Join Sean Adams for an in-depth discussion in this video Identity systems, part of Branding for Designers.
- You've done the hard job. Pulling together the research, analyzing the information, and proposing a clear idea and direction for the brand. It's all good in theory, but now it's time to make it real. The best way to do that is to start making and create the visual system. I've found that the visuals lead the idea, and make it real. All the other elements of a brand follow the visuals. We've established that a logo will never live in a void. You might start designing a visual approach with the logo, and that's a good place to begin.
The entire identity system, however, will either support the brand message or confuse it. An identity system is the combination of all the pieces that work together maintaining a singular voice for the brand. The logo is one part, now add a proprietary color palette, choice of type faces, image style, choice of materials, and copy style. I like to think of an identity system as a set of Legos.
You can make all kinds of things from Legos, but whether it's a house or car, they will always be Legos. If I try to add pieces from a different set of wooden blocks, I'd end up with a mess. This system also exists to be passed on to other designers. Think of who will be using it once you are finished. If it's a creative company with talented designers in-house, you might design a system that has more pieces, a broader color palette, more type of graphic options, and different ways to handle an image.
Give them a wider berth to create, and they will be less inclined to abandon your system. The opposite is also true. If the client is less sophisticated when working with designers, or the company has been proven to run off the rails visually, it's good to make a more stringent system. Limit the color palette to one or two options. Use only one typeface, and one style of images. The goal is consistency, and maintaining the brand message.
Maintaining an identity system, and brand message, will lead to easy recognition by the audience. If the message is simple and clear, and the visual language is unique and compelling, the audience will eventually be able to identify the brand without seeing the logo or product. In our world of millions of visual messages hitting us from all sides, this is imperative for a company to succeed.
- The history of branding (pre- and post-1950)
- The elements of branding
- Conducting research
- Solving problems and presenting solutions
- Creating logos and identity systems
- Building a visual system with color, typography, and more
- Communicating branding with manuals and vision books