If you’re struggling to get more leads and conversions for your small business, there’s probably a deeper problem here: you may be struggling with your brand identity.
If so, don’t worry. This is a common problem. Many brands have issues building a strong brand identity.
Before we go any further, let’s pause and make sure we know what brand identity actually is.
Brand identity refers to the visual elements like color palette, logo design, typeface, and messaging that represent your brand values, reputation and ideas of. Anything that sends a message about your business–any of the ingredients related to your product or service–should create an appeal.
In other words, your brand identity is the face of your brand. It’s your brand’s personality.
Brand identity plays a big role in a successful marketing strategy. After all, it’s how your customers think about you, so it needs to be spot-on. Keeping your brand identity consistent is essential. Because a consistent identity helps people remember you and trust you.
Crafting a strong brand identity can seem like a big challenge. But don’t cave under the pressure! We’re here to help.
In this article, we’ll discuss the different elements that go into creating brand identity, offer tips for every facet of brand identity you need to consider, and we’ll highlight some well-known brands with great brand identities to give you some inspiration.
How to Build a Brand Identity for Your Business
1. Define Your Audience
Before you can get started creating a brand identity that your target audience will remember forever, you’ve got to figure out who your audience actually is. This is the first step in the branding process. But what exactly do we mean by target audience?
Your target audience refers to your customers–the demographic of people most likely to consume your product or service.
At first glance, this may seem like an easy thing to determine. If you own a gym, your customers are people who want to get in shape. If you’re a restaurant owner, your customers are anyone who is hungry. If you’re a real estate agent, your customers want to buy a house.
But in reality, it’s actually a little more complicated than that. If you niche down and figure out the specifics of who your customers are, you’ll be able to attract them much more easily.
As you work to define your exact target audience, here are a few questions you’ll want to answer:
- How old are they?
- What gender are they?
- Where do they live?
- What is their education level?
- Are they married/do they have kids?
- What is their income level?
Look at it from a deeper perspective. As a real estate company, your customers aren’t just people who want to buy a house. Instead, after asking these questions you might discover they’re empty nesters, married couples who are 50+ and looking to spend their big salaries on a retirement home in a suburban city.
That’s what “target audience” actually means.
And knowing this is important.
When you know who your audience is and what they want, you know how to speak to them. You’re able to focus as you create a successful brand identity, only investing time into ideas that will work for your customers.
Build your brand identity around your audience. Because it’s for them, after all.
2. Think about what value you offer.
Once you know who your target audience is, you can begin thinking about their pain points and what solution you provide. It’s time for your market research.
For example, remember the empty nesters looking for a retirement home? Put yourself in their shoes and think about what problems they might face as they start house hunting. They have money, so that’s not a problem. They know where they want to live and what kind of house they want.
Perhaps you can deduce this: because these empty nesters know exactly what they want for their beautiful retirement home, they might have trouble finding a realtor that will truly listen to their wish list and patiently work with them to check everything off.
What is your brand’s value proposition? As you build your real estate company’s corporate identity, you could focus on emphasizing the friendliness, patience, and great customer service your company and your real estate agents offer. Much like the realtor below who went the extra mile to even create a blog specifically for her greatest clients, empty nesters.
Once you know your audience, you can learn their pain points… and then you can create a brand strategy that solves them.
What does your audience want? What makes your company different, special, and unique? How do you satisfy customer needs?
Think about these questions. Brainstorm your answers. Spend lots of time digging into what makes your brand, your personal brand. And then incorporate the answers into your brand identity, because they’re an integral part of building a brand image.
3. It’s all in the name.
If you haven’t chosen a name for your business yet, now is the time.
One study conducted by the University of Alberta showed that people tend to be more drawn to brands with a repetitive name, like Jelly Belly, Coca-Cola, or Kit Kat. But while it’s a nice thought, your brand name doesn’t have to contain any alliteration or rhyming words if you don’t want it to.
You do, however, want to make sure your brand name is creative and out-of-the-box. It doesn’t have to be too crazy. It just needs to be different from everything else on the market, so people will remember it. It will help in your brand recognition, especially if you offer an entirely new product to the market.
It’s also good to make sure your brand name:
- Is easy to spell and pronounce
- Communicates something important and meaningful about your brand
- Is flexible in case you need to adapt it down the road
Many brands–such as Cadbury, Dodge, and Tupperware–simply use their founder’s name or names. Others use an acronym (think GE for General Electric) or take a real word and tweak the spelling (like Flickr).
After you’ve decided on your brand name, you should also allot time in brainstorming for your tagline. Aside from your brand name, the tagline is what your target audience usually see on your business cards and other marketing materials. And sometimes, they remember the tagline more than the real, actual brand name. So be creative in coming up with one but make sure that it still reflects your brand voice for a consistent brand identity.
4. Design a memorable logo and consistent typography.
A logo is a graphic symbol, and it represents your business… so it has to be memorable and unique. You can think of it as the visual language of your brand.
So as you design your brand’s logo, what should you keep in mind? Are there any brand guidelines that you should follow? First, let’s take a look at some of the most well-known logos of all time and think about what they have in common:
- McDonald’s logo, just a yellow “M,” is simple and understated. But people all over the world instantly recognize the golden arches.
- Apple’s logo–an apple with a bite taken out–is simple and easily memorable.
- The trademark Nike check mark (“swoosh”) is simple, but recognized worldwide.
The word that popped up over and over here is “simple.” Learn from these huge brands and don’t try to get too fancy as you design your logo or wordmark. Instead, keep it basic. After all, the goal is for people to recognize and remember it as this will be your visual identity for a long time.
However, if you’re not savvy in the design world, consider using our graphic design services. We’d love to help you craft your brand identity design.
Typography is important, too. Choose your font carefully. There are tons of styles you can choose from- sans serif, script and serif. Again, keep it simple. And make sure it speaks to the message of your company. If you’re an outdoor brand, choose a font that’s rugged and sturdy. If you sell pet toys, pick something fun and playful.
5. Create emotion with colors.
It’s important to create emotion around your brand. Emotion is what hooks your customers and helps your brand positioning. And when it comes to brand identity, color is a big way to include emotion.
You may not realize your favorite brands speak to you through their color scheme, but color is an important part of messaging and marketing.
A study called “Impact of color on marketing” showed that up to 90% of the snap judgments people make about a product are based on color alone–no other factors. The color of a brand’s logo has a lot to do with how it is perceived by potential customers. And, of course, how a brand is perceived has a lot to do with whether or not those potential customers convert.
The colors you incorporate into your branding should support the overall personality you want your brand to have.
Think about what emotions best align with the personality of your brand. Once you’ve answered that question, you can choose a key color to build your branding around. These emotions are not universal; each individual thinks of colors a little bit differently. But in general, emotions associated with colors look something like this:
- Red: anger, embarrassment, passion, importance
- Orange: playful, energetic
- Green: disgust, envy, greed
- Blue: calmness, shyness, sadness, trustworthy
- Yellow: happiness, friendliness
- Pink: love, feminine
- Purple: luxurious, romantic
- Black: sophisticated, elegant
- Brown: earthy, rustic, reliability
- White: clean, pure, cool
Choose one or two colors to be your key defining colors. And then pick out some secondary colors that can serve as a background to complement your key colors.
For example, many makeup brands use the color pink. Since it often represents femininity and love. Pink is a good choice to evoke the feelings most makeup brands probably want to give their customers.
Most lawn care companies use green in their branding. So do many companies that make cleaning products, or anything else related to the environment. Although green sometimes represents envy or greed, it tends to make people think of nature, too. Many financial companies also use the color green.
Another example is Orangetheory Fitness. This fitness franchise has become extremely popular. It’s growing exponentially, netting a total revenue of $738.6 million in 2017. The company’s branding is based around the color orange. A smart branding choice on their part since orange tends to be playful and energetic.
On the company’s website, almost everything is orange, from the header to the text to the background.
Their social media pages also get in on the branding. Orangetheory’s Instagram consists of motivational quotes framed by the color orange. Consistency across social media platforms is important.
But Orangetheory Fitness doesn’t stop there. When you walk into an OTF gym for a workout, you train under orange lights using orange equipment (while wearing an orange T-shirt, if you’re really committed). And your goal is to get your heartrate, tracked by a chest or wrist monitor, into the “orange zone.” The more time you spend in the orange zone, the more points you get post-workout.
Color is a place where you can really bring out whatever emotion you want your brand to evoke, so don’t overlook it.
6. Work in your core values.
It’s important to work your core values into your branding. In a study conducted by the Boston Consulting Group, customers said authenticity was one of the main qualities that would draw them toward a brand.
People want to patronize businesses they can trust, and by being open about your core values–things such as honesty, respect, or growth–you can help your customers trust you.
What are your company’s core values? This is another question that needs to be answered before you can start building your brand identity or rebranding.
For instance, Starbucks often re-posts Instagram pictures taken by its customers. This shows that Starbucks cares about its customers, helping it retain the image of a friendly community.
Another good example is Adidas. One of Adidas’ core values is growth. The company is committed to innovation, constantly pushing itself to be the best it can be. And this innovation is a common topic of discussion on Adidas’ social media pages.
An effective brand identity includes your company’s core values. So do a little soul-searching and decide what they will be. Then, as you build your brand identity, work those values in–anywhere and everywhere you can.
7. Use consistent imagery.
Images are an important part of your brand identity, but only if you do them right.
There’s a term used in theater and in film making, “mise en scene,” that essentially refers to the visual theme of the production. Think about the Harry Potter film franchise, for instance. You may not be able to explain exactly how, but you know that all eight movies just look the same.
Similarly, often different movies made by the same director will look similar. They aren’t blatantly the same, but some element that you can’t quite put your finger on is reminiscent of the director’s other movies.
In some ways, you can incorporate the concept of mise en scene into your brand identity. Decide what kind of visual theme you want your brand to have and then stick with it. Being consistent will help it become part of your identity.
Maybe you want images of your products to all have soft pastel backgrounds. Perhaps you decide to use photos of laughing, happy people on your website. Or maybe you end up centering your branding around something quirky, like frogs, and all of your images include the same illustrated amphibian.
But whatever kind of imagery you use, use it consistently across all social platforms. This will help you create a brand identity your customers will never forget.
Audit your brand regularly
Finally, keep in mind to regularly audit and check where your brand stands on the market. Are you satisfied with your position? How is your performance compared to your competitors? Doing a regular audit will allow you to see what’s working for your brand and what’s not. It allows you to keep improving your brand.
Time to Find Your Brand Identity
We’re hoping further describing the elements of brand identity and giving you the style guide above will help you establish a successful brand identity for your business. If we feel like you need a little more help or just really want to take your brand awareness to the next level, we’d love to help with that!
We are a full service digital marketing company meaning we can not only create your logo and brand identity for you, but we can also promote that identity you just created to your target market and help you generate more revenue. Check out our branding services and then contact us here to get started today.