Like people, all brands have a certain identity that sets them apart from others. This brand identity consists of their core values and personality, their main offering to customers, and how the public perceives them. The stronger and more cohesive the brand identity, the more your brand will stand out and make an impression to people. In addition, a well-designed brand identity evokes trust and sense of authority. What wildly successful companies like Apple, H&M, and McDonald’s have in common is their powerful brand identity, which has resulted in a massive customer base.
Anything that promotes or represents your brand, from your website to even your typography and colour palette, must be aligned with your brand identity. Companies often create a brand style guide to lay down clear rules that everyone from the company can follow. Whether your business is already established or just starting out, you can create a strong brand identity with these steps:
Step 1: Customer Research
Before diving straight into the details like your brand voice and image themes, start with identifying your audience. You have to know your target market extremely well. A good brand resonates with its customers and speaks directly to their needs and desires.
Gather data about your current or prospective customers through surveys, direct interviews, social media, or your brand’s purchasing data. At the very least, you should be able to find out their age and gender, lifestyle, desires, and pain points.
You can then create detailed personas for each customer type. These will serve as your reference while you craft your brand identity.
Step 2: Knowing Your Brand
Once you’ve understood your customers, the next step is to get clear on your brand’s purpose, value proposition, and personality. Decide on a specific mission statement that describes your brand’s “why.” Customers are drawn to brands with authenticity and integrity, and your brand’s mission lays the foundation for its core values.
While the mission statement talks about your overarching vision, the value proposition states specifically what you offer to customers. What do your products and services give people that other brands can’t? Think in terms of your customer’s benefits and how you can improve their lives. You might want to take a look at competitors so you can distinguish your value proposition from theirs.
Brands must also have clear personalities. Is your brand calm and serious, or casual and fun? Write down all of these details. You should know your brand as much as possible before you can start designing.
Step 3: Setting Brand Guidelines
This is where you set specific guidelines about expressing your brand identity:
The logo acts as the “face” of your brand. When people see it, they instantly recognise which brand it represents! Because your logo will appear everywhere, getting it right is crucial. It’ll likely stay with your brand for at least several years, since customers tend to react badly when brands change their logos. Ideally, your logo would be visually appealing, compatible with your brand, and simple enough for people to remember.
Colours naturally evoke emotions, to the point that most of the judgements people make about products are determined by colour. Choose one or two as your primary colours, followed by a few more as your secondary. Some industries are associated with certain colours, such as green for health companies or blue for banks. Colours on their own have certain personalities too. For example, red implies vitality, boldness, and energy.
Most brands have one primary typeface along with a maximum of two secondary typefaces. Across both print and digital content, the typefaces should be consistent. The best typefaces for your brand are easy to read and pleasant on the eyes, providing a smooth experience as people view your content. Your typefaces should also be compatible with the brand personality. Serif typefaces are more formal and sophisticated, while sans serif typefaces are more casual and simple.
On a wider level, all visual elements must adhere to your branding, including images, videos, illustrations, icons, and website design. It’s important to outline specific rules for each to ensure that these elements remain unified, even when they’re created by different people. For examples, images might have to adopt the same filter and show strong contrast, or illustrations must be done vector style.
It’s not just about the visuals too. With content marketing on the rise, your brand voice in all of your written (and audio) materials must be well-defined. Take into account both your target audience and your brand’s personality. What kind of language would your customers be comfortable with, and can you incorporate some of their slang into your content?
Once you’ve figured out all of these, compile your specifications into a brand style guide, which describes the do’s and don’t’s of your brand. This should be detailed enough that anyone involved with your brand can apply it. While it may take a bit of effort, it’s worth it because this will be your basis for powerful and consistent branding.
Your brand identity will grow and evolve
Brand identity can change over time, so make it a habit to keep a close eye on your metrics, market preferences, and new products or services. With a strong brand identity, you’ll clarify what’s important, unify all of your assets and campaigns, and dominate customer awareness.