A brand is only as good as people’s perception of it. Regardless of how good your products are or how competitive your prices may be, your branding is the main thing that will set you apart from the competition. It’s the only thing that makes your business instantly recognizable in a sea of competitors, so a strong brand identity is crucial for long-term success and business growth.
But what if you don’t know how to create a brand identity? Not to worry — this post will show you exactly what you need to do and the steps you need to follow.
What’s a brand identity and why do you need it?
There’s a lot more to your brand identity than your company name, your brand colors, or your unique logo. Although those are essentially parts of your brand identity as a whole, they aren’t the only elements.
A brand identity, simply put, is the sum total of your brand’s visual appearance, communications, and outward expression. It’s the way your brand looks and feels, as well as how it speaks to the masses. In other words, a brand identity is to a company what personality is to an individual.
It could include logo, typography, colors, slogan, iconography, packaging, and more. In fact, it could even extend to elements like taste depending on your industry. Think about how you instantly recognize the red and white logo of Coca-Cola and how the taste of the brand’s soda stands out from that of other brands.
Learn more about the key elements of a brand to understand what makes up a brand identity.
It’s crucial to learn how to create a brand identity because of the following factors:
- It makes your brand more memorable and helps you stand apart.
- It establishes your authority in the market.
- It helps you build credibility and trust over time.
- It acts as a template for all your future marketing and advertising efforts, therefore helping you maintain consistency.
4 key elements of a winning brand identity
Now the big question – what makes a strong brand identity? What factors should you nail down when creating a brand identity? Well, as a general rule, a strong brand identity should have the following elements:
- It should be distinctive. You want to make sure you instantly catch the audience’s attention and stand apart from your competitors.
- It should be memorable and make a strong visual impact so that people can instantly recognize your brand’s product or other branding elements when they see it.
- It should be consistent across all channels and platforms. If your branding is all over the place, it gives people an idea that your brand is still confused about what it is and what it stands for.
- It should be scalable. Your brand identity should be consistent enough to be memorable and credible. But it should also be flexible enough to grow and evolve along with the business.
How to create a brand identity
Now that you understand what goes into creating a strong brand identity, let’s find out how to build one from scratch. Here are the five steps on how to actually create a brand identity:
Step 1: Determine your brand purpose
Why does your brand exist? What problems does it solve? What differentiates you from the competition? It’s crucial that you start the process of creating a brand identity by determining the main purpose of your brand. This will eventually guide other aspects of your branding strategy and help you come up with your slogan, tagline, brand voice, and more.
You can also use your brand purpose to come up with an outline of the key qualities and benefits your brand offers that differentiate you from the rest. What makes you unique and why should customers choose you over the competition?
For example, you may sell a note-taking app that helps people organize their thoughts and ideas. In this case, your brand purpose may be to make life easier for thinkers and writers.
With Simplenote, it’s clear that the brand purpose is to deliver a simple solution to keep notes. And this simplicity is consistently visible through their brand name, website design, copy and app layout.
Step 2: Research the competition
One of the main goals of branding is to differentiate your business from the competition. And to differentiate yourself, you need to understand what you should differentiate yourself from. This means understanding what the competitive landscape looks like and what branding strategies your competitors are adopting. Otherwise, you could easily blend in and look like everyone else that sells the same products or services as you.
Get an idea of how your competitors present themselves. What kind of brand personalities do they adopt? What visual elements seem to be prominent in the landscape? For example, you might notice your direct competitors using a combination of greens and whites in their brand colors. This could be an excellent opportunity to differentiate yourself using a completely different color scheme.
In the case of Hello Fresh, the brand’s green color scheme stands out because other meal kit delivery services typically have blue or red/orange tones.
Step 3: Research your target audience
While your brand identity is typically shaped by what you want to present to the public, the preferences and expectations of your target audience should be equally influential. Get very specific with your audience targeting and try to get a better idea of what would appeal to them. What visual elements and brand voice would resonate with them?
For example, you may be in B2B but mainly targeting hip, millennial industry leaders. And in your research, you discover that they mainly prefer casual and conversational tones rather than jargon-riddled and stuffy tones. So you shape your brand personality, voice, and visual identity based on those findings.
Step 4: Develop your brand voice and personality
Based on all the insights you’ve gathered so far, it’s time to develop the unique personality and voice you want to associate with your brand. This largely depends on the product you’re selling and the kind of people you’re targeting.
For example, B2B companies will typically have a more professional and authoritative brand voice and a serious personality. But as mentioned earlier, if the main target audience prefers conversational tones, it could also be friendly and informative instead.
Your brand voice could be fun, friendly and conversational, or professional, technical and authoritative, depending on the above factors. Similarly, your brand personality could be reliable, spontaneous, personable, serious, and more. You’re free to choose from a virtually endless list of adjectives as long as it’s going to resonate with your target audience.
For Freshly Chopped, being a healthy food company means maintaining a reliable personality and a friendly voice, as you can see on the brand’s Twitter account.
Besides your social media, you should let your brand personality shine through every single channel and platform possible. And you must consistently use the same brand voice in all your brand communications and advertising messages.
Step 5: Develop your visual identity
One of the most crucial aspects of creating a brand identity is developing your brand’s visual identity, as visuals form a large portion of your overall image. Start by taking all the insights you’ve collected about your brand identity and translating them into visual concepts.
Choose the most critical adjectives you want to associate with your brand and try to visualize them. For example, the elephant logo for Evernote, the note-taking app, comes from the saying – an elephant never forgets. So it helps strengthen the idea that the app is highly reliable in storing your notes and ideas.
Further, colors help convey a powerful message about your brand identity. For example, bright and playful colors can symbolize energy and youthfulness while black and white can convey elegance, simplicity, and sophistication.
Additionally, different colors can set different moods and further strengthen the visual representation of your brand. Green could evoke prosperity, stability, growth, or even a close connection with nature. Dark blue could stand for maturity, trustworthiness, and security. Yellow, on the other hand, could evoke youth, optimism, and cheerfulness.
It would help to learn more about color symbolism to get a better idea of which color combinations will suit your brand’s visual identity.
Besides graphics and, your typography will also play an important role in establishing your brand personality. For instance, serif fonts are classic, so they convey feelings of respectability and trust. Script fonts, like the official Rebrandly typeface, give off a personalized feel and provoke ideas of creativity and elegance while being approachable at the same time.
Likewise, modern fonts convey intelligence, style, and exclusivity. A better understanding of font psychology will help you understand which typefaces you should associate with your brand.
Check out our guide on how to use visual elements to strengthen your brand for an even more comprehensive look at developing your brand’s visual identity.
Integrating your brand identity into your business
While the steps above will guide you on how to create a brand identity, that’s not the end of it. It’s also crucial that you integrate your brand identity into different aspects of your business. This is the key to being recognizable and memorable to the masses. So make sure you seamlessly showcase it through your website, physical storefronts, social media, content marketing efforts, packaging, and so on.
Additionally, keep up with the latest visual trends to get an even better idea of how and where to further establish your branding. And if you have any questions about how to create a brand identity, let us know in the comments below.
Even the links that you create and share online are part of your brand identity. If you really want to enhance your brand’s visibility, it’s important that you leverage every branding opportunity available to you — and with the help of the right tool, that can include your links.
So rather than using generic URLs you can shorten and brand your links with a custom URL shortener like Rebrandly. By doing so, you are able to put your brand on your links which will increase brand awareness and link trust.
Check out the video below to learn more.
- 5 ways to increase your brand awareness online
- How to strengthen a brand with visual elements
- How to choose a brand name
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- How to create a brand identity
- Tips for creating a brand identity
- The key elements of creating a brand identity