The Anatomy of A Brand Identity

Branch | The Anatomy of A Brand Identity

The outward expression of a brand including its name and visual appearance is called a brand identity. When small businesses contact a designer or studio for the first time, a lot of the lingo surrounding the graphic elements that form a brand can be confusing. Using The Blogcademy as an example, we’re going to take away the mystery and define the core pieces that make up a brand identity!


Common Graphic Elements

Lockup: A lockup refers to the positioning of the brand’s symbol and its wordmark. Some lockups may also include a tagline or secondary copy. The arrangement of these pieces can exist in multiple versions, especially if a brand has more than one division. This is especially common for fashion brands.

The Blogcademy has two basic versions — the first is for its in-person workshops and includes a city name while second is for Home School (above), a division of online courses. Because The Blogcademy produces a lot of print materials and does up to 15 events a year, there are some secondary lockups used for signage, workbooks and report cards. As long as the core elements including fonts and colors are consistent, you can have some fun with these.

Symbol: Also known as an icon, this is a graphic representation of a brand. Some symbols become so recognizable on their own that they no longer need to be “locked up” with the business name they represent.

Some examples of well-known symbols include the McDonald’s golden arches, the Starbucks siren and the Nike swoosh. The Blogcademy most commonly uses its “B” symbol which is based on its wordmark. These days, you’ll spot a company’s symbol being used everywhere from their app to social media profiles. Because they are often used at very small scales, the simpler yours is, the better. Legibility is key.

Wordmark: A wordmark is a brand’s name in text form. Wordmarks are usually stylized in a unique type treatment and colors to add some unique flair. You’ll notice that most blogs, magazines and retail stores use their wordmarks very prominently without a lockup to increase name recognition.

Some famous wordmarks include Vogue, Disneyland, H&M, FedEx and Visa.

Tagline: A tagline is a way of summing up a brand’s premise in as few words as possible. Taglines are important because brand names can be abstract and don’t necessarily describe what the brand is or does.

Great taglines conjure up the brand’s desired feeling for customers. Some examples of famous taglines include Just Do It (Nike), Think Different (Apple), I’m Lovin’ It (McDonald’s) and Because You’re Worth It (L’Oreal).

There you go! Hopefully these explanations have demystified the graphic elements that make up a brand identity.

Still have questions? Let us know in the comments!


Featured brand: The Blogcademy by Branch.

13 thoughts on “The Anatomy of A Brand Identity

  1. I love stuff like this! While I’m definitely not a graphic artist, I can totally identify with educating clients, so we’re all on the same page. I got yelled at once by a client because I assumed he knew how viewing videos on the internet worked! *sigh* Hard lesson learned, but I’ll never make that mistake again.

    Loved learning these terms for brand identity! Thanks for posting!

    1. Natalie at The Devil Wears Parsley: Totally! It’s so easy to forget that there are specialized terms in each of our industries and become immune to the fact that our clients and the people around us have no idea what we’re talking about! Knowledge is power. 🙂

  2. This is really interesting. I don’t know the first thing about branding so to see it all broken down like this – along with examples of brands we see every day – is brilliant. Thanks Shauna!

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