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Regardless of the type or size of business you operate, your brand identity is critical to the success of your advertising and marketing strategy. Branding singles out your product or service from that of other players in your industry. In other words, your brand identity is what sets you apart from your competitors, and it is what your niche market will recognize you for. Whether this attention is positive or negative depends, in large part, on your creative output.
The first, and arguably the most important, step in creating a brand identity is graphic design. Graphic design is a form of visual communication where an image conveys the message that you want your consumers to know. Effective graphic design has no need for typography to explain what you want to say.
Take, for example, McDonald's golden arches. Even without a caption or a tagline, people already know what it signifies. Every time they see it, McDonald's immediately comes to mind. The same goes with Nike's Swoosh logo. Whether the logo comes with the "Just Do It" tag or not, those who see it instantly think of Nike.
These are examples of a strong brand identity, and you can have the same for your product or service. The key factor here is to create a graphic image so strong that consumers will immediately attach the image to the product or service it represents without the need for words.
Perception is Everything
You know that your creative team has designed an effective graphic output when you can immediately see the message behind the image. Perception plays a huge role in branding, which is why the image you use should be able to relay your specific message to your target market. When they see the image, what do you want people to "read?" For instance, what specific advantage or benefit can your product or service offer that no one else in your field can?
To be able to come up with an effective branding image, take into consideration the following factors:
- Target Market (demographics, lifestyle and spending habit)
- Strengths of Product or Service being Marketed (includes price, quality, and benefits)
- Competing Product or Service
The visual communication output should be able to answer all of these and more.
Color should be a primary consideration for the design. Again, take McDonald's. Red and yellow together is often associated with McDonald's. Your choice of color or color combination should have the same effect on your niche market. Remember that over time, these colors will be associated with your product or service. Colors should elicit a positive response. Consider colors that stand out without straining the eyes.
Based on research, colors have psychological properties that can motivate a reaction. Red is often associated with strength and warmth while blue is perceived to be an "intellectual" color that encourages communication. It is recommended that you test color perceptions (on your creative team and employees) first before deciding on the actual color or color combination for your graphic design.
When all is said and done, an effective brand identity takes into account two significant perspectives. There's yours and how you see your product and service in terms of addressing your market's needs, and your consumers' and how your product/service can inspire top-of-mind recall when a need for this arises.