Creating a recognizable and reliable brand identity is one of the major keys to the success of your business.
With thousands of competitors doing what you do, one early question you need to be asking is: How do we stand out and get recognized and be seen as head and shoulders above the rest?
A second that will immediately follow will likely be around the voice of your brand. How do we find consistency in the messages that we communicate so that people will gravitate towards us?
We are going to explore the concept of brand identity to understand the importance it holds in establishing your company as a leader in its field. We will also give you some tips and strategies as to how you can create a brand identity that will have people coming back for more.
‘Brand is the sum total of how someone perceives a particular organization. Branding is about shaping that perception.’ [Ashley Friedlein, CEO & Founder of Guild]
What is Brand Identity?
A Brand Identity is the perception that your brand holds in the minds of your potential consumers. This can be both a positive or a negative thing. It is made up of a combination of aspects ranging from the visible [colors, logo, tagline] to the invisible [values, reputation, ethics] that collectively help form an impression of your company or product for the general public.
Brand Identity is something that communicates the familiarity of your products while also differentiating you from your competition. If created well, brand identity will create trust and build loyalty in those who do business with you, encouraging them to keep coming back to you for more.
As author and former dot com business executive Seth Godin so eloquently sums it up: ‘A brand is a set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a customer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.’
Because of this, having a positive and effective brand identity can become crucial to the success or failure of your business. Much of this operates on associations, which may not provide enough reason to buy your product, but will give you an important leg-up when potential customers are looking around. Some of those associations include a recognizable theme tune, trademark colors [for example – the red and white of Coca Cola], a logo [Nike’s swish], or a tagline [BMW’s ‘Sheer Driving Pleasure’]
Importance of Values behind Brand Identity
The Brand Identity is the message that the consumer receives from the company or product that shapes their feelings towards it. Having a set of discernible company values as a core part of your brand identity can go a long way towards building the kind of trust and loyalty you are looking for. If a potential customer suspects that your values line up with theirs, they are more likely to climb on board and stick with you for life.
Your core brand values are the beliefs and practices that you, as a company, stand for. These serve as a sort of compass that helps guide the decision-making process of your company with regards to the story-telling, actions, and behaviors you make as well as the products you present.
There are many different aspects that come together to form brand identity which can be seen as the sum of all the parts. Careful management of all these different aspects is necessary if you want to continue to present a consistent and authentic message to everyone watching. When it comes to values you are talking about things such as quality of product, care for the environment, treatment of staff,
When customers spend associate themselves with a product or service you offer, they are not just buying that product or service. They are investing into what you as a brand stand for. Thus it is so important that you know your values and communicate them effectively and then stay consistent with them in every aspect of your business. Once you lose a customer over a branding incident, it is so much harder to ever win them back.
Quality, service, reliability, transparency, and trustworthiness – are you who you say you are? Once someone has identified themselves with your brand it usually creates a deep loyalty that will keep them coming back.
A branding strategy is a comprehensive plan for building a unique identity for your business to achieve your business objectives. An effective branding strategy, therefore, impacts all aspects of your entity and directly connects to your customers’ emotions and needs.
There are a number of key elements that will help communicate who you are as a brand:
- Mission [What are you about?]
- Audience [Whoa re you particularly trying to reach?]
- Values [What are the lived-out beliefs that drive your company?]
- Brand personality [If your brand was a person, what would they be like?]
- Brand voice [If your brand was a person, what would they sound like?]
- Unique positioning [What differentiates you from the competition?
When it comes to creating a branding strategy, obviously the earlier on in your company’s life that you do this, the better it is for you. Branding builds up over time as people become more familiar with the look, feel and stance you take as a company, and as your product builds its own reputation. But it helps if you are intentional from as early on as possible as you will be creating the framework for your identity to be built upon.
If you, in reading this, have come to the awareness that you have not been intentional about creating your brand identity, or even if you are noticing some aspects that have previously skipped your attention then you do not need to panic. Simply make it a priority to sit together with the creative minds within your team and put something together. You can also always bring in outsiders to smooth the edges and add a professional touch to the look and feel you want to project, but in terms of vision and values, that will generally be better sourced within your organization.
‘Branding is the process of connecting good strategy with good creativity.’[Marty Neumeier, Director of CEO Branding for Liquid Agency]
- Gather a team of trusted people who understand the story of your company in terms of history and present set-up.
- Answer the above questions to determine your identity as a company.
- Identify what areas you are already strong in with regards to brand and what might still need to be added [example – how are you doing with regards to jingle, logo, colors, story?].
- Decide whether there are outside experts you can bring in to improve those missing areas.
- Commit budget to this process. The influence that brand identity has on sales and success should make this a no-brainer. The funds you commit upfront to this process will save you so much down the line.
An effective branding strategy will impact on all aspects of your company. It will connect directly to the needs and emotions of your customers.
Ensure your identity is on brand!
In closing, I hope you have found this helpful both in terms of recognizing how you are doing here. As well as receiving hints and guidelines as to how you can move your company to the next level.
In the instant gratification world we have of social media influence, branding can really make the hugest difference. The gap between a company doing alright and one that is leading in their particular sector of the market.
You do not want to be left behind! Make sure you have your identity branding in the place you want it to be right now. Then commit to revisiting it regularly, to ensure that you stay on top.
As Henry Ford once said, ‘You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do.’
Do whatever it takes to ensure that you have a strong and noticeable brand identity. This will help to communicate the personality of your business. As well as cater to your client’s perceptions of who you are. This will be witnessed in the trust and loyalty that will emerge as strong by-products of an identity that transforms those who engage with it. If you’re seeking outside help, here is a good place to start.