Fundamental Elements Of Brand Identity

Joe Chen
Create a memorable brand by learning about eight key elements of brand identity that will positively influence how audiences perceive your brand.

8 Fundamental Elements Of Brand Identity

Central Role Of Brand Identity Design Elements

Before we dive into the role brand identity elements play in branding, we need to define a few branding terms. 

A brand is a distinct perception people have around a person or company. Will Smith and Amazon are both examples of brands. 

A brand identity is how the brand wants to be perceived. Brand identity elements are the tools brand designers use to create a meaningful brand identity.

The 8 branding parts that define your brand identity

If you thoughtfully piece together these 8 brand identity elements, you’ll create a brand identity that will help the brand be more meaningful to their customers.

Ultimately, the purpose of these brand identity components is to make people feel something distinct and meaningful, and have them associate those feelings to the brand. For example, when you think about Nike’s brand identity, their iconic logo and tagline “just do it,” may be the first things that pop into your mind. But more importantly, when you engage with Nike’s brand, you feel athletic, heroic, unstoppable. You feel Nike’s brand because all their branding parts are working together to convey Nike's values and mission of expanding human potential. 

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1. Logo & Trademark

The logo & trademark is one of the most important brand identity components because it’s often the first thing people see from the brand. 

The logo, the brand’s symbol, needs to be memorable and adaptable because it will be on the brand’s website, marketing materials, merch, and social media. 


In order to design a logo that helps define the brand identity, you can ask your client the following questions:

  1. Why did you start this brand?
  2. What aspirations does your brand have?
  3. How does your brand plan to change the world? 
  4. Who do you want to inspire with your brand?

The answers will give you inspiration for how you can design your logo & trademark in a way that communicates the brand’s values to its target audience. 

Let’s look at a company’s logo evolution to understand how they strengthened their brand identity with a new logo. 


That’s’s logo in 2014 – they were an email automation company at the time so the airplane design was a metaphor for sending emails. 

In 2019, changed their logo to this:


This logo is a strong brand identity example because it was inspired by their mission to create an automated communication platform that empowers marketers to send messages that people actually enjoy receiving. That’s why the new logo can be interpreted as a smile or as a person raising their arms in victory. The old logo only communicated that their brand sends emails, but the new logo establishes a stronger brand identity by communicating the brand’s aspirations. 


2. Shape

Shapes are important to establishing a brand identity because each shape can elicit different feelings. 

You can use abstract shapes, geometric shapes, or organic shapes, depending on what the brand wants to communicate. 


The Nike logo, which consists of an abstract, swoosh shape, represents movement, agility, and fluidity. Those qualities support Nike’s brand which is known for motivating people to be more athletic. 


Geometric round shapes, like curves, or circles are often used to convey friendliness and unity. Geometric angular shapes, like squares, triangles, or lines can convey trust, creativity, and intelligence. 

Let’s analyze another strong brand identity example that uses geometric shapes by looking at a section of Flux Academy’s website: 


You’ll notice most of the shapes are geometric and angular. The use of straight lines connecting the square profile pictures reinforce the idea of a tight-knit community of intelligent designers. The row of triangles (and the big 3D triangle) evokes creativity, arts, and crafts. Notice that the only circular shape on that page is the help icon, which supports the idea that Flux’s brand & support team is friendly. 

Organic shapes, as implied by their name, elicit a strong connection to the natural environment. For example, this honey brand chose to use a hexagon-shaped jar inspired by the shape of honeycombs, establishing a brand identity that is connected to nature. 


3. Colours

The importance of color in shaping how people perceive your brand cannot be overstated. Color is one of the key branding elements because it’s the first thing we see due to human evolution. We feel powerful emotions because of color psychology – colors have many emotional associations, and these associations can differ based on culture. 


So when you’re trying to decide which colors to use to establish a distinct brand identity, think about the brand’s target audience and its values. 

Let’s take a closer look at a newer brand and analyze the colors it chose for its brand identity. 


Azuki, which is also a dark-red bean common in Japan, is a new brand that has become popular due to its cohesive brand identity that helped it stand out from the crowd. The main brand colors we see on their website besides white is a dark red. 

Red is one of the most eye-catching colors, and empowers us to take action. It’s fitting for Azuki’s brand identity because their mission is building their decentralized brand with the help of their community. Azuki’s anime-inspired art style tells us their target audience is anime fans, which is also why they chose their dark red shade because red is a popular color in Japan and symbolizes strength and authority.

4. Style and Position

Brand positioning aims to place the brand at the top of the target audience's minds whenever they think about a niche in the market. Brand style is developed through using brand identity components in a consistent and unique way (these are often written down as guidelines). 


To break down these two concepts, let’s look at a relatively new brand that has experienced success due to strong style and positioning. 

Manscaped, a company which sells manscaping products, is famous for creating funny and viral ads that people don’t skip due to its strong brand style. 

Now, whenever their target audience thinks about manscaping, the Manscaped brand is the first thing to pop into their mind. But how did they achieve this strong positioning? 

First, they analyzed their competitors and noticed they all shied away from talking about manscaping – so Manscape’s brand style is talking about it directly in a way that is humorous and refined. This distinct style made them different and memorable, which instantly made them the leading brand in the manscaping niche.   

Take a look at the first frame of this ad – in just one second, the audience knows that this is a brand that is refined, masculine, and funny (he’s playing pool while talking about your balls). Plus, all of their products are mainly black colored to give off the perception of premium quality – this differentiated them from competitors that were using the cheapest materials. 


5. Tagline

Taglines are crucial in establishing a brand identity because it’s part of the brand’s voice and it concisely states the brand’s values to its target audience. Taglines are also the brand’s promise to their customers. 

For example, Subway’s tagline, a made-to-order sandwich company, is “eat fresh,” which promises its target audience of healthy eaters that their sandwich ingredients are the highest quality. 


Apple’s tagline, “Think Different,” appealed to the contrarian nature of their audience, and by telling their audience to “Think Different,” it was promising them that Apple will always be different, too. 

Taglines can also evolve if the brand explores new ventures to redefine its brand identity.

For example, GameStop, a brand known for selling used video games, created their tagline “Power to the Players,” in 2007, as a promise that everything GameStop did would empower the players. But the tagline failed to connect with their audience because gamers didn’t feel empowered when they felt ripped off by how little GameStop would pay them for their used video games. 


In 2021, GameStop extended their tagline to “Power to the Players, Power to the Creators, Power to the Collectors” after they started building a decentralized marketplace that empowers gamers, artists, and art collectors to buy and sell digital items amongst each other rather than directly with GameStop. The new tagline is now resonating with GameStop’s audience because their marketplace is promising to give value back to artists, gamers, and art collectors at a time when most giant tech companies are trying to extract the most value from customers. 


6. Fonts

All fonts have distinct personalities, so it’s important to choose fonts that match the brand’s style and personality. We have an ultimate guide to choosing fonts here. 

Typically three fonts will be used in establishing a brand identity: one for logo, one for headings, and one for body text. 

For example, Baskin Robbins, an icecream brand, uses a decorative font called Variex for their logo to show their brand’s fun personality. 


The brand also uses Neutra Display Medium, a sans-serif font, for their headings. Helvetica, also a sans-serif font, is used for their body. 


Before choosing a font for the brand, always read up on the history of the fonts to make sure it matches the personality of your brand. Helvetica, for example, was originally very popular among corporations due to its neutrality, and now it is heavily associated with corporate culture. 

Serif fonts can help your brand appear luxurious, classical, artistic. Apple, for instance, always used their custom Apple Garamond font in all their marketing materials until 2001. The custom Garamond font made Apple stand out during its early years because although Apple is a digital tech company, it intentionally chose a font that evokes penmanship – its letters are beautiful but if you look closely you can see its small imperfections. This font, along with the tagline, colors, and logo, convey the idea that everything Apple does is elegant yet relatable. 

Apple Garamond

7. Images

Brands use images, like photography or illustrations, to tell their brand’s stories. As humans, we buy from brands that tell us the most compelling story, which is why images are part of key brand elements. 

Example of images used by a brand (source)

Let’s examine the images on the homepage of two electric vehicle companies to see what different stories the brands are telling us. 


Tesla, the leading electric vehicle brand, showcases a photo of their newest, red car model on a highway in a rural location. The quick and simple story we get from this picture is that Tesla cars are desirable and can travel fast and far. 

Rivian, a new competitor in the electric vehicle market, makes the bold decision to not even show any electric vehicle above the fold on their homepage. Instead, they showcase a photo of snowy mountains in the wildland, along with a small blurb of text in the bottom left corner that says “Preserving the natural world. Forever.” 


Since Rivian’s brand is not as established as Tesla’s, Rivian is trying to use this image to make their target audience perceive them as a brand that protects our natural environment. Whereas Tesla previously established themselves as a brand that is building towards a sustainable future, Rivian is trying to position themselves as the company that is preserving the beautiful world we have now. This imagery supports the brand’s larger philanthropic mission called “Forever,” in which 1% of Rivian’s equity will go towards preserving wildlands, waterways, and oceans. 

8. Tone

Brand tone is how the brand speaks to its target audience. It's an opportunity for the brand’s personality to really shine through. 

To get an example of how brand tone can make or break a brand, let’s examine a successful rebrand in which the main change was tone. 

Old Spice, a brand that sells deodorant and body wash for men, was founded in 1938 and up until 2010, it was perceived to be the brand that grandparents smelled like.


But in 2010, Old Spice successfully changed how younger audiences perceived their brand through their “Be like a man, man” advertising campaign. The brand started using tongue-in cheek humor to make fun of men that smelled “like a lady.” 


Old Spice’s twitter bio is just 4 words in all caps, but their message comes through clearly: Old Spice is a brand that pokes fun at the old, unrealistic standards of masculinity while also re-defining what masculinity is today. 

Create A Beautiful Brand Design

Now that you’ve seen strong brand identity examples and understand how each element contributes to the brand identity, try your hand at creating your own brand identity. 

Our course on brand design mastery gives you the opportunity to apply the brand identity components we covered today in a real branding project that you can add to your portfolio. 

Taking the course gives you access to the Flux community, and speaking from personal experience, the ability to ask questions to course instructors and thousands of other design students accelerates your learning and helps you find partners and clients. 

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