Companies - from startups to even large-scale enterprises, usually have a vague understanding of the term "brand". Most of the companies I've seen consider having a logo, a tagline, and a business card to be all of the elements of branding but it isn't exactly true.
Think of the elements of branding building blocks that define everything related to your company. Branding is an umbrella term that can describe everything from the visuals you use on your website, your message, the experience of your customers, the color palette of your website/app, and much more.
These components of branding come together to formulate the identity of your brand - which your team of designers use to create a compelling brand UI/UX. In this article, I am going to talk in detail about elements of branding with a couple of examples but before we get into that, what is a "bran", anyway?
Part 1 What is a "Brand"?
The term "brand" is used to explain how users of a company or its products/services perceive it. So, in a way, brand in itself is an intangible term - one cannot really see/ touch elements of branding. Over the years, big companies do such a great job in defining their brands that after a certain point when any user sees a color combination used by them; they subconsciously think of them.
Take McDonald's for example. Every time you see a combination of red & yellow color, you end up craving fries and, at times, you even don't know why. That's the power of branding. If you do a great job at branding your company the right way, it will provide enormous value and give you an unparalleled competitive edge in your industry.
Let's take Apple to be one of the brand elements examples. Ask yourself - what's Apple? The understanding of the Apple brand is not limited to the products it manufactures. The elements of branding used by Apple can be clearly perceived by almost everyone across the globe - both by people who use & don't use Apple.
Does Apple manufacture the best smartphones? Probably not! There are better products out there. But every time the company launches a new product, people go crazy to get their hands on it. They stand in line for 8-10 hours straight!
So, what are the basic elements of branding? And how should you define them to give a competitive edge to your company?
Part 2 The Basic Elements of Branding
In this section, I am going to talk in detail about the basic elements of branding along with relevant brand elements examples. Always remember that brand elements are not limited to what I've mentioned below because they are "intangible" assets and you can choose to define them as you want for your company.
1. Brand Name
This is a simple one. The name of your brand plays a key role in defining its perception among its users. In layman's terms, the word(s) used to identify your company and its offerings - products/company.
When it comes to brand name, there are a million different examples - in variety as well as creativity. The general rule of thumb is to choose a brand name that -
- is short & catchy.
- preferably describes your company's offerings, and
- is unique.
Here are 2 brand elements examples as far as the brand name is concerned - Apple & Kentucky Fried Chicken. If you weren't already aware of Apple's offerings, you would've never guessed that Apple is a manufacturer of tech products but the brand name is unique, short, & catchy.
On the other hand, you hear about Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) and you already know the company's primary offering - fried chicken.
A company's logo is one of the most-used components of branding. Be it on your merchandise, your website, or your brochure, a logo is a must-have for any company. Most companies go with their entire names or their respective abbreviations in their logos.
For instance, Kentucky Fried Chicken uses the abbreviation KFC in their logo but it wasn't like this when they started back in 1952. This is how KFC's logo has changed over the years. Now, the thing to notice here is that the avatar of Colonel Sanders (founder of KFC) is almost the same, even after 69 years.
This is what I have with the logo changes of every major brand. Facebook's logo changes can be used as other brand elements examples. The color palette (discussed in the next section) of Facebook's logo has almost remained the same even after 17+ years.
As a new company, you can probably do some experiments with your logo to find the variation that gets maximum traction from your target audience. But if you already have established your company in a particular industry, I recommend not to completely change your logo but to keep at least one common element from your old logo in the new one.
3. Color Palette
The color palette of a brand is basically the combination of colors used by a company - in its logo, on its website, packaging of products, etc. The color palette plays a crucial role in defining the brand of a company.
Here are a few examples of brand elements examples.
- Black, Red, & White - Coca Cola
- Blue & White - Facebook
- Yellow & Green - Subway
- Yellow & Blue - IKEA
- Blue, Red, Yellow & Green - Google
So, the next time you look at the color combination of Black, Red, & White and you start feeling thirsty, you can blame Coca-Cola's branding.
When choosing a color palette, you can do your research to choose the perfect color combination for your brand. The colors you choose for your company's branding also have a psychological impact on how a consumer perceives your brand.
For instance, companies often use orange as one of their brand colors because it ignites the feeling of excitement, enthusiasm, and warmth. And of course, because it is easily recognizable.
So far, we have seen 3 important elements of branding - Brand Name, Logo, & Color Palette. Typography should be in sync with all the elements you choose for your brand. I've seen companies using stylish typography for their branding, which isn't bad unless the font type you choose for your brand isn't readable at all.
Remember how I've mentioned "uniqueness" to be an important element of your company's branding in almost all the above sections?
Well, you don't have to go completely unique when it comes to choosing the typography for your brand. Don't go avoiding default fonts only because they are widely used. In the same way. don't choose a "stylish" font just because it is unique.
The tagline is going to be one of the most commonly used marketing materials you are ever going to use. So, choose it wisely. Again, there are brands with unclear subject lines and then there are brands with iconic taglines.
Here are a few brand elements examples as far as their taglines are concerned.
- Think Different - Apple
- Eat Fresh - Subway
- Belong Anywhere - Airbnb
- Open Happiness - Coca Cola
- Just Do It - Nike
You must've heard all of them but when you look at some of them keeping them aside from the brands; you might wonder what this company does! Take Nike's "Just Do It". Depending on your personal choice, you can choose to have a tagline that relates to your product/service, your company's culture, and much more!
6. Others - Taste, Smell, and More
Depending on the product/service you are planning to sell, the elements of branding may differ for your company. Take Coca Cola for instance. Its secret ingredient has been a marketing material for so long and yet, no one ever has been able to figure it out. It has become so iconic that people, irrespective of the national boundaries, have heard about it.
The same goes for KFC's chicken. The point is that the brand identity elements can differ for different companies. If you are a manufacturer of premium perfumes, their smell could be one of the elements of branding.
Personally, I recommend brands to keep their branding short, unique, and catchy to keep their company's name ingrained among its audience.
I've mentioned the key elements of branding that every company should define. Many believe the products/services of a company are only good as their marketing and, believe it or not, these brand identity elements play a crucial role in how people perceive your brand.
Create a brand identity for your company and keep it consistent across all marketing channels. Being inconsistent with your branding elements may confuse your target audience, which is something you definitely wouldn't want! Good luck!