Brand Identity Elements Explained

August 10, 2021
Michael C

When you see Tony the Tiger, what do you think about?  Chances are, you are reminded of the sweet, sugary taste of frosted flakes. However,  have you ever wondered why a huge cartoon tiger who bellows “They’re Gr-r-reat!” constantly draws our minds to a children’s cereal?  Branding.  That’s why.

Not only does Frosted Flakes capitalize on the idea of a mascot, but they also combine their mascot with bright colorways, catchy slogans, and engaging advertisements.  These are all pieces of a larger puzzle that Kellogg’s has consistently refined over the years of trial and error for the Frosted Flakes brand. This puzzle is known as brand identity.

However, when starting a business, building an effective brand identity takes time and goes much deeper than mascots and logos. Lets break down some of the main elements that aid in building an effective, memorable brand.


Key Components of Brand Identity Elements

Mission and Vision Statements

When it comes to building a business, it is critical to have a clear understanding of your company’s objective, the products and services you are offering, your intended target audience and where you plan to offer your products and services. This information can all be condensed into something called  mission and vision statements. 


Mission and Vision statements are important to your brand because they give a brief but concise overview of your company. In addition, they can also give an idea of the future direction you plan on taking your business. These statements also serve as a valuable reference tool to help anyone inside or outside of your business understand your goals and objectives to see if your company’s actions align with your mission and vision. 


Having a properly structured mission and vision statement is important, and looking into other brands’ missions and visions can be a great way to help brainstorm your own as well! For example, Nike’s mission statement is “to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.” This mission drives Nike’s vision “to do everything possible to expand human potential.” As you can see, Nike demonstrates a clear understanding of what their purpose as a brand is and who they plan on offering their products and services to. All in all, your mission and vision statements are a brief synopsis of your purpose as a brand and a powerful tool to aid in navigating your business to its intended destination.

Core Values

Core values are another valuable asset to include when building your brand identity. Core values are more or less adjectives that serve as the principles defining your company and its culture. Core Values are essential to your brand because they reinforce the actions of your company, and again, offer insight into your company’s culture, which is incredibly important for those who want to know more about why you do things the way you do them. 


However, it is important to note that core values MUST be authentic and genuine to your brand. In a world where there is mass transparency, it is critical to live out these core values in ALL of your business operations. Any infringement of these values in your operations can lead to a lack of trust between your brand and your audience. This lack of trust could spread like wildfire to others if they discover you are not actually authentic to your brand’s culture, and as a result, can cause you to lose sales and future business… not good. 


There are countless values to choose from to represent your brand, but again it is important to pick good core values that best represent who you are, what you do, and the manner in which you do things. Some examples of good core values include accountability, dependability, empathy, growth, honesty, innovation, integrity and trust. If you have trouble nailing down your own values, you can always google search company core values and browse over the seemingly endless options to best represent your business. For a general rule of thumb, it is best to pick between 10- 15 adjectives and narrow these down to no more than five adjectives that best reinforce your mission and define your brand culture.


Tone of voice is the next piece of building your brand identity, and it is the way you communicate your message to your audience. Tone exists in both the written and spoken elements of your communication and marketing efforts. From emails and internal communications, to your website and external marketing and networking efforts, tone plays a major role. Even though it can be overlooked in some cases, tone is a powerful medium that gives your brand personality, and giving adequate consideration to how you want to portray your brand through a unique tone of voice is definitely in your best interest. 


Similar to core values, you can look for adjectives that make up the way that your company communicates internally and externally to its audience. A great way to hone in on a unique tone for your brand is to make a list of 5-10 adjectives of what your tone is vs 5-10 adjectives of what it is not. For example, you can describe your tone as encouraging, friendly, simple, and transparent. On the other hand, you can outline that your tone is not assertive, complex, condescending, and wordy. Making sure to document your tone in your companies brand guide is a great way to ensure everyone in your company understands the way you communicate to your audience, and this also ensures that your message gets delivered consistently. 


Every brand needs a way to differentiate itself from other businesses that potentially offer similar products/ services. One of the greatest assets used to identify your brand is a unique mark called a logo. 

Logos come in many different styles whether that is a symbol, a word mark, or even a combination of the two. Therefore, it could serve you well to know what kind of mark will best represent your business in the space in which you decide to position your brand. Doing your due diligence here could serve you very well. Looking into other companies, styles, colors and visuals can be a great way to start laying the foundation for building a truly unique mark. 


Logos are important because they not only aid in differentiating you from similar brands, but also aid in developing association, recognition and trust with your audience and other businesses . Think of it like this, every time you see KFC’s logo, you think of Kentucky Fried chicken. Nike? You think shoes/ athletic wear. Apple? You think about technology and iPhones. Do you see why having a unique mark that represents your brand can be such a powerful thing? 


Do yourself a favor and invest in developing a solid, unique mark that you feel confident to represent your brand and what you offer. Considering all other aspects of your brand identity in creating a unique mark is important as well because after all, your logo is just one piece of your total identity. 

Color Palette

The fifth piece of your brand identity is your color palette. Similar to your logo and tone, color can aid in the recognition of your brand. Think McDonalds and their bright red color palette along with their golden arches or even Instagram and their bright, playful gradient palette. 


Being that color does hold significance to your identity as a brand, you don’t want to just throw darts at a color wheel blind folded.  Giving adequate consideration to your color palette is certainly important because color creates moods and conveys different feelings depending on the color you are dealing with. Looking into and having a brief understanding of color theory/ psychology can definitely help get an idea of the moods associated with whatever colors that can best represent your brand. Is your brand outgoing and friendly? A brighter palette may be better suited for you than a gloomy palette. Notice how you can use your core values and tone of voice as well to pick your brands color palette. 


With that being said, if you find yourself having trouble nailing down colors that go well together, feel free to check out Canva’s color wheel or another color picker tool. These tools are awesome because they are specifically made to generate color combinations that look well together so you can have complete confidence in the final decision of your color palette. 


 Just like tone and color, your typography is another element that aids in the portrayal of your brand’s personality. While it is important to obviously pick fonts that look well together, it is also important to pick fonts that reflect your brand’s aesthetic/ style. Is your style more modern? It may be safer to go with modern typefaces than it would to pick retro typefaces. 


Having  primary and secondary typefaces will help to not only create more visual appeal but also help differentiate headings and other call to action items from more dense bodies of text. An effective type scale outlining appropriate weights and font sizes also helps to keep your copy fresh and engaging for users. If you are having trouble finding fonts for your brand, Google Fonts has an excellent library of fonts of all styles to select from to get you started. Even better,  they offer recommendations based off of fonts you like that can work well as your primary or secondary typographies. 


One of the last, but certainly not least, pieces of your brand identity is imagery. Having creative and original imagery for your brand is a great way to reinforce your brand’s aesthetic, style and personality. Unique imagery or other visual assets, such as Tony the Tiger, can also go a long way in building recognition for your brand. Imagery is also a powerful tool to equip in your brands arsenal  because it can help keep customers engaged on your platforms.

However, it is important to note that the imagery of your brand should be relevant to your image. Having imagery that relates to your brand does wonders for reinforcing your brands image and offerings. For example, KFC does not use tacos in their imagery for obvious reasons…

Utilizing your brands color palette within your imagery is important as well. Consistency across your identity is key and when you begin to combine your imagery with both your color and typographies, your imagery can transform into an incredibly valuable asset to your brand and its identity. 


Overall, think of your brand identity as a large puzzle. When all of these pieces are combined together, they hopefully paint a beautiful, unique picture of your brand. It’s important to remember that consistency is key when building your identity because this helps build trust and associations with new and existing customers. For example, imagine if Nike or Apple were constantly changing the way they portrayed themselves to their audience. Wouldn’t that make it exponentially harder to become familiarized to your audience and make it harder to attract new customers?


When building an effective brand identity it cannot be understated how critical it is to remain consistent with the elements of your brands image. In fact, a great tool that helps keep your brand’s image consistent and aligned is a brand guide. We will go deeper into guidelines in a later post, but for now be sure to take time and careful consideration in building the elements of your brand identity. Most of all, do not forget to have fun 🙂