One of the most difficult things to do in life is to step back and take an honest look at yourself. I'm a firm believer that you should treat your brand like a person. No need to send your brand flowers on Valentine's Day or anything, but it's important to be aware of your brand's personality. How does that personality come through in the tone of your copy, the look of your materials, the playful nature of your social media campaign?
All those aspects along with your logo and other key designed elements go together to form what we refer to as your company's identity. Identity can be about key colors, key imagery or key typography, but most of all it is about consistency.
So do you have to identify with your identity? Can a buttoned-up, suit-wearing guy manage a brand that glorifies flip-flops and ultra-casual apparel? Sure. But only if that suit can truly step back and take an honest look at that brand.
What it comes down to is the difference between liking something and knowing what's right for a brand. This is one of the most difficult things a person in any creative field can come to terms with. I love this style, but it ain't right for this project. Add it to the list of the world's best designs that will never see the light of day.
So I guess my answer to the question posed is, "No." You don't have to identify with your identity. But you need to understand it. And you need to make sure that your personal preferences don't take precedence over the personality of the brand.
Maybe next Valentine's Day you should buy your brand daffodils. You're the one who likes roses, buddy.
- Brandt Hoekenga