5 things to consider when defining a brand identity
A great brand identity can be an important factor in succeeding in business. It's often what separates the great from the mediocre and is the reason brands build such polarizing reputations. It's no accident that thousands of hardcore fans flock to flagship stores to be the first to get their hands on a new product. Create a strong enough brand identity and it will spawn a long-enduring impression on those that come into contact with your brand.
This is easier said than done. Certainly, a shiny logo can bring your brand a new lease on life, but an identity goes much deeper than logos. Brand identity relates to the public perception of your business and encompasses many aspects of public relations. The logo displayed on your products, the tone of your marketing, the way your employees dress and how they interact with customers are all important factors in a brand's identity. These can be a huge challenge to get right and even harder to maintain.
So, what are some important factors you should keep in mind when creating a brand identity? That's what you're here for, right? Let's jump in.
1. Cover all your bases
As we mentioned in our intro, there's a lot more to defining a brand identity than just creating a logo, some business cards and maybe a flyer. Your brand needs a persona. Think of your business as a person. Your goal should be to make that person someone that your ideal audience would want to hang out and associate with. To do this, you need to decide what that persona looks like; research your target audience (you are not your target audience) and even conduct surveys or interviews to discover the type of person you are targeting and the type of person they like to associate with. When you know your audience and what they want, it's much easier to make your brand's persona match that profile (not exactly, but close enough is good enough). This will also help to define what aspects of your business to focus on.
If your target audience bases a lot of their opinion of people on how they treat the environment, you should probably look at how your business treats the environment. Do you dispose of your waste responsibly? Make it known!
Play to your strengths here and keep it subtle. Too much in any respect here just sounds like you're bragging. Subtle reminders can help drive home your point, whether it's shipping your product in recycled boxes, or asking your employees to ride bikes or public transport to work. All of these serve as reminders to the greater community that your business is someone they want to associate with.
Remember, brand identity is how the world sees your business. It's a good idea to step back every now and then and objectively analyse how your business looks from the outside looking in.
2. Relate to your audience
With brand identity, your audience is your friend. They are the people your business hopes to appeal to, so try to relate to their needs and beliefs. Put yourself in their shoes (apologies for the cliché) and think about what you would want from a company if you were them. An important aspect of this is interacting with your audience. Don't place your business behind a glass box and isolate yourself from your audience. Communicate with them and find out from them what they want and need, what they care about and what they strive for. The more you know about your audience, the better off you'll be. Use this information to not only better market your product or service, but to actually improve your business practices. Often customers will disregard many other issues with a product if the product is manufactured the "right" way.
Avoid becoming your audience. Instead set an example for your audience
3. Speak with authority, and respect
Because you're a business offering a product or service, people will automatically look at you and your employees as an authority on a certain subject. They will expect your knowledge to be extensive. For the most part this is true. No one is likely to know more about you and your product/service, than you. However, how you convey your message has serious repercussions. Your audience know things too so don't patronise them. You need to speak to your audience from the standpoint of a friend explaining a subject to an intellectual equal. Explain things in layman’s terms, while keeping your authority and if people want a technical explanation, they'll ask for one. Using the correct tone can be an artform and is the reason that most large companies have PR managers.
4. Criticism is a good thing
The community will scrutinize every one of your decisions, and often it will be portrayed negatively in the public eye. A good brand identity can survive this for a time but will eventually succumb to the pressure. What makes a great brand identity is your business' ability to accept criticism and turn it into a positive. This could be putting a new spin on the criticism, or it could involve making a conscious effort to improve. Either way your audience will be listening intently, and your actions will directly impact that audience. Do it right and scrutiny can translate into growth; as new customers become aware of your business and its practices. You will earn more respect this way than if you were perfect from day one.
5. Be humble
Your business is not the biggest and best. Stay grounded and you'll find yourself sticking around for longer. Let your actions speak louder than your words and never forget that your audience is the reason that you are able to do this. Never forget those early adopters. Reminisce with them about how things used to be. Be that friend that everyone wants to hang out with because they're fun and easy to get along with.
The best brand identities are the ones that create lasting memories and come with the promise of a better life. Appeal to your audience's hunger for a better life. Be the business that helps them become a better them.