Would you like to create or improve your brand identity, but don't know how to do it or where to start? Here are 7 key steps to follow to do it most effectively.
If you have read the last article, you already know everything you need to know about brand identity: what it is, what characteristics a brand must have to be effective, and the benefits of a strong, cohesive image.
Now, however, you might ask yourself how it is possible to create a successful one.
In fact, it is not something you can do overnight; at the same time, it is also not something too difficult.
Just have the right guidelines, and you too can build a brand identity that reflects the values of your business and knows how to communicate them to your target audience.
Here you will find a list of steps to follow.
They are all for you!
How to create a strong and effective brand identity
Whether you want to build a brand from scratch or instead need to rebrand your business, here is a series of useful steps for designing a strong brand identity.
#1 Understand who you are and why you do it
Yep, that's right: brand identity is like a house and should be built on a solid foundation.
Good branding is ultimately good communication. To ensure that your visual output aligns with your brand's values, reflects its personality, and communicates its story, you must have a deep understanding of it.
This means that before deciding on what tangible elements to constitute your visual identity, you need to know who you are as a brand by trying to define some basic points, namely:
- Your mission (what is your "why?");
- Your values (what beliefs guide your company?);
- The personality of your brand (if your brand were a person, what kind of personality would it have?);
- Your unique positioning (how do you stand out from the competition?);
- The voice of your brand (if your brand were a person, how would it communicate?).
These elements are what define you, and before you start building your brand identity, it is important that you have a clear understanding of each of them.
Not only that, at this point, as you consider the answers to these questions, assess the state of your current identity, taking a critical look at it and asking how it could be created or modified to align with your future goals.
Being aware of your purpose helps you understand the core values and value proposition that drive your business.
Use this information to plan your slogan, voice, brand message and more; make sure you have a clear and direct mission statement that describes your vision and goals.
#2 Research your audience
Just like any other aspect of starting a business, one of the first steps in creating a brand identity that is memorable is to complete market research.
First and foremost, this means knowing as much as you can about your target audience so you understand how it will resonate with them.
It is no secret that different people want different things. You can't (usually) refer a product to an experienced manager the same way you would refer a product to a college student.
Based on who your audience is, you can create a brand voice that speaks directly to them; by discovering their needs and wants, you can communicate how your company or product helps solve them.
Speak and address your target audience directly: take surveys, follow their conversations on social media, and interact with your community.
While researching your audience, ask yourself these questions:
- Who is your ideal buyer and what does he or she do?
- What are their goals, needs, interests, and motivations?
- Where is your target audience likely to hang out?
- Why and when do they buy?
- What is their budget?
Remember: You may have a flashy logo and catchy copy, but if your brand identity does not clearly convey how you represent a solution to your customers, it will be difficult to build a strong and lasting relationship with them.
#3 Study the competition
Building a brand identity means differentiation: making your brand visible, relevant, and unique. What makes you special? What can you offer that others cannot?
You must therefore understand not only who your competitors are, but also how your brand is positioned in relation to their offerings.
Study the following about your competitors:
- The slogan, brand mission and value proposition;
- The marketing channels they use;
- What their clients say about them;
- Their voice and tone when communicating;
- The visual elements they use and whether their visual identity is consistent.
The goal is obviously not to copy them, but instead to figure out how you can position your brand differently.
This, by the way, also allows you to figure out which branding techniques work well on, as well as those that are less effective.
For example, it may be that in a particular area everyone uses only certain colors (you know the red of YouTube e Netflix?) and that therefore pointing to an entirely different color could be an advantage and become a distinguishing mark (Twitch, to say, made a splash with an all-purple brand).
#4 Refine your visual identity
Now that you have taken a critical look at both your current identity and that of your competitors, it is time to decide the direction you want to go in terms of graphics and design.
It is a very subjective choice and also depends on the fact that colors that convey positive feelings to one person may be perceived totally differently by others. The vocabulary you use to describe your brand can also be interpreted differently.
So ask yourself:
- What are the key brand traits you want to express through your images?
- What kind of visual elements do these features communicate?
- What do you want people to feel when they "see" your brand?
At these points, work on all the visual elements that define brand identity. These include, among others:
It is what defines the personality and story of your brand; think, for example, of the logo of Twitter and to the idea of lightness and speed of communication that it conveys.
Although the logo does not represent the entire brand identity, it is a vital element in the branding process and is the most recognizable part of your business.
The color palette
Color selection is essential to maintaining a uniform visual identity. Your packaging, website colors, social media graphics and everything else will follow suit.
So choose wisely. You can, for example, take advantage of color psychology, whereby each leaves a certain impact on your audience-and the same reasoning applies to graphic elements, such as circles, lines or other shapes.
The fonts you use also have a personality, reflect a mood and leave a certain kind of impact. In short, fonts speak a visual language and can also be a double-edged sword if not used correctly.
In your logo, on your Web site, and on all documents created by your company (printed and digital), there should be consistent use of typography. Choose from 1-3 fonts and also establish the typeface (the formatting: bold, italic, normal, and so on), making sure they are easy to read-after all, you don't want potential customers squinting their eyes trying to figure out your slogan, right?
#5 Reach your target audience
Okay, at this point you are ready to integrate your brand within your community.
And one of the most successful ways to achieve this is to provide quality content.
- language and tone of voice: make sure they match your brand personality;
- Storytelling: serves to create a connection and arouse emotions, considering that people usually like stories. A strong brand identity establishes an emotional connection with consumers and provides a solid foundation for building a lasting and trusting relationship.
- Advertising: Designing ads, both traditional and digital, is the most efficient way to present your brand to the world. It is a way to get your brand message seen and heard by your target audience.
- Social media: Another great way to establish a connection with your consumers is through social media. The myriad of platforms on the Internet offer plenty of opportunities to establish your brand identity.
#6 Monitors Performance
Similar to other aspects of your marketing, it is difficult to know what you are doing well (and what you are not) without keeping track of the key performance metrics.
Use Google Analytics, surveys, comments, social media discussions, etc. to monitor your brand and get an idea of how people are talking and interacting with you.
This will give you the opportunity to implement changes as needed, whether to correct an error or improve brand identity.
Test, learn and optimize.
#7 Remember what to avoid
You can follow all the steps to create a strong brand identity, but if you run into any of these mistakes, your brand may falter or fail.
Don't give your customers mixed messages
You need to know what you want to say and use the appropriate language and imagery to say it. Just because it makes sense to you doesn't mean it will make sense to your customers.
Don't copy your competitors
Your competition may have an exemplary brand, and because you sell the same products or services, you may want to play it safe by imitating them-don't do that.
Consider what they do and clearly distinguish yourself from them to make your business stand out even more in your industry.
Don't lose consistency between online and offline
Yes, your printed materials may look slightly different from your online presence, but your colors, type, theme, and message should all be consistent.
So, some key points to keep in mind:
- brand identity includes elements ranging from the visual design to the tone of voice of your communication; if constructed correctly, it represents your brand's vision and value proposition;
- your brand identity should resonate with your target audience, so market research is critical;
- creating a brand identity increases awareness of your product or service and helps you outperform the competition;
- a brand identity can change over time, but be careful to maintain a positive customer perception even through rebrands.
Now, as I mentioned at the beginning of this article, a strong brand identity does not develop overnight.
Determining who you are in the world takes a lot of time and energy, and this applies to both your personal reputation and that of your business efforts; with the right strategy, however, it can be incredibly rewarding and really help you make a difference.
What about you, have you found your brand identity yet?
Let me know in the comments!
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