What is brand identity?
A brand identity is a combination of tangible and intangible factors that work together to create your business’s personality. Common elements of a brand identity include:
- Your company’s logo
- Your company’s design elements
- Your company’s voice and vocabulary
- Your company’s values
- Your company’s mission
- The customer’s perception of the company
Many companies use branding, or the practice of clearly and consistently defining their company’s values and goals, to create a brand identity. However, brand identity is also based on customer perception. You have control of the branding you produce, but the public takes that branding and established their perception of your identity.
What is the purpose of a brand identity?
Your brand identity helps you connect with customers in a meaningful and lasting way. The best and most purposeful brand identities meet these criteria:
- Provide a face:A clear brand identity gives the public a visual image they can use as the “face” of the company, making your business memorable.
- Build credibility:A consistent, long-term brand identity helps build your credibility in the marketplace as a dependable and trustworthy company.
- Offer a template:With a thorough brand identity, all of your marketing and advertising choices have a consistent template that ensures the customer knows what they’re looking at belongs to your company.
- Support your mission:Ideally, every choice you make about your brand identity refers back to your company’s mission and values. This consistently aligns your branding with your goals.
- Generate new customers:With regular exposure, potential customers will come to trust your company and engage with the brand, hopefully resulting in a purchase.
- Maintain past customers:A clear brand identity helps current and past customers remain connected to your company’s values and ideals and hopefully encourages them to make additional purchases.
Benefits of defining your brand identity
Defining your brand identity clearly has a number of benefits. Consider these advantages when establishing your brand identity:
- Makes you memorable:A clear and specific brand identity makes your company memorable. Potential customers will remember not just the look of your brand, but how your brand made them feel.
- Builds trust:Consumers are naturally more trusting of a company with a solid and cohesive brand identity. When all of your materials match and maintain a consistent voice, it demonstrates your professionalism.
- Supports demographics:Your brand identity automatically aligns with your target demographic, meaning your messaging will effectively speak to those most interested in purchasing your product or service.
- Promotes product launches:Launching a new product takes much less groundwork with a solid brand identity. Past customers and potential customers will already have an awareness of your brand and trust that your new product is functional and valuable.
Related:How to Hire a Brand Manager
Steps to define your brand identity
Establishing an effective brand identity takes planning and thoughtful attention to detail. Follow these steps to create an effective brand identity for your company:
1. Establish a brand strategy and goals
Before you start choosing fonts and colors for your website and social media pages, you need to create an overall brand strategy and set clear goals for your brand identity. Consider what you hope to achieve by establishing a clear brand identity, like engaging with new customers or improving relationships with existing customers. Create a thorough strategy that takes into consideration the branding steps you’ll take to reach your goals.
2. Know your values and mission
Go back to your company’s values and mission to help you determine how you want the public to view your company. Aligning every branding decision you make with your values can help ensure that your end brand identity truly reflects the long-term goals of the company.
3. Assess your current brand identity
Understand what your current brand identity is. Poll internal and external stakeholders, like employees and current customers, to get a sense of how they view the company. If possible, reach out to potential customers in your target demographic who have not made a purchase from your company to see how they perceive you and what would entice them to become paying customers. Use this information to help establish the foundation of your new brand identity.
4. Understand your audience
Your brand identity needs to be a balance of two identities — the brand you want to share with the world and the brand that the world wants to interact with. Know exactly what your customers want from your brand by creating thorough customer personas that represent your target demographics. Knowing your customer’s likes and dislikes and what they look for in a company will help you establish a brand identity that they’ll want to engage with.
5. Know your competition
Perform a competitive analysis to see what other companies in your sector are doing to engage with their customers and promote their brands. See what’s working and what’s not working for those companies to help inform your own branding and design choices.
6. Outline your identity
Take all the information and ideas you’ve gathered and streamline them into a brand identity brief. Include descriptions of:
- The goals of the brand identity
- The overall strategy
- Key elements of the brand identity
- Elements to avoid
- The target demographic
- Primary voice indicators
This document will help you build a thorough and effective brand identity and style document to share with all internal stakeholders.
7. Define your voice
Establish some clear parameters for the voice of your brand. You want all communication, from social media to press releases, to have the same tone and use a similar vocabulary. Consider how you want your customers to feel when they interact with your brand. Tone choices like warmth, knowledge, endearment and humor can help everyone who creates content for your brand at every level stay consistent with the brand identity.
8. Consider the visual elements
The visual elements of your branding are key for your customers. They help the public recognize your brand and have an image to associate the brand’s personality and feeling with. Consider creating or updating these visual elements:
- Your logo
- Company colors
- Document formatting
- Interactive elements
- Web design
All of these brand elements should share a similar feel and design for brand cohesion. If your company or industry has other frequently used physical documents or digital elements, add those to the list of items to consider during the design phase of your brand identity process.
9. Design the elements
Once you’ve established the list of collateral you need to create, assign a team to actually design all the elements. If you have in-house graphic designers, you can use them for the task. Otherwise, you may consider hiring an outside firm to handle the design of your logo and other branded elements for professionalism and cohesion. Once you’ve got mockups for your visual elements, do some testing with internal and external stakeholders to see how they receive and respond to the design choices. Make adjustments as needed.
10. Create your brand style guide
Once you’ve approved your final visual design elements, write a thorough guide to your brand identity. More than likely, every employee in the company will play a part in maintaining the company’s brand identity, whether they’re monitoring and updating your social media profiles or answering customer questions over the phone. Ensure everyone on the team knows the voice of the brand and projects the company’s values and mission through their work choices and communication by providing them with a useful, detailed document.
11. Implement your brand identity
The final step is implementing your new brand identity. Update all of your physical and digital brandings to reflect your new visual branding elements. Ensure the language used on your website and social media platforms reflects the voice of your brand. Offer training to new employees on the brand identity to make sure they understand it and reflect it in their internal and external communications.
Defining your brand identity provides a number of benefits for your company’s operation and marketplace success. With a thoughtful and thorough brand identity, your employees will know exactly how to interact with customers, and your customers will feel comforted by your consistency and commitment to your values.