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Identity Design: Branding

What's the difference between identity design and branding?

In this video, Chris Do and Jose Caballer break down what branding is, and what it’s not. They’ll also take a deep dive into how brands are constructed using an example with a current client, and explain how identity design plays a part in defining the brand as a whole.


Identity vs. Branding

Branding is a pretty hot buzzword in the industry, but many people often confuse what it means.

Marty Neumeier, author of The Brand Gap, defines a brand as “a person’s gut feeling about a product, service or company.” You can’t control how someone feels about what you do, but you can influence it. Branding is not what you say it is, it’s what they—the audience—says.

We can’t really talk about identity design without talking about branding because the identity design is what comes from building the brand. The two work hand in hand. Are you still with us?

A logo is not a brand—it’s a component of the identity. The logo is a symbol that helps a person identify a business and remember who they are and what they do.

Defining the Brand

We’ve made the distinction of what a brand is, so let’s start to think about how it will be designed. You can do this in a number of ways or follow your own process that you’ve set in place, but here’s how Chris and Jose break it down in this video:

1. Start with Words

Chris has already met with the client and facilitated a meeting to uncover the brand’s attributes. What we’re looking at in this video are the words the client came up with to describe their brand. From the list, Chris boiled the words down to one phrase that represents the brand.

2. Collect Visual References

Now that Chris has established a phrase to define the brand, he’s going to look for images that support this, create a certain mood, and communicate to the client what their potential brand identity would look like.

3. Draft the Logo

The phrase Chris established for the client is Refined Rustic. He’s found images, typographic samples, and even physical decor that all represent Refined Rustic, and can now start to sketch what the future logo could look like.

Designing Smarter

We’ve done all of the prep work, including discussing the identity design with the client, piecing together the attributes of the brand, and putting together visual representations of what the new brand identity will look and feel like.

When Chris and Jose talk about designing smarter, it’s just that: designing with a plan in place and knowing the context of the situation. It’s not about your style—it’s about the client’s overall brand. Once you’ve done your research and put together the strategy, you can then execute on the design.

Closing Thoughts

Throughout this process of defining a brand and designing its identity, it’s important to know that clients like to be involved in the process. You’re designing their business’s identity, after all.

Now that we’ve made the distinction between identity design and branding, and how one can’t really function without the other, how will you apply what you’ve learned into your next branding project?

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