Graphic Design and Brand Identity: Here’s How to Nail Both

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Creating the Ultimate Brand Identity: A Guide for Businesses

Why Great Graphic Design Equals a Great Brand Identity

Graphic design
March 3, 2022
12 minutes

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Similar to your personal identity, your brand identity is what sets you apart from your competitors. A strong brand identity design is what shapes your company. But what exactly is brand identity? And what role does graphic design play in it? Let’s find out.

Billions of businesses are trying to make a name for themselves. To keep up with the Joneses and stand out simultaneously, you need a strong brand identity. In shaping this brand identity, graphic design plays a vital role.

What is brand identity?

Let’s begin with the basics: What is brand identity? Essentially, you can define brand identity as your brand’s personality.

It’s sometimes referred to as company design, corporate identity, or a mish-mash of these words. They all come down to the same thing. Your values, how you communicate your products, and how you make people feel are all part of the brand identity definition.

Find out how to build a strong and unique brand

Download our guide to learn all about branding and visual identity

Ultimately, the goal of your brand identity is to present your business to the world in a certain way. This requires skilled communicators, people with intimate knowledge about your brand, and professional designers.

What is graphic design?

On to the next piece of the puzzle: graphic design. To see the importance of good graphic design in relation to a strong brand identity, we’ll first need to define what graphic design is.

Graphic design is the creation of any graphic asset that is used to communicate with your target audience. From a unique logo design to memorable product packaging, your graphic design defines the looks of your brand.

Graphic design and brand identity

It’s a fact that visuals make a stronger first impression. This study found that when people hear information, they’ll likely only remember 10% of it 3 days later. However, when pairing relevant images to the information, people remember 65% of that information.

A brand identity describes the inner personality of a brand, whereas graphic design shapes the outer personality of a brand. Aligning the two will help you strengthen your brand.

The design assets of your brand will eventually determine how your brand is perceived. In short, a successful design equals a successful brand identity.

How to create a brand identity

Understanding brand identity and the vital role graphic design plays in this process is part one. Now that we’ve covered that, you’re most likely wondering how to create a brand identity.

With these 7 steps, you’ll have a handy framework to guide you.

Step 1: Find your purpose

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A brand identity’s goal is to answer several questions about your brand. So it only makes sense to start with exactly that. Formulate questions and answer them as clearly and concisely as you can.

Make sure you know the following about your brand:

  • What are your core values?
  • What is the name you’ll use for your brand?
  • What is the story you want to tell your audience?
  • What is your tone of voice? In other words: how are you going to tell your story?

Step 2: Audit your current situation

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Do you just need a rebrand or a complete brand identity from scratch? Even if you’re just starting out, your brand and identity already exist in some shape or form. Zoom in on the current state of your brand identity and see how you can tweak it into something better.

Step 3: Research

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Your brand identity should be what makes you stand out from the crowd. To be different, you need to know what’s already out there.

Studying competitors is a great way to notice opportunities, but it’s also a great way to find inspiration for future looks.

Step 4: Develop your brand

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Alright, time for the fun part. With all the info bundled up from the previous steps, it’s time to pick a direction for your brand. There are a few questions you can ask yourself and your team to get through this step:

How can you visualize your core values?

  • What color palette matches the overall feeling you want to convey?
  • How do you want people to feel when they engage with your brand?
  • Which characteristics fit your brand best? (Examples are masculine/feminine, sporty/elegant, fun/serious, etc.)

Step 5: Write your design brief

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Your design brief can be seen as a roadmap to describe your design project in great detail. A clear and inconclusive design brief will help you get the company design you’ve always dreamt of.

  • In your design brief, make sure you include the following:
  • A description of your business and industry
  • The scope of the design project
  • Design inspiration

Still a little lost? Have a look at this handy guide containing tips and tricks.

Step 6: Start creating

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By now, you have a heap of information about your brand. It’s time to put it all together and start creating. There are various visual elements you should consider in line with the information you gathered in the previous steps. We’ll go over the biggest elements.

Visual elements of a brand identity

A logo, a color palette, typography, fonts, and imagery are the main visual elements that comprise your brand identity. Each element should be in harmony with the other elements. We’ll go into a bit more detail and use the branding of Palm House by The Seventh Art LLC to visualize each element.

Logo

A logo is a symbol you use to represent your company. The graphic symbol may be small in size, but the capabilities of a good logo are enormous.

A well-designed logo is the perfect visual representation of your brand. It can help customers understand who you are and what you do.

Find the best fonts that will make your logo stand out

Download our guide on logo typography

Color palette

Colors can affect people’s moods and attitudes. In addition to these psychological attributes, color has different meanings in different cultures. It’s a good idea to pick your colors wisely.

If you have an ecological skincare brand, red and black are most likely not your first color picks. Softer natural colors will provide a much better representation of your brand.

Fonts and typography

Like a color palette, a font can evoke a certain feeling as. Some fonts are playful, while others are classic. Pairing two serif fonts for your kids’ clothing brand might not be the best choice.

In addition to picking the right fonts, typography is of equal importance. White space, curvature, and the line weight all impact how your message will be perceived.

Imagery

Photography and imagery will make your brand more relatable. It provides another visual element to the mix, in which you can showcase your products and yourself. People like to have visual proof of what they are buying and from whom they’re buying it.

Using a consistent style of photography and imagery will help make your brand recognizable.

If you’re feeling completely overwhelmed, don’t worry. There are numerous options to create your brand identity with the help of a professional. Between hiring a new employee or DIY-ing your way to a brand identity, there’s always the option to outsource graphic design services. But more about that later.

Step 7: Create a brand style guide

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The only thing worse than a poorly designed brand identity is a stunning identity that’s misused. This is where a brand style guide comes to the rescue.

Your brand style guide should include every guideline on using every element of your brand identity. How to use the logo, which colors to use, which colors not to use, etc.

Make sure to simplify the guidelines, keeping in mind not everyone is graphic design-savvy. Usage of examples is a great way to do this. Send the guide to your entire team, make it accessible on your drive and website, and it’s go time!

Examples of well-designed brand identities

To get your creative juices flowing, let’s have a peek at a few different brand identities that nailed their design. These examples go to show how strong a well-designed brand identity can be.

Burt’s Bees

Burt’s Bees is a skincare company, creating products that respect both skin and planet. Skim their website, and you’ll stumble upon phrases like ”Kind to skin & planet since 1984” and “Dedication to ensuring The Greater Good”.

Burt’s Bees focused heavily on their values from the very beginning. This has resulted in their growth from a backyard company to a nine-figure brand, with lip balms you can spot from a mile away.

burt-s bees homepage.jpg Greg Carley on Behance

Headspace

Headspace is a meditation guide app loved by millions of users across the globe. How did they do it? Through simple yet clear communication that is visually cohesive across all platforms.

The founders of Headspace had a clear goal for their app and a clear value proposition. These elements are all implemented in their visuals. Their motto is “meditation made simple,” and if you look at their brand identity, it visualizes just that. It’s welcoming, soft, and above all: simple.

headspace homepage.png Headspace’s homepage

Oatly

Oatly is a dairy-free, vegan-friendly oat milk company that achieved remarkable success after its rebranding in 2012. Their brand elements revolve around being environmentally friendly, with a healthy dose of humor.

Their mission for their rebranding was to be bold and to be game-changers, which is meticulously visualized in their logo and product packaging.

oatly homepage.png Oatly’s homepage

How to get good graphic design

Graphic design plays an integral role in creating a brand identity, that much we know by now. But where can you get good graphic design?

Find out how and where to outsource your graphic design needs

Download our guide to find a solution that suits your business

Your company is unique, and so should your company design be. A professional graphic designer can lend you a much-needed helping hand throughout this process.

There are a few different routes you can take if you need graphic design services:

In-house designer

An in-house designer means you have someone by your side who understands your brand. If you find a designer with the right skills that’s a good personal fit, this can be a great investment for your business.

However, it’s important to note that an extra salary can drain your budget fast. And if you don’t require design regularly, it might not be worth the costs.

Design agency

A design agency can take care of pretty much everything related to graphic design services, as well as a chunk of marketing tasks. This does come at a hefty price.

Unfortunately, if you’re just starting out or operating a small business, a design agency isn’t a financially viable option.

Freelancers

If you want a considerable amount of options when it comes to experience levels, rates, and skills, a freelance graphic designer may be the right fit.

Bear in mind that hiring a freelancer is the most time-consuming option, and a freelancer is expensive in the long run.

Unlimited design service

Lastly, you can opt for a subscription-based design service. This allows you to request as many designs as you like for the same monthly flat rate.

ManyPixels, for example, gives you the flexibility of working with freelancers (different designers with different skills), with the reliability of a design agency (project managers oversee work and quality insurance).

See some of ManyPixels’ best design works

Get the ManyPixels Design Library 2022

When it comes to designing your brand identity, this is an ideal choice. You can have multiple designers work on the different visual elements. And the best thing? You don’t have to worry about rising costs.

If you’d like to learn more about ManyPixels, have a look at our scope of design service, or schedule a demo session to see our platform for yourself.

In a nutshell

Crafting a strong brand identity for your business is crucial to stand out from the endless stream of competitors. It’ll help you show your customers who you are, and what they can expect from you.

Nailing your design equals nailing your brand identity. Accurately portray your brand values through consistent use of your logo, typography, color palette, and imagery. And that way, you may just become much more than another name and logo.

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Guest Writer: Simone Timmers

March 3, 2022

Simone is a writer, dividing her time between native Netherlands and 'home away from home' Malawi. Whenever not stringing words together, she's either on her yoga mat or exploring any off the beaten track she can find.