All the big brands including Nike, Google and Coca-Cola have brand identities that they actively protect and nurture. These companies use branding to gain a larger share of the market and increase their revenue.  So, developing a strong brand identity is critical to the success of your organization. This article explores the significance of developing a strong brand identity, how to develop one, the benefits of having one, and typical pitfalls to avoid when developing one.

What Is Brand Identity?

This includes your brand’s principles, attitude, and appearance.  It’s your brand image and perception. Whether you actively curate your brand or not, the world forms an opinion about your product which ultimately influences how they interact with it. Everything your business does reflects its identity.

What Makes Up a Brand?

Brands are built on human perception and association. As diverse as the world is, a sizable population mentally associate certain things. Certain names or words, for example, can elicit certain emotions. Similarly, colours in the context of food might have distinct associations, such as red for spicy or green for fresh.  In psychology and cognitive science, these associations are called Schemas which is a pattern of thought or behaviour that organizes information categories and their relationships. People are more inclined to notice items that fit into their schema while reinterpreting inconsistencies as exceptions or distorting them to suit. There are five basic elements of building a brand which leverages human psychology.

Brand Name

The brand name is the name of the company, product, or service that embodies the brand. It should be memorable, distinct, and easy to say. Tiffany and Co. is a nice name for a jewelry company whose primary customer-base are women.

Brand Logo

The brand logo is a visual representation of the brand. It should be concise, recognizable, and consistent with the brand’s ideals and personality.

Brand Slogan

A brand slogan is a short statement that communicates the brand’s message and values.

Brand Design

The colour, typeface, and imagery used to represent the brand are all part of the brand design. It should be consistent across all marketing materials and media.

Brand Voice

The tone, vocabulary, and style used to connect with the target audience.

Benefits of Having a Strong Brand

Trust and Credibility

Every big brand is known for something which can include quality, affordability, and innovation among other desirable attributes. A strong brand identity contributes to consumer trust and credibility which increases loyalty.

Brand Differentiation

A good brand identity allows a company to stand out from the crowd. It establishes a distinct image in the minds of consumers. This is closely related to recognition and recall because consistent brand messaging increases the likelihood of customers remembering and choosing the brand in the future.

Customer Loyalty

Strong brands are consistent in the way they communicate and deliver value to their customers which creates a sense of trust that fosters loyalty and advocacy.

Increased Pricing Power

A strong brand identity provides a company with more pricing power. It fosters a sense of worth and excellence, allowing a company to demand higher pricing than competitors. Starbucks, for example, has created a strong brand identity around its premium coffee and welcoming environment, allowing it to charge more than other coffee businesses. All companies leverage brand equity when it comes to pricing their products

How to Build A Strong Brand Identity

Creating a powerful brand identity is a complex process that requires a methodical and strategic approach.

Define Your Brand Values and Mission

The big question is what impression you want to make on customers. Sometimes it can be about your legacy or dream for the business. It can also be about the needs and preferences of your target audience. A company that sells environmentally friendly items, for example, may emphasize sustainability and environmental responsibility in their brand values and mission. If you are in a market where durability is critical to customers, you have to include that as part your brand communication. Many companies tie their brand identities to their vision and mission. For example, Nike’s mission is to BRING INSPIRATION AND INNOVATION TO EVERY ATHLETE* IN THE WORLD. *If you have a body, you are an athlete. As such, you’d notice a lot of inclusion in their marketing campaigns.

Develop a Brand Personality

This personality should be consistent with the brand’s values and mission, and serve as the foundation for all communication and messaging. A brand personality could be welcoming, warm, amusing or even authoritative. Apple’s brand personality, for example, is inventive, elegant, and modern, which aligns with its brand principles of creativity and design.

Create a Visual Identity for Your Brand

Leverage imagery as much as you can. A visual identity contains elements like your logo, colour scheme, typography, and artwork. These characteristics should be in line with your personality and values. A well-designed logo may be a strong tool for increasing brand identification and affinity. For example, the Nike swoosh emblem is instantly recognizable and has become synonymous with the brand.

Furthermore, you can develop your own brand design system or policy which outlines your library of design components including colours, fonts and style. Did you know that Google, Apple, IBM, Atlassian, and other large businesses share their design systems with the public? This allows them to spread awareness about their style, philosophies further promoting their branding.

Consistently Communicate Your Brand Message

Building a strong brand identity requires consistent delivery of the brand message. This message should be consistent with the brand’s personality and values, and it should be communicated through all marketing materials, such as your website, social media, advertising, and packaging. It should also elicit emotions that reflect the company’s personality and values, and set the brand apart from competitors. Brand messaging is built around your unique value proposition.

Communicating Your Unique Value Proposition

Your unique value proposition (UVP) is what distinguishes you from competition and allows you to stand out in the market. It is the reason buyers should select your goods or service above other. To define your UVP, you must first assess your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT analysis) and determine what makes you distinctive.

Build Brand Equity

Developing brand equity is essential for long-term success. Brand equity is the perceived value of a brand in the minds of consumers. It grows over time as a result of consistent branding, high-quality products, and great customer service.  Building brand equity requires a long-term focus on branding and customer experience.

Challenges of Building a Strong Brand Identity

Lack of Consistency

Maintaining consistency across all marketing materials and touchpoints can be a challenge and these inconsistencies can lead to confusion. some examples of inconsistencies:

Inconsistent Graphic Elements

When your brand’s visual identity is inconsistent across different platforms, consumers may become confused. For example, if a company’s website has a different logo or colour palette than its social media profiles or advertising, it might create a disconnected brand experience.

Inconsistent Messaging

When a brand’s messaging is inconsistent across different channels, it can lead to consumer misunderstanding and mistrust. For example, if a corporation claims to be environmentally friendly yet uses excessive packaging in their products, their messaging will be undermined and their brand reputation will suffer.

Inconsistent Customer Experience

When a brand’s customer experience varies across touchpoints, it can lead to a bad perception of the brand. For example, if a company provides excellent in-store customer service but terrible treatment online or over the phone, it can undermine the brand’s reputation and lead to customer turnover.

Inconsistent Product Quality

When a brand’s product quality is inconsistent, it can lead to consumer discontent and mistrust. For example, if a corporation delivers high-quality products in some locations but lower-quality products in others, the brand’s reputation will suffer and sales will fall.

Scarcity of Resources

Building a powerful brand identity requires a lot of time and a large marketing investment. As such, smaller organizations may find it difficult to devote adequate resources to branding and marketing activities.

Lack of Patience

It takes time and patience to develop a solid brand identity. Many organizations anticipate instant gratification, yet developing brand value involves a long-term commitment to branding and customer experience.

To conclude

Building a strong brand identity takes time and deliberate effort. It is a measure of customer trust and loyalty and all businesses leverage this in pricing their products. As you build your small business, build your brand identity because the rewards will be well worth the effort.

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I'm passionate about growth.
I like it for others and I love it for myself.
My vision for the future is that people and businesses have the tools they need to thrive; a sound mind and a healthy body.
My favourite quote is, "What you carry is what defines you."

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