A question I frequently get asked is how to make sure a brand identity stands the test of time. It’s so hard to work on your own brand identity; you’re really close to it and you see it so often that your own perception of it is skewed from what other people see. People need repetition!
The main thing to note about your brand identity is that people need to be able to identify you again once they’ve seen your branding the once. So there is a little wiggle room for variety, but things always need to be identifiable as being yours. This is where trends can harm you rather than make you necessarily look more up-to-date.
And so here are my thoughts on how to create a timeless brand identity.
Think about what would stay the same even if your work evolved
Firstly, you’ll need to think about what your brand stands for on a wider level. If you had to pivot and change your product or service, what values or elements of your story and brand would stay the same?
An example is if you’re a jeweller, your work and style might evolve over time, but what inspires you at it’s core probably won’t. What is it that’s at the very core of your brand – the why or how you got here?
It could be a set of values, it could be your story, it could be a number of things. I don’t mean all the rest isn’t important, it totally is…but you want to get right to the heart and work out what’s unwavering.
And so how do you translate that into design?
Not every part of your brand identity needs to convey EVERYTHING
The fun bit! You’ll want to build these foundational things into your main brand identity – so into your logo and branding elements, your colours, the mix of fonts you use. It’s about finding the balance.
It’s not an easy process, but what I mean is that different parts of your brand foundation can come through in different areas. Always try to see the bigger picture of how things work together.
Not every part of your brand identity needs to convey EVERYTHING. That’s why you have different ‘moving parts’ (logo, palette, font system)
Colour is great for quickly conveying FEELINGS, EMOTIONS, and VALUES. Typography can show if your brand is MODERN, CLASSIC, or RUSTIC.
And logo icons, graphics, and illustrations can actually tell stories, or convey ideas and meaning in visual form. Everything works together to build a picture for your audience.
Focus on conveying the true essence of your brand so that people can quickly self-select
You’ll want to make sure it’s clear and that the things you’re showing are going to resonate with your audience. BUT at the very beginning you might not know your audience well, so don’t let that bit hold you back.
Focus on conveying the true essence of your brand so that people can quickly self-select. “That’s for me”, or “That’s not for me”.
The WORDS you use need to be much more rooted in the knowledge of who your client or customer is, and your WORDS are something you can easily tweak as you get more clear on that. Your brand identity is there to show the core of who you are (as a business), what you value and why, so that you attract like-minded people. Then you can have fun with trending things like gradients – as long as not every part of your brand identity is changing with trends, you’re allowed to have fun!
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