How to develop a strong brand identity (A Step-by-Step Guide)

If you are starting new, you cannot expect to build your brand overnight, but you should always have the insight to develop your brand as a long-term vision. It would help if you had a strategy in place, a good team and a deep and complete understanding of your product.

Now let us assume you have a good product, a good team behind you, delighted, but maybe a small but growing customer list – now all you need is super brand identity.

The next step is are you going to design your brand by yourself or will you seek professional help.

In this Step-by-Step Guide, we will take you to the process of designing your brand identity to understand what goes into it entirely.

Brand Identity

Let’s start with:

What is Brand Identity?

Investopedia defines Brand Identity clearly. It says Identity is the visible elements of a brand, such as a logo, design, and colour, distinguishing and identifying the brand in the consumers’ minds. Brand image and Identity are distinct from each other. The latter corresponds to the intent behind the branding, to cultivate an appearance in the consumer’s mind, to communicate and differentiate you from your competition.

Brand identity makes a company who they are, and understanding the importance of a brand identity creates infinite value to the business. Brand identity is mandatory to lead and survive in the market, and today it is crucial for your business to grow. Brand identity is the face of the brand.

What does a Brand Identity incorporate?

Just a colourful logo will not create a brand identity. Identity includes colour, design, and logo and are referred to as the visible elements of a brand and distinguishes the brand in the consumer’s mind.

The key to a strong brand identity is that it needs to work for everyone, both the customer and the internal team. A good brand identity design has to be implemented and followed. Brand identity design creates the logo, typography, colour palette, photography, illustration, iconography, data visualization, video and motion, web design, and interactive elements.

The design process should make sure that the brand identity is:

  • Distinguishable: It stands out and is distinct from its competitors.
  • Unforgettable: The logo should be unique. A good example is Apple. The logo is so memorable they only include the logo – the name is not required.
  • Scalable: It can grow and evolve with the brand.
  • Well integrated: Each piece compliments the brand identity.
  • Intuitive: It’s straightforward and easy for designers to apply.

Why is Brand Identity Important?

To connect to your customers and retain them, you need a strong brand identity. The brand should be instantly recognizable and will give you a competitive edge in the market.

A few points to be noted about why strong brand identity is so important:

  • It should set you apart from your competitors, and it should give people a reason to choose you over a competitor.
  • It Generates loyalty. Customers should come back because they trust and rely on your brand.
  • Creating a set of brand guidelines or templates will enable you to keep continuing the brand-building process at all times.
  • A strong brand defines the brand’s personality and is very important when combining the product and service with the targeted audience.
  • A strong brand makes your logo, company name etc., memorable.
  • A strong brand improves positioning your product in the market. You are moving into the premium segment, which will give you a market advantage.

How to Build a Brand Identity

Each step will guide you to building a solid brand identity that sets you apart from the competition.

Step 1: Create a long term complete Brand Strategy.

  • Brand Purpose: Why do you exist?
  • Brand Values: What are your values, and how will you work them out.
  • Brand Mission: Your Mission statement, how do you create that future?
  • Brand Vision: What vision do you want to create in the long term?
  • Brand Identity: Logo, typography, colour etc.
  • Brand Message: Who you are and how to communicate it effectively. Identify your brand personality and share it.
  • Brand Tagline: A tagline is a slogan or short phrase that captures the brand personality to distinguish it from its competitors.

Step 2: Where at is your Current Brand Identity?

Even if you are building your brand identity from scratch or trying to grow your existing brand identity, you need to find:

  • The exact present state of your brand’s identity
  • How can we align the brand identity with your future goals and vision?

It is essential to understand how your Employees, Stakeholders and Customers perceive you. A Brand Audit Questionnaire should be made, without leaving any aspect of your brand, from logo and positioning to personality and values. Only after we get an honest and accurate opinion will we build a stronger brand identity.

Step3: What is your Brand Identity Personas? 

Personas are the social face your brand identity interacts with the world. Whatever you create should effectively communicate who you are. Personas are also about your target audience. The more information you pull together about your customers, the better your brand identity will resonate with them.

A good marketing Personas has three main elements:

  • It should be accurate
  • It should be thorough in every detail
  • It should be helpful, distinct and clear, such that you can use it in day-to-day content practice.

Step 4: Identify Your Competitors

Researching about your competition is the backbone of your marketing strategy. You must identify your competitors and their marketing tactics to differentiate yourself from them. But how are you going to identify competitors and their strategy? The first step is to distinguish between your Direct and Indirect Competition.

What is Direct Competition? 

Direct Competitors are companies who market or sell the same products as your business. Your customers will look at both you and your direct competitors before making a purchase. Now how to identify your Direct Competitors? When trying to determine your direct competitors, start with your product and its value to your customers. Only by sincerely evaluating your product and the customer environment will you be able to understand your competition.

Three steps that you can use to identify your direct competitors:

  1. Market Research: Make a list of which other companies are selling a product in your market that competes with you.
  2. Customer Feedback: Ask your customer which other company they were looking at before they bought your product and why they chose your product.
  3. Look at Social Media and Community Forums Online: Your potential customers will be checking online community forum sites like Reddit or Quora for advice. Customers are today highly influenced by friends and family members.

What is Indirect Competition?

Indirect Competitors are those companies that do not sell or market the same products but are digitally in competition with your business. Companies write the same content and use the exact keywords and divert your customer’s attention.

Three steps that you can use to identify your indirect competitors:

1.    Keyword Research: Many other websites compete for ranking on the first page in Google and using the exact keywords as yours. They are not your product competitors, but it just so happens that their keywords are the same or similar to yours, and hence you must find out what keywords your direct competition is targeting. Using keyword tools like Ahref, SEMrush, Google Keyword Planner, etc., you can identify your competitors’ keywords. 

  • Google’s Search Engine: Identify keywords that are central to your product. Type in the exact keywords into Google Search Engine and see what comes up. These are your indirect competitors to your business.
  • Look at Paid Data: Using Google Adwords, scan for your keywords. Check if there is a lot of competition for these keywords and who is paying for the keywords. These are your indirect competitors.

Step 5: Create Your Design Template

The template should outline your objectives and all information for the project to help keep your team on the same page, like Title, Overview, Budget, Time Frame, Target Audience, Competition etc.

Step 6: Create a Guide for Every Detail of Your Brand Identity

The guide should include easy to follow step-by-step details on every part of your brand identity. It’s the comprehensive documentation of your brand identity. It should not be complicating and challenging to follow. The guide should be exhaustive but easy to follow. It should be practical with clear directions and helpful examples. Above all, the documentation guide should be accessible to everyone on the team, especially new employees. Some critical elements for the guide:

Full description of the brand positioning and purpose

Once you are clear on your purpose and positioning, your brand identity will automatically follow. Purpose, Position and Personality are three questions you should answer to clarify your brand identity.

Market Research : Good market research will show you who your customers are and what appeals to them.

  • Your Brand Personality: Your brand personality is one of the essential aspects to consider. It has a significant impact on the tone used in your marketing and communication and sets the tone of how your customers perceive you.
  • A Notable Logo: Your logo should complement your brand identity and enhance the brand and is central to your brand identity. It is worth mentioning here that the worlds top three brands have a simple look, e.g. Apple, Google and Coca-Cola
  • The Brand Colour Palette: The colours you use convey the brand emotion, and the fewer colours you use, the better. Three primary colours maximum is the thumb rule.
  • Typograpghy: Your font, colour and logo have to be in harmony with your brand identity. A few simple rules to follow are:
  • Do not use fancy fonts
  • Do not mix fonts of two different families.
  • You can mix contrasting fonts (such as sans-serif and serif)
  • You must consider the font size for legibility.
  • Do not use all-caps to emphasize text.

Your brand, logo and other elements encompassing your brand identity may get re-evaluated and re-designed in the future. And though a change may be required or necessary, stay consistent with your existing brand identity.

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