8 Branding elements that make a business stand out

Kevin Mullins

Study the corporate identities of the world’s top 3 brands (according to Interbrand). Their brand designs are elegant and instantly recognizable. These mega brands spend millions honing their market and brand positioning and perfecting their brand identity — aligning all of their branding elements into perfect harmony.

apple logo
coke logo
google logo

It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that at the heart of every successful business beats a beautiful brand design. More than just logo design, a successful brand identity sets the tone for the entire customer experience.

A successful brand informs the world who you are and why they need you. And if it keeps its promises (meaning it does what the brand promises to do), it creates a powerful bond between your brand and your customers.

But if you don’t know the elements that shape a compelling brand, it’s impossible to create one. And without a strong brand identity, who is your business, really?

If you want a successful brand that tells a compelling brand story and boosts business, then these 8 branding elements are for you.

Simple bank home page
Simple Bank Home Page

1. Brand positioning

Before you create a brand identity , there a few things you need to know about your brand. The first is your brand positioning.

Essentially, a brand position is your place in the market. It’s defining your brand persona, your target audience, and how it’s different from what’s being offered by competitors. What makes your brand unique?

For example, the new modern bank Simple aimed their brand towards a younger, tech-savvy audience when they offered all-electronic banking. They have a clear audience and differentiating factor (all-electronic banking), making creating the overall brand experience much simpler.

2. Brand personality

Your brand personality is just what it sounds like. It’s your brand’s tone and voice and emotional and personal characteristics that define your business and your team. Just like a human personality!

Like people, personality is such a vital part of every brand persona. No one likes to be around a boring person. Same with a brand. A vibrant brand personality fully captures its core values and acts as the foundation of effective branding.

If you’re wondering ‘what is brand identity and how do I know when I have it?’, it’s the fundamental element that guards your brand’s purpose and meaning.

Take Apple, for example. You might say Apple is just an electronics company that makes computers and phones just like hundreds of other companies. However, their imaginative, passionate, aspirational, and innovative personality sets them apart from the rest. Their brand’s personality, what we call their brand persona, transcends their products.

If your brand was a person, what would they be like? Would you like being around it?

Orange vanilla, vanilla, and cherry coke cans
Coke Iconic Can Designs

3. Market research

Notable brands have one thing in common, they understand their target markets. This doesn’t happen by accident. Successful brands do their fair share of market research to understand their target audiences.

A deep understanding of your target market influences so many things, everything from your target audience’s makeup and temperament to your competitor’s prices.

Market research involves identifying everything in the world that could affect your brand. From there, you can learn more about where your brand fits in the market, how best to position your company with your audience, and what kind of brand strategy you should be building.

4. Iconic logos

Successful companies intertwine their brand persona, brand position, brand purpose with their iconic logos (known as their visual trademark). Often these elements blend so seamlessly, it’s hard to know where one ends and the other begins! When you think of a global brand, like Coca Cola or Disney, you instantly imagine their logo but also the feelings that logo represents.

These logos are worth millions and play an essential role in their brand identity design. You and I may not have millions to spend on our visual identity, but we can ensure that our logo complements our brands and enhances them.

From the colors you use to the font, everything should match your core values and your brand personality. For example, Disney’s logo uses a fun, playful font that’s simple and memorable. Recently, they extended that whimsical design style to the Disney+ streaming service. Not only did they perfectly match the Disney brand, it made the recent service instantly recognizable, fueling massive customer adoption.

Disney+ logo
Disney+ Logo

5. Clever color palette

Another important brand identity design element is color. It may seem like something simple, like randomly choosing from your favorite color palette, but you’d be wrong!

In fact, color plays a vital role in how your brand attracts the target audience. This is down to color psychology and color theory. Color psychology is the science behind why we react when we see distinctive colors.

  • Dark blues evoke trust (frequently used by social media and banks)
  • Red can make us feel hungry (used by restaurants, including McDonalds, KFC, and Wendy’s)
  • Orange elicits playful and energetic feelings and encourages impulse buying

6. Consistent brand design

For creating a corporate identity, you need to be consistent. 91% of consumers are more likely to buy from authentic brands. If you’re saying one thing on your website and another on social media, you’ll end up confusing your audience.

According to McKinsey,

In 2012, strong brands outperformed weak brands by 20 percent, up from 13 percent in 2011. Decision makers are willing to pay a premium for strong brands because established brands make their lives easier. They aggregate information and reduce risk. Strong supplier brands may even aid companies in building their own reputation by association.

Consistency is about more than what your customers want, it’s also delivering what they expect. A consistent brand lives up to its promises and can often demand a premium based on perception of consistency, alone. According to one study, 90% of users expect brand consistency. It’s a business-must!

This means maintaining visual consistency e.g., keeping your color palette, tone of voice, and content the same on every platform you use. It also means delivering what your brand identity promises, on time, every time.

RestoreNetwork BrandBook IMG
Brand styleguide for The Restore Network

The best way to maintain consistency across your brand’s visual identity and color palette is with branding guidelines. Check out the client branding case study we did for The Restore Network.

Branding guidelines (e.g., brand styleguide or brand bible) set the visual tone for your brand, instructing how to use logos, colors, typefaces, and other design elements consistently.

7. Brand experience

Did you know that the experience your users have is a part of your branding, too? It’s called the overall brand experience, and it’s just as important as the visual elements that make your brand stand out. From navigating your website to their interactions with your staff, every interaction counts towards building your brand experience.

For online experiences, ask yourself:

  • How do you respond to social media comments?
  • How do you solve customer service issues?
  • What feelings are you trying to evoke through your content?

8. Ethics and values

Unwavering ethics and shared values boost business profits, but they also play a critical role to your brand experience.

This is because around two-thirds of customers want to do business with companies that share their same values. Almost 50% of consumers are even willing to pay more.

Paying your workers fairly, treating your customers honestly, and using eco-friendly resources is likely to give you the competitive edge even if you’re selling the same product as your competitors.

Global business issues, such as fair trade practices, are growing in importance to consumers.

So when you create your brand, think about the things you can do to make it more ethical. It makes for a better world and a better bottom line.

Wrapping up

There’s no doubt that creating a strong brand identity helps businesses thrive. But, if you’re still not convinced, consider this; a loyal customer is worth ten times more than their initial purchase.

Your overall brand, its design elements like logo and color palette, and the brand promise are all key to building customer loyalty. They’re also key to boosting your profits. If you think your brand design could use some creative design expertise, let’s talk.

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