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10 Steps to Building a Strong SaaS Brand Identity
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UX Design

10 Steps to Building a Strong SaaS Brand Identity

January 24, 2024
10 min to read
How SaaS companies can design a visually appealing brand identity that resonates with their target audience.

In this post, Michelle, our Head of Design, discusses how SaaS companies can design a visually appealing brand identity that resonates with their target audience.

Step 1. Start with Competitive Analysis

Before diving into the creative process, we need to start with competitive analysis. Consider how similar companies, especially your competitors, style their brand. Notice patterns in their color choices, typography and overall design aesthetics.

Are there certain visual elements that are consistently used in your niche? Aim to understand your industry standards so you can make your offering instantly recognizable to your target audience while also differentiating your brand from other businesses.

Step 2. Create a Moodboard / Inspiration Board

With the insights from your competitive analysis, start brainstorming your brand identity by creating a moodboard. This is a collection of screenshots, design samples and branding elements from different places that inspire you. When selecting items for your moodboard, focus on what you think is effective and resonates, rather than what simply looks appealing.

This can include competitor aesthetics, as well as brand elements from completely different sectors. The key is to include visual elements that you find compelling and believe might resonate with your target audience. The moodboard will serve as a visual reference and inspiration source as you develop your brand identity.

Step 3. Define Your Brand Perception

How do you want your brand to be perceived? After completing your competitive analysis and creating a moodboard, you should have a clearer sense of your brand opportunities. Start by jotting down all the descriptors that come to mind when you think about how you want your brand to be perceived. 

Is your ideal brand identity 'innovative', 'user-friendly' or 'trustworthy'? Is it all three? Group similar descriptors together, and think about the strategies you’d use to communicate these qualities. Reflect on some of the brands you believe successfully embody your desired qualities and consider what makes them effective.

Equally effective, you may even consider what your brand does NOT represent. Understanding what to avoid can be as insightful as knowing what to aim for. This concept is a mental model called the inversion principle that was advocated by the investor Charlie Munger.

Step 4. Understand Your Audience

One of the most fundamental steps in building a brand identity is understanding your target market.

  1. Who are they?
  2. What are their pain points?
  3. How do they currently interact with your product or similar products?

Gaining insights into these areas will help you build a brand identity that resonates with the people who matter most to your business.

Go beyond surface-level research to engage with your audience, gather feedback and empathize with their needs and challenges. Aligning with your audience's expectations and preferences is the key to a successful brand identity.

Step 5. Select a Color Palette

Colors play an important role in brand perception. They can evoke emotions, convey messages and create an atmosphere. When selecting a color palette for your brand, consider both aesthetic appeal and psychological impact.

Adobe Colors is a great tool for experimenting with different palettes. Alternatively, draw inspiration from nature. Go for a walk in a nearby park or forest and take note of the colors you see. The natural world is full of color schemes that are inherently harmonious. 

Ensure that the colors you choose complement each other and align with the emotions and values you want your brand to embody.

Step 6. Choose an Icon Library

Icons are a subtle yet powerful way to enhance your brand’s visual language. When selecting an icon library, consider consistency and clarity. Open-source libraries like Tabler and Phosphor offer a wide range of options that can suit various design needs. 

The key is to select icons that complement your overall design and are easily recognizable to your audience. Well-chosen icons can significantly improve the user experience by providing visual cues and supporting your brand narrative.

Step 7. Font Selection and Pairing

Typography is another critical aspect of your brand identity. The right font can communicate your brand's personality and values. As a rule of thumb, two fonts should be enough – one for headers and one for body text. If needed, a third font can be designated for specific purposes, like code snippets or block quotes.

Google Fonts is a great resource for finding a wide range of fonts. When selecting fonts, consider readability and how well they complement your brand's style and tone. The goal is to achieve a balance that enhances both aesthetics and functionality.

Step 8. Rules for Photography and Graphics

Visual content like photography and graphics is also integral to your brand identity. Set guidelines for photography to ensure images reflect your brand's ethos and resonate with your target audience. Ensure they align with your brand's color scheme and overall aesthetic. 

If custom photography isn't possible, be selective with stock images to ensure they feel cohesive. For your graphics, a consistent style and tone is key. Whether you’re using illustrations, infographics or other types of graphics, they should all feel like part of the same family.

Step 9. Utilize Background Patterns or Textures

Background patterns or textures are an oft-neglected practice that can add depth and character to your brand materials. An effective strategy can be to use elements of your logo, either enlarged and cropped or repeated to form a pattern.

This subtle branding can be applied to various materials, from digital assets to physical marketing collateral, providing a unique and consistent brand feel. Experiment with different patterns or textures to find one that complements your brand without overpowering other design elements.

Step 10. Document Your Brand Guidelines

Now that you have the key components of your brand identity, it’s time to document these in a brand guideline. This document doesn’t have to be elaborate. It can start as a simple file with links to your fonts, icon library, hex codes for your colors and examples of your chosen photography and graphics styles.

This guide should get your team on the same page brand-wise and ensure you maintain a consistent brand across all platforms and materials.

What makes a strong SaaS brand identity?

Building a strong brand identity for an enterprise SaaS business involves more than just a good logo and pleasing color combinations. The key is to create a cohesive experience that will appeal to your audience. By following these 10 steps, you can start laying the foundation for a brand identity that looks professional and resonates with your target market.

Whether you’re refining your existing brand or starting from scratch, building your brand identity is an evolving process. Don’t hesitate to contact us to discuss your new project with our brand identity experts at Klimt & Design.