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What Is Brand Identity?

Think back to the last time a brand made an impact on you; Was it because of their strategic use of vibrant colors? Did the company offer any great shopping incentives? Was their social media presence humorous and humane? No matter the answer, this business succeeded in getting you in the door to further inquire about their products/services. This was all made possible by a strong brand identity.

But a brand identity isn’t born overnight. Most companies struggle to find their voice for a number of years. A lot of it is trial and error. But if you have a strong enough foundation out of the gate, chances are your brand awareness will take on a life of its own much quicker.

Brainstorming Your Concept

A great brand starts with a great concept. Brainstorming your concept is arguably the most important step in the creative process. It’s important to realize that nothing is set in stone this early on, so make sure to take your time and come up with something truly unique. Remember; Foodservice is one of the most saturated industries out there. Rising from the rest of the competition won’t be that simple.

This is where you get to play 20 questions with yourself. Some key questions should include:

  • What kind of food do I want to serve?
  • Which demographic am I targeting?
  • What is my budget?
  • Where do I draw my influences and inspiration?
  • What timeline am I looking at?
  • Where can I set up shop?

Once you’ve asked yourself these questions and know the direction you want to take, it’s time to design!

Time To Design

Since I am a graphic designer, I figured I would break down my creative process:

For the purpose of this guide, I have decided on a seafood restaurant. I love seafood, and I live near the Jersey Shore, so it seemed appropriate.

So the first thing I like to do is write down a series of terms related to the subject matter in a word matrix.

Since this involves branding for a seafood eatery, I will write down some types of fish I could potentially use in my branding.

This is what I came up with:

WordMatrix1

Because I enjoy Lobster, Crab, Shark, and Catfish, I decided to narrow down these choices. But this wasn’t enough to decide on a direction, so I proceeded to write down anything that had to do with the sea. This was the list I created:

WordMatrix2

After pairing the one column of terms with the other, I came up with a couple concepts. The one that resonated with me the best is Shark Shack. After settling on a name for the restaurant, it’s time to think about a logo. Because I’m a designer, I will be coming up with the logo myself. However, there are plenty of companies, both corporate and freelance, that are sure to suit your design needs. Websites like Upwork and Freelancer allow you to search a vast database of freelance designers ready and willing to tackle work. You can also post design “contests” and set monetary prizes on a website like 99designs and standby as a collective of creators present mockups to you based on your creative brief. Once you review all submissions, you can decide on a winner and finalize any details you wish.

So whenever I tackle a creative challenge, I like to sketch out a few quick, rough ideas. This is what I came up with:

RoughSketches

Nothing crazy, just some basic ideas that came to mind. At this point, I label the top 3 designs I like the most. And after some consideration, I eventually pick the direction that I would like to expand upon.  I liked the concept of a Shark ripping off a piece of wood from a shack, so that’s what I went with. Now with a solid direction to go in, I sketch out an even more detailed depiction:

SharkSketch

Now that I have the design sketched out, it’s time to trace it digitally:

SharkTraceAfter I trace my image, this is where I decide on design details. What color should I make the shark? How about the wood’s texture? Should line weight vary? Time to get to work.

Image result for three hours later spongebob

SharkShackLogo

And voila! My logo is complete. I decided throughout the process that it would be cool if the shark was ripping through the shack itself. I also removed the detailing on the wood, as I was going for a “minimalist” approach and I wanted the restaurant name to appear prominent over the plank.

The Whole Package

Now that we have a logo, nothing can stop us. At this point, we still require other various marketing materials (ie- business cards, brochures, a website, etc.). This ‘marketing kit’ will showcase what separates us from the rest of the very oversaturated competition. Here is what I came up with:

SharkShackBrandMockup

And now we have the beginnings of a very fruitful (yet fishy) business venture! The world is your oyster.

Just a side note; As vital as a first impression is in business, remember to have fun throughout the branding process. Your audience can detect emotion and charisma easier than you think, and this will easily be reflected in your creative choices.

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