7 Key Elements to Create a Strong Brand Identity

Figure 1: 7 Key Elements

7 Key Elements to Create a Strong Brand Identity

A brand identity is a way you communicate with the world, differentiate yourself from your competitors, and create a brand experience that encourages your target audience to engage with you.

Have you ever wondered how brands like Nike and Apple are succeeding? Well, these big-level brands know exactly who they are, why they exist and they make certain every aspect of their branding is visible and impactful across all communication platforms. If you want your brand to succeed, you need to develop a brand image that is distinctive, flexible, cohesive and easy to apply.
In this article, we have a look at why brand identities are important for your business and how you can create a strong and compelling one.


“Brand identity is a set of tools or elements used by a company to create a brand image” (Dennis Rukosuev). This includes your logo, typography, colour palette, packaging, brand message and every other element associated with the brand. “It stems from a company’s mission, brand value proposition, long-term goals, competitive position and values of the target audience”.

With that being said, a strong brand identity needs to work for everyone – this includes your internal and external stakeholders. Therefore, it is important to make sure your brand identity is:

  • Distinctive: Unique elements that are recognizable and different from other competitors. What makes you stand out?
  • Memorable: Visual elements that make an impact
  • Agile: The ability to evolve and adjust
  • Cohesive: Every brand asset compliments the brand identity
  • Easy to apply: Simply being able to use it on any application

It is critical for your identity to remain consistent because it increases familiarity and reinforces the values of your brand. It needs to be the same no matter where it’s publicized. In order for your identity to remain consistent, it requires a brand style guide. But we will get to that later in the article. For now, here are 7 elements required to create a strong brand identity.


They are as followed:

1. Clear Brand Purpose and Positioning

Do you know where you stand in the market? Are you the first brand of choice? If people do not know or recognize your business, you are not doing enough. The first step is to define and establish your brand purpose and positioning. A brand purpose is your reason for existence. Brand positioning is defining your unique identity in the market and why your products and/or services are better than the competition.

We all know Nike.

Nike has built a brand that appeals to everyone. “They have shifted their product focus into an attitude. When a product has become a lifestyle or an attitude worldwide, this when a brand starts to become recognizable by everyone” (602 Communications). Their distinctive visual imagery and lifestyle approach have portrayed and positioned Nike as a valued brand for everyone.

2. Market Research

Market research can help you determine your target audience persona, as well as identify your competitors and the gaps in the market. Doing a thorough market research will guide your communication with current and potential customers. It will also help you identify opportunities in the marketplace, and minimize risks.
Key points to keep in mind when analysing your direct and/or indirect competitors:

  • Who are they and where do they operate
  • How do they portray their brand image
  • Who are they targeting and how do they market to them
  • What are their strengths and weaknesses
  • What you can offer that’s different

3. Develop a Brand Personality

Brands have certain personality traits that evoke certain emotions in customers. Customers want to be able to relate to the brand on a more emotional level. It is not all about pushing products, but establishing that valuable connection you have with your customers. A distinct brand personality can make your brand stand out from your competitors, as well as deeply connect with your target audience. “If a brand personality isn’t established, customers will get mixed messages and have trouble connecting with your brand” (Scott Talbot & Jarom McDonald, 2016).

In addition to that, having a strong tone of voice will help you keep all marketing communication as consistent as possible, and increase familiarity and trust. When identifying your target audience, it is important to develop a tone of voice that will resonate with them and in which they can relate to. “Brand voice strongly affects how your audience feels about you” (Shirley Chan, 2016). When you have that brand personality, you would know the type of language and tone of voice for your brand. This tone of voice is how you will communicate with your customers at every touchpoint.

4. Memorable Logo

A logo is a mark that reminds customers of everything you stand for. It is important your brand logo speaks to the ethos of the company. When people see your logo, they must immediately be able to connect the logo to its whole brand identity. Creating a memorable logo is crucial to any business. Here are some tips to create a simple mark that stands out (Carrie Cousins, 2017):

  • Simple sells: the best logo designs are simple, easy to understand and they work well in a number of applications.
  • Consider who/what you want to be: it is important that your logo is an accurate representation of your company and offering.
  • Use colour wisely: this is one of the important elements because colour choices can draw users into the design and say something about your brand.
  • Stay away from clip art: don’t force it with a clip art. Every logo needs an original artwork that uniquely describes to users who and what your company is about.
  • Create something that’s flexible: a memorable logo is able to be easily applied to various applications without having to remove certain elements to the design.

Figure 2: DÜ Paint + Tool Logo and Slogan

The DU Paint + Tool brand is well-known for their approachable, creative, and charismatic demeanour. With a vibrant and creative brand personality, the logo created is easily recognizable, simple and can easily be applied on exterior signage, corporate stationery, marketing materials, and other communication platforms.

5. Colour Palette

Colour plays an important role in your brand image. Research states that “colour increases brand recognition by up to 80%” (Carrie Lorenz, 2017). There is nothing worse than a bland and monotonous logo design. Therefore, when it comes to branding, define a core colour palette because this will create a consistent look and feel. Having only 1 – 3 primary colours is sufficient enough to make your identity different and distinguishable from your competitors. In your style guide, include swatches and information needed to reproduce your brand colours accurately. You need to incorporate your Pantone, CMYK, RGB and Hex colours codes in your brand style guide.

Figure 3: DÜ Paint + Tool Colour Palette

Going back to the brand DU Paint + tool, the chosen primary colours are purple, turquoise and red. The psychological meaning behind these colours symbolises creativity, empathy, passion, confidence, approachability, and friendliness which the brand portrays. These colours can be seen throughout all their touchpoints.

Figure 4: DÜ Paint + Tool Logo and Slogan Description

6. The Right Typography

Typography is the style and appearance of text. You can create the perfect visual graphics but if the typography is not great, it can easily turn a reader away. “Typography lets you create a certain atmosphere and have a personality” (Brand by Kelly). You would want a single primary typeface to lead your brand design, and it should work together with your logo and colour palette. Remember, don’t overcomplicate it. Keep it simple.

For the DU brand, the chosen font is Gotham Rounded. Gotham Rounded medium is used for the headings, Gotham Rounded book is used for the sub-headings, and Gotham Rounded light is used for the main text. A simple font for a simple logo.

7. Supporting Graphics

Visual imagery has a much bigger impact than text. This includes supporting graphics, design assets, icons, and photographs. Selecting and developing the right visuals is key because it represents who you are as a brand. These are visual elements that describe your brand offering, as well as represent the overall brand image.

According to Google’s own research, users spend less time forming an opinion. From the research they conducted, it takes 17 to 50 milliseconds to capture the user’s attention. Therefore, you must have the understanding, as well as the creative methods and techniques to create attention-grabbing visual elements that will show people what your brand is about and what you can offer in less than a second.

Figure 5: DÜ Paint + Tool Icons

Above are icons which have been customised for DU Paint + Tool. Firstly, it incorporates the primary colour palette, as well as the typography chosen. The icons are also kept simple to immediately communicate the services in which DU Paint + Tool offers. These icons are displayed on all marketing collaterals, as well as building signage, corporate stationery, and their website.

Now that we have explored what key elements are required in a brand identity, the next step is to develop a brand style guide.


A style guide “captures your brand and makes it both understandable and replicable”. It allows you to, “present your brand clearly and to establish trust with your audience while ensuring everyone you work with is on the same page regarding your brand” (Liz Murphy, 2015).

In your brand style guide, outline proper usage of your brand image to ensure the correct configuration and message is portrayed across all platforms – to ensure the brand image is seen in the way it is intended. You can also incorporate how certain design elements should NOT be used. With this guide, you can prevent mistakes from happening that would most likely send the wrong message to your audience.

The brand manual created for DU Paint + Tool was to ensure the logo and its supporting graphics are applied correctly in order to achieve consistency and cohesiveness. The brand style guide should be distributed within the workplace to make certain that every internal stakeholder is informed and understands the DU brand and its key message.

Figure 6: DÜ Paint + Tool Logo and Slogan Spacing

It is important to outline the correct usage of the brand logo in order to ensure the right configuration is applied on all communications.

Research statistics state that “consistent presentation of a brand increases revenue by 23% on average” (Carrie Lorenz, 2017). By constantly presenting your brand, your target audience and internal stakeholders will internalise your brand values and are more likely to become brand ambassadors.

Do not take your corporate identity for granted. These are the advantages of having a strong compelling one:

  1. Makes your company look bigger: Having a well-thought-out corporate identity that is consistently used on your business cards, website or social media platforms, people will get the image that your brand is professional and trustworthy. People are more likely to do business with a brand who has the necessary resources to help them succeed. If you have an unprofessional look to your brand image, people will think you are not worth enough.
  2. Builds loyalty and trust: By having a unique brand that is different from that of competitors, you are able to position yourself favourably in the marketplace. A brand identity that conveys its values builds an emotional connection with customers. This type of connection makes it easier to establish trust and develop a long-term partnership with your customers – building a greater customer loyalty base.
  3. Conveys stability: Having a compelling brand identity indicates that you are here to stay. “A well-defined brand identity projects a long-term feel to those who see it on the regular” (Debra Murphy, 2015).
  4. Makes your business memorable: Developing a distinctive brand identity and using it consistently will increase familiarity and make it more memorable. For every person who interacts with your brand will be able to connect your brand to your brand values and message. Every time you interact with your current customers and prospects, you have a chance to make a memorable connection and brand experience.
  5. Shows commitment and personal pride: Taking the time to develop a unique brand identity shows that you take pride in your business and are committed to success. Customers will believe you can deliver on your promise to them because of your commitment, which in turn will create more brand loyalty and trust with every customer interaction.

Working alongside a design company can help your business increase in value. If you require an evaluation of your current brand identity and positioning, contact us for a free consultation and can take your brand to the next level. www.creativecaterpillar.co.za

1. Dennis Rukosuev. https://www.professionalacademy.com/blogs-and-advice/what-is-brand-identity
2. Liz Murphy https://www.impactbnd.com/blog/brand-guide-vs.-style-guide
3. Carrie Lorenz http://info.zimmercommunications.com/blog/20-stats-that-will-remind-you-of-the-importance-of-your-branding
4. Scott Talbot & Jarom McDonald https://www.lucidpress.com/blog/the-7-key-elements-of-brand-identity-design
5. Carrie Cousins https://designshack.net/articles/graphics/5-tips-for-a-memorable-logo/
6. Brand by Kelly http://www.brandbykelly.com/the-importance-of-typography/
7. Debra Murphy https://masterful-marketing.com/benefits-of-a-strong-brand-identity/
8. 602 Communications http://602communications.com/positioning-a-brand-how-nike-built-a-brand-with-universal-appeal/
9. Shirley Chan https://99designs.com/blog/logo-branding/how-to-create-a-brand-style-guide/

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