So after a long hiatus, you are now ready for the final piece of this branding/logo/identity puzzle, right? Right.
I do apologize for the long delay, things have gotten quite busy around here, which is good for me (but bad for you, my readers!). So, let’s jump right in, shall we?
Picking up where we left off in this 3 part miniseries, today’s focus is on the third and final “step” in building a comprehensive visual package for a company: identity.
Step 1) Branding: the emotional perception or idea of a company
Step 2) Logo: an identifying mark or icon
Step 3) Identity: visual cues that support the logo and branding
Keep in mind that many people use these terms interchangeably or don’t even know the difference, but each is very different and important. Identity, although the last step, is vitally important in that it completes the picture. Simply put, identity is an all-encompassing term that describes any and all visual clues that make up a company’s image and supports its brand. Identity can include:
- stationary (business card, letterhead, envelopes, etc.)
- marketing materials (brochures, flyers, postcards, etc.)
- product packaging
- interior design and store layout (think of Apple’s distinct store interiors, which, incidentally, Microsoft and others have tried copying…rather indiscreetly)
A company's identity supports its brand Click To Tweet
One of the benefits of identity is that, unlike branding, a company has complete control over its execution and distribution.
That is, identity should follow strict guidelines predetermined at the time of the brand and logo conception. Things like color palettes, typography, and imagery all play a key role in a company’s identity. Over time, a company’s identity should become closely intertwined with its logo and branding, so that the three become indistinguishable.
Color palettes, typography, and imagery are all a company’s identity. Click To Tweet
A good example is Tiffany and Company: take their famous Robin’s egg turquoise. It’s instantly recognizable, and is so inseparable from their branding that no one dares to try and use if for something else. That is a great example of seamless identity that fully supports its parent brand.
Identity has to come last when a brand is built, because it follows and supports the underlying brand and logo. It ties everything together and helps to build a cohesive experience for the user; any inconsistency is instantly recognized and potentially devastating to the brand.
Since identity followed closely on the heels of the modern logo of the industrial revolution, the term “corporate identity” didn’t enter business or design vocabulary until the 1940’s.