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Brand identity is one of the most important factors in business success because it is truly all-encompassing. It helps you make cohesive decisions about visuals, communication, product design, and everything in between.
Your company has a brand identity, whether you put effort into it or not. If you don’t take the time to make it strong, it’s going to be sloppy and confusing.
But don’t despair! With a little bit of leg work and creativity, you can create and grow a brand identity that resonates with your target audience and sets you apart in the marketplace.
Let’s get started!
What Is Brand Identity?
When you boil it down, your brand encompasses how the public perceives your company. This includes
- Color Schemes
- Tone of Voice
- Customer Service
- Marketing Messaging
- Employee Dress Code
- Brand Story
- Social Media Presence
Essentially, if something could be seen to represent your company and what it stands for, it forms your brand identity. Every part of your business is tied to this.
Some brands are so strong that they can grow a following around the brand identity itself. A great example of this is Coca-Cola.
This company’s iconic red and white color scheme, swirly typography, and consistent messaging have made it easily recognizable even in its base components.
In fact, their branding is so strong that there’s a popular myth stating they invented Santa’s red coat. While that isn’t necessarily true, they certainly helped shape a lot of the global iconography around this holiday staple.
Can you imagine the staying power your brand would have if it helped shape culture like that?
What Are the Benefits Of a Clear Brand Identity?
While your brand probably won’t alter the perception of a mythic figure, it can still have a huge impact on your company’s success.
Having a clear, cohesive, and instantly recognizable brand has tons of benefits, including
- Differentiation - Your company needs to stand out from competitors in this crowded marketplace, and having a strong visual presence is a great way to do that
- Recognition - With so much content coming at them every day, your customers need to know exactly who you are and what you do at a glance. If your branding is memorable, they’ll think of you next time they’re looking
- Trust and Credibility - Strong branding makes it clear that you care about the work you’re doing, and promises a specific experience that draws new customers in
- Loyalty - When people feel a connection with your brand, they’re more likely to become repeat customers and vocal advocates for your company
- Lower Price Sensitivity - With a strong brand story and identity, customers are more willing to pay a premium for your products or services because they believe in your brand and value your company
- Word-of-mouth Marketing - A clear identity makes it easy for customers to recommend your company to others, helping to spread awareness and bring in new business
- Easier Hiring - If you want top talent to choose your company over others, a clear brand identity can make all the difference. It showcases your company's values and culture, making it an attractive place to work
These benefits may seem like a tall order for just a logo, but building a brand identity goes far beyond that. It’s about creating a visual and emotional representation of your company that resonates with your target audience.
And it’s not just for big companies with big budgets - even small businesses can benefit from a strong brand identity.
Key Elements of A Brand
If your entire company is tied up in your brand, it can be difficult to know exactly what you need to create one intentionally. Let’s take a look at some of the most important elements, from the obvious to the more behind-the-scenes.
Take a moment to imagine someone who shops at Hot Topic. Now Aritzia, Lululemon, or Carhartt. Chances are, you have a super clear image of the types of people who these brands cater to.
While this exercise is most obvious when it comes to clothing brands, the same kind of distinction can be made for other companies with strong branding. We all have ideas about the differences between an iPhone user and someone with an Android.
Name and Tagline
I bet you know exactly what brand I'm referencing when I say
- I'm Loving It
- That Was Easy
- Save Money, Live Better
- Just Do It
These taglines have become ubiquitous with their brands because they are catchy and memorable.
Your name and tagline will likely be people’s first introduction to your brand, so it’s vital that you make them stand out and represent the company’s values and mission.
The importance of a great logo can not be understated. It is the visual representation of your company and should be memorable, versatile, and relevant to your brand message.
It’s important to spend time and resources on creating a logo that aligns with your brand identity and speaks to your target audience. This can include hiring a professional designer or using online logo creation tools.
You might think that your logo is enough to visually set your company apart, but every single part of your website, locations, packaging, and more are tied up in your branding.
Each element must work together to create a cohesive “vibe”, and every choice matters. Color alone can increase brand recognition by up to 87%. Beyond color, this can include
- Packaging Design
- Product Design
It might seem like a lot of pressure, but having creative control over each element allows you to create a brand that truly reflects your vision and values.
Brand Voice and Messaging
A brand is more than just a pretty logo and design. It's also about the message and voice that is conveyed through marketing materials, social media accounts, and interactions with customers.
Your brand voice should be consistent and identifiable, whether you're writing a social media caption or responding to a customer inquiry. It sets the tone for how your brand is perceived and can help build trust and loyalty among your audience.
Five Steps For Building Your Brand
It’s time to start actually designing and crafting your brand, so you can reap those benefits! Here’s a look at my process for creating stand-out brands every time.
Step One: Define Your Brand Values
To create a cohesive look and feel, you need to have a clear understanding of your guiding star. The things that are important to you and your company will help drive decisions later on.
If you’re having trouble deciding what you want to center, think about your ideal customer and what’s important to them. A staggering 82% of consumers are just as invested in your company values as they are in your products.
They want to know that you care about the same things they care about.
This is where market research can come in. A new mother is going to care about safety and family values, whereas a teenager might be more invested in a brand that fights the status quo.
Step Two: Crafting a Compelling Brand Story
As humans, we are naturally drawn to stories. We crave connection and authenticity. That’s why it’s crucial to develop a compelling brand story that resonates with your target audience.
This story should communicate your brand values, mission, and purpose. Think about Nike’s “Just Do It” campaign or Dove’s “Real Beauty” message. These stories have shaped their brand identities and have helped establish a loyal following of customers who align with their values.
This is where it's important to understand your brand's unique value proposition. What sets you apart from your competitors? How do you want to make your customer’s lives better?
By crafting these points into a story about overcoming, finding beauty, or achieving success, you can create a deep emotional connection with your audience.
Step Three: Creating a Distinctive Visual Identity
Now that you have a solid understanding of your brand values and a compelling brand story, it’s time to bring it to life visually.
Your visual identity includes elements such as your logo, color scheme, and typography. These elements should be consistent and reflective of your brand values and story.
If your brand is about being adventurous and rugged, your logo might have a bold, almost rough font with earthy tones. If your brand is more elegant and refined, you might opt for a sleek and modern font with a sophisticated color palette.
Look at other brands in your niche and make sure you aren't copying their visual identity. It’s important to stand out and be unique to truly make an impact and resonate with your audience.
Step Four: Establish Brand Consistency
Once you have established your brand’s visual identity, it's important to stay consistent across all platforms. This includes your website, social media, packaging, and any other touchpoints where your brand is present.
Consistency builds trust and helps customers recognize and remember your brand. It also shows attention to detail and a level of professionalism.
You can ensure this consistency in a few ways, but I’d recommend creating a company “style guide.”
This guide should include your brand’s color palette, font choices, and logo variations. It will serve as a reference for all aspects of your branding and help you stay consistent as you continue to grow.
You’ll also want to meet with any customer-facing employees and make sure they all understand your branding and tone.
Step Five: Effective Marketing
Now that you have established a strong brand identity, it’s time to spread the word and make it known to your target audience. This is where marketing and an online presence come into play.
Utilize different channels such as social media, email marketing, and collaborations with other brands or influencers to build brand awareness. Be consistent with your messaging and visual identity to reinforce it in the minds of your audience.
When it comes to your online presence, ensure that your website accurately reflects your brand values and story. Make sure it is user-friendly and visually appealing, as this will leave a lasting impression on potential customers.
The Bottom Line
Your brand identity sets the stage for how your company is seen, understood, and valued by customers. It is not something that can be overlooked or left to chance.
By investing time and effort into developing a strong brand identity, you can ensure that your company's visuals, communication, and product design all align and create a cohesive and memorable experience for your target audience.
Don’t leave everything to fate. Take the time to craft a perfect brand identity today.
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