Written by Madison Blask
Have you ever been driving on the highway early in the morning and been straight up hankering for a hot cup of joe because you woke up too late to have your usual cup at home? But you still have to keep driving because you’re on your way to your girlfriend’s dad’s 60th birthday party in the next state over and she flew there last night, but you had some more work you had to do so you couldn’t leave the house until this morning, and you’re nervous because you don’t want to be late to the party, and in your girlfriend’s eyes being late would mean being anything other than two hours early so you can help set up.
You’re so worried about being late that you know it would set you behind schedule to pull over and type in your maps app “coffee near me,” you need something quick and simple. You’re worried and you’re tired, but you’re also hopeful. You know that coffee will find you, if you just keep cruising along. And until it does, you will keep yourself awake by singing along to the Best of Tom Petty playlist on your phone, because you have had Free Fallin’ stuck in your head for a week and need it out of there to make room for more important stuff. And then, you’re halfway through Won’t Back Down when you see it, rising with purpose over the horizon, the golden arches. Majestic, grand, innately identifiable. The arches come with promise, a guarantee: coffee yes, but also comfort. Comfort in the form of a recognizable, universal brand identity.
Brand identity can be tricky to define, but when done successfully, is easy to spot. And the best brand identities aren’t just seen, they’re felt and known, oftentimes staying with us in a back corner of our mind next to the song lyrics we will never forget and our Mom’s birthdays.
Finding and honing your company’s brand identity takes time, it goes beyond choosing the visual elements of your brand but instead conveys your company’s intent. As important as your brand image is to your audience, turning a potential client into a returning one comes down to your brand identity.
Is brand identity really this important?
In a word: yes. In a phrase: heck yeah! As the beating heart of practically everything your business is and accomplishes, the identity of your brand is crucial to the future of your company. Having a brand identity is more than slapping an eye-catching logo on your products, the “face” of your business should do more than just look cool, but also be associative. By cultivating a strong identity behind the face of your brand, your product becomes not only more memorable to consumers, but more authoritative in a competitive marketplace.
By creating an identity for your brand, you’re really giving it something to stand for. Which ultimately gives your company a purpose. I’m sure you’ve already jotted down your company’s mission statement, we know we have, but you can’t implement one without first giving your brand an identity.
If you want your business to become the beloved brand name that we know it can be, it’s going to take some work. Read on for how to build the brand identity your company deserves.
How to create your brand identity:
1. Research your target audience and competition
Just like any other aspect of starting a business, the first step in creating a brand identity is to complete market research. What needs to be the focus of your brand in order for you to find success?
- The Audience- Just as each one of us wants different things from each other, we also want different things for each brand we interact with. You typically can’t target a product the same way to a preteen as you would to their grandfather. Learning who your target audience is, and what they want from your industry is a vital first step in creating a brand people will love and return to.
- Your Competition- Your industry is flooded with different brands all itching to fulfill the same promise, what can you offer your customers that the others can’t? Not only knowing the difference between you and your competition, but succinctly defining what sets you apart from the rest is imperative to developing your successful brand. As you keep an eye on your competition, remember to take not of what branding techniques work for them, as well as which don’t.
2. Determine your name, tagline, and logo
If you are branding yourself and your own skills and talents — maybe you’re an illustrator or freelance graphic designer — your own name will do wonders to personalize your brand. But if your brand has more than one founder or you are hankering to use an original name that isn’t your own, think first of what you want to accomplish with the brand. Do you want your brand name to be straightforward and descriptive (like Burger King), or inventive and catchy (like Moo)? You don’t want to choose a name that is too long, or unnecessarily hard to spell.
It will save you in the long run to keep website domains and social media profiles in mind while choosing a name, since you’ll need to claim them in your brand’s name. It can be disruptive to have inconsistent social media handles, and can be confusing for your audience if your domain name doesn’t match what they search for you as on Instagram. A tool such as Namechk is useful for finding available domains, and a simple search can let you know what is still an option on social media.
Also, throw a brainstorming party! Your pals and family members are a great resource, especially at this stage. Snag a pizza and some brews, get cozy, and play a word-association game or two to spark the most creative names and taglines.
Now for your logo: the central visual element of your brand identity, the face of your company to be used on your brand website, packaging, social media — everywhere. It is crucial to create a logo that meets these key criteria:
Because it is your face, many people think the logo is the most important part of creating a brand identity (golden arches, anyone?), but remember it is only a piece of the puzzle.
Do you want your logo to be an image? Or the name of your brand? Or a combination of the two? What style are you going for? Your logo should tell a story, and be meaningful. You’ll often notice competitive brands gravitate towards the same colors in their logos, likely influenced by the same market research. If you narrow in on your competition and notice similarities, take that as an opportunity to differentiate.
Still stuck on what exactly your logo should look like? Shoot us an email, our design team would love to help you get started.
3. Integrate personalized language
Even though you’re not necessarily branding an individual, that doesn’t mean that you can’t be personable when developing a brand image. Use your type, colors, and imagery to represent who the brand is. Then enhance that visual representation with your tone of voice: Are you a confident business with a lot of sass, like Nike? Or are you ritzy and professional, like Givenchy? Either way, be sure to develop your brand as a way to represent your business.
Your content is your brand online. It’s your salesperson, your store, your marketing department. Your content is your story, and every piece of content you publish reflects on, and defines, your brand. To put it simply: great content, great brand. And not to freak you out, but: boring content, boring brand.
Across your content company-wide, use language that matches the personality of your brand. If your brand identity is high-end, use professional language; if your brand is laid-back, be more conversational. The language you choose to use as a brand will be integrated throughout the entire business, so it’s important that you carefully craft your tone to match your brand’s personality.
People love stories, your customers respond to stories. More accurately, people love stories that move them (emotionally and to action!). A strong brand identity can establish an emotional connection with consumers, which is a solid foundation for building a lasting relationship with a brand.
A good product generates customers, but a good brand generates advocates. Creating a memorable brand requires consistency, confidence, and courage. When consumers instantly recognize who you are and what you stand for all based on a logo, name, or tagline you’ve become more than just a name and a symbol: baby, you’ve become a brand.