The American Marketing Association (AMA) defines a brand as a “name, term, sign, symbol or design, or a combination of them intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of other sellers.
Therefore it makes sense to understand that branding is not about getting your target market to choose you over the competition, but it is about getting your prospects to see you as the only one that provides a solution to their problem.
Your brand should achieve the following:


  • Deliver your message clearly,
  • Confirm your credibility,
  • Connect your target audience emotionally,
  • Motivate the buyer, and
  • Concrete User Loyalty

To succeed in branding you must understand the needs and wants of your target audience. You do this by integrating your brand strategies through your company at every point of public contact.
Your brand resides within the hearts and minds of customers, clients, and prospects. It is the sum total of their experiences and perceptions, some of which you can influence, and some that you cannot.
A strong brand is invaluable as the battle for customers intensifies day by day. It’s important to spend time investing in researching, defining, and building your brand. After all your brand is the source of a promise to your consumer. It’s a foundational piece in your marketing communication and one you do not want to be without.



Brands are made of three primary components:

1. Visual (identity)

2. Verbal (messaging)

3. Action (how you treat people)

The first creative part of virtually every brand development is visual design. I’ll cover the verbal and action components in upcoming posts.
Your logo and corporate identity, including your business card and website, set the visual tone for your brand and many of your marketing communications. Colors, graphic standards, and type selections are all determined at this phase.
One of the most common questions I get on first contact from someone looking for a graphic designer is, “What items do we need for corporate/brand identity?” There is some variation according to usage and business type, but for nearly every businesses I recommend the following basic items as a start:

Your logo is the visual cornerstone of your brand that tells people who you are, and does so in an incredibly memorable way. It sets the tone for all pieces and graces nearly all of your marketing communications. Love it, and never leave it.

Business Card

When someone asks for your number at the market, that’s an opportunity hanging in the air, which you can answer easily if you have a great business card handy. Even if you never leave the dark dungeon of your home office or the confines of your plush leather chair, you must have a business card. And not just any business card. Your business card has the power to make a huge first impression, or to be silent as a lamb – even if it’s coming out of an envelope. Never skimp on your business card design or printing. Avoid cheap online printing of your cards at all costs. If you have to go that route, fine, but consider it a temporary stop-gap measure. Or better yet, find any way humanly possible to budget for a great card, and it will pay off in lasting memories in the noggins of your prospective customers.


Your website is the first or second point of contact for many people. Make it great. Budget well for it. Do not put up a website that you have to apologize for. You wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve heard people from large and small businesses alike say, “Our website sucks,” or “This is our website, and it’s not really, uhh, very good.”

If you’re not impressed by your website, no one else will be either (even if you apologize for it in advance). If you have a small budget, keep an open mind, and find someone who offers an outstanding solution within your budget. It may take time to find them, but someone can do it. Work incrementally if you have to. Never settle for a lesser website than your brand deserves.

Letterhead, Envelope and Mailing Label

Many businesses use these items few times in a year, however, those few times are usually worth investing in good design and printing. If you send someone a fat proposal on a lasered letterhead in an ink-jetted envelope, you’ve just sealed a fly-by-night look on your hard work. Why risk losing that $150,000 contract (or even the $5,000 deal)? Spend the bucks on quality offset printing, and look professional every time.

Tag line

We’re venturing into the waters of the verbal part of your brand, but since your tag line accompanies your logo nearly everywhere it goes, your tag line development should be included with the initial brand development deliverables.

While your logo tells everyone who you are, you tag line succinctly tells people what you do and what you stand for. Your logo and tag line are a potent combination of meaningful, memorable brand smack.

Overview Brochure

Think brochures are outdated? Think again. When your computer, iPod or iPad are absent, your brochure can make the sale. I’m not talking about that yawn-inducing tri-fold in your dentist’s office, replete with cheesy clip-art. I’m talking about the uniquely formatted and crisply designed rockstar brochure that makes you feel like two million bucks handing it out. The one that can be passed on to someone easily and with a word of recommendation. I’m talking about the brochure that makes breaths be held and helps people connect with your company. Your overview brochure is your impressive, convincing voice when you can’t be there.

Sometimes we add in vehicle design, t-shirts, thank you cards, holiday cards, bookmarks and other branded items.

Investing in professional brand identity materials does three things:

1. It makes you look and feel more professional.

2. It helps you project more confidence, thus you sell better.

3. It makes the difference between looking like a fly-by-night organization or a real business people can depend on.

Take care of your basic branding deliverables, and they will take care of your business… 

Brand identity style guides from around the world


  1. Adobe corporate brand guidelines (PDF)
  2. Alberta corporate identity manual
  3. Apple identity guidelines (PDF)
  4. Barbican identity guidelines (PDF)
  5. BASF summary of corporate design policy (PDF)
  6. Bath Spa University brand guidelines (PDF)
  7. Berkeley identity
  8. Best Buy brand identity
  9. Bitdefender brand guidelines
  10. Boston University brand identity standards
  11. Boy Scouts of America brand identity guide (PDF)
  12. British Council brand guidelines
  13. British Rail corporate identity manual
  14. Carnegie Mellon brand guidelines
  15. Channel 4 identity style guides
  16. Christopher Doyle identity guidelines
  17. Cisco logo usage and guidelines
  18. Columbia College Chicago brand identity manual
  19. Cornell University brand book
  20. Duke University style guide
  21. easyGroup brand manual (PDF)
  22. Edinburgh City brand identity guidelines (PDF)
  23. Esso Imperial Oil quick reference guide (PDF)
  24. Good Technology brand identity guide
  25. Haas School of Business identity standards style guide (PDF)
  26. Heineken company visual identity
  27. IEEE brand identity guidelines
  28. Kew Royal Botanic Gardens brand guidelines (PDF)
  29. Liberty University brand identity policy
  30. Lloyd’s brand
  31. Macmillan identity guide
  32. MasterCard brand center
  33. Microsoft corporate logo guidelines
  34. Mozilla Firefox branding
  35. NAMI identity guidelines
  36. National University of Singapore identity
  37. New York University identity and style guide
  38. NHS brand guidelines
  39. NYU-Poly identity style guide
  40. Ohio University brand standards
  41. Oregon State University brand identity guidelines
  42. Pacific University brand standards (PDF)
  43. Pearson logos and style guides
  44. Penguin logo guidelines
  45. Princeton University graphic identity (PDF)
  46. PRSA guidelines & logos
  47. Redfern brand identity guidelines (PDF)
  48. Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College style guide
  49. San Francisco International Airport identity program
  50. Skype brand book
  51. The Scout Association brand guidelines (PDF)
  52. The University of Texas brand guidelines
  53. University of Arkansas graphic identity style guide
  54. University of California brand guidelines
  55. University of Cambridge identity guidelines
  56. University of East Anglia brand identity guidelines (PDF)
  57. University of Louisville brand graphics policy (PDF)
  58. University of Northern Colorado identity style guide (PDF)
  59. University of Wisconsin-Madison brand identity guidelines
  60. Vanderbilt University graphic standards
  61. Virginia Tech identity standards
  62. Walmart brand guidelines (PDF)
  63. Yale University identity guidelines


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