Your brand is more than a logo – it’s a combination of components that shape the entire identity of your company. The logo and the designs are just the tip of the iceberg and small steps that can successfully lead you to form your brand identity.
Today, every business in the marketplace wants to stand out from the competition, and one of the ways to differentiate yourself is by having a unique identity for your brand. It is your business DNA and what makes your business shine in order to attract customers.
What Is a Brand Identity?
Brand identity is what your brand emits, say, your core values, products/services, and how you communicate with your customers.
In essence, a brand identity is the emotions that consumers feel when they interact with your business. It is your company’s personality and the promise that you give to your customers.
Your brand identity is important because it is your company’s manifestation and everything that your business does. It has the power to improve your brand recognition, create an increased credibility for your venture, and to guarantee future business collaborations and customers.
Defining Your Brand Identity
When you define your brand identity, you need to think about the following aspects:
- Your company mission
- Your target customers
- Customer’s perception
The aspects above shape the entirety of your brand, and that’s why you need to be super-methodical and detailed when you develop them.
You need to be consistent and know exactly what the customers will get when you sell or market your products/services. A well-defined and consistent brand has the following traits:
- Compelling tagline: Your brand message that conveys your company purpose.
- Brand voice: How you communicate with your audience.
- Logo and colors: The visual definition of your brand.
- Web presence: A website that is aligned with your brand mission, tagline, personality, and style.
Advantages of a Strong Brand Identity
A robust brand identity can benefit your business in numerous ways, including:
- Showcasing your unique value proposition to create a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
- Reflecting your brand voice through online and social interactions.
- Enhancing the customer’s experience.
- Increasing brand awareness and customer loyalty.
Besides that, creating a strong brand identity shows that you take pride in your company and continuously invest to improve in every possible aspect.
Customers and potential customers will take notice, see that you’re committed, and reward you for it with new deals and purchasing.
Define Your Brand Purpose
Your brand must have a goal, mission – a purpose. You can’t exist in the marketplace clearly just for gaining some profits. Simon Sinek described this beautifully in his WHY speech:
- What: As a business, you need to know exactly what you do.
- How: How you do things makes you special.
- Why: Your WHY shouldn’t be just about making money.
For example, Lego is a brand that has a clearly defined WHY and purpose:
Practically, there’s not a kid in this world that didn’t grow up with Lego bricks. They filled every home with joy and offered a game that ignites creativity and makes kids think more.
In addition to this, Lego is also a socially responsible brand that partners with organizations such as World Wildlife Fund and made a commitment to reduce their carbon footprint and to work towards 100 percent renewable energy capacity by 2050.
Lego also started with environmentally friendly processes into their manufacturing with the initiation of their Sustainable Materials Center, which finds eco-friendly alternatives to their current materials and packaging. The company is publicly committed to ethical business practices and high human rights standards for employees and customers.
Your brand purpose is your promise to your customers, and it is required if you want to truly define and take your brand identity to the next level. You can see your brand purpose in two ways:
- Function: Immediate effects in terms of profits and product/service usage.
- Intention: Creating business growth while making good in the world.
People will always admire businesses that want to make better in the world besides money and economy development. You need to always keep that in mind when you define or redefine your brand’s purpose and frame your mission and vision.
The more consistent are your brand messages, words, designs, offers, and points of views, the more consistent your brand identity is.
You shouldn’t leave your consumers to guess what your message is. If you constantly change your taglines and your brand personality, you will turn off your most valuable customers.
You need to know how to develop standards for your brand consistency, both online and offline.
Every interaction with your brand should convey your main message in an understandable way.
When you communicate with your customers and with the media, you need to avoid things that will undermine your brand or significantly alter your brand message.
You must develop a brand cohesiveness across all platforms in order to create a recognizable presence.
For example, Innocent Drinks is always a brand that is quirky and playful online, just like their smoothie is. This is how they showcase the brand’s cuteness and cohesiveness on every social media channel.
Here's one of our smoothie bottles, with a gentle reminder that you're super.
"Never do things by halves. Except super juice. Do that for half price on @Ocado this week."
Some of these ancient proverbs were really specific. pic.twitter.com/VOBRvkEpR4
— innocent drinks (@innocent) August 21, 2018
Use Emotional Branding
Sometimes, customers purchase and interact based on their emotions. What do you think, why do people sleep in front of the Apple Stores when the new iPhone comes out?
Because Apple uses not just the quality of the product, but also emotional branding to build a community of Apple users.
Your customers need to feel like they’ve been accepted into an exclusive group of people that are more than just product users. When you manage to convince potential consumers in that, they will always want to spend the money on your products/services.
To spark your brand’s emotional identity, first, you need to treat buyers like people. You need to know how to offer them an experience, a journey. Your customers have needs, they have dreams, and your brand needs to help them achieve those dreams.
When consumers are emotionally hooked on your business, they will not go after a replacing brand/product. In fact, they’ll feel discomfort and a setback if they shift to another company.
By using emotional branding, you will differentiate from the rest in the market with distinctive associations in the consumer’s mind.
In turn, this will increase the commitment for your brand, and develop further brand ambassadors.
Have a Flexible Strategy
In every business and in every niche, trends come and go. That’s why, as a brand, you must be in the loop and remain flexible in your marketing/sales and product development efforts.
Your brand consistency will set your standards, but flexibility is what will make you adjust your approaches and, again, play to beat your competitors.
In a nutshell, you need that variety to always keep things fresh in your business, both online and offline.
What do you think will happen if you’re not flexible in your brand strategy? Well, you can ask Nokia all about it.
Back in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Nokia was the undisputed leader in the mobile phone industry. The brand brought quality innovations and models that were sold on every continent.
In fact, Nokia even had concepts and prototypes for iPad-like and iPhone-like devices years before the iPhone came out, but because of a bureaucratic separation between R&D and manufacturing, they never came to life.
The company strategized a lot after Apple presented the iPhone, and as a result of too much thinking and not adopting immediately, they declined and now lost the phone race for good.
This means that if your old branding and product manufacturing tactics don’t work anymore, you need to change and move on to something innovative. You always need to offer something new and exciting for your target market.
Employees Are Your Ambassadors
Your brand identity and core message should be instilled in how your employees act in the workplace, the way they work, quality of work, and how they interact with the customers.
In essence, your employees should represent everything that your brand is.
For example, if you have a humorous online and social media approach, what do you think will happen if your employees are grumpy and rude in real life?
Young Frosty bout to drop some chill lofi beats to study to. https://t.co/6lDrZ6WyI5
— Wendy’s (@Wendys) August 26, 2018
Customer service and the overall experience is one of the key ingredients of worldwide successful brands.
— Zappos Insights (@ZapposInsights) August 21, 2017
By keeping every employee accountable and aligned with the company’s goals, Zappos managed to build a well-known brand with a strong customer service process that made them stand out from other apparel stores.
Strive for Loyalty
If you have loyal customers that love your products, you need to know how to reward them. These people went through thick and thin to find your products and use them to improve their lives, so you better document their stories and enhance the benefits even more by improving their loyalty with awards and successful loyalty programs.
Brands like Apple, Ford, and Starbucks are among the top in their respective categories according to the Customer Loyalty Engagement Index. For example, Apple’s use of colors is always consistent, with white dominating the palette.
What this does is evoking cleanliness, simplicity, and elegance. Their products are symbols of luxury and advanced technology.
The public and their customers buy in this image. Most of the Apple customers are replacing their old iPhone with the new model. They just can’t imagine their lives without their favorite smartphone.
Ford, since the beginning of the car industry, has always been one of America’s most respected brands. Their main slogan is “Built Tough” and the company banks on the ruggedness of its cars to entice car loves to buy from them.
This branding tactic provides consumers with a sense of safety and security that makes them prefer Ford cars over others.
The Ford drivers’ loyalty is strong – their buyers already have a Ford in the time when they purchase another one. The reliability of the brand makes people stick with it for generations.
Starbucks smartly uses colors to develop a brand identity, send a strong message, and differentiate from any other coffee shop. Their green logo embodies the commitment to fair trade coffee and corporate social responsibility.
Every element of their brand is maximally utilized to develop a bond with customers and exclude competitors. The end result is a highly successful customer loyalty program. There are rewards such as discounts and freebies that can always turn a first-time customer into a regular one. Loyal customers get the sense of belonging and achievement, which encourages them to keep drinking their Starbucks coffee.
Remember to always be thankful for your customers because they chose your business over many others. Write them a personalized email, thank you note, and send them special offers and loyalty program deals. Loyalty is a vital part of your brand strategy and it is definitely an ingredient that can take your brand from zero to hero with a rapid rate.
Keep an Eye on the Competition
You’re not alone in the marketplace. And every target customer matters. That’s why you should always strive to be better than your competitors. You need to watch their every move in terms of branding and marketing, and how the best of them approach your target audience.
It is crucial to know how they won over your ideal customers. To discover that, you must know that every ideal customer cares about the following aspects when choosing a brand over another:
- Service quality
- Product quality
- Ease of service
- Customer support
From your competitive and customer data, you need to answer the following questions to gauge the competitive branding strategy:
- Do your competitors are better/worse in delivering what matters to your customers?
- Have you failed to address any unanswered question in your messages/website?
- Is there any product/service feature that makes you stand out from the competitors or vice versa, makes them distinctive?
- Do you have competitive advantages, and what are they?
- What are your biggest brand weaknesses?
- What are the marketplace standards – do you have something to strive for in order to compete with others?
You need to take everything that you learned about the competition and make the best of it by implementing the lessons that you learned into your brand identity.
Maybe you will improve something or get a new point of view on some aspects that were previously overlooked.
Optimize Your Content
Providing value is key if you want your brand to go to the top. High-quality guides, actionable tips, and compelling articles give extra credibility to your brand and increase the overall brand engagement.
You need to analyze your existing content and make sure that it is still useful for your target audience.
Develop better pieces of content that solve your target audience’s problems and test them immediately. Have a test audience that will answer you the following questions:
- What’s the purpose of the piece of content?
- What are the main elements that you can recall?
- Is the design trustworthy?
- Do you recognize our brand within the design/content?
- Did you get any value/learn something?
In your articles and other valuable web content, you need to add sharing buttons that will entice readers to spread your brand awareness further.
Visualize Your Brand Identity
You need to utilize visual branding to express your brand identity and influence the audience’s perception of your business.
For example, if you check out our Instagram account you can see that it is filled with office photos and that employee involvement, teamwork, and happiness is really important to us.
Other visual aspects that consumers can look into are the website and other designs. People will know exactly what to expect when they land on your website according to the layout, images, designs, and the color palette.
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This is why the visualization of your brand identity matters. Whether you’re aware or not, your target audience forms an opinion about your brand when they see your visual elements. If something is not aligned with your core message, they will be disappointed, confused, and will stray away.
The combination of photos, designs, and videos should tell your brand’s story. This story will either fortify your brand values or make them go away in the consumer’s minds. By using a visual reference, you can add additional tone to your brand’s messages/story.
When you use visual elements, it is important to remain consistent and cohesive, so when your customers land from your website to your social accounts, they’ll feel like they’re apart from the same story.
Be transparent towards your audience with your visuals. The more you use honesty and the more rawness, the more authentic you are as a brand, you’ll make it will be a lot easier for the audience to identify with your company.
— Oreo Cookie (@Oreo) August 23, 2018
Don’t forget about video content. YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world, so you better be present there with videos of your company. Let’s look at Taco Bell’s use of video content for enhancing their brand identity:
Their “ The Taco Bell Show” game show features spicy guests, cheesy games, offering the chance to win $2,500.00 in Taco Bell Gifts cards. What that does is to bring the brand even closer to the community and shows that the brand constantly is inspired by its fans and customers.
In essence, taking your brand identity from zero to hero requires lots of hard work and consistency in terms of messaging, quality, designs, marketing efforts, and customer service.
It is a long-term process that will always deliver benefits for your brand and business overall.
When the consumers recognize your efforts and that you’re more than just a name and a logo, you will instantly become more than a business and their favorite hero.
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