What is Brand Identity? To put it simply, brand identity is the entirety of how a brand looks, feels, and sounds. This includes logo, design, colors, videos, social media posts, adverts, marketing materials, and even to some extent the interior design of the store if the brand has one.
Branding identity is how the brand communicates with the world. Think of some of the biggest brands out there. Think Apple, Nike, Coca-Cola, and Starbucks. You know and remember these brands because of their strong branding and identity.
How to Create a Brand Identity?
Phase 1: Define your brand
Before even beginning to create your brand identity, you must first define and establish your brand strategy. A brand strategy is basically what a brand is in essence. It answers the questions of what the brand is, why it is, and who it’s for. The brand identity is just the way to communicate the core of what the brand actually is.
Brand strategy tends to include terms such as brand values, brand pillars, brand personality, and brand voice.
This tutorial will not go too in-depth with these terms, but we will help you define these terms in a simpler way. Basically, we need to answer these questions
- “What is the brand?
- “What do we do/serve?”
- “Why do we do it?”
- “Who do we do it for?”
- “How do we do it?”
When working for a client, it’s best to ask these questions and have them provide you with as much of their branding strategy that they can provide.
For now, we will use EONS as an example. EONS is a 24 hour ramen diner and cafe focused on delivering a relaxing experience. It is for the young adults seeking to find some peace away from the stress of work by day or the noise of the party by night. It keeps pumping out a relaxing lo fi beats while engulfing the entire restaurant in a cozy neon glow.
- What: 24 hour ramen diner and cafe
- Why: To deliver a relaxing experience
- Who: Young adults running from stress and noise
- How: Food with lofi music and neon lights
Another important thing to establish is the brand personality. Imagine the brand as a human. How would our brand talk? How would they look? Are they friendly, shy, outgoing, clever? Knowing these will help us communicate the way the brand should look and feel in the brand identity.
EONS’ brand personality is
Phase 2: Find inspiration and build a moodboard
After establishing the basics of the brand strategy, we move on to begin with the actual design.
Mainly, we start with the logo. The logo is usually the face of the brand. It is what we remember first when we mention a brand name. Think of the simple Apple logo, or the iconic Nike swoosh.
Before even beginning with the logo design though, we must first find some inspiration for it and the rest of the core designs of the brand.
A great place to find inspiration is Pinterest. Always refer to the branding strategy when searching for inspiration.
When trying to inspire oneself, it is best to create a moodboard. A moodboard contains imagery and sources that are relevant to the look, feel, essence, and personality of the brand. It’s best to list down the most relevant words that are related to the brand. Keep the moodboard as consistent as possible. It is supposed to evoke the feeling of the brand and inspire you to create the designs.
In EONS’ case, since we know what style we are going for, the main words we used are:
- Neon logo
- Ramen logo
- Lofi aesthetic
- Neon aesthetic
Since EONS was heavily related to the idea of having lofi music being played, we even spent time to listen to lofi music while finding inspiration. Give this playlist a listen while you’re going through this article.
Phase 3: Sketching
Once you have been inspired, it is time to channel the creativity into existence. Get a piece of paper and a pen. Sit down and sketch as many logo ideas as you can. Draw the same logo over and over again in different variations. Try new things. You want to draw a neon potato or a giant noodle T-Rex? Doesn’t matter. Just sketch it.
Here are some sketches we drew during the sketching phase.
If you somehow prefer sketching digitally, that’s fine too. Whatever floats your boat as long as you make some sketches and different logo variations.
Phase 4: Illustrator Setup
Before we begin with the actual design work, you might be interested in seeing the final files for this project. If so, you can download it here.
When you’re done sketching, evaluate the sketches you’ve made and see which one is most relevant to the brand that also looks the best. Scan it or take a photo of it and put it into illustrator.
Other people will tell you to reprint the logo and draw on it and plan the shapes of the logo. That’s good and all, but I truly believe that there is no better way of shaping a logo than just getting on with it and actually building it on illustrator. Of course it’s good to plan the shapes of the logo and it is a must to do, but one can do that on illustrator too.
During this step, you might still be having some new logo ideas. If you have time, go ahead and sketch them out some more. It’s good to create different versions of the logo to see which one actually looks best.
There are the 3 logo variations we made for the EONS logo, but we’ll only be going through the one we actually used as the EONS logo. We’ll show you the step by step process we made this logo.
There are many ways to set up an illustrator file, but my personal preference is to make it in Web Large, 1920×1080 px. It might seem too big for most, but this is the size I am comfortable with. It’s big and gives plenty of room for editing. Following this will help in Keyboard Increment in later steps of this tutorial.
Once it’s opened, create a dark box colored in a shade of black(#0c0c0c). Lock the layer by going to the layers panel and clicking the empty gray box to the right side of the “eye”. It’s also best to rename the layer into “Background”.
Phase 5: Logotype
The very first part of the logo that we created was the logotype. We knew we were going for a neon aesthetic, but we also wanted to give it a slight twist. The logo needed a neon feel even without the usual illustrator effects that goes with neon logos and signs.
We played around with different fonts until we found the perfect one. After a while, we went with Lato Black and colored it a shade of pink (#fe6bdf) Since it was supposed to be neon, the logo needed to feel like a line. Lato Black was too thick while filled in, so we changed it into an outline. Neon lights don’t have any sharp edges since it’s made of glass, so we’ll have to change that as well. Select the EONS text and go to the properties bar at the ride side of your screen. Increase the stroke width to 3pt. Click on “Stroke” and at the “Corner” options, click the middle “Rounded Join” option.
We make a copy of the original logotype and put it on the side for backup in case we make any mistakes. Always do this when you’re working on your own projects to make sure you have something to go back to in case you make any mistakes.
Now, in the original EONS logotype, select the edges of the letters and pull it in slowly to make a very slight curve. The differences are subtle, but noticeable.
This is essentially the basic EONS logotype, but it’s not finished yet. The actual EONS logo has 3 layers, each having a different color. We’ll get into how we found our color palette later on, but for the sake of continuity, we’ll just say we already have a color palette.
We select and copy the original EONS logo with “cmnd/ctrl+V” then place it on top of itself by pressing “cmnd/ctrl+F”. Take the selection tool and don’t select anything. Look at the properties tab on the right side of your screen. Go to “Keyboard Increment” and make sure it has 1px.
Now select the copy of the logo that you placed on top of the original logo. To do this, simply click on it. Do not drag a rectangle selection on it as it will also select the original logo underneath it.
Now that you have it selected, move it 2 points downwards by pressing the down arrow key twice. Now change its color to a shade of blue (#93edff).
For the blue logotype, do the same as the original pink logo. Put a copy of it on top of itself, move it 2 points downward and change its color to a shade of purple (#9386ff).
Now the logotype is almost done. All we have to do now is to make a copy of it in case we have to go back to it again. Then we expand the logotype. Select all 3 layers of the EONS logo, go to the Objects menu, and select “Expand”.
Expanding is important whenever creating a logo. It’s best to have 1 expanded and 1 non-expanded logo. When you expand a logo, it means that no matter how much you resize it up or down, the proportions will be the same. Thick lines will get thicker evenly, or get smaller evenly. If you don’t expand it, no matter how much bigger you make an object, it will remain the same width.
We’re done with the logotype. Yay! Make sure to save it. Also, try to make a habit of saving every 5 minutes to make sure things are saved in case your illustrator or computer crashes.
Phase 6: Logomark
Now we head on to the logomark. The logomark is steamy hot ramen noodles inside a coffee bowl. (Coffee bowl?! Yes, those exist.)
When building anything on illustrator, it’s important to understand that everything is made out of shapes. It’s important to plan out those shapes. In this logomark’s case, this is how the shapes look like.
In this phase, we’re going to build that exact same outline you see above in order to create the logomark. For the first step, we make a big circle that’s about 300 x 300 px big.
Draw a horizontal line that cuts through the center of the circle.
Using the selection tool, select both the circle and the horizontal line. While selected, press “shift+M” on your keyboard to access the shape builder tool. Hold the “alt” key and click on the upper half of the circle. This part of the circle should disappear. Now, if there are any extra lines at the left or right side of the horizontal line that exceed the width of the circle, click on these while holding alt as well. The result should look like a bowl or a grin.
Next, we will draw the
cup bowl holder. Make a circle that’s around 48 x 48 px big. And place it to the right side of the bowl, with the left side of the circle slightly inside the bowl.
Duplicate the small circle and place the new circle in this position.
Now select both circles with the selection tool. Be careful not to select the bowl. Once the two circles are selected, use the shape builder tool using “shift+M” and erase the left sides of the circle until there’s a crescent left on the right side.
Now, using the direct selection tool, select the point that’s at the center of the inner crescent. Once selected, press “delete” on your keyboard to remove it. It should look like this now.
Select the bowl and the cup holder and group them togethe using “cmnd/ctrl+G”.Next, we’re going to make the noodles inside the bowl. The noodles are actually just circles. For this, we start with the smallest circle. Make a circle that’s 26 x 26 px.
The distances of each circle from one another will be the same size as this circle. To do this, duplicate the circle on top of itself. Drag the copy to the right of the circle. To ensure the circle doesn’t move vertically, hold “shift” while dragging it. Align the outer rims of the two circles so that they touch each other perfectly. To ensure the circles are actually touching perfectly, we can go to outline view. Press “cmnd+Y” on Mac or “ctrl+Y” on Windows.
Now, holding “alt+shift” drag the right circle more to the right and align the outer rims again. Holding “alt” and dragging an object duplicates it. Holding “shift” while dragging will snap the object to one direction, horizontal or vertical.
These 3 circles are merely a measurement of distance for each of the noodle circles. Now it’s time to make the actual circles. Select the first circle we made and duplicate it on top of itself. If you’ve forgotten how to do this, it’s “cmnd/ctrl+C” then “cmnd/ctrl+F”.
Select the new circle, hold “alt+shift” and drag the corner points of the selection outwards to enlarge the object. Make sure to align the circle to the outer rim of the second smaller circle we made earlier. Duplicate the circle again and do the same to make a bigger circle that aligns to the rim of the outer smaller circle. It should look like this when you’re done.
Delete the smaller circles we made earlier except for the center circle. Select all three circles that are left and align their center to the horizontal line on the bowl. This has to be done perfectly. If you’re struggling on aligning the circles to the bowl then you can do the following.
Select the selection tool and go to properties. On “Keyboard Increment” put “0.1px”. Select the circles, group them with “cmnd/ctrl +G” and drag them down near the line then slowly inch them in using your keyboard arrows.
Now we have to align circles to the vertical center of the bowl. To do this, select the circles and the bowl. On the options menu at the top of the screen, you will see a small box that looks like a selection. Click on this and select “Align to Key Object”.
Now click on the bowl and press the “Horizontal Align Center” button. It should look like two boxes on a stick.
Now select the bowl and the circles and take the shape builder tool using “shift+M”. Drag your mouse on the lower halves of the circles and the bowl.
This merges the lower halves of the circles to the bowl. The upper halves of the circle and the bowl are now grouped. Select the circles and the bowl, right click on them and click “Ungroup”.
Take the selection tool and go to properties and change the “Keyboard Increment” to 1px. Select the now semi-circles and move them upwards by 10px. Do this by pressing your up arrow on your keyboard 10 times.
Now take your direct selection tool by pressing “A” and click on the horizontal line at the bottom of the semicircles and press delete on your keyboard. This should make the line disappear. You may notice that there will be a line left from the second semicircle. Click on this horizontal line again and delete it. Do this once more on the smallest semicircle.
Select the semicircles and hold “alt+shit” on your keyboard. Now press your left arrow key 7 times. Select the center semicircle again and do the same on the right arrow key.
Select the center group of semicircles. Hold “shift” on your keyboard and press the up arrow on your keyboard 3 times.
Now, with the selection tool, double click the biggest semicircle on the right. This should isolate the selection. Click on the big semicircle again and copy it with “cmnd/ctrl + C”.
Double click anywhere outside of the semicircle to exit isolation mode. Now paste the semicircle we copied on top of itself using “cmnd/ctrl +F”. Select the new semicircle and hold “alt+shift” and select the upper right corner of the selection box. Expand it outwards until the left side of the selected semicircle touches the right side of the left side semicircle. That might sound confusing so let me just show you.
Now do the same for the left most semicircle. Once done, it should look like this.
Now select the two semicircles we just made (colored in red) and the top group of semicircles. Once selected, take the shape builder tool, hold alt, and remove excess parts to make it look like this.
Select the lines indicated in red on the image above and press delete on your keyboard.
The ramen noodles are done. Select all the ramen noodles and group them together.
Now we create the final 3 parts of the logo. The chopsticks, the steam, and the bowl’s design.
For the chopsticks. Take the pen tool by pressing “P” and draw 2 slanted lines on the right side of the ramen noodles. Select them and group them together.
For the steam, use the pen tool to click on any part of the screen that doesn’t touch the logo. Hold “shift” and move your cursor downwards. Click again and release the shift key. Keep holding down the cursor and move it slightly to the lower left. It should make a curved line like this.
Move your cursor downwards a bit and click again. It should make a line similar to this.
Don’t worry if your steam line doesn’t look exactly like this. Select the line using the selection tool. Duplicate it on top of itself twice. Move the duplicates into the left and right side of the original in a steamy upward pointing shape. It should look similar to this.
Select the steam lines and group them together.
The last part is the bowl design. For this we create two curved horizontal lines using the pen tool.
All that’s left is to add some color. Change the color to your liking. Use these colors.
Pink (#fe6bdf), Blue (#93edff), Purple (#9386ff).
Once you’re done changing the colors of each part, create a duplicate of each part and change the colors of each part to another color you haven’t used on that part. Remember to stick only to the pink, blue, and purple. Do this one more time and it should look like this.
We’re done with the logomark. The only thing left to do is to put them together.
Phase 7: Final Logo
Now that the logomark and logotype is done, we now have to put them together Select the EONS logotype and make sure they are grouped.
Take the logomark and the logotype and put them beside each other. Select both and align them to the center of the artboard.
Select the logotype and move it underneath the logomark. Then select the logomark and place it above the logotype. Select both and align them to the center.
Now we’re still missing one thing. We need to add the “24 hour diner” sign. Using the text tool, type it in using the “Beon Medium” font. Increase the size to 72. Change the color to yellow (#f8fc49).
And that’s it the logo is done.
Phase 8: Other Brand Assets
In terms of branding, the logo is just the beginning. We need to come up with a brand guide for everyone to follow. A brand guide/manual dictates the visual identity of a brand. The brand guide should include the brand’s personality, rules related to the logo, typography, and color palette. These are the basics of what a brand guide should have.
You can include many other things as long as it is related to the brand’s identity. You can include how a logo should be used when placed in packaging or print. Another thing you can also include is the brand’s iconography and photography.
It’s used mostly for multiple designers to keep consistency in a brand’s design deliverables (flyers, posters, social media posts, videos, advertising, etc.).
A great place to create mockups is smartmockups.com.
If you need to present it to a client, create a presentation of these things you made if you can. When you have all of these, you’re pretty much done with the branding. Congratulations!
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