When you start the initial stages of building your new business, one of the most important aspects to develop is its brand identity. You cannot expect to see any lasting success until you have created a brand identity that attractively and accurately portrays your business to the relevant audience.
Every business has a brand identity regardless of how much time or effort the owners have invested into constructing it. Should you fail to create an identity for your business, it will take the shape of something less far tailored and appealing to the world stage – no matter how small or large your business is and in what field it operates.
What is a Brand Identity?
A brand identity is much like the identity of an individual. Various elements come together to make up a whole identity, and each piece is present to varying degrees within each individual. For example, one person might identify strongly as an environmentalist, whereas another might view this as a much smaller part of their personality.
In business, an identity is created around the elements that inform how that business functions and interacts. How a company is perceived by other people – particularly through its visual manifestations, values, and actions – builds up a fuller picture of a brand identity. This is a relatively stable form that the otherwise fluid and amorphous business uses in order to communicate with consumers.
Why is Brand Identity Important?
Without brand identity, it would be almost impossible for a business to communicate and operate. Failing to create a brand identity doesn’t necessarily prevent a business from growing, but it can slow its operation and moving on up in the world.
A company will still inevitably develop an identity around itself through its decisions and interactions with customers, regardless if it has crafted a brand identity or not. For example, a company that has no defined brand identity can still be seen as trustworthy despite its lack of branding simply because it follows through on its promises and delivers its products or services.
The brand identity is constructed incidentally out the business’s behaviors. However, this is a very haphazard and risky way to run a business and is not recommended. Instead, developing a clear and deliberate brand identity with purpose and meaning is far more likely to produce fruitful results since it can be properly managed and controlled.
What Does a Brand Identity Consist Of?
A brand identity consists of several key elements. These include:
- The product or service being offered – normally, this is the most important aspect of brand identity as it informs and communicates everything about the business.
- The look of the business – the logo, web design, print media, and any visual assets for digital marketing purposes.
- The tone of voice – how a company communicates with investors, employees, and its target market.
What Makes a Brand Successful?
The most successful businesses tend to have strong brand identities to match. This is because a successful company has clearly defined its purpose, executed its plan effectively, and created a product or service that appeals to its target market.
Not only this, but it has also developed a brand that accurately conveys the business’s message in such a way that the target market feels compelled to engage with it.
What You Should Consider When Creating Your Brand Identity
If you are at the very beginning of your journey as a business owner, there are a few essential points you will need to consider as you start to develop your own brand identity. Take a look at the following features that build up a well-rounded brand identity and detail a few key aspects of maintaining a strong connection with your target market.
What does your business sell? Which niche is it filling? These are probably the most fundamental questions that any business owner must answer before they can go any further.
The product or service on offer will determine how a brand identity should be developed around it since it will inform the target market and general tone of the business.
For example, a skincare product could be targeted toward many different kinds of consumers and stem from a number of unique brand identities. However, if the skincare product is targeted toward young men, this will narrow down the conceptual choices that lead to the bigger picture of the brand. A product will normally be intended for a particular group with specific needs and expectations – and the brand identity should appeal to those desires.
Your Message and Values
The values that direct your business and help guide its actions are vital to creating a compelling and honest brand identity. What does your company stand for or against? What beliefs does your business hold that are shared by the target market and promoted through the business’s product or service? Clearly defining these values will help you to narrow down your brand identity further and start to create something meaningful and useful.
If your business is offering a service or product very similar to that of a competitor, your brand message could be the main difference that attracts a customer to you instead of rival companies.
Aside from the product itself, the second most important consideration when it comes to developing a high-quality brand identity is taking into account the precise nature of the target market of the business. The more specific a target market can be, the more your business will be able to identify its wants and needs and then cater to them.
With this notion in mind, here are several important details to find out about your target market that will help you refine your brand identity in ways that will appeal to your specific audience:
- The average age of your target market
- Their gender
- Their location
- Their average disposable income
- Their family status
- Their level of education
- Their occupations
When you build up a clearer picture of these basic facts about the average consumer in your target market, you will find it much easier to think of creative and appealing ways of designing your brand identity. For example, if you are hoping to target young single men with medium-income jobs, you can conduct market research on what this specific group finds appealing in other brands.
While it would be preferable from the point of view of your business to have few or no competitors, they can be of some use to you when developing a brand identity from scratch. If your competitors share your target market, for example, you can assess how effective their branding has been in that market and take note of areas for improvement. Then, when it comes to creating your own brand identity, you can use these notes to give your business the edge.
An online masters of art in marketing can improve your skills in analyzing competition and judging success from the outside. This can be a challenge, but you can eventually refine your research and analysis abilities. By paying attention to what does and doesn’t work for your competitors, you can fine-tune your approach to brand identity and gain an advantage.
What Do You Want Others to Think and Feel When Interacting with Your Business?
There is a well-known saying that people remember how you make them feel rather than what you say. While this is certainly applicable on a person-to-person level, it also applies when it comes to brand identities.
Businesses are complex, faceless, shapeless systems that are difficult to pin down and interact with. However, with the help of a brand identity, companies become accessible and understandable. Consider which emotions you hope to inspire with your brand – do you want your target market to feel empowered, excited, or secure? Use these as a basis upon which to build your business’s brand identity.
How your business is perceived visually is an essential component of a strong brand identity. The clever use of visual assets such as a unique logo, effective web design, and a consistent brand image across all media will go a long way to helping your business stand out from the crowd.
Avoid the temptation to undertake most of this work alone; a professional designer will have better tools and more ability when it comes to creating an impactful and attractive brand image for your business. Also, don’t underestimate the negative effects a poorly designed brand image can cause. Some otherwise profitable companies can suffer hugely based on their unappealing and unprofessional brand appearance.
Tone of Voice
The tone of voice that a business employs to communicate with other companies, investors, employees, and its target market is another valuable component of the overall brand identity.
The values and message inform the tone of voice of a business; for example, a bank that hopes to attract the custom of large corporations is unlikely to use a casual or playful tone of voice, while a theme park probably wouldn’t use formal language when communicating with its audience.
How your business interacts with entities outside of itself and how it reacts to world events or internal issues will impact what the public thinks about it. This includes the brand’s tone of voice and the decisions your business makes, and how these relate to the overall message.
For instance, if a business makes a great effort to hone a straightforward and fair brand identity, then is found to have behaved unkindly towards employees, the public, including the target market, is unlikely to view this favorably.
No matter what style of brand identity you think will best suit you and your business, one of the most practical and useful qualities to incorporate is trustworthiness. When people within a target market feel that they can trust the companies they spend their money on, they are more likely to remain loyal and therefore increase company profits.
Trust is earned slowly over time and should be built into the foundation of your brand identity so it can grow. This is done by being as upfront as possible during any interaction and not making promises your business can’t keep. If a customer feels that they have been let down by a business, it is incredibly difficult for the business to win back that customer’s trust.
Learning from Mistakes and Implementing Changes
At the very beginning of your business journey, you may find yourself making less than optimal decisions about your brand identity. For example, you may neglect an important aspect of market research that could help to refine your brand image or tone of voice.
Perhaps you intended for your product or service to be targeted toward a particular audience but soon found that an entirely separate demographic was far more interested. The key here is to accept mistakes early and implement effective changes as soon as possible. While completely rebranding is often an unnecessary risk, making little changes along the way is part of growth.
Staying True to Your Business While Being Flexible
Businesses that remain rigid don’t tend to last for a long time. Being stuck in the past is a guaranteed way to lose relevance and, therefore, attention. A brand identity that can help a business stay relevant while also maintaining its core values is a strong one – and this is crucial to take into account when crafting yours.
Many lasting businesses have had to make changes to their brands over the years, and this is precisely how they have managed to survive for so long. It’s about striking a balance between sticking to your business’s message and adapting to the changes around you.
Will Your Brand Identity Stand the Test of Time?
If you hope for your business to grow and thrive for many years, you want to invest time and effort into a brand identity that lasts. Of course, sometimes, a brand may need to shift in order to reflect current markets. Still, it can be incredibly useful to focus on the potential for longevity when designing your brand identity.
Avoid hopping onto trends that are most likely fleeting. Instead, dig deep into what makes your business unique and use this as inspiration for the brand. With a creative, relevant, and convincing brand identity, your business stands a much greater chance of enjoying a prosperous future.