The terms “brand” and logo “are often used interchangeably. But while a logo may be a symbol of a business, it is not an entire brand. In fact, a logo design is just a small step towards the development of a strong brand identity. In this article we share How to Build a Strong Brand Identity.
With millions, if not billions, of companies trying to make a name for themselves, having a strong brand has become crucial for companies to differentiate themselves from their competitors.
If you are working to develop your first brand identity for a customer, or if you are doing it for your own business, it is important to first understand what a brand is and what it takes to create one. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as giving the company a name and sticking it on everything.
Originally, the term “brand” was used to designate the brand that cattle producers “branded” on their cattle, the idea of a brand has evolved to encompass much more than just a name or symbol.
Your brand, an essential element of your brand identity, is defined as a name or a type of product produced by a particular company.
What is brand identity?
A brand identity is made up of what your brand says, your values, how you communicate your product, and what you want people to feel when they interact with it. Essentially, your brand identity is the personality of your business and a promise to your customers.
As Jeff Bezos says, “Branding is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
Your product leaves an impression on your customers long after the sale. Brand identity is the process of forming that impression.
How to Create a Brand Identity
- Research your audience, your value proposition and your competition.
- Design the logo and a template for it.
- Integrate the language you can use to connect, advertise and embody on social networks.
- Know what to avoid.
- Monitor your brand to maintain its brand identity.
1. Research your audience, your value proposition and your competition
As with any other aspect of starting a business, the first step in creating a brand identity is to conduct market research. You must clarify and understand these five things.
It’s no secret that different people want different things. You cannot (usually) target a product on a pre-adolescent in the same way as you would target a product on a student. Learning what your audience expects from a company in your industry is essential to building a brand that people will love.
Value proposition and competition
What makes your company unique in your sector? What can you offer your consumers that others cannot? Knowing the difference between you and your competitors is imperative to developing a successful brand. Keeping an eye on your competition will also tell you which branding techniques are working and which are not.
You know what your business is offering, but make sure you have a clear and direct mission statement that describes your vision and goals. In other words, know the purpose of your business – you can’t really create a personality for a business unless you know what it is.
Even if you don’t necessarily brand an individual, that doesn’t mean you can’t be customizable when developing a brand image. Use your type, colors and images to represent the brand. Then improve this visual representation with your tone of voice: are you a confident company with a lot of sense, like Nike? Or are you chic and professional, like Givenchy? In any case, be sure to develop your brand to represent your business.
Research can be boring, but the more you know about your business, the stronger your brand identity will be.
Finally, performing a SWOT analysis can be beneficial to better understand your brand. Taking into account the characteristics of the brand will help you find the characteristics that you want to represent in the brand. SWOT means:
- Strengths: positive characteristics of your business that offer an advantage over your competitors.
- Weaknesses: characteristics that prove to be a disadvantage for your business.
- Opportunities: changes and trends in your industry that provide opportunities for your business.
- Threats: elements of the environment or industry that could cause problems for your business.
2. Design the logo and style guide
Once you know your business inside and out, it’s time to bring your brand to life. In the words of graphic designer Paul Rand, “design is the silent ambassador of your brand”. Here’s what you need to know:
While the logo is not the entire brand identity, it is a vital part of the branding process – it is the most recognizable part of your brand. It’s on everything from your website to your business cards to your online ads. With your logo on all these elements, your brand image should be consistent.
As imperative as your logo may be for the brand, it is not the only element that strengthens the identity of a brand. Your product (s), packaging or the way you present your services should all play a role in your brand identity. Representing your business visually in everything you do will create consistency and help build familiarity with your consumers. Take the golden arches of McDonald’s for example. They used an interesting shape to create the iconic “M”, which is now recognizable around the world.
Color and type
Creating a color palette is one way to improve your identity. It offers you a variety so that you can create unique designs for your business while staying true to the brand identity.
The type can also be a double-edged sword if not used properly. Although mix and match design has become a trend, that doesn’t mean mixing a handful of fonts is necessarily a good idea for your business. In your logo, on your website and on all the documents your business creates (print and digital), there should be consistent use of typography. If you take a look at the Nike website and its advertisements, it keeps the same font and font style in all aspects of the business – and it works wonders for them.
You likely send emails, type letters, or distribute business cards to potential customers on a daily basis. Creating templates (even for as small a detail as email signatures) will give your business a more unified, credible, and professional look and feel.
As already mentioned in almost all of the steps (I can’t stress this enough), consistency is what can make or break a brand identity. Use the aforementioned models and follow the design choices you have made for your brand in all areas of your business to create a harmonious brand identity.
Yes, consistency is crucial – but staying flexible in a society that is always looking for the best is just as important. Flexibility allows adjustments in advertising campaigns, slogans and even some modernization of your overall brand identity so that you can continually keep your audience interested. The key is to keep all the changes you make to your entire brand consistent (for example, don’t change the design of your business cards and nothing else).
One of the most effective ways to make sure a business sticks to its brand “rules” is to create a set of brand guidelines that document all the do’s and don’ts of your Mark. Skype is a brand that has done an incredible job in creating a clear and consistent brand guide that everyone can follow. It’s a way to allow people to create brand assets and share your brand while staying brand-compliant.
3. Integrate the language you can use to connect, advertise and embody on social networks
Now that you have established your brand within your company and have taken all the necessary steps to develop it, you are ready to integrate your brand into your community.
And one of the most effective ways to do this is for your brand to provide quality content. In HubSpot’s Branding in the Inbound Age ebook, Patrick Shea writes: “In any case, your content is your brand online. It’s your seller, your store, your marketing department; it’s your story and each piece of content you post reflects and defines your brand. So great content, a great brand. Boring content, a boring brand. ”
Use language that matches your brand’s personality. If your brand identity is upscale, use professional language; if your brand is casual, be more conversational. The language you choose to use as a brand will be integrated throughout the business, so it’s important that you carefully craft your tone based on your brand personality.
Connection and emotion
People love stories. Specifically, people love the stories that move them (emotionally and in action). A strong brand identity can establish an emotional connection with consumers, which can be a solid foundation for building a lasting relationship with a brand.
Designing ads, whether traditional or digital, is the most effective way to present your brand to the world. It is a way to make your brand message seen and heard by your target audience.
Another great way to connect with your consumers is through social media. The plethora of platforms on the Internet offer a ton of digital real estate that you can use to establish your brand identity. Coca-Cola, once again, makes great use of its real Facebook cover photo by keeping it consistent with the theme of happiness
Social media is also important when it comes to conversing directly with your customers and building brand affinities. If you are mentioned in a tweet, status or message (especially if the customer has a question or problem), be sure to give your brand a good reputation by responding effectively to your customers.
4. Know what to avoid
You can follow all the steps of creating a strong brand identity, but if you are guilty of any of the following practices, your brand may weaken or fail.
Don’t give your customers mixed messages
Know what you want to say and use appropriate language and visuals to say it. Just because it makes sense to you doesn’t mean it will make sense to your customers.
Do not copy your competitors
Your competition can have an exemplary brand image, and since you sell the same products or services, you may want to do what you know that works – don’t do it. Consider what they do and bring your own touch to make your business stand out in your industry.
Don’t lose consistency between online and offline
Yes, your printed materials may look a little different from your online presence, but your colors, type, theme and message should all be consistent.
5. Monitor your brand to maintain its brand identity
Similar to other aspects of your marketing, it is difficult to know what you are doing right (and what you are not doing) without monitoring key performance indicators. Use Google Analytics, polls, comments, social media discussions, etc. to monitor your brand and get an idea of how people talk and interact with you. This will give you the opportunity to implement changes to your brand as needed, either to correct an error or to improve brand identity.
Creating a memorable brand requires consistent use of type, color, images and language, but it is worth it. When consumers instantly recognize who you are and what you all represent on the basis of a logo, you have become more than just a name and a symbol.
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James Adams is a learning specialist at essay writer, he designs and delivers learning initiatives (both in class and online) for a global and internal audience. He is responsible for on-going development, delivery and maintenance of training. He has the ability to manage competing priorities and execute on time-sensitive deliverables within a changing environment. He contributes in continually improving team’s processes and standards and works as a member of the team to assist with team initiatives.