An effective brand identity can be the driving factor behind your success. It’s what makes your business unique, memorable, and much more than your product or service. Ultimately, it’s what inspires your customers to choose you every time.
But much like your personal identity, a solid brand identity is one that’s layered. Some parts (like your logo) are highly visible, while others (like your values) are expressed through interactions with your customers.
Branding: What Is It?
Branding is an overview of what your customers or market think about your service or product. It’s the image that your business has in the market. If we go deeper, branding is also about how team players and the management see the company, its beliefs, and principles.
Before creating a website or consider marketing strategies, you should already have a brand in mind. This brand is what makes your product or service unique; it sets you apart from other businesses providing similar products or services. Your brand reflects what your customers think about your business or company.
Branding isn’t easy. And while for graphic designers it’s about creating websites and logos with colors and typography in mind, it’s more than that. If you have a Software-as-a-Service product, SaaS branding is not about your company but it’s about your customers. Your brand should tell how you like your customers to look at your company and service. Once a SaaS company has determined its brand, it’s time to look for SaaS marketing agencies to help reach customers.
Your brand is the difference that consumers see in your business when they compare similar services or products in the market. This difference should be valuable and unique. There’s no use in being unique with a product that customers don’t like.
Before you release your brand to the market, you must believe in it and internalize it. Your team should share the same beliefs with you. It’s easier to market something when you and others are enthusiastic about it.
Considerations in Creating a Brand
There’s a lot that goes into an identity, which is why great brands aren’t created in a day. And even when you create one, you still need to maintain it over time.
Luckily, the brand development process isn’t as complex as the identity you’ll achieve. With these nine considerations, you can build a brand that withstands the test of time.
#1. Understand Your Target Audience
Though your brand identity is ultimately a reflection of your business, it’s important to consider your target audience when bringing it to fruition. Your ideal customers should be able to relate to your brand on a personal level. When buyers form an emotional connection to your brand identity, they may spend twice as much as the average consumer.
To ensure your brand captivates your audience, think about their needs and desires as you’re shaping your identity. What are they seeking from a brand like yours? What values do they hold? How can you show that you’ll meet their needs through your brand?
The better your brand aligns with your customers’ ideals, the more likely you’ll inspire confidence and long-term loyalty.
#2. Choose a Unique Business Name
A unique business name doesn’t just make your brand memorable. It can also carry its own inherent value as your brand’s reputation improves.
Consider the brand name Gucci, for instance. Just adding “Gucci” to any product — whether it’s a handbag or cosmetic item — can increase its price. The term “Gucci” is even synonymous with “cool” or “awesome” in modern slang, too.
To choose a strong brand name, first make sure it’s easy to pronounce, even if you’re using untraditional spelling to set yourself apart. This can help you avoid confusion that prevents your business name from catching on.
Businesses should also double-check that there’s no existing business in a similar industry that already holds the trademark or is registered under the name in your state. Doing so will help you avoid legal issues and a costly future rebrand.
In addition, use a domain checker to ensure your brand name is available as a domain name. This is key for building a brand identity, as it keeps your online presence consistent, memorable, and easy for customers to access.
#3. Create an Eye-Catching Visual Identity
When someone mentions a brand like Nike, you can probably picture far more than just the brand name. The iconic swoosh, the bold serif font, the black and white logo — all of these elements are synonymous with Nike and prove the power of visual branding.
Don’t just choose brand colors, fonts, symbols, and other visual elements because you like them. Consider the psychology behind them. For example, the color blue evokes a sense of trust and security, which may be apt for a financial or technology company. However, it may not be cheerful and energetic enough for a toy brand, for which oranges or yellows may be a better fit.
Similarly, sans serif fonts like Arial are usually perceived as more modern and creative, compared to serif fonts like Times New Roman, which are more serious and professional. Handwriting fonts often attract more feminine clientele.
Do some research to see what other brands like yours look like, too. Avoid choosing visual elements that are too similar — especially if the brand has a trademarked logo — so your brand identity can stand out against the competition.
#4. Know What Differentiates Your Brand
No two brands are exactly the same, but in order to take full advantage of your brand identity, you need to identify exactly what it is that makes you stand out. What benefit do customers get from shopping with you that they don’t get from other brands? This is called your unique value proposition.
Once you know your unique value, you can hone in on it in all your brand’s communications. Instead of focusing on a perk that other brands can provide, you can build your brand identity around what truly differentiates you and your products or services from others.
#5. Identify Your Mission, Vision, and Values
Your mission, vision, and values are the driving forces behind your brand. Though they’re not visible in the same way that your brand name and logo are, they help facilitate the unique brand experience and emotional client engagement that help you succeed.
So what exactly are these brand elements? Your mission statement is an inspiring phrase about what you do — for example, TED’s “spread ideas” — while a vision statement outlines what your long-term impact will ideally be. Together, they give your business a purpose.
Your company values are, in a sense, a philosophy that your organization follows. Today’s consumers look for brands that share the same values as them, so consistently following three to 10 core values will help you form a dedicated client base.
For example, if one of your values is sustainability, expressing this aspect of your brand identity through sustainable marketing will help you attract your ideal customers.
As you continue to express your mission, vision, and values through your marketing and customer interactions, your brand identity will become crystal clear to your target audience.
#6. Establish a Brand Voice
No identity is complete without a voice. Think of this as your brand’s personality. It’s the way your brand speaks and writes, and even the amount of emojis or punctuation they use on social media.
Just like you may surround yourself with people whose personalities you love, consumers connect most with brands that offer a voice they enjoy or respect.
Wendy’s is a brand that’s often lauded for its stellar brand voice. It’s described as “sassy.” Because this sass is part of their brand voice, Wendy’s isn’t afraid to be funny or take an entertaining jab at other brands. This voice is an essential part of the Wendy’s brand identity, and customers follow along because they know and love the fast-food chain’s content.
A children’s museum, on the other hand, may take on a more friendly, educational tone that parents can appreciate.
As an exercise, imagine your brand as a person. What type of person would wear your brand colors and hold your brand values? What personality would they need in order to appeal to and connect with most members of your target audience?
Whether a client is emailing your brand, going on your website, or browsing your social media pages, your brand voice should follow. This consistency can decrease confusion and increase conversions.
#7. Align Your Team
A strong brand identity must be consistent at every customer touchpoint. Otherwise, your customers won’t be able to pinpoint what your brand is all about.
For example, if each member of your social media team is responding to messages and comments or writing captions without regard for brand voice, the brand experience will be totally different each time a client engages with you. Your social presence will be harder for followers to connect to. Your brand may have 10 different personalities and no clear core identity for clients to relate with.
The solution is to train your team members to embody and utilize each element of your brand. When your brand is instilled into them, they’ll be better equipped to operate and communicate in a way that aligns with your brand identity, as well as what customers come to expect from you.
#8. Build Awareness With Partners Who Align With You
One of the most effective ways to build brand awareness is by working with influencers who can promote your brand. Consumers often trust individuals more than businesses, so this can be an effective way to reach your target audience.
However, it’s important to partner with influencers who actually make sense for your brand. Great influencers are choosy about the brands they want to promote. The best ones for your business don’t promote just anything, and will truly believe in your brand and embrace the same values.
When you work with influencers who align with your brand, their promotions will reinforce your identity, while helping boost traffic.
Similarly, before partnering with another business to cross-promote each other’s content, make sure the business partner aligns with your values and target audience.
#9. Keep an Eye on Your Brand Reputation
Your brand identity can be greatly shaped by public perception. Customers may misinterpret your key messages — and if you’re not proactive about tracking your reputation, their misinterpretation could become your identity.
This is why it’s crucial to stay on top of what consumers are saying about your brand and respond or take action in a timely manner when needed. Follow your brand hashtags and mentions with a social listening tool like Hootsuite or Sprout Social.
Sentiment analysis tools like Lexalytics or Repustate can be powerful, too. These tools can help you spot trends in how consumers feel about your brand identity, so you can act before sentiment becomes negative.
Take Control of Your Brand Identity
Great brand identities include visual elements like colors and fonts, but go far deeper than that. They also include core values, a unique value proposition, and a voice reflected in all your marketing and communications.
Create a comprehensive brand identity that consistently aligns with your audience’s needs and wants, and your business can develop a highly loyal client base.