It’s important to take your time when building a brand. In addition to designing a logo and selecting some important colors, there are numerous moving factors. What is necessary to develop a brand identity is as follows:
1. Research your audience, value proposition, and competition
Just like any other aspect of starting a business, the first step in creating a brand identity is to complete market research. You should clarify and understand these five things.
“One of the most important things to consider when building a brand identity is how your messaging will resonate with your target audience. Start by finding out your audience’s pain points and communicating how your company or product helps solve them.”
It’s no secret that different people want different things. You can’t (usually) target a product to a pre-teen the same way you would target a product to a college student. Learning what your audience wants from a business in your industry is vital to creating a brand people will love.
Value Proposition & Competition
What makes your business unique in your industry? What can you offer your consumers that others can’t? Knowing the difference between you and your competition is imperative to developing a successful brand. Keeping an eye on your competitors will also educate you on what branding techniques work well — as well as those that don’t.
You know what your business offers, but be sure to have a clear and direct mission statement that describes your vision and goals. In other words, knowing your business’s purpose you can’t very well create a personality for a business unless you know what that business is about.
Even though you’re not necessarily branding an individual, that doesn’t mean that you can’t be personable when developing a brand image. Use your type, colors, and imagery to represent who the brand is. Then enhance that visual representation with your tone of voice: Are you a confident business with a lot of sass, like Nike? Or are you ritzy and professional, like Givenchy? Either way, be sure to develop your brand as a way to represent your business.
Research may be boring, but the more you know about your business, the stronger your brand identity will be.
Finally, completing a SWOT Analysis can be beneficial to better understand your brand. Considering the characteristics of the brand will help you find characteristics you want to portray in the brand.
SWOT stands for:
- Strengths: Positive characteristics of your business that provide an advantage over your competition.
- Weaknesses: Characteristics that prove to be a disadvantage to your business.
- Opportunities: Changes and trends in your industry that offer opportunities for your business.
- Threats: Elements in the environment or industry that may cause problems for your business.
2. Design the logo and a template for it
Once you know your business inside and out, it’s time to bring your brand to life. In the words of graphic designer Paul Rand, “Design is the silent ambassador of your brand.” Here’s what you’ll need to know:
Although the logo is not the entirety of the brand identity, it’s a vital element in the branding process; it’s the most recognizable part of your brand. It’s on everything from your website to your business cards to your online ads.
As imperative as your logo is to branding, it’s not the only element that makes a brand identity strong. Your product(s), the packaging, or the way you present your services all need to play a part in your brand identity. Visually representing your business in everything you do will create consistency and help create familiarity with your consumers. Take McDonald’s golden arches as an example. They used an interesting form to create the iconic “M,” which is now recognizable all over the world.
Color & Type
An approach to strengthen your identity is by developing a color scheme. It gives you choice so you may develop original designs for your company while adhering to the brand concept.
If not employed properly, type can potentially be a double-edged sword. Even though a “mix and match” type design is fairly popular, mixing a few fonts for your company is not always a smart move. Typography should be used consistently throughout your logo, website, and all printed and digital materials your company produces. Look at Nike’s website and advertisements; they consistently use the same typeface and type style across all of their marketing materials, and it seems to be doing brilliantly for them.
You probably send out emails, type up letters, or hand out business cards to potential customers daily. Creating templates (even for detail as minute as email signatures) will give your business a more unified, credible, and professional look and feel.
As mentioned in nearly every step already (I can’t stress it enough), consistency is what can make or break a brand identity. Use the aforementioned templates and follow the design choices you’ve decided upon for your brand throughout all areas of your business to create a harmonious brand identity.
Yes, consistency is crucial but remaining flexible in a society that is always looking for the next best thing is just as important.
Flexibility allows for adjustments in ad campaigns, taglines, and even some modernization to your overall brand identity so you can continuously keep your audience interested. The key is keeping any changes you make consistent throughout your entire brand (e.g., don’t change the design of your business cards and anything else).
One of the most effective ways to ensure a business sticks to its branding “rules” is to create a set of brand guidelines that document all of the do’s and don’ts of your brand.
Skype is one brand that has done an amazing job of creating a clear, cohesive brand guide that anyone can follow. This is one way to empower people to build brand assets and share your brand while remaining brand compliant.
3. Integrate language you can use to connect, advertise, and embody on social media
Now that you’ve established your brand within your company and have taken all the necessary steps to develop it, you’re ready to integrate your brand within your community.
And one of the most successful ways to accomplish this is for your brand to provide quality content., “In every way, your content is your brand online. It’s your salesperson, your store, and your marketing department; it’s your story, and every piece of content you publish reflects on and defines, your brand. So, great content, great brand. Boring content, boring brand.”
Use language that matches the personality of your brand. If your brand identity is high-end, use professional language; if your brand is laid-back, be more conversational. The language you choose to use as a brand will be integrated throughout the entire business, so it’s important that you carefully craft your tone to match your brand’s personality.
Connection & Emotion
People love stories. More accurately, people love stories that move them (emotionally and to action). A strong brand identity can establish an emotional connection with consumers, which can be a solid foundation for building a lasting relationship with a brand.
Designing ads, whether traditional or digital, is the most efficient way of introducing your brand to the world. It’s a way to get the message of your brand seen and heard by your target audience.
Another great way to establish a connection with your consumers is through social media. The plethora of platforms on the internet offers up a ton of digital real estate you can use to establish your brand identity. Coca-Cola, once again, makes great use of its Facebook cover photo of real estate by keeping it consistent with the happiness theme.
Social media is also important when it comes to conversing directly with your customers and creating affinity for your brand. If you’re mentioned in a tweet, status, or post (especially if the customer has a question or concern), be sure to give your brand a good reputation by responding efficiently to your customers.
4. Know what to avoid
You can follow all the steps of creating a strong brand identity, but if you’re guilty of any of the following practices, your brand might falter or fail.
Don’t give your customers mixed messages
Know what you want to say, and use the appropriate language and visuals to say it. Just because it makes sense to you doesn’t mean it will make sense to your customers.
Don’t copy your competitors
Your competition may have exemplary branding, and since you’re selling the same products or services, you might want to do what you know works — don’t. Take what they do into account, and put your twist on it to make your business stand out in your industry even more.
Don’t lose consistency between online and offline
Yes, your print material might look a little different than your online presence, but your colors, type, theme, and message should all be consistent.
Scale, don’t sacrifice
Rosen told me, “As your brand scales onto new channels, resist the urge to simply chase trends that don’t align with your brand’s DNA. Scaling identity only works when you iterate off your original song sheet … rather than writing a new song entirely.”
5. Monitor your brand to maintain its brand identity
Without monitoring important performance measures, it can be challenging to determine what you’re doing well (and what you’re not) in terms of marketing.
Utilize Google Analytics, polls, comments, social media debates, and other tools to track your brand and understand how people perceive and engage with it. This will allow you the chance to make any necessary adjustments to your brand, whether they are made to fix a mistake or strengthen brand identification.
“Test, discover, and improve. Discover what makes your brand unique from those of your rivals and discover how to communicate this in a way that fosters trust. If your item
lives up to the hype you create, you’ll start to build momentum with customers that believe in your brand.”