How do you make sure everyone recognizes you?

Nastya P, lead UX/UI designer
Nastya P, lead UX/UI designer
Aug 3, 2023
25 minutes
Waking up famous is what all tiktokers, youtubers and others like them dream of. But it's not in my plans to teach you how to set up ads, arrange warm-ups and shoot rails. Because I am a designer. My name is Nastya and I'm from We are talking about IT, but I decided to share my experience so that it will be useful to you in any field.
Therefore, if you are a business owner or a manager in a company, it does not matter furniture or drilling rig sales. Sit comfortably, I will tell you what manipulations to carry out so that they begin to notice you in the market.

What will be discussed?

Let's figure out what a brand is, what components it consists of, how it is built and where you can screw up. We will learn how to communicate with customers through the visual. Let's find out if it's time to start a rebrand.
Why did I decide to write this article about branding and design consistency in the first place?
We often have clients who want a new website come to us. A new site means a new design. At the same time, at best, they have only a logo, and when you try to brief them (question) about the product, benefits, customer relationships, they can’t say anything.
Many believe that the new design will really solve all their problems, buyers will leave the competition and rush to the new site like mice after Piper. Unfortunately, this is far from the case. It is important for users to create an attractive image, endow it with emotions and do everything so that people identify themselves with their brand. They wanted not just a phone, but an iPhone. At the break we ate not just a chocolate bar, but KitKat and quenched our thirst with Sprite.
Slowly but surely we came to the concept of a brand.

What is this brand of yours?

Let's assume that a brand is a person.
Imagine you meet a person at an event. What do you pay attention to first of all? On the appearance, behavior, manner of communication? Based on everything that you notice, an image of this person will form in your head. You will form some kind of opinion and understand: do you want to approach a person, talk, drink a glass of wine with him? Or maybe he annoys you so much that you want to leave right now?
Consumer attitudes towards a brand work in exactly the same way. If brand communications resonate with people, create an emotional connection and inspire trust, then they will want to interact with it and will be loyal to it.
Conversely, if the brand's values and proposition do not match with the consumer's, or are simply incomprehensible, people are more likely to refuse interaction or prefer another brand.
When meeting a new person, we have the first impression, and then we form the next one. When getting to know a brand, the situation is similar:
The primary image is the impression about the brand, which is formed by consumers even before direct interaction with it. For example, you saw an ad, went to an unfamiliar store for soap and bought the first one that came across, studied different refrigerators on the Internet, or bought for the first time on advice.
How it works? One lazy evening, scrolling through your Instagram feed, you come across an ad for an online pillow store. And then you realize that you definitely need a new pillow - it’s already uncomfortable to lie on the old one. Therefore, follow the link, study the profile and assortment. Suddenly find in the store those very square lavender padding pillows that you like so much! And ... you order.
What got you hooked in the first place?
You paid attention to what the brand looks like (logo, corporate identity), its visual language of communication (what kind of advertising does it have). We studied what (and how) the brand says: its offers, goals and benefits. We heard the tone of voice ("brand voice"), which he uses to communicate with customers and partners.
All this together played a role that you ordered the pillow here.
Some statistics:
The secondary image is formed after interaction with the brand.
We settled on ordering pillows. It turned out that you can do this even on the site, where everything is super clear and convenient, even in DM, where the manager will contact you. When the courier appeared on the doorstep, you saw in his hands not just a crumpled package, but a beautiful box with a ribbon. You unpack the pillow, trembling with anticipation, and find a card with best wishes and a promo code for a discount on your next order.
How was that? Nice? Is it a positive experience with the store? I would say sure! You are more likely to order your next pillow there and not go to competitors. This means that you have become a brand advocate and your client's love has been won.
So, your secondary image has been formed due to such factors as a pleasant social media design style, ease of use of an online store, delivery speed, and use of a loyalty program.
Thus, it is very important to:
Think over the way and style of communication with consumers (people equally dislike intrusive managers and those who answer in a week, even as if everyone owes him)
Correctly “dressing” the brand is to develop a uniform and relevant visual identity (it sounds difficult for now, but we’ll talk about this a little later)
Formulate and clearly communicate what benefits your brand has

How to build a brand. Guide for dummies and not only

Let's start from the basics - build a brand platform. This is a detailed description of the desired image that you want to achieve (what clients will see when they look at you).
We will define the idea, vision and understanding of the brand. You don't have to philosophize. On the contrary, you should speak the same language as the audience. Otherwise, all this will remain as empty words.
By the way, everything you come up with should also be clear to employees, because they will broadcast your brand to the masses.
What can and should be included in the brand platform:
Description of the main needs of the target audience
This is what people expect from a brand by default and take for granted. Take, for example, a delivery service from restaurants. What are users waiting for? Fast and convenient delivery. If for some reason I can't order my own food (delivery zone 20m around the restaurant, or waiting 4 hours), this will undoubtedly upset me very much. Will I use it again? Hardly!
Let me draw your attention to the fact that a basic need cannot become a competitive advantage. Why then put them out, you’d ask? So that you 100% meet the expectations of customers.
How to identify basic needs? Conduct consumer market analysis and target audience research.
Competitive advantages
Characteristics of a product or service that distinguish it from competitors. It is here that we understand what features will distinguish you from the crowd of similar ones and answer the question “Why me, and not him?”
Consumer benefits
Consumer benefits are the benefits that the client will receive from interacting with the brand: every 10th coffee is free, cashback system, registration without a queue, etc. Just please don't forget to convey them to your customers. So I recently found out that the Silver status of my air carrier allows me to check in 1 baggage, even if I did not pay for it.
Company values that appeal to the target audience
Let's say you save animals, feed the homeless, reduce your carbon footprint. Or maybe you guarantee safety, confidentiality and comfort during transportation. In general, at this point, you need to remember everything for which customers already love or are going to love you.
Strategy - development prospects and ambitions of the brand. How do you plan to scale: enter new markets, release new products, provide new services. This is important at the very beginning to create a brand that will grow with you, and not disappear after each next stage.
I see sadness in your eyes. Only a third of the article, and already so much needs to be thought through ... But there really are reasons for this.
Why is all this necessary:
So that you “speak” with customers in the same way in various channels (social networks, outdoor advertising, offline store, SMS mailing). You want to be knotted.
So that you communicate with employees in the same language. If the manager does not understand the essence of the brand, he does not understand what he is selling and why it is for the buyer. It has nothing to do with your company. You didn't have a vibe.

To make your service/product become “alive”, bring emotions. If you have noticed, today emotions are really the engine of trading today. Thanks Instagram. The client must empathize with the brand, rejoice with it if a new product comes out, and defend it if it is pressed by haters, competitors, the state.
To make your brand noticed and recognized in every corner of our vast planet.
What can go wrong?
The main and significant characteristics of the brand are formulated vaguely. Because of this, they are difficult to broadcast to consumers, and there are misunderstandings in communication with the target audience.
Imagine that you studied Turkish at school, but you often missed your lessons. Knowledge is still there, but it’s very mediocre. And you suddenly had to communicate with a native Turk. Well, it’s like that ... It seems that you boasted that you know Turkish (as you really studied it), but you can hardly express your thoughts clearly.
You have not done the preparatory work: you have not studied the target audience, market, competitors. You have no idea if you even have them. You don’t know why your brand name is well received in one country, but causes a smile in another. And why are your winter hats, so beautiful and handmade, not bought in Africa. Of course, I exaggerated, but you got it.
You overestimated your capabilities, budget, resources. Underline whatever is applicable. What can I say, even the most simple at first glance idea may be costly to implement. But at the stage of developing a brand strategy, this may not be obvious.
You decided to develop a brand platform AFTER you have created it. For example, you first opened the “Ohio Slippers” company to sell shoes, and only then did you think about how you would compete with Nike or Adidas.
Why so many words you’d ask? So that you can see what pitfalls await you only at the preparatory stage, which you cannot refuse. You can use this article as a blueprint for work if you decide to do everything yourself. Or hire a branding agency. Do not be afraid that the experts themselves “think up something”. In such companies, work is based on constant and close interaction with the client.
Okay, we have formed and approved the brand platform. Let's finally get down to developing a visual identity.

What is visual identity and why do I need it?

Visual identity is what a brand looks like. You will 100% not confuse Bolt and Uber, McDonalds and Burger King, Adidas and Nike. They have their own corporate colors, fonts, logos - all this is used not only offline, but also on websites, in applications, in advertising. We recognize each of these brands even in a completely unfamiliar country.
Visual identity can be conditionally divided into external and internal. Spoiler alert: you will most likely need both.
External identity
This is what the brand shows to you and me. We come across his external identity when we first get to know each other, and every time we communicate afterwards. Like, you decided to create an account on Amazon - that’s an acquaintance. You ordered a chair for ourselves - the first communication. It was delivered to you by a courier in the uniform of Amazon - the second. You sat down on a chair and turned on the Amazon Kindle - the third ... I hope everything is clear.
Internal identity
Internal identity is used within the company (unexpectedly). This is how your form heading, social networks, posters are designed - everything that employees see online and offline. Of course, someone will say that all this is an unnecessary embellishment for anyone, a waste of the budget.
Here are a couple of reasons why an internal identity is important:
If everything is designed in a single corporate style, employees quickly navigate the communication channels. They immediately recognize “their own” in social networks by the same covers or stylistically similar avatars, for example. It is especially convenient if you have representative offices in different countries or a team of 100 people.
Let's remember about merch, who doesn't love it (especially stylish). Merch can be used both to unite a team and to reward individual employees.
Internal identity allows employees to identify themselves with the company. What would you prefer: go to work at H&M or Louis Vuitton store? In my opinion, the answer is obvious. People want to work for a company whose brand is stronger and more profitable in the market. Whose brand guarantees a developed corporate culture and high professionalism of all team members. And the elements of the internal identity will allow employees to broadcast it.
What, what, what is our identity made of?
Identity (or corporate identity) usually consists of the following elements:
A logo is a symbol that identifies a brand.
A color scheme is a specific combination of colors that is used in a design and is associated with a brand.
Typography - selected fonts and their styles that are used to create text content.
Graphic elements are any additional graphic elements that can be used in the design, such as textures, lines, shapes, etc.
Tone of voice is the style of brand communication with the audience, which can be formal, informal, humorous, serious, etc.

All of these elements must work together to create a unique and recognizable brand image that stands out from the competition and captures the attention of the audience.
What else is important to say here? Some elements of the identity can work independently for brand recognition, for example, a logo. Others are used only to build a visual appearance (typography, graphic elements). By themselves, they will not cause any associations in people.
BUT! But there are exceptions to the rule when it comes to large and recognizable brands. For example, a melody from a McDonalds advertisement or squares used by Yandex.
For this to happen, you must be consistent in using your identity from the very beginning. And then after a while you will be recognized by one letter or three notes.
How to make the visual identity understandable to the client?
Here are a few principles that I have not only tested in practice, but also constantly use when developing a visual identity for a brand.
Implement familiar patterns.
Consumers already have a certain set of habits and behaviors before they encounter your product. It is based on previous experience. Don't underestimate it.
Here is the logo of a company that sells products for the safety of young children in the house and on the street (playpens, door locks, and so on). This brand was vigorously discussed on the Internet, I think you can guess why:
It is obvious that the visual component of the logo strongly conflicts with the semantic one. In the discussions, one part of the users saw it as a warning sign-sticker, while the other part saw it as a kidnapper.
Such dissociations cause mixed, and even negative feelings. Well, in general, the message of the brand becomes incomprehensible. In such a situation, you can say goodbye to customer loyalty.
Be careful with experiments.
Sometimes it seems that you are surrounded by the same type of templates and patterns, you get bored with everything, and you want to bring something fresh to your identity. But in the pursuit of innovation, there is a danger of losing the uniformity and coherence that was built before. And your audience will suddenly stop understanding you. Therefore, identity elements should be added or changed carefully and gradually, while maintaining integrity and recognizability.
Correctly structure and create a system.
When the content (text, photo, video, etc.) is well organized and structured, the user easily understands what they want to say. He doesn't waste time figuring out how information is connected. A person can focus on the information itself and perceive it without any extra effort.
Don't be afraid to redo.
If the current identity does not bring the desired result, is incomprehensible or repels the target audience, feel free to rebrand. However, you definitely can't do it on your own.
Rebranding is a complex process of changing the image and positioning of the brand in the market. If carried out incorrectly, it will lead to a loss of customer confidence, a decrease in sales and a deterioration in brand reputation.
This requires knowledge and experience. It will be necessary to assess the current situation, re-conduct market and competitor research in order to develop an effective strategy. In addition, specialists will be able to create a new logo, design and product packaging. And also competently launch an advertising campaign that will help the brand to take its new position in the market.

When is the right time to do visual identity?

So, you have already overcome almost the entire article. But still not sure if you need it? Let's go over the points when exactly you need it!
The current identity lacks consistency
I'll tell you with an example. In our, according to Head of PR, at first only Facebook was used to communicate with the audience. Then Linkedin was added, followed by twitter, upwork, dribbble, behance, in short, now there are 9 platforms. One person cannot manage so much. Therefore, designers are responsible for their channels, sales for theirs, smm for theirs. And, if we didn’t have a single guide for the design of these networks, a clear understanding of what content and where we broadcast, how we communicate with customers, then we would get a mess. Both in the minds of employees and in the minds of customers.
But now everyone clearly knows that if you want to read our articles - it's on medium, to see how the team lives - on Instagram, how the company works - on Linkedin, what cases we do - on dribbble and behance.
If you see that everything is moving towards scaling communication channels. Or your clients do not understand where to look for you, because online and offline you look different, then it's TIME!
When creating a new brand
Again, I will give an example from the life of our company. Here we have the brand, packaged and beautiful. He is known and recognized by merch, presentations, social media design, and so on. outsources custom web and mobile development. In general, we have experience in many niches, so we did not single out any one. And then we had a strategic session and decided to single out foodtech. In order not to lose other orders, we decided to create a sub-brand. It was no longer possible to make it in the style of, so we developed a new visual identity.
Need to update an existing brand
Do you have new services? Have you entered another market? Have you become eco-friendly? In short, there has been a discrepancy between what the brand offers, what it says, and how it looks. A good solution in this situation would be to redesign the visual identity. Important: with the preservation of mandatory constants.
Why is it important? I'll give you an example. Around 2009, the famous juice brand Tropicana conceived a rebranding, invited an art director, who conjured and gave the result. And everything seems to be fine, but the new packaging did not fit the audience at all. And the designer “played” with the logo so much that it could not be recognized and identified on the shelves at all. The result is a drop in sales and a loss of $27 million. The logo had to go back and continue to be very careful about rebranding.
Ideally, everything should have happened, as in this story. In 2021, Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that the company had changed its logo and name to "Meta". Here it is - the creation of a new visual identity.
What is the result? This has helped achieve several goals. First, Facebook announced that it was expanding its scope as it moved beyond social media. Secondly, the changes attracted the attention of the press and users. And thirdly, they partially improved the reputation of the company, which in recent years has been associated with several high-profile scandals.

I'm ready to brand! What is waiting for me?

01. Briefing
An identity development briefing is a meeting between a customer (for example, a company that wants to create a new visual identity) and a designer who will develop it. The purpose of this meeting is to collect the maximum amount of information about the characteristics of the company, its values, goals, target audience and competitors.
The briefing will usually cover the following topics:
Goals and objectives of the company: what needs to be conveyed to the audience, what feelings and emotions should the new brand evoke?
Target audience: who are they, what age, gender, social status, what are their interests and habits?
Competitors: what are the competitors, what are their features, what style and visual identity do they have?
Brand uniqueness: how does the company differ from competitors, what are the features and advantages of the brand?
Requirements for a new visual identity: what style and colors are preferred, whether any symbols or elements should be used, what font, etc.
02. Concept and presentation
Creating an identity concept is a long and creative process that includes several stages:
Research. At this stage, designers study the brand, its values, mission, competitors and target audience. This helps determine the tone, style, and color scheme to be used in the concept.
Development. Based on the research, designers begin to develop several concepts that reflect the values and uniqueness of the brand. All elements of the identity are already applied here: logo, colors, fonts, textures, etc.
Presentation. When all the concepts are ready, the designers present them to the customer. This usually happens at a meeting where the designers go into detail about each concept, explain the elements used, and give examples of how it might look in different media. At the same time, it is necessary to show not only the aesthetic side of the concept, but also explain how this will help the brand achieve its goals and stand out from the competition.
Choice. After the presentation, the customer chooses the concept that best suits his expectations and objectives. There may be further discussions and adjustments here to get the final version.
Development of further materials. Once the final concept is chosen, the designers start working on different media of the identity such as websites, packaging, promotional materials, banners, etc.
03. Building a design system
Building a design system is the process of developing a set of rules and guidelines that define how all elements of a brand's visual identity are created and used, including colors, typography, icons, photography, animation, and more.
When building a design system for an identity, there are several steps:
Determination of the main elements of visual identity. At this stage, the colors, typography, shapes and other basic elements that will be used in the future are determined.
Creation of a modular grid. A modular grid is a layout system that defines the arrangement of elements on a page, ensuring design is consistent and legible.
Creation of components. Components are collections of elements that can be used to create different interfaces and layouts. They should be designed with the modular grid and other elements of the design system in mind.
Development of a style guide. A style guide is a document that describes the rules for using all elements of a brand's visual identity, as well as giving examples of their use.
Testing and improvement. Once a design system has been created, it needs to be tested on various devices and platforms, and refined if any problems are found.
The presentation of the identity concept to the customer is the last stage, which shows and explains all the developed identity, its main elements and examples of their use. It is important that the presentation is of high quality and visual, so that the customer can easily understand and evaluate all the changes and innovations in the design. Typically, a presentation uses mockups of websites, apps, packaging, and other visual identity elements to show how all of the elements would look in real life.

Breathe out! Here’s a sum-up

This is where my story ends. I hope in 12 pages I have convinced you that today the appearance of a brand, its speech and thoughts are no less important than the quality of a product or service (we remember that we are greeted by clothes, but see off by mind). You cannot remain without a face, without a position, without a voice - you simply will not be noticed in a crowd of monotonous brands.
I also tried to give you an idea of what steps you have to go through if you do it yourself or what to look for if you decide to work with an agency.
That’s all for me, if you have any questions about the brand or design, I’ll be happy to answer in the comments.