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The Branding Design Process in 3 key principles


According to Google, there are a couple of definitions for the word principle. The one I would like to use is: a law or fact of nature which makes possible the working of a machine or device. Today we are going to explore the working of the “device” brand identity. Principles are laws, they have a promise or guarantee of a certain result baked into them. It’s a guarantee of results. These 3 key principles are the most important when designing a brand identity.

To better understand this process you should leave the misconception that a business is a machine. A money-making beast that doesn’t have to have a soul. It should just produce money and that’s it! Nothing is further from the truth. A business is a living being who has a personality. Your brand identity can be seen as the face of your company and the clothing it wears.

Designing brand identity is like getting a fashion designer to design your business’s clothing. The best ones take into account who should fall in love with you. They take into account the occasion and the usability thereof.

Brand identity will draw people closer to your business and it’s the first impression you make in the digital or physical world. Like attracts like, so if your brand looks like an old fashion brand, you will attract old-fashioned customers. It’s the same if your brand is sleek and high tech, it will attract tech-savvy customers.

After reading this article you will get a deeper understanding of developing a brand identity for your business.


Let’s dive into these brand identity principles.


Research before designing anything it’s important to do due diligence. Research is as important as the design itself. Without proper research, you are essentially increasing the chance of failure. Many companies start their branding process with somewhat of a vision of how they would like their brand identity to be. Most of the time this hurts the research because they are already tuning out possibly the best ideas and directions. That’s why you should start with a clean slate. Start with your foundation and build your brand identity up from there.


What are the 5 foundations of a brand?

  • Purpose

  • Culture

  • Brand Voice

  • Target Audience

  • X-factor


Purpose: The WHY!

This sits at the center of your business. The reason for your existence. The why behind it all. By defining your purpose you will gain clarity for you and your employees. It’s the driving force of your company and it gives direction to where you are going. When designing brand identity your brand statement should be the first benchmark to analyze your brand identity. Does your brand identity bring you closer to reaching your goal or does it make it more difficult?

Let’s say you’re a non-profit that wants to attract people who are earning minimum wage and are barely making it month to month. You’ve hired a designer, and he/she has a thing for luxury and thinks every brand should feel and look like a luxury brand. Remember! Like, attract like. So what happens next? Your messaging will speak to your target audience but your brand identity will attract those who are into luxury and are looking for a luxury experience. When they realize you’re actually intended for people who are barely making it every month, they will leave, feeling disappointed maybe a bit annoyed. And your target audience…? The first impression they get is that you’re too expensive. Automatically you will not attract them.

The purpose statement & Brand identity should be in alignment.

A quick way to measure if your brand identity fits your mission statement is by searching Pinterest and google for similar brands in your field. Not to copy them, but to see what others are doing. By knowing what others are doing, you will know what’s common. The goal is to differentiate from your competitors but still maintain the roots to attract your target audience.



Culture is a fundamental principle of your brand. It’s not enough to have a beautiful brand identity. The same as your mission statement, your culture should be aligned with your brand identity.

Branding is more than what people see, your logo, design, commercials. Branding is what people think of your brand. Your brand identity comes from your culture and not the other way around. Your brand identity and brand voice set the stage for expectations in customers’ minds. The main reason why businesses get bad reviews is when expectations are not met. Take into account that perception can make or break a company.

Culture should not be taken lightly. It’s not just to say you have a particular type of culture, but you should live it as well. Every employee should live up to your brand culture from top to bottom. Your customers have your brand reputation in the palm of their hands. Literally. They possess the power to destroy or build your brand in a matter of seconds with just a tweet. Although this is true, fear not! I’m going to share how to use this to your advantage.

First of all, the perception that your audience has of you matters. It’s a representation of what they think of your brand based on their experience. Of course, some judge you based on your appearance, but most of the time those won’t stick. What your customers think of you is personal and is unique to everyone. It’s impossible to please every one of your customers but its surely possible to win the heart of most of them.

Let’s go back to the expectations part. People get a sense of who you are and what you stand for through your messaging and brand identity. If your culture is not aligned with them you will surely disappoint them.

The goal is to meet their expectations and delight them. Delivering on your brand promise and exceeding their expectations. You will be swimming in good publicity very soon.

Good brand identity will get people closer, but it’s the alignment with the deeper values like culture and purpose that will keep them coming.

The fastest way to loyalty is when your customers share the same beliefs as you.


The wine library

Gary Vee shared this story once and I never forgot it. It was the day before Christmas. An elderly lady needed a bottle of wine but it didn’t get delivered. Gary took the cases of wine and took a long drive to personally deliver the wine bottles to the lady’s house. He later explained that he did it because customer service is everything and it was an example to his employees how much they should value customer service. He took that business from 1$Million to $60Million business in less than 5 years.


An American online shoe and clothing retailer based in Las Vegas. According to Zappos’s CEO, Tony Hsieh what differentiated them from their competitors was that they’ve put their company culture above all else. They were convinced that being good to their employees, by paying their healthcare premiums 100% and investing in their personal development they would be able to offer better customer service than their competitors. This in turn would mean returning customers and long-term profits. To keep it short, Zappos sold to Amazon for $1.2 billion in November 2009. What a payday!


The greatest car salesman who ever lived

Joseph “Joe” Girard is considered to be to world’s best salesman. He even holds the Guinness World Record for it. Each day he would sell between 2-6 cars. On his best day, he sold 18 cars on his best day and 174 during his best month. He sold more cars than 90% of the dealerships in North America by himself. I bet you’re wondering what his secret sauce was. Hard work and being likable, but most of all, he would regularly show his customers that he cared. Every month he’d send out greeting cards to his whole customers’ list with a simple message:” I like you”. That’s it! When the time came for a new car, who do you think they would think of? Joe Girard! The Salesman who cared!


Target Audience

The common mistake most businesses make is to think that everyone is their audience. There are 1.7B people on this earth( and still counting) whom each have their own beliefs, likes, and dislikes. Some are vegans, others are meat-lovers. Some are spenders and others are savers and the list goes on. By trying to reach everyone you are essentially reaching no one. When defining your target audience you should try to get into their head. What are they thinking? What are their beliefs? Where do your core values align with their values?

According to Simon Sinek, people buy because of your why. When your why aligns with the belief of your customers, you will experience success like no other.




Businesses tend to follow the crowd. Follow the trends. By following the crowd you will not be the leader. Ultimately you will be forgotten.

A company should differentiate itself from its competitors. Be unique! That’s what your x-factor is all about.

  • What characteristics make your company unique?
  • What sets you apart from every other business?
  • Can you claim that you are the only one?

Take Toms Shoes for example; For every shoe they sell, they will give a new pair of shoes to a child in need. The One for one model. Over the years many other businesses have adopted a form of this model but Toms Shoes was the first.


1. Culture & Meaning

Culture has a big impact on how people consume content, how people perceive a brand. Let’s take a look at these contrasting examples.

Colors: In China, red is the color of wealth and prosperity but in most parts of the world it’s the color of danger, blood, beware.

Often movies get modified to show in different countries to resonate better with their culture. This sometimes also means a change of character or lines.

This principle of taking culture into account is as important as the other ones.

When designing a brand identity you should take it into account not only for the present but also for the future. Globalizing a brand has become easier than ever. The revolution of the internet and all the social media platforms make your brand an almost instant globalized brand. Is your business only meant only for locals? Or do you want to make it a global brand? If it’s the lather, do you know where you would export your business and how prepared the country is for a brand like yours?


2. Design esthetics

Diving into the actual design.

  • Colors: meaning & competitors opposite
  • Shape, patterns, and textures
  • Tell a Story
  • The logo


Colors: meaning & competitors opposite

60% of buying decisions are based on color. Colors evoke an emotion depending on the consumer’s perception of the meaning of that color. People buy out of emotion. Choosing the right color for your brand identity is crucial. A brand should choose one primary color. This is the color that your brand will be recognized by. Some brands pull it off by working with 2 colors ex. IKEA, Amazon, and Visa, but the more colors you add the more difficult it will make it for people to associate a color with your brand.

Colors should be distinct. They should be able to work in the physical world as well as the digital space.

Never choose the same color as your competitors. It will only make it harder for your customers to differentiate you from them.

Be bold, be different. Colors are an expression of your personality.

Colors should be used to facilitate recognition and build brand awareness.

Claim a color.

If the competitor uses blue, you should use consider using the color red.


Color is subjective and varies in meaning from person to person as well as culture. It also varies in meaning from a small group of people who share the same values.


Let’s examine a few examples:



China: Luck, joy, and happiness

US: Passion & Energy & Danger

South Africa: Mourning



US: Calm, Trust & intelligence

Japan: Passivity & Fidelity

Africa: Harmony & Love



US: Creativity & Optimism, Joy, Fun

Japan: Bravery

Germany: Jealousy




US: Wealth, Hope & Luck

Africa: Spiritual growth

Japan: Fertility & Growth




Shape, patterns, and textures

Shapes, patterns, and textures together with colors form your brand identity design. There are many design styles and each year more gets introduced into the mix. The shapes, patterns, and textures you use for your brand identity design should be inspired by your brand personality and should represent it. If your brand personality is fun and bright, you should use bright colors and fun shapes. If you’re a wellness brand with a soft and calm personality, you should consider using soft shapes like circles.

Tell a Story

Every design should tell a story, spark an emotion. if it doesn’t strike an emotional cord it wouldn’t be as impactful. For centuries stories have been told through design and left permanent marks around the world. To this day we can see drawing in caves telling us stories of how lives were lived back then.

The logo

Maybe you wondering why I left the logo for last. Many make the mistake of first developing the logo than developing the rest of the brand identity. The brand identity is the space where the logo will live. By making the brand identity first, all the brand elements, colors, shapes, and textures you will know how the logo should be to better fit this space. It’s like printing a billboard then searching the country for a billboard frame that fits the size of your design. It should be the other way around, choose the billboard you’re going to use and then make the design to fit it. Sometimes logos clash with design elements and you do not want that as a business owner. Your brand identity should be clear and easy to recognize.


After building your wonderful brand identity design you should have brand identity guidelines.


How do you create brand identity guidelines?

What are brand identity guidelines?

A brand identity guideline is a document that gives direction on how to use your brand identity. It’s a manual that guides your business in the design choices you or your team will have to make in the future.

These guidelines safeguard the important elements of your brand identity by giving direction on how each element should or shouldn’t be used. By displaying how not to use brand elements it gives a better insight into how the brand elements should be used.

For who are brand identity guidelines intended?

Brand identity guidelines are intended for all that will make or shape something for your company. Whether it’s your in-house design team, freelancer, or agency. The brand identity guidelines will give them directions and keep them in line with your brand.

What to put in a Brand identity guideline?

Brand identity guidelines should contain at least, these 5 sections.

  1. Logo Guidelines
  2. Color details
  3. Typography Guidelines
  4. Photography Guidelines
  5. General Layout guidelines

Logo Guidelines

This is the section where you lay down the rules for the usage of the brand logo. Every logo has its own set of rules to better fit the branding identity of the company. In this section, you will point out good examples and bad examples of sizing, color, and clear space. By pointing these out you will safeguard the usage of the logo. It helps to maintain the logo legibly and to maintain its structural integrity.


Color Details

Every brand has its color palette. This section should contain color combination usage. Most of the time this is the main color and complementary colors. Some brands have more intricate color usage and should be explained thoroughly. Highlighting how to reproduce every color for print and digital to ensure that brand colors stay consistent in all brand touchpoints.

Typography Guidelines

Which typefaces are approved for usage

within your brand? Identify which fonts should be used for headlines, body copy, and captions.

Photography Guidelines

There are numerous photography styles and the same as colors, it gives a feeling of the brand. Maintaining the same photography style across your brand will make it easier to recognize. In this section, you should point out do’s and don’ts and the overall style. Is it more of a retro vibe or more towards luxury photography? remember. Consistency is key.


General Layout Guidelines

Layouts are a crucial part of any brand identity. It gives direction on how to structure each design, where each brand element should be placed.


Brand identity guidelines can become more extensive but I will keep to the bare minimum it should contain.


Hope this article was of value to you. if you have any questions don’t hesitate to email me. I will be happy to answer all of your questions.



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