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Create A Brand Identity

Hewlett-Packard Development Company, L.P. - http://h71036.www7.hp.com/hho/cache/190-0-0-225-121.aspx

Quick, take a look around you and see how many brands you can spot. Chances are good that you're surrounded by them. On your computer, on your shoes; even your coffee cup isn't safe! When you see a logo for Microsoft, Nike or Starbucks, you're not just looking at a cool design, you're looking at a brand.

A strong brand not only identifies a company in the mind of the consumer, but it creates a memorable link between what it is and what it does. It's true whether your business is a large corporation or a small, one-person show -- you need a good brand identity.

Consumers have a staggering number of choices today. When presented with so many options, people gravitate toward the familiar. Trusted names can boost sales, and their value is immense. That's why it's important to create a strong brand identity for your business. It builds credibility and loyalty, and differentiates your business from the competition.

What is brand identity?

A brand identity is a trademark or distinctive name that identifies your business in the mind of the consumer. This can include (but is not limited to) a name, a logo, corporate colors, a style, a typeface, a tagline, or a slogan.

A brand should evoke some emotional response in the consumer. Think of Prudential Insurance. This brand not only calls up the idea of wisdom and careful thought (or "prudence"), but also evokes stability with the image of the Rock of Gibraltar in the logo. A good brand should have this kind of subtext.

How do you create a brand identity?

The first step in creating your business identity is to answer the following questions:
What is your mission?
What do you want to communicate?
What image do you want to convey?
Which words best describe your business?
Keep the answers in mind as you begin creating your brand.

Developing your logo and brand identity

There are several ways to get started. First, consider the following p oints:
Who is your target audience?
Who are your main competitors?
What kinds of logos and brand identities do your competitors have?
Which of their brands appeal to you? Why?

Once you've determined the answers to these questions, take some time to look at the memorable identities and logos all around you. Look at Nike. The name is short and catchy, and was inspired by Nike, the Greek goddess of victory. The swoosh logo is simple, recognizable, and implies speed and forward motion. This is a good name, a nice logo, and a great brand ID.

Thinking ahead

You should also make sure your logo can survive in any medium: in print, on the Web, in full color, in grayscale, in black and white, in a large format, or in a tiny ad. Think ahead. You may not need your logo embroidered on a cap today, but what about ten years from now? Make sure the design is simple and clear enough to survive any kind of treatment.

The best way to get a logo is to have it designed by a graphic artist or design firm with experience in creating logos and brand identities. If you decide to create your logo yourself, you might be able to find a stock illustration or image that fits your needs. But this low-budget approach usually leaves a low-budget impression, and that's not what you want to communicate to your customers.

Make your brand identity consistent throughout

Once you've established the name and logo of your business, consider the rest of your brand identity strategy. This includes corporate colors, typefaces, taglines, slogans and all the other ways your brand i.d. is implemented. It's important that your web site matches your signs, and that your business cards, letterhead, labels and forms are all consistent with each other.

You may also want to develop a style guide for the use of your brand. A guide will make sure that other people who handle your brand use it consistently. It should include the exact colors, typefaces, and design specifications for your logo and the way it should be presented in both marketing and internal documents.

Think about how your brand identity will be disseminated -- in direct mail pieces, ads, brochures, business cards, press releases, and so on. With proper forethought and the help of the tools below, your brand identity can help your business thrive.

Printing your own documents

Printing your own branded documents can save you time and money, and it can increase your flexibility in customizing your materials.

The many benefits include:

Saving time by printing documents right away, and changing them whenever you want.
Saving money printing only as much as you need, so you never have to throw away outdated materials.
Customizing your documents for each customer or market segment.
Branding T-shirts and hats with iron-ons that you print yourself.

Printing documents "in-house" is a powerful and flexible option for any small or startup business. You can endow your business with a professional identity that you can really be proud of.

Hewlett-Packard Development Company, L.P. -





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