brand look like?
Branding is not about being perfect (or better), but about being different. Imagine if your brand was a person, based on the beliefs he/she has, what kind of clothes would he/she wear? What kind of emotion he/she would deliver? How old is he/she? Your visual identity system should be able to “personify the brand”, present how it looks.

Below are the basic elements you should consider when designing your visual identity system.

01. Colour palette

It should be simple, with only 1 to 3 primary colours. You can refer to our previous post for the basic colour psychology.

02. Typography

You’ll need to decide a typeface to run through all your marketing/branding communication materials. San Serif and Serif are the basic division of typeface. In general, san serif presents a more young and contemporary image, while serif typeface delivers the image of “classic” and “heritage”.

03. Supporting graphics / Icon

Which graphic style will you use? Vintage, hand-drawn, geometric or flat?

04. Photographs

Standardise the angle and lighting for your photography. Even the background you will use for taking a photo.

                                                                            5. Key takeaways

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