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Brand identity - a subjective task?

Just read a blog on a US marketing blog talking about designing a brand identity system and it worried me a bit. It seemed to be saying that the most important thing was appeal and fitting in with your audiences’ expectations. (http://www.interimmarketing.info/designing-a-brand-identity/ )

It made me stop and think and reassess how we go about developing identities. Yes the customer / potential customer is important and we have to appeal to them, but the start point is not the customer, it is the brand. The identity should reflect the positioning, values and essence of the brand which themselves need to appeal otherwise you cannot achieve differentiation.

The biggest challenge is getting clients to judge whether the design matches the brand rather than matching their pre-conceived ideas on what they would like it to look like. Having agreed the brand strategy judging proposed identity systems should be quite easy – does this design reflect what we want to communicate NOT do we like it! If you like the positioning of the brand and it’s character then by definition you should like a design system that matches that.

I’d be interested to know how others see this – both client and agency side.