Book Review: Designing Brand Identity

Do you lie awake at night trying to wrap your mind around the differences between “branding” and “brand”? Or maybe you need help explaining the differences and creation process to others? (I’m going to assume that you replied with an emphatic “Yes!”.) Then “Designing Brand Identity” by Alina Wheeler would be perfect for you. I would describe the book as being a three-part manual for understanding the process of branding and how those elements combine to create a brand with which customers (hopefully) feel a connection.


Designing Brand Identity Branding Basics

Part 1: Branding Basics

The first section of the book covers the basics of branding. People on the client side who plan to hire a firm or internally create their own brand identity can get an understanding of what they can accomplish and what they’d need to communicate. This section could also be useful to brand designers (or other professions related to branding) who need a quick refresher or help explaining what they do and why it’s important. Readers should have a firm grasp on the principles explained in this section of the book because they serve as a foundation for much of the information that follows.


Designing Brand Identity Branding Process

Part 2: Branding Process

As a primarily self-taught designer, I’ve developed a deep appreciation for the insight offered by other designers who share their thought processes and procedures for working through projects. With that in mind, the detailing of the process for creating brand identities that was shared in this section of the book made this one of the best books I’ve ever read on the subject of branding. The process that is described doesn’t have to be adopted in its entirety. You can read through the section once to get a fairly complete idea of the possibilities and to begin shaping or refining your own process. From there, the book can become a reference tool where you revisit specific sections as needed.

Best Practices

Designing Brand Identity Case Studies

Part 3: Best Practices

I love case studies and they tend to be something that I look forward to in books about branding. Unfortunately, I didn’t find many of the case studies featured in the last section of the book to be inspiring. I think part of the problem is that the case studies for some of the larger brands (ex: Amazon logo, Coca-Cola cans, FedEx trucks and planes) are always featured in books about branding so they seemed a bit blah. The case studies might have seemed a bit fresher if a wider variety of brand touchpoints were shown. That being said, this is the second book that I recently read which featured the California Academy of Sciences brand identity but I was even more impressed this time around as it featured more details about the institution’s redesign and re-launch.


Designing Brand Identity Cover
Overall I think this an excellent book and I would recommend it to anyone interested in learning more about brands, branding, and brand identities. The process section of the book is a must read but if you’re somewhat familiar with branding you could probably skim the basics and skip the best practices section.

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