Creating a Brand Identity
TLDR: Your brand identity is not just about you, but its about who you are to your customers and the solutions you provide them.
An entity’s brand identity is a foundational piece that is important to get right. It impacts how the brand is perceived across all channels: the website, social media, emails, and any other communication with the audience.
Brand identity is more than just a logo and a font choice. It is the personality of your organization and how you are different from your competition. It is a collection of everything from your tone of voice in your writing, to the guiding culture of your community of followers, to the content of your blog posts and videos.
To create a consistent brand that your audience can recognize and connect to, it is important to build a foundation and then build everything else out from there.
Where to Start
Before you can go about creating a brand identity, you need to understand how brand identities are built. News flash: you are not the only one who identifies your brand identity. In fact, how your brand is perceived by your audience is half the story. Not only that, but your audience is also comparing you to your competition.
When crafting (or re-crafting) your brand identity, start with your audience.
A clear understanding of one's audience allows for developing a powerful message as well as reaching out to potential customers more effectively. The key takeaway is knowing who you're talking to: from their problems and daily frustrations, to their deepest desires. When you present your brand identity, it should be in response to your audience’s needs.
You have the opportunity to invite your audience to take part in something that is bigger than themselves - they can become part of a movement. This is the power of a strong brand identity. Not every brand will be able to achieve this, but when you can, your audience members become loyal, repeat customers and brand advocates.
A clear understanding of one's audience allows for developing a powerful message
Second, look at the competition and see where you are different.
Differentiation is not simply offering better customer service. It’s about finding a competitive advantage: what do you have that is valuable, rare, difficult to imitate, and embedded in your organization’s systems?
One exercise you can do to find an area of opportunity to emphasize your differentiation is to plot your competitors on a grid. Select features that are industry-relevant and that you could possibly exploit on your X and Y axes. For example, you might select price to go on your y-axis and level of personalization for the x-axis. Then plot where your competitors are on your grid. Once you have plotted all of your competitors, you can identify areas of white space on the grid where there is room for you to be different.
Lastly, craft a story that connects your brand to a higher purpose, and use it as a foundation for your branding.
People connect with stories more than facts. Moreover, people are often more emotional than rational when it comes to making decisions. It’s part of the human experience. To connect with your audience on a deeper level, try and find a story that they can resonate with and turn that into your brand’s mission. Defining a brand purpose not only helps you create a compelling brand identity, but it also helps you identify core values for your brand and your organization.
Creating a Visual Identity
Once you’ve done your research and you have your idea for your brand identity, creating a visual brand that reflects that identity is essential.
Choosing a logo
Your logo is the central piece of the brand. It is a visual element that is used repeatedly in all communications to help people recognize and understand your brand. When choosing a logo, be sure that it reflects the core values of your brand.
Some things to think about are design complexity, whether you want words in your logo, number of colours used, and what some wise choices might be depending on where your logo will be used often.
A brand identity also means choosing font, colours, tone, personality, and other style choices that all reflect and help unify your brand. These should all compliment both your logo and your brand identity that you established after completing your research.
When making these choices, it’s helpful to think about these questions:
Do you want your brand to be more formal or informal?
Is it more important to emphasize dependability or innovation?
What 1 thing is the most important piece of information people need to know and are there symbols that would communicate that?
What does your audience value?
Is humour a good tool for reaching your audience or does it seem unprofessional?
How can you simplify your brand to make it more memorable?
Is there anything unnecessary that can be left out?
Consistency and unity are key. Not only do all these elements need to be consistent with your brand to help your audience identify it, but they also need to be consistent across all of your communication channels so you don’t cause confusion. These may include social media, your website, your business cards, and any posters, brochures or other print media.
The moral of the story is your brand should be the essence of your organization:
the value you provide to your customers
what sets you apart from the competition
what your purpose is
what your organization’s core values are
Your visual branding should reflect the answers to the questions above in the choices you make when it comes to style and communication. And your brand identity is not just about you, but its about who you are to your customers and the solutions you provide them.