Brand Codes Pt. 01: Symbol, Color, Character

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January 8, 2024
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3 min read
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As I mentioned in the opening article, Brand Codes are visual, sonic, olfactory and tactile assets of a brand, ensuring consistent and effective communication. Their main function is to get your brand noticed fast. Digital Brand Codes take this further and leverage digital technology to bring many of the static Brand Codes into life through digital design, web design, motion design, interaction design, etc. We use a number of brand codes: Symbol, Colour, Character, Shape, Typeface, Pattern, Sound, and Specific Style (Illustration, Photography, etc.). In this article, we will take a top level look at the first three.

Symbol

A symbol helps you to identify the brand. This is the classic category of logos. The Nike Swoosh, Red Cross, Mercedes Star, etc. A good symbol serves to identify your brand. It needs to be legible, recognisable, distinctive. But that's only the theory. What they don't teach you in school, is how to activate it beyond "has to work in small sizes on a pencil". It's how you activate it to support the brand narrative.

At Organic Basics, I cretaed a system where we activated the brand symbol, originally called “The Friend” to display product CO2 impact of each clothing item.

When we were rebranding Muziker at GoBigname, we sneaked the character inside of the symbol. The character MuzMuz was the strongest brand asset and this way the character was always present in every piece of communication.

Character

Character is your brand’s “mascot”. They can be expensive to make but they work when done well. Characters have much better potential in capturing attention. According to a 2019 report by Ipsos, characters work better in grabbing attention than colors, fonts and logos. However, they can’t be just a decoration.

Studio GoBigname created a distinctive brand character for a hosting company Websupport. Carry Webson, the “humble hero” supports you through the journey on the website, guiding your decisions. But most importantly, he connects the communication and has a unique position in brand recall.

For Muziker, we took inspiration from Minions and created an anomaly in the space — a multi-character. Mascot MuzMuz has 7 different sizes and makes the communication fun.

Color

When we are working on a new brand identity at GoBigname, one of the first things we look at is the competitive landscape of a brand. We look at it from the perspective of color. Then we try to find if there is a color that’s missing in the space and has a potential to be visible in a chaotic landscape.

Swiss start-up Yuno wasn’t distinctive within its category of competitors. As a Swiss company, you are inclined to use red a lot due to heritage reasons. The problem is that most of the companies think the same. We chose yellow as a primary color to stand out from the crowd.

When we worked on a complex rebrand of Muziker, the first problem was the color. We analyzed the competition and concluded that they use the same colors as their main competitors. We went the opposite direction and made Muziker purple. It felt right with the “jester” archetype decided in the strategy.

A unique choice of color, or better, a unique combination of 2 is a strong Brand Code. Dunkin’ Donuts is recognizable through orange and pink type on a white background.


¹Yellow Book of Building a Brand. Pastier [Book]. ©2023 [cit. 2024-09-01]. Available here
2Be Distinctive Everywhere. IPSOS x JKR [Online]. ©2023 [cit. 2024-09-01]. Available here
Character · Color · Founder · Symbol

Toman — Studio

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Róbert Toman — Multidisciplinary designer specialising in Brand Identity, Bespoke Typography, Web Design, and Art Direction. Based in Bratislava, Slovakia.

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