Brand Identity Breakdown

A brand identity is a system of visual, verbal and (often overlooked) sensory components that communicate a brand’s values and create recognition amongst its audience. A logo by itself is not the identity, but a part of it. There are certain sources online that claim the brand identity is ‘The visual aspects that form part of the overall brand.” While this is partially true, there are also verbal and sensory aspects that consist within the identity.

Here’s a breakdown:


A combination of a Wordmark and/or a Symbol as a unique graphical signature that is used by a brand for identification, and public recognition. The logo itself embodies the values of the brand and builds equity through recognition. Esthetically, a logo may contain features that are apparent in the rest of the brand identity such as shapes, colours and typography.

A Colour Palette that’s consistent across all mediums – web, print, video. Colour can make or break a brand because of its strong ability to evoke emotion. Combinations are created as Colour Schemes for specific messaging.

Typography and Editorial Style
Specific fonts are selected or created as the primary brand typeset for all written content. Text Placement, Size and Layout is determined for written composition on websites, stationary, advertising and anywhere else text may appear for the brand.

Visual Style
Compositions of the identity’s visual components and how they are laid out on stationary and marketing collateral. Creates the ‘feel’ of the brand.

Photographic Style
Composition for brand Photos and Videos and for advertising.

Backgrounds, Shapes, Icons, Buttons, Patterns etc.

Brand Characters such as The Green Giant or the Energizer Bunny that become the ‘spokesperson.’

Bringing the logo and the identity to life through animation / effects – A digital signature for video production.


The strongest verbal component of any brand. Often not enough importance is given to naming a brand, and a bad brand name can be very costly in the long run.

The brand’s war cry, a short statement that embodies the brand’s purpose, personality and positioning while evoking an emotional response in consumers. The tagline is simple, memorable and spreadable.

The voice represents the brand’s personality and it speaks to its consumers in its distinct tone. Whether you hear an ad on the radio, watch an ad on TV or read the ‘about me’ page on the website, it’s the same recognizable tone of voice that’s being spoken by the brand.

A set of specific words that are chosen to be used consistently in the brand’s written and verbal content.


Visual (See above)

Sonic branding – a chime or jingle that represents the brand. Think of Duracell or Intel and the recognizable sounds they use to compliment their animated identities. Also think of the sound when you power up your Mac or Windows based PC. Sound can be built into physical brands such as the sound of a Harley engine, or the pop and fizz sound of a soda can opening.

Smell has the strongest link to memory, and a distinct smell can really enhance your branding. Think of ‘the new car smell’ – which is actually an aerosol spray – and what effect it has on people test driving a car.

If you are a manufacturer of microfiber, why not have a business card that contains portions that emulate that of microfiber material? We all love to touch things that feel cool, and we tend to hold on to branded collateral that has a unique feel to it.

Obviously taste isn’t for every brand, a lot of products aren’t edible. However, if you could taste your brand, what would it taste like?

This is the emotional bond that is developed between a brand and the consumer. This bond begins when the customer’s beliefs are aligned with the brand’s purpose.


You’ll notice that I didn’t include stationary (business card, letterhead, envelope etc), website or any kind of marketing or advertising collateral in the above list. That is because those elements are brand touchpoints that contain identity elements, but aren’t the actual identity. Touchpoints work as an extension of the brand identity that are used to market and build the brand.

Not every brand requires all of the above mentioned components, but it is important to have a complete and relevant identity system so that the brand can maximize its interaction with it’s audience. I believe that sensory branding should be considered as part of the brand identity because it carries distinctive qualities that represent the brand, and these qualities can be used throughout various touchpoints and marketing collateral to help build brand recognition.

As with most areas with branding there are many areas of overlap. Let me know what you think of this list.


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