Naming & Identity – Part 2

Once a name is chosen,  you now have to design it into something that visually expresses its own true nature in the most compelling way possible. The name turned into a full brand identity, through a logo or wordmark, is truly the “face” of your brand.

I’ve gotten a fair number of requests to put down some tips on brand identity, so I asked several very accomplished brand identity experts I know, and here’s what they had to say:

1) Make sure the brief is very clear and very tight. One single brief should serve for both naming and identity – including not only key brand strategy elements, but also a well-written articulation of the brand personality. We like to write brand personality attributes and values not in bullet form, but as a very short narrative that feels like we’re describing a person to someone who doesn’t know them:

“Brand X stands tall and walks with a sense of purpose. It’s a brand of few words, but speaks loudly through its actions. While unpretentious and masculine, it has a depth and quality that’s hard to miss.”

2) Choose creative people who have real training in identity, fonts/typefaces, art direction and design. Identity is a true craft, and doesn’t belong in the hands of dabblers or amateurs. You’ll see the difference in the quality of the work, and how audiences perceive your brand identity once in the marketplace.

3) Refrain from getting into the “I like” conversations so much as the “this works” conversation. In the brief (or at the briefing meeting), you must make clear what you intend to achieve with the identity in the minds and hearts of your audience – the impression it needs to create. Compare the identity options to that brief, and ask yourself which ones achieve the intended impression best. If you’re really lucky, you may have one or more options that are transcendent, in that they’re not only on brief, but have an unforgettable quality.

4) Make sure you and the creative team think through the major contexts and applications of the identity before fully committing. Is this mostly going to be seen on iPads and iPhones? Then it better look good and be recognizable on a small screen. Is this going to be a hood ornament on a car? Then you may need a 3-dimensional version to evaluate.

5) While I’m not a proponent of differentiating merely for the sake of differentiating, an identity most definitely needs to be distinctive and memorable. It is the first calling card for your brand in many cases. Make sure it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle or get mistaken for something more famous. Like a good pop song, you shouldn’t be able to get it out of your head.