“Consistency is key to a strong brand identity”
Copenhagen, March 13th, 2019
Branding can evoke feelings, emotions, a situation or a place. Some brands are so engraved in our culture that even replace the name of the object – such as calling a vacuum cleaner a Hoover. Copenhagen-based agency Granyon, has been working with companies on defining and designing their brands, on paper and digital, for a number of years.
TIA talks to Granyon’s branding specialist Lea Thagaard Thomsen to find out what branding entails and how it needs to evolve.
What is brand identity?
Brand identity is how your brand looks, feels, and speaks to people. Sometimes how it even smells or sounds. It’s all the visual and tangible elements such as logo, colour palette, and tone of voice. It’s how a business presents itself to and wants to be perceived by its audience.
A brand identity is not just a logo and a colour. When designing a brand identity, it’s important to keep in mind that your identity is probably not just going to be applied to one thing/type of media. You need to create a system, a visual language that is flexible enough that it can be used to and also be effective on, everything from a business card to a website. And with animation and technology in general, you can make that visual language come to life and take it to new levels.
At Granyon we always think in movement, and how we can make the identity come to life through animations that tell a story. Being a small team of both brand identity designers and digital designers, all working closely side by side gives us some pretty cool opportunities to quickly test out how a brand identity project can come alive on a website.
Brands tend to change from time to time. How can a brand know that they need a new visual identity?
The world is changing; people are changing, and so should brands to keep being relevant. There are however some indications that maybe it’s about time to give the brand a visual update.
• If your logo is overly detailed and doesn’t work well on digital.
• If your design is inconsistent or hard for people and designers to work with. Consistency is key to a strong brand identity. And if you don’t have a brand style guide, you can’t make sure that the design is consistent.
• If your strategy changes – for example, if you want to reach a different audience. Do you need to be edgier, more fun, softer, greener or more authoritative?
• If your brand identity doesn’t reflect your values anymore. Like if you’re changing your strategy into to being more environmentally focused, your brand identity should reflect that.
• If it’s not flexible enough to grow with your brand.
Does a Brand has a lifespan?
If you’re a big global brand like McDonald’s for example, you need to keep up with what’s happening in the world with technology, human behaviour, culture, politics, animal welfare and environmentally, big things like that so your brand evolves with the changes in society and the world, while still being true to the brands core values.
If not, the brand can change to what it is relevant for the business as any given time. Of course, all is relative, and it all comes down to who your audience is, global span, responsibility, ethics and things like that.
What are the essential elements to bear in mind to have a super brand identity?
Consistency (a good brand guide), flexibility and the ability to evolve with changes in society, technology and human needs.
What is your design process?
First of all, we establish a brand strategy. We also look at how does the brand communicate and what does it stand for. If you don’t know who you are as a brand or how you communicate, you can’t build a valuable relationship with your audience.
Brands should make clear to its audience why they should care about this brand in particular. Getting the positioning right is very important, as there is probably a lot of competition out there.
After establishing the strategy, we will usually start by doing a lot of research on the client, looking at its competition – who is doing a good job and who isn’t (the good, the bad, the ugly). Of course, it is essential too to look at its audience; their needs wants and values.
With all this knowledge in mind, we start to develop visual concepts, sketching, develop logo ideas, creating graphic elements, testing out fonts, playing around with colours etc. Sometimes we present this process to the client to give them a heads up/a sneak peek on where we are and how we work. Through that, we get valuable feedback we can use to shape an identity they can see themselves in, in the end.
After testing out different graphic routes, combined with the feedback we get from the client – we make some choices and cut it down to the visuals and the graphics route that we want to use to create the right brand identity.
Do you provide your clients with a brand style guide, so that they can follow it on social media and other media?
It depends on the project and what the client asks for of course. A brand style guide is essential to make sure that the client can work with it in the future and that the consistency of the brand is kept intact.
How do you define your brand design process?
Creatively messy, unorganised, organised chaos. You need to wear a lot of hats as a designer when you create a brand identity. It is a multi-disciplinary effort, where creativity, empathy and strategy go hand in hand.
What first drew you to the creative field?
Growing up I’ve always been very creative and curious, drawing, reading and writing a lot. I have ever had an inventive mind, and I somewhat overthink and analyse things a lot. And I think to be in a creative business that can come in very handy as long as you know how to control it and make some hard decisions sometimes.
Also, in school, I would take my handwriting very seriously and fine-tune it over and over again. I would make sure to use the same writing and colours throughout a whole notebook – there were a few cases where I decided to change the handwriting in the middle of a notebook, and I would rewrite the entire thing with my newly developed style. Call that OCD – but hey I took that as a sign.
What has helped you succeed in your job?
Curiosity and an open mind. I love to hear why people are passionate about what they do.
Do you consider yourself a team player?
Very much so. When minds get together and push ideas, you can create something powerful. It’s easier to challenge and question ideas if you work in teams.
What do you like doing in your free time?
A lot of gigs and a lot of good food and travels.
By Geny Caloisi.