The terms brand and logo are many times used interchangeably. But, a logo can be the symbol of a business; it is not the entirety of a brand. Creating a logo is one small step toward developing a solid brand identity.
With millions of companies trying to make a name for themselves, having a strong brand is crucial for all companies to differentiate from competitors.
If you strive to develop or evolve your brand identity for a client or do this for your own business, it's essential to understand what a brand and a brand identity are and what it takes to create.
What is brand identity?
A brand identity comprises what your brand says, your values, how you communicate your offering, and what you want your target audience to feel when interacting with you and your company.
Your brand identity is the personality of the company and a promise to your customers.
If I remember right, the term brand originates from the mark that cattle ranchers branded on their cattle. However, the idea of a brand has evolved to encompass much more than just a name or a symbol.
Your brand is a feature or set of features that shall distinguish one company from another. A brand typically comprises a name, tagline, logo or symbol, design, brand voice, and more.
Brand identity is the aspect of branding that focuses on your brand's personality and the values it conveys to your potential and existing customers.
Brand identity is more than just finding a suitable logo; it's about crafting a personality that amplifies the core elements of your brand's DNA. The most sticky and magnetic brand identities scale across digital platforms, in experiences, and naturally converse with customers.
Yet, your offering leaves an impression on your customers long after making the purchase decision. Brand identity is the process of shaping those impressions.
Why brand identity is essential
As the embodiment of almost everything your company is and do, a brand identity can inspire potential and existing customers and increase a sense of loyalty to your brand. Your brand identity is therefore crucial to your business success.
So, if your want your brand to become more than just your logo, how can you replicate what successful brands have done and instil other unique elements into your company's identity? First, find some components of well-developed brand identities and why you must develop them.
The face of your company
Your logo is the face of your company, but the logo should do more than look good or excellent; a logo's contribution to your brand identity is also associative.
Credibility and trust
Your brand identity makes your brand more authoritative in the marketplace and makes your product more memorable. In addition, a brand that establishes a face and maintains that face consistently over time develops credibility among its competitors and customer trust.
Advertising and impressions
Your brand identity is a template for everything you include in, e.g., an advertisement. A brand with a face and strong credibility is well prepared to promote itself and impact potential and existing customers positively.
Generating new customers and delighting existing ones
A strong brand identity attracts people who agree with what your brand offers. And once these people become customers, that same brand identity gives them a sense of belonging. So a good offering generates customers, but a good brand creates brand interest and brand ambassadors.
If you want your company to become a well-known and beloved brand, it takes quite some work. However, the suggested following steps can help you build a strong brand identity. The recommended steps are simple; to implement them is just hard work.
Creating a brand identity
Research your target audience, your value proposition, and the competition
Could you design the logo and the template for it?
Integrate language and tone you can use to connect
Know what not to do
Monitor your brand to maintain the brand identity
Research your target audience, the value proposition, and the competition
The first step in creating a solid brand identity is completing research, clarifying, and understanding the below five things.
One of the essential things to consider when building brand identity is how your messaging resonates with your target audience. Start by finding out your target audience's pain points and challenges, and communicate how your company or product helps solve them.
You might have a nice logo and eye-catching copy, but if it doesn't address your customers' pain points and challenges clearly and effectively, it'll be challenging to build a solid brand identity.
Different people want different things. Therefore, learning what your target audience wants from your company is vital to creating a brand people will love.
What makes your company and offering unique in your industry? What can you offer your customers that others can't provide them? Knowing the difference between your competition and you is imperative to developing a successful and strong brand.
Keep an eye on your competitors; that will keep you updated on what branding techniques work well and those that don't.
You know what your company offers, but be sure to have a clear and direct mission statement and describe your purpose, vision, and goals. In other words, you can't create a brand personality for your company very well unless you know what that business is about.
Now more than ever, customers draw to brands that align with their brand values and mission in everything they do. So inject meaningful partnerships with people and organisations that share the same values.
Be personable when you develop and create your brand image. First, use your type, colours, and imagery to represent your brand. Then, enhance that visual representation with your voice to become a confident company and business.
Research may be a bit boring, but the more you know about your business, the stronger your brand identity will be.
Finally, completing a traditional SWOT Analysis can be beneficial to understanding your brand better. Considering your brand's characteristics will help you find the elements you want in your brand.
SWOT stands for:
Strengths: The positive characteristics of your business that provide an advantage over your competition.
Weaknesses: The characteristics that prove to be a disadvantage to your business.
Opportunities: The changes and trends in your industry offer options for your business.
Threats: The elements in the environment or industry may cause problems for your business.
To create the logo and a template for it.
Once you know your company and business inside and out, it's time to bring your brand to life. The design is a silent ambassador of your brand; here's, I suggest what you'll need to know and prioritise:
The logo is not the entirety of your brand identity; it's a vital element in the branding process — it's the most recognisable part of your brand. It's on everything from your LinkedIn company page to your online ads to your business cards. With your logo on these elements, your branding should look as cohesive as possible.
Consistency and familiarity
As imperative as your logo is to your branding, it's not the only element that makes your brand identity firm. Your products, solutions, packaging, or how you provide your services all play an essential part in your brand identity. These examples visually represent your business in everything you do and must create consistency and help make familiarity between you and your customers.
Colour and type
Creating a colour palette is a way to enhance your identity. It provides variety to create your unique designs and remain faithful to your brand identity.
Your chosen font and typography shall be a consistent logo, website, emails, and any documents your company creates. The most successful brands keep the same typeface and typestyle throughout all aspects of their company's.
When you send out emails, write letters, or hand out business cards, ensure that you provide templates; this will give you a more unified and credible look and feel.
As I have mentioned several times above, consistency makes a brand identity. So, use the templates and follow the chosen design for your brand throughout your company to create a harmonious brand identity.
And consistency is crucial, but you must remain flexible in a world that always looks for the next best thing. Flexibility will allow adjustments and experiments, e.g., ad campaigns or taglines, and even some modernising your overall brand identity to keep your target audience interested. The key is to maintain any changes you make consistent throughout your brand.
One way to ensure that your company sticks to the branding policy is to create brand guidelines that document all of your brand's do's and how to do so.
When you've established your brand within your company and have taken all the necessary steps to use it, you're ready to integrate your brand within your contacts and target audience.
One of the best ways to integrate with them is to provide quality content because your content is your brand. Every piece of content you publish defines your brand. So, relevant content, relevant brand.
Language and tone of voice
Use language that matches the personality of your brand. For example, if your brand identity is high-end, use professional language; be more conversational if your brand is laid-back.
You must integrate The chosen language and tone of voice throughout the company and business, so it's essential that you carefully craft your style to match your brand's personality.
Connection and emotion
People love to hear and read stories. People love stories that touch them emotionally and to action. Therefore, a strong brand identity can establish an emotional connection with customers, a solid foundation for building a lasting relationship with a brand.
An excellent way to connect with your customers is through social media, which is essential for conversing directly with your potential and existing customers and creating brand affinity. If you're mentioned or tagged in an update, status or post, give your brand a good reputation by responding efficiently.
What to avoid
You can follow all the recommended steps for creating a solid brand identity, but if you use any of the following practices, your brand might falter or fail.
Don't give mixed messages
You must know what you want to say and use the appropriate language and visuals. And if it makes sense to you doesn't mean it will make sense to your customers.
Don't copy your competitors
Your competition may have excellent branding, and since you're selling the same products, solutions or services, you might want to do what they do — don't. Instead, take what they do into account, and put your twist to make your company stand out in your industry even more.
Keep consistency between online and offline
Your print material might look slightly different from your online presence, but your colours, type, theme, and message should be consistent.
Scale, don't sacrifice
As your brand scales into new channels, resist the urge to chase trends that don't align with your brand. To scale identity only works when you iterate your original song sheet rather than writing a new song entirely.
Monitor your brand
Similar to many other aspects of your company, it isn't easy to know what you're doing right and not without tracking key performance metrics.
Use, e.g., surveys, interviews, SoMe comments and discussions to monitor your brand to get a sense of how people talk about, think and interact with you. This will allow you to implement the needed changes to your brand — whether to correct a mistake or improve the brand identity.
My main three tips are: test, learn, and optimise. First, make sure that you know what sets your brand apart from your competitors and communicate that in a way that builds trust. Then, if your product lives up to the hype you create, you'll start to build momentum with customers that believe in your brand.
Creating an extraordinary brand requires consistent use of colours, images, tone, and language, and it's worth it. When customers instantly recognise you and what you stand for, you've become more than just a name; you are a brand based on your logo.
Founder, CEO & Strategist since 2001. Anders provides thoughts and reflections about what and how to think about onlinification and digitalisation in B2B. Asks a lot of questions, and knows what to do with the answers.