Suggested Books on Branding

In addition to reading resources provided on D2L, here are some helpful link for books on brand identity design:

Video Tour of the Logo  Brainstorm Book


2.1 Mark Inspirational Research

Before  you thumbnail, research design inspiration to give you ideas, see what exists already, and current trends. You can use, design annuals, design blogs, pinterest, behance, etc. I don’t recommend general Google image searches as you will get a lot of poor design. I would like to see one or more pieces of inspiration paired with your thumbnails.

A few resources and readings for brand design trends:



1. Research and Strategy

1.1  Industry Trends / Competitive Research

After randomly drawing a retail industry, utilize some of the  tools and resources discussed in class, among others, to find trends in the  marketplace. Use this research to develop at least three ideas for business that could compete in the industry.  Evaluate the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats to your overall industry (SWOT analysis).

1.2  Opportunity Gap / Marketplace Positioning

Using white space charts, look for opportunity gaps for each of your business concepts. You will need to identify keywords during  your industry research in order to do this. What is the best way to plot competitors on a chart? Consider what opposites to put on each end of your chart spectrum (budget vs premium,  classic vs techie, etc).

1.3  Target Audience Demographics

Who is the target audience for your brand? Consider demographics of age, income level, education, profession, hobbies, personality,  lifestyles, family status, cultural background, etc. Develop at least one persona of a person who fits in your perfect demographic. Who does this person feel when they interact with your brand?

1.4  Brand Concept Statement / Backstory

Describe your business concept and create a backstory to build your brand off of.

1.5  Brand Positioning Statement / Brand Attributes

During the Brand Positioning Exercise,  you will strive to condense the essence of  what your company does into as few words as possible. You will first craft this in 16 words, then reduce to 8 words, then a succinct 4 word sentence.

There are four elements or components of a positioning statement:

Target Audience– the attitudinal and demographic description of the core prospect to whom the brand is intended to appeal; the group of customers that most closely represents the brand’s most fervent users.
Frame of Reference– the category in which the brand competes; the context that gives the brand relevance to the customer.
Benefit/Point of Difference– the most compelling and motivating benefit that the brand can own in the hearts and minds of its target audience relative to the competition.
Reason to Believe– the most convincing proof that the brand delivers what it promises.

Here’s a good template to start with:
For [insert Target Market], the [insert Brand] is the [insert Point of Differentiation] among all [insert Frame of Reference] because [insert Reason to Believe].

Brand Identity Systems

Project Description

Develop a brand identity system for a retail business concept and apply this visual language to the consumer’s experience of a modern business, then design a book to communicate the standards of your brand.

Often, the perception of brand is often limited to a logo applied to a business card and stationary. During this project, we are going to look at Brand Identity as a kit of parts: a collection of type, colors, patterns and other visual elements that represent the brand cohesively. We will also explore the many ways that consumers interact with a modern brand. A consumer’s experience with a brand is highly interactive. In store, we interact with the environment of the store, product displays, signage/wayfinding and informational graphics. Out of store, we interact with the brand via e-commerce websites, ad campaigns, social networking and even mobile apps.

A brand identity is not just a logo, rather a system of parts. It must have standards to appear consistently across a myriad of applications, applied by various “owners” of the brand. Often, a brand identity designer will provide a Brand Standards Manual that specifies how the logo can and cannot be used, as well as how to use other components of the brand. This manual can also be a guiding voice for the company, and often tells the story of the brand’s values, audience, positioning and more.


1. Research and Strategy:  

Before you design anything, your job will be to research industry trends and competitors, determine the positioning of the brand in the marketplace, and who your target audience is.

1.1  Industry Trends / Competitive Research

1.2  Opportunity Gap / Marketplace Positioning

1.3  Target Audience Demographics

1.4  Brand Concept Statement / Backstory

1.5  Brand Positioning Statement / Brand Attributes

2. Inspiration, Sketches and Rough Marks

As with any design project, you will begin by researching design inspiration that can help inform the direction of your ideas. From there, you will utilize the thumb nailing process to sketch ideas for four types of brand marks: 1) Logotype; 2) A symbol; 3) A letter mark; 4) A combination mark.  Having determined three business concepts, you are required to sketch 3 ideas for each type of mark per concept. That should total at least 36 thumbnails.

After the thumbnailing process, we will narrow down to one brand concept. You will then develop three rough brand boards with well developed marks. These Brand Concept Boards will include mood photos, design inspiration, color schemes type treatment samples, ideas for related graphic elements (patterns, icons, textures), etc.

2.1 Mark Design Inspirational Research

2.2 Thumbnailing of four types of marks

2.3 Brand Concept Boards with Rough Marks

3. Brand Board for One Chosen Direction

In order to extend your brand to the many touchpoints of the modern consumer, you will need to create a “kit of parts” for your brand. This overview will show your logotype, mark or symbol, primary and secondary color palettes, typefaces, patterns, icon systems, and other visual elements that represent your brand. You will find that the more parts you develop up front, the easier and quicker it will be to apply the brand to its extensions.

3.1  Logotype, Mark and Usage Variations

3.2  Color Palette with PMS, CMYK and Web Values

3.3  Patterns and/or Icon Systems

3.4 Typographic Standards for print and web.

3.5  Rough example key applications


4.1 Letterhead, Business Card, Envelope: this will include printing and paper specs. Limit to 2 or 3 colors or 2 colors and one special process (i.e., embossing, die cut , varnish).

4.2 Full Page Print Magazine Ad: the first piece of an advertising campaign that extends the client’s brand and communicates the product offerings to the target audience.

5.1 Digital Ads: extending off the magazine ad, develop ads for two sizes of digital ads (see Google Adwords)

5.2 Outdoor Advertising Format: at least one such as bus stop, billboard, side of bus or a guerrilla marketing idea.

6.1 Store Exterior: How the visual language of the brand is applied to the exterior of a retail store. Elements will be rendered onto a photo or illustration of a space that reflects the architectural feeling of your brand. Requirements: Branded Sign and at least one of the following: Awnings, Building Painting/Mural, Vinyl on Glass, etc.

6.2 Store Interior: product display and at least one of the following: Interior Graphics (wall painting or posters), Wayfinding Signage such as Bathroom or Order Counter Signs, etc.

7.1 Brand Extension of Your Choosing: this application should be selected based on fit for your brand and target audience. You may also consider need for your own portfolio. Consider the following options: e-commerce website, rewards app, package design, catalog,  email newsletter campaign.


8.1 Sketches of Grid and Layout Ideas

8.2 InDesign Templates of Key Spreads

8.3 Full Rough Digital Layout of Entire Manual

8.4 Functional Rough Mockup of Manual

8.5 Final Functional Mockup of Manual

Keyword & Trends Research

Keyword Research
Researching Trends
Consumer Product Blogs

Grading Criteria

Following are the line items on my grade sheet for the project. Each item will receive a grade on a 4.0 scale. All items will then be averaged together and converted to a percentage grade.

– – – – – – –

Research, Competitors, Content and Naming Exercise

Inspiration, Sketching, Multiple Concepts to Arrive at Solutions

Use of Mapping and Wireframes to Understand Tablet Navigation

Usability Testing:
Completion, Revisions, Visualization of Findings

Fluid Design:
Rules and Alternate Layout for at least one page

– – – – – – –

Illustrating Ideas:
Creation of Cover Images, Communication of Article Content

Cover Layout:
Consistent Masthead Design, Typographic Hierarchy on Covers

Overall Experience: 
Navigation, Typographic Standards, Organization and Grid

Page Layouts:
Met Required Pages, Use of Space, Flow of Content for Interactive

Final Presentation:
Layout, Design of Portfolio Spread, Completed All Elements


Resources for Design Courses