Brand identity is how a business wants to be perceived to customers and to the wider public. This can include visual components such as logos and colour schemes, as well as how a brand communicates with its audience through language style and messaging.
Here are 15 tips for creating a brand identity that helps you achieve your marketing goals.
1. Create Your Company Logo
Your company logo should help you stand out from your competitors. A good logo should be eye-catching, unique and memorable.
When choosing an icon, think about what would make the best visual symbol for your brand. This can be literal, or it may be more abstract.
Colours are a very important aspect of your logo design and should not be treated as an arbitrary decision. Successful company logos use colours to effectively convey meaning and communicate ideas. Red, for instance, evokes passion, excitement and energy, while yellow suggests playfulness and optimism. The colour of your logo should reflect what ideas and feelings you want your customers to associate with the company.
Your logo should be unique – but that doesn’t mean it should be complicated. The Apple logo is a great example of how simplicity can go a long way.
Custom lettering for your company wordmark is one way to truly stand out. While the program used to create your logo might have several font options that suit your brand, creating your very own unique font will strengthen your brand identity, as your audience associates the lettering with your company.
Coca-Cola is one of the most famous examples of this phenomenon. Airbnb, Intel, and Netflix are among the growing number of companies that have launched their own font to help drive brand recognition.
2. Prepare multiple lock-ups
Most company logos combine an icon with a wordmark. These elements can be used together, or each individually, depending on the placement and the context. Your logo design should include a small handful of different lock-ups that vary in their layout and spacing so that you can incorporate it effectively across different types of media.
3. Choose a Colour Palette
The colours in your brand pallet should match or complement the colours of your logo, and just like your logo, they should be chosen strategically to prompt an emotional response from your audience.
Start by choosing two main colours – these should be in your logo. If your logo features a single colour, make your second colour similar in tone. Your two main colours should be used across all marketing materials.
This colour should stand out from the others, without clashing with them. If your two main colours are cool, consider a bright accent colour. Use this when you want something to ‘pop out’ at your audience.
There are a number of online tools you can look to for inspiration, including colourlovers.com, colors.com, and colorhunt.com.
4. Ensure Your Photography is On-Brand
If your online presence and marketing materials feature photographs, the photography style should align with the other visual elements of your brand identity. The lighting, mood, location and angles are just some aspects of photography that determine the message it sends.
If you’re working with a photographer, ensure that they understand the overall appearance you’re trying to establish with your branding.
5. Be Consistent
Consistent branding establishes professionalism and builds trust among your customers. Every visual aspect of your brand identity – your logo, typography, colour palette and photography – should be consistent across all of your marketing materials. Audit your existing brand materials and update them to ensure that they all match. This should apply to all mediums – it is crucial that the visual brand identity in your traditional media marketing is consistent with the branding on your website, email signatures and social media platforms.
6. Establish Your Brand Ethos
When it comes to brand identity, a lot of emphases is placed on the visuals – the logo, the images, and the font. While these are vitally important, your brand identity should not be reduced to just these elements.
An effective brand identity revolves around brand ethos- who you are as a company. These ethos tell your audience the character and culture of your brand. What does your brand stand for? Work towards a mission statement and a set of core values for your brand. These values should reflect the values of your target audience and tie into the product or services you provide.
In competitive industries, a successful brand sends the message to audiences that their company shares a common ground with them – a set of beliefs, ideas, or practices- and perhaps even that their customers are part of a community that shares an aspect of their identity.
7. Speak the Language of Your Audience
Understanding your audience means not just knowing their demographics, but also their psychographics. That is the personality, opinions, attitudes and interests of those consumers.
The language and communication style you employ across your website, marketing and social media interactions should be professional and easy to understand, whilst demonstrating that you understand the perspective of your customers. For example, whether you use a formal or informal tone, should be based on the characteristics of your typical customer.
8. Tell a Story
A well-crafted brand story helps establish a sense of trustworthiness while allowing consumers to relate to your brand.
A brand story should be personal and should communicate the purpose of your company. What unique products, services and experiences are you offering to your customers? Tell your audience about how the company was established, where it is today, and what its goals are for the future.
9. Be Emotive
Campaigns that elicit an emotional response tend to be highly effective. This is because content that makes people laugh, cry, or smile is highly memorable. Emotional content also boosts the visibility of your brand, as it is more likely to be talked about or shared across social media.
Emotive branding isn’t just limited to advertising campaigns. Many brands today are tapping into customers’ emotions through the music played in stores, the appearance of their website, and the packaging of their products.
There are many opportunities to use emotive branding to stand out from your competitors. Remember that the emotions you invoke in your branding and marketing strategy should fall in line with the overall tone of your brand messaging.
10. Use the Right Mediums
The way you share your brand identity with the world is an important decision that should take into consideration your target audience. What social media platforms do they use? What other types of media do they consume? How do they spend most of their time?
If you decide to order branded products such pens, USB drives, lanyards, mouse pads or notebooks, ask yourself how useful each of these products are to your target demographic.
Keeping your Brand Identity Strong
11. Unite Your Team
Now that you have outlined a brand identity, it’s important to make sure your team is united around it. In the hiring process, including interview questions that relate to your brand identity. Establish whether the candidate understands your brand identity and whether or not their values align with your company. Meetings and training sessions are opportunities to reiterate your brand identity and your strategy for establishing and maintaining it.
12. Create a Style Guide
A style guide is a reference tool that outlines how your brand presents itself to the world. It shows employees what a brand looks, feels and sounds like. Style guides are a very useful resource for keeping your brand identity consistent across different departments within your company.
Your style guide should illustrate your visual brand identity – such as how to apply logo lock-ups and what font should be used in emails. It can also be used to communicate other aspects of your branding strategy, such as how the company communicates with customers. A clear, comprehensive and easy-to-follow style guide can save you time in the long-term by helping to avoid and minimise inconsistencies.
13. Stay Relevant
Don’t conflate being consistent with being stagnant. A strong brand identity is one that can evolve over time and respond to changes in the industry, as well as changes in the wider world.
For example, as consumers become more socially aware, many companies from superannuation providers to takeaway coffee chains are changing their practices to demonstrate to their customers that they are an ethical choice.
Your products, services and practices should adapt to the shifting values and priorities of your customers.
14. Incorporate Your Brand Identity Into Everything You Do
A strong brand identity is ones that come across not just in your marketing, but through all aspects of your business operations. Your, letterheads, workplace culture, the way your respond to customer complaints, and any events you might host should all reinforce the brand identity you are working to cultivate.
15. Analyse and Refine
If you want to stay ahead of your competitors, you should be reguarly measuring the effectiveness of your brand identity, and refining elements that aren’t working. Encourage feedback from your customers and take advantage of the tracking tools available in digital marketing platforms such as Google AdWords and Facebook Business Manager.
Re-visit each step along the way and determine whether or not your decisions are helping you reach your goals.
Keep an eye on this space because I’ll update this blog in future with more examples, tools and useful info. Follow me on Facebook to stay updated.