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Ideas to Inspire

Brand Identity: Differentiating Your Brand Using Multiple Visual Cues (Form, Color, Pattern and Feature)

by Tim Blake

Recently,  British retailer Selfridges — which apparently sells EVERYTHING — started a new marketing campaign entitled “No Noise.” As part of this campaign, they sold un-branded versions of famous products. Each product was stripped of the brand’s name, but not its identity. This got me to wondering, could other brands — and more importantly your brand — withstand similar treatment?

Taking a cue from the Selfridges campaign, I reduced other popular brands down to their purest essence… removing the brand name and logo. In doing this, I highlight four techniques — used by these brands and potentially yours — to make them stand out.

*Click on each image to reveal the brand as well as other pertinent information.

1. Emblematic Form

Designed in 1915, after some cosmetic tweaks, the Coca-Cola bottle went into production the following year. The renowned form is still being used in modern-day marketing efforts.

Source: (Retouched)

Even without the silver foil wrapper, Hershey’s Kisses® are a sweet reminder of what a unique shape can do for your brand.

©2013 Tim Blake


Running one of the longest running ad campaigns of all time, Absolut® Vodka has used the simple shape of its bottle to distinguish itself from the competition. Not many brands can obliterate their logo and packaging and still create a wildly successful marketing campaign.

Source: (Retouched)


Is your packaging so unique that customers can recognize it immediately? Does it jump off the shelf? If not, perhaps whipping your brand packaging into shape is a distinct possibility.

2. Signature Color

Nothing runs like a John Deere… at least nothing else looks like one. Source: (Retouched)
Even without the logo insignia, the Tiffany & Co. teal packaging conveys a sense of prestige, for this brand, and to those who receive it.

Source: Bernard Design (Retouched)


A unique color can help distinguish your brand from all the other players in the field. There’s a rainbow of possibilities to help your brand avoid the blues.

3. Exclusive Pattern

When Campbell’s Soup labels are displayed on supermarket shelves, the simple pattern pops. Warhol recognized the pattern — a bisecting color band and circular seal — as the strength of the label’s design. Even when reproduced, in a vibrant rainbow of colors, the pattern is still evident and reinforces the consistency of the brand.

Source: (Retouched)
Warhol inspired cans:


The Chanel “2.55” handbag’s unique quilted pattern helped set it apart and establish it as a staple for generations of fashionistas.

Source: Wen Cheng Liu (Retouched)

Is your product lineup inconsistent? Perhaps repetition will convey consistency and help your products stand out.

4. Distinguishing Feature

A single, emblematic component is enough for this consumer to be identified with Harley-Davidson.

Source: 2Face-Tattoo (Retouched)

Are consumers willing to permanently brand their bodies just to be associated with your brand? Do elements of your products elicit such sacrifice? Probably not.

Even if you’re not into cars, it's difficult to not recognize the two-section, rounded radiator grille (a.k.a. the kidney grille). Like nostrils of a mythical beast, they make every BMW unmistakeable.

Source: Hidden (Retouched)

With so many copycat products, are consumers able to quickly discern your brand from your competitor’s? Adding a distinguishing feature to your product lineup evokes consistency and pride among consumers.

Final Thoughts

People wrongly assume that their brand identity is little more than a logo. In truth, your brand identity consists of several components: your name, logo, slogan, packaging and other collateral. Breaking that down even further, successful brands are usually identified by other factors including: color, typography, imagery, pattern, texture, along with sounds, smells and experiences.

Hopefully I’ve proven to you that your brand can and should be characterized through many factors, including: shapes, colors, patterns and features. So if your brand identity is a one-trick pony, get in touch, and together we’ll teach your brand some new tricks.

Tim Blake is Principal/Owner of Blake Design, a design and branding consultancy based in Greensboro, North Carolina. He has over 25 years experience in the design and marketing industries. Tim uses his expertise to help businesses and organizations communicate their ideals and connect with their desired audience.

Tim Blake – who has written posts on Blake Design.

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