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How to Define Brand Identity in 11 Steps (and Why It Matters)

Your brand identity affects your relationships with customers and heavily influences candidate experience in recruitment. This is because your brand identity and company reputation go hand in hand, shaping how the publicviews your organization and relates to your business.

Crafting a corporate brand identity that promotes your values and mission can help you establish a positive, authentic foothold in the marketplace. Learn what a brand identity is, understand the benefits of defining your brand identity and review the steps to take to define itwhen you want to improve job candidate experience levels.

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What is brand identity?

A brand identity combines tangible and intangible factors that work together to create your business’ 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
  • Job candidates’ experiences

Clearly and consistently defining your company’s values and goals helps you create a strong, enduring brand identity. However, customerand employee perception also determine how you market your brand. You have control of the branding you produce and some influence over how employees relate to your business, but the public takes that branding and establishes its perception of your identity, whether you like what that means or not.

What is the purpose of a brand identity?

Your brand identity helps you connect with customers in a meaningful and lasting way. The best, 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 your marketing and advertising choices have a consistent template. This sense of uniformity ensures customers know 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. These decisions enable consistent alignment between your branding and goals.
  • Generate new customers. With regular exposure, potential customers come to trust your company and interact with the brand. Building trust over time hopefully results in a purchase or a referralto someone who’s willing to buy.
  • Maintain past customers. A clear brand identity helps current and past customers remain connected to your company’s values and ideals. These feelings of brand loyalty typically encourage them to make additional purchases.
  • Attract quality talent.Company branding matters just as much for acquiring talent as it does acquiring customers. Highly recognizable branding and a good company reputation make your business attractive to job seekers, help you focus on the talent you need and enhance the candidate experience when applying.

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, specific brand identity makes your company memorable. Potential customers remember the look of attention-grabbing brands and how those brands made them feel.
  • Builds trust. Consumers naturally trust companies with a solid, cohesive brand identity. When all your materials match and maintain a consistent voice, it demonstrates your professionalism.
  • Supports demographics. Your brand identity automatically aligns with your target demographic. This meansyour messaging should 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 already have an awareness of your brand and trust the functionality and value of your new product.

11 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 choose fonts and colors for your website and social media pages, create an overall brand strategy and set clear goals for your brand identity. Consider what you hope to achieve, such as attracting job seekers interested in your company for an improved candidate experience, engaging with new customers or improving relationships with existing customers. A thorough strategy takes into consideration the branding steps you must 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 your end brand identity truly reflects the long-term goals of the company. Likewise, a firm grounding in your values and mission usually results in building a trustworthy reputation that draws in satisfiedcustomers and employees alike.

3. Assess your current brand identity

Better understand your current brand identity by performing an in-depth assessment. Start bypolling internal and external stakeholders, such as employees and current customers, to get a sense of how they view your business. If possible, reach out to potential customers in your target demographic who haven’t made a purchase to see how they perceive you. You might also put a little effort into discovering 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 balance two identities—the brand you want to share with the world and the brand that the world wants to interact with in general. 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 assists you in establishing a brand identitythey want to engage with.

5. Know your competition

Perform a competitive analysis to see what other companies in your sector do to captivate their customers and promote their brands. See what works and what doesn’t for those companies to help inform your own branding and design choices.

6. Outline your identity

Take all the information and ideas you gather, 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

Thisshould help you build a thorough, 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 with which to associate the brand’s personality.

Consider creating or updating these visual elements:

  • Your logo
  • Company colors
  • Typography
  • Document formatting
  • Photography
  • Graphics
  • Infographics
  • Videos
  • Interactive elements
  • Web design
  • Application materials

All these brand elements should share a similar feel and design for brand cohesion during customer interactions and candidate experience during job interviews. 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 establish 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, consider hiring an outside firm to handle the logo design and other branded elements for professionalism and cohesion. Once you get 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 approve your final visual design elements, write a thorough guide to your brand identity. Ideally, every employee in the company should play a part in maintaining the company’s brand identity, whether they monitor and update your social media profiles or answer customer questions over the phone. Provide everyone on the team with a useful, detailed document that helps them get to know thebrand voice inside and out. This document should project your company’s values and mission so they know what to shoot for in theirwork choices and communication.

11. Implement your brand identity

Implementing your new brand identity is the final step. Update all your physical and digital materials to reflect your new visual branding elements. Likewise, use language on your website and social media platforms that reflects the voice of your brand. Offer training to new employees on the brand identity to make sure they understand it. All employees should also reflect the new imagein their internal and external communications.

Overview of the corporate branding process

Your corporate brand identity plays a strong role in customer satisfaction and business growth. Corporate branding helps customers understand what your company represents and how your values impact them.

When establishing your company’s brand identity, remember to identify and include core competencies. Core competencies are especially important if you offer the same goods and services as other businesses. These competencies differentiate you from similar companies, which can influence customers to choose you over a competitor. Competencies may include quality, dependability and innovation.

Your brand image stems from customer experience, but you play a role in developing your corporate brand identity. Decide which image you want to project, then create corporate branding that reflects your values. People need to know exactly who you are before they become loyal customers. You can help them understand your company’s strengths and mission better than anyone else.

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