Bringing a brand to life can be one of the most fulfilling adventures you’ll undertake. It typically begins with a thunderstorm of great ideas, as you imagine all the things your brand could become: how it will look out there in the world, and how it might make people feel when they encounter it.
Inspiration abounds. There’s a ton of creative energy flowing through you right now. So let’s harness that, point it squarely in the direction of your ambition, and unleash it as a supersonic laser beam.
The goal of the brand identity process is to establish three cornerstones:
Your brand’s story
Your brand’s design toolkit
Your brand’s collection of templates
With these in place, you’ll gain a huge headstart towards reaching your brand’s ambitions.
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Let’s begin by tackling the first of these brand cornerstones:
Your biggest challenge will be standing out in a very noisy and crowded marketplace. It’s always been hard to do this, but in a post-Covid landscape that has ignited an explosion of tiny new businesses responding to our new reality, the obstacle course just became much more complex.
But as we say at Over (it’s a brand value we have literally printed and framed on our wall): It’s a playground, not an obstacle course. Design will be a major component of your small business as you constantly jostle for eyeballs on social media. With Over’s branding tools, you can create a system that will make your design process quick, easy, and fun. That’s what we want to do for you.
There are two fundamental things that are going to help you find your voice and stand out from the crowd, when it comes to online branding:
Meaning Why are you doing what you’re doing, and what value does it add to the world?
Difference How are you unique, and why should we choose you from all the options we have?
So where does this process of figuring out your unique identity begin?
It starts with your story.
Your story isn’t just about how you got here: it’s also about where you want to go. The vision.
When things feel muddled or overwhelming on your business journey (and they definitely will sometimes), bringing your focus back to the vision will help restore clarity and motivation.
Your story needs to be authentic, rooted in truth. Being authentic is just another way of saying being original, and that’s where your power lies.
“Originality is an advantage,” according to Matt Riley, Brand Marketing Director at Over. “It always has been. But now research shows that originality creates an economic advantage for brands too.”
That’s right. You’re way more likely to reap the rewards of your marketing campaigns (i.e make money), if consumers think your brand stands out in the sea of sameness.
Matt believes that truth is at the heart of everything: “it’s super important. Especially when it comes to an authentic and long lasting brand story.” In his view, there are four truths you need to deeply consider at the beginning of your brand journey – or at any point when you feel adrift.
Your Truth: What is the unique product, service or company characteristic that gives your story its roots?
Audience Truth: A truth about your audience. A need or desire that you can meet or satisfy. This is where you really connect with what your audience requires from you.
Truth of the moment: Something big, important, possibly exciting in culture or your category that you can support or challenge.
Truth of your mission: Beyond profit, why are you doing what you’re doing?
Combining your responses to each of these questions, you should arrive at your brand story – a concise statement that sums up your unique offering.
Let’s take a hypothetical example for a hypothetical brand:
Acacia produces gender-neutral skincare products from organic ingredients. They focus on quality over quantity, leaving the smallest possible trace in their production processes.
Our Truth: Acacia is a committed member of 1% for the planet.
Audience Truth: The modern consumer needs to create substantial impact with their daily rituals.
The moment: Intersectional environmentalism calls for the protection of people and planet.
The mission: A world where we all live in harmony with nature and each other.
And this all comes together in Acacia’s strategic storyline:
It’s a simple, playful statement that positions Acacia as an eco-conscious beauty brand with a human heart, and purpose beyond selling bottles of lotion.
It’s worth getting all these ideas out of your head and into a few lines. Why not make it your very first design in Over? Create a basic poster with your brand story, and get it printed for your home office. Radiate that positive energy into your space.
These are some templates in the app you could use to get started:
With your distinct story in place, you can begin moving towards a distinct visual identity with your online branding that will bring it to life, and develop your brand’s personality. Certain words and ideas within your story might activate visual ideas, or you might already have a strong inkling of where you’d like to go.
Before you start locking down your unique fonts, colors, and graphic style into a brand identity toolkit, try making a vision board for your brand. This is really just a sketch of what the final painting might look like. Colors, images, graphics, fonts… anything that you’re naturally drawn towards. Trust your instincts, and start organising your visual ideas.
In the example we illustrated at the beginning of this article, it all emerged from a very rough vision board that looked something like this:
But you can imagine how different the end result would have been if the initial vision board had steered things in a different direction.
Alright! You’re ready to begin the brand identity journey, with a story and a vision that shows the world your meaning, and your difference. We’ll get to logos, images, graphics, fonts, and color palettes in due course, but for now... jump headfirst into the Over app and start falling in love with the process.