Designing Brand Identity by Alina Wheeler
Designing Brand Identity is now in its 5th edition. It’s a sleek hardback, the back cover adorned with worship from business magnates: ‘If branding was a religion, Alina Wheeler would be its goddess, and Designing Brand Identity its bible.’
A holy trinity
This ‘quick reference guide’ is actually extremely thorough, split into three sections: Basics, Process, and Best Practices.
The first section takes the reader through a whistle-stop tour of branding vocabulary: each turn of the page offering a new concept, complete with explanations, visual examples, and opinions of industry professionals. These ‘fundamentals of branding’ lay a foundation for the rest of the book.
The second section offers a ‘universal process’. With the key terms locked in, the reader is able to see various project components mapped out in an accessible way. Wheeler provides example processes for everything from conducting research to managing assets.
Finally, we have a section full of case studies. These examples show the outcomes of a range of projects, from various industries around the world. Each case study is accompanied by visuals, and information on the process and strategy. This final section of the book serves as an inspiration for what can be done when Wheeler’s design commandments are obeyed.
Proverbs and revelations
Intended as a reference book, this book can also be enjoyed cover-to-cover by a determined reader. The index of Designing Brand Identity is a tome of its own: encyclopaedic, and divided by Firm, Person, Brand, and Subject. Throughout the book, Wheeler engages the reader by including content that is entertaining— with references to Beatles lyrics and David Bowie, and wisdom from her father, a sea captain.
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you
The index also reflects the recurring themes of conscience and humanity that are present throughout the book. The author is aware of the role that brands play in wider society, and doesn’t shy away from issues such as race, gender, and the climate crisis: ‘Cultural differences’ (page 20), ‘Gender fluidity’ (page 71), and ‘Environmental consciousness’ (pages 48, 72). In the ‘Making a difference’ section, Wheeler explores a business model called ‘the triple bottom line’ which includes people, planet, and profit. Elsewhere, Wheeler includes a quote from Patagonia’s CEO Rose Marcario:
Business serves more than just shareholders—it has an equal responsibility to the community, and to the planet.
The sixth coming?
This offering from an industry ‘it’ girl has thoroughly earned its place on any designer’s bookshelf, or studio coffee table. This book is full of practical wisdom, and inspiration: it’s relevant for anyone in marketing, designers at the beginning of their careers, or seasoned professionals who might benefit from a friendly reminder. We can only hope that Designing Brand Identity will be renewed for a sixth edition.
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