Brand Identity: more than a logo
“A Brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service or company. A Brand is not what YOU say it is. A Brand is what THEY say it is.”
- Martin Neumeier in “The Brand Gap”
What is Brand Identity?
Simply stated, brand identity is the look and feel of your brand. It’s the way you choose to set yourself apart from the competition, and make yourself memorable to your target audience. There are plenty of tangible ways to accomplish this that go way beyond your logo, and all the pieces must work together to convey the correct message.
Logo, color scheme, fonts, imagery, graphic treatments, and language will all convey an image. It is very important that it conveys the right image (the intended image), a consistent message, and works for all forms of communication you have with your customers.
Let’s explore Brand Identity and related topics like Brand Image, Brand Positioning, and Brand Personality that influence your target market.
Key Elements of Brand Identity:
A brand’s identity includes visual and non-visual elements that help shape the brand experience. The site Feedough provided a great list of elements to start with as you build your brand strategy:
- Brand Name
- Brand Logo & Tagline
- Brand Typography Style
- Color Palette
- Vehicles of communication including printed materials, websites, social media and email marketing.
Never underestimate the power of a great logo, complete with its color, type, styling and sizing components. It is really important that you don’t just pick a font and have someone type out the name of your company. No, it goes so much deeper than that and the big names spend an awful lot of money (and time) getting it just right.
For example, it’s 2021 and Xiaomi, a company that manufactures cellphones under the Mi by Xiaomi name, just completed a redesign of its logo that began back in 2017.
In an article by Style magazine, Chief Editor Jacqueline Tsang writes:
“Xiaomi’s logo is now a curved-edge “squircle” rather than a square, although the company’s CEO Lei Jun says that it wasn’t simply a matter of “[changing] the shape from square to round”. Nope, instead it took the brand some considerable time to pick the right shape, even using mathematical equations, the culmination of a long process begun when the company started its rebranding in 2017.”
The new logo? It’s on the left.
Now, we are not suggesting that companies go to this level of investment to get the right image. We are simply stating that it is important and worthy of some level of investment and professionalism appropriate to your company’s size, budget and scalability.
- Brand Personality: the set of human traits/characteristics assigned to the brand by the customer.
- Brand Associations: elements other than the brand which the customer feels is associated with the brand. (famous personalities, partner brands, etc.)
- Brand Voice: the uniformity in selection of words to convey the attitude and values of the brand
- Customer Service: getting everyone in your company onboard with servicing the brand you have created, thus matching the brand that is created in the minds of your customers. This begins with creating a Branding Guide and training, training, training!
You can see how these visual and non-visual elements begin at the conception stage of who you are, what you want to be called and known for, and how you want to ultimately be perceived. To make this all work, you must do some analysis, testing and adjusting along the way until you get it right in the customer’s eyes.
Clarity is the first step towards aligning your Brand IDENTITY, with your Brand IMAGE, or how you are perceived in the mind of the target market. Without a clear idea of who you are and what you want to be known for, you cannot expect others to be clear about it.
Simplicity is key when it comes to your brand identity. It is also one of the hardest things to achieve. The beauty of simplicity involves boiling it all down to the “ah-ha” moment, the “I get it” moment, and ultimately, the “FOMO” (fear of missing out) moment.
Apple is famous for their FOMO moments. For example, the already launched IPhone 12 got a whole new campaign when they later added the color purple to the choices. Was there any change in the actual phone? Nope, just the color.
“The new purple finish, just in time for spring, adds another bright and fun option to the lineup, and we think customers are going to love it,” said Greg Joswiak, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing.”
Scalability? Yes, you need to look into your future - whether it be crystal or just a magic 8 ball - to position your image for who you are now AND who you want to be down the road.
What should your Brand Identity DO for you?
Identifies and differentiates you from your competition.
Helps Develop and Convey A Personality of your company, a product or position in the marketplace.
Creates Consistency which should bring in revenue and make product roll-outs more successful. It also helps build loyalty with your customer base.
Creates Value which, while difficult to quantify, affects every aspect of your business from what you do, to how you do it. A successful brand can be one of the company's most valuable assets.
How to build YOUR Brand Identity
There are so many questions that need to be identified and answered by both your organization and your potential customers. Only when you have truly done your homework here, can you begin to build an identity that you want in the minds of those customers. Then, and only then, the professionals can truly help you build a meaningful brand.
Col Gray of pixels ink, and Rock Your Brand, has a great approach to wrap your mind around the process required to begin - either for the first time, or a rebranding.
- Understand your audience
- Who are they?
- What is their Lifestyle?
- What Problems can your brand address?
- What other brands do they like?
- Craft your brand story
- Why do we provide these services?
- How does my product help customers?
- How can we improve their lives?
- Define Brand Personality
- How would you define your brand?
- How would a consumer summarize your brand?
- How do you want people to experience your brand?
- What kind of emotions do you want to invoke?
As you can see, this is a complex process that reaches far beyond the need for a logo! It begins with you and your potential customers, then moves to a strategy session with professional input before ever considering the look and feel it should take on.
It is truly an investment worth making, no matter the size of your company or product line. Every element needs to work together and support your overall message, what the customer thinks, needs and wants, and your business goals. Remember, the goal here is not just brand identity, but a successful brand identity.
Giving Personality to your Brand
How would your brand behave? What emotional vibe would it exude? How would you (or better yet, your target market) describe your brand? How would they feel about it?
Brand Personality is all about giving living traits to your products and brand identity. Think of it like giving life to a drawing, thus creating an animation that brings it to life. Add human elements like a voice, tone, and a script, and it becomes something that now communicates and conveys emotion.
If you take it further and make it interactive, it requires input from the user and engages them on a whole new level both mentally and physically. This is the kind of impact you want for your brand! Picture your brand as a living, breathing person.
In his article on Brand Personality, Aashish Pahwa describes Apple’s brand:
“Imagine how it would be if Apple were a human. Wouldn’t it have an impeccable knowledge of the language with perfect grasp of grammar. Wouldn’t it be someone with great imagination? Wouldn’t it maintain discipline even in demanding situations? And wouldn’t it choose premium quality clothes over the cheap ones? That’s the brand personality of Apple.”
Why does Brand Personality matter?
Emotional connection. Connecting with people emotionally can help form meaningful interactions with your brand, resulting in marketing strategies that go beyond what money can buy such as word of mouth conversations, recommendations, positive reviews, and ultimately, loyalty to your brand.
If customers relate to your products on a personal level, a symbiotic relationship forms. Communications become effortless – even anticipated, and new product launches become welcome additions ready to explore.
Getting your brand to relate to your desired customer in this way, again, involves knowing your audience. For example:
- Do they want something that is comfortable and easy to use, like it was made just for them?
- Would they prefer to be part of an exclusive club where luxury awaits, and being first makes them feel special?
- Are they on the cutting edge of technology, where they are willing to help you build something truly innovative and their feedback is welcomed and encouraged?
List out the personas that represent your client base. Keep adding to that list as new uses, thus customers, are discovered for your brand or certain products within your brand.
And don’t discount the value of generational attributes and expectations they each bring to the table. Speak to each of them in a voice they will understand and relate to, but don’t let that voice limit the creativity you use to reach them.
No matter what personality you are building, know that customer service can make or break any brand. So making sure everyone is prepped and ready to excel at serving your customers – whoever they may be.
How can you create solid Brand Positioning?
Brand positioning is tricky, yet so important. You need to have something unique to offer the customer or to distinguish your brand from your competition. To put it simply, you need to make your brand something they want or need, something different from your competition (even if it’s only a perceived difference), and something that lives up to its promises in the customer's eyes.
To do this effectively, you must know your competition, and you must assess their strengths and weaknesses in the market. You must also know your own strengths and weaknesses, and the needs and wants of your potential customer.
Before you decide your brand positioning, ask yourself:
- What does my customer want?
- Can I promise him to deliver it better and/or differently than my competitors?
- Why will they buy into my promise?
The next step is to build your marketing strategy around these attributes to tell the customer what you can and most importantly, WILL do for them. In an article from Marketing91, they define 8 types of Brand Positioning to explore:
- Value-based positioning – It’s not necessarily about the price, but the perceived value that makes it worthy at the price paid.
- Quality based positioning – It could be about the actual quality or the perceived quality.
- Competitor based positioning – taking a direct (or indirect) stance on what you do better than the competition.
- Benefits positioning – What your offering does to improve the lives of your customers.
- Problem and Solution positioning – You have the solution to your customers specific problem. It could be based on something tangible or intangible, such as how someone feels when they use your product.
- Price Positioning – It may be based on pricing something higher to back the perception of quality, or lower to enable more people to buy it.
- Celebrity-driven positioning – for established brands, a celebrity endorsement can give new life to a brand’s image. For new branding it can create a boost in recognition.
- Leader-based positioning – seldom used, you have to be a leader in your market to make this work for your brand. But if you have #1 positioning and it matters to your audience, make sure people know it!
How can we create consistency with your Brand?
WRIS is ready to assist in taking your brand to the next level - wherever it stands in the cycle. Consistency is our first thought, no matter if you are developing a new website, refreshing your old one, getting into social media, or trying to boost your brand across all your marketing platforms.
Your brand tells a story and we can help tell that story through design that matters, copy that draws your customers in, and user experiences that beckon them to come back. The experience should be seamless, intuitive and easy to navigate.
Your analytics should support your goals, with strong organic SEO and a keen grasp on the ever changing landscape of search engines and what ranks for each. We are here for each phase - whether you are just starting to develop your brand, or need ongoing support for that existing or refocused brand.
What’s YOUR story? Let WRIS help make it clear to the ones that matter the most – your customers.