CREATING A BRAND IDENTITY
We are still focusing on the small business segment, this post is set to equip small business owners on how to start, sustain, and grow small businesses. We have given tips on how to convert ideas to businesses, what goes into starting a business, and examples of small businesses you can start with little capital.
With this knowledge in mind, we wish to tackle how to create a strong brand identity.
What is brand identity?
Brand, branding, brand identity. People use these terms interchangeably, which is not correct. They all have their own meaning in marketing.
People often refer to brands as the logo of a company, while in fact, a brand is a set of a company’s intangible assets, service, or product.
A brand can also be the emotional relationship between people and a company. What people generally feel about your company. For example, Apple is a brand. People will buy Apple products regardless of whether they think they are expensive. This is because Apple has established itself as a reliable brand that provides quality products and its customers rely on that promise.
Branding, on the other hand, is the marketing practice of creating a name symbol or design that identifies and differentiates a product from other products. An effective brand strategy gives you a major edge in increasingly competitive markets.
Brand Identity as opposed to a brand, refers to the more tangible elements of a company. This basically means all that appeals to your senses about a brand. It is often what you can hear, see, touch, or feel. A brand identity usually stems from the company’s mission, vision, value proposition, and long term goals. A company’s brand identity describes what a company’s visual language is.
Basic elements of a brand’s identity are:
- The brand name
- The tagline or slogan
- The colors and typography
- The company logo and a wordmark and all its variations
- The company voice or tone
The importance of a brand identity
- Builds loyalty and trust: Once people are able to identify with your brand, they are able to trust you as an authority in providing the product or service. This type of connection helps brands to develop long term relationships with customers. A great example is Safaricom in Kenya. People identify with it as the leading telecommunications provider in Kenya. Regardless of the growth of the various telecommunication companies, the Safaricom brand has over the years built and acquired loyalty and trust from its customers.
- Makes your business memorable: A good brand identity helps your customers to remember who you are and think about you every time they need to make a purchase. The more people interact with your brand, and have a good brand experience, the more they are likely to purchase from you.
- Creates a personality: Your brand identity creates a personality for your brand, it evokes certain emotions and feelings to your target audience. The brand identity should communicate your brand’s overall message that you wish to pass across. It should also easily communicate your long term goals to your potential customers.
- Differentiates you from Competition: Having a unique brand identity helps to differentiate you from your competition. Your colors and typography help to differentiate you, for example, Coca-Cola and Pepsi are competitors who both provide soft drinks but no one can confuse the Coca-Cola brand because both the colors and typography are very unique to their business.
How to build a strong brand identity
Creating a strong brand identity requires careful thinking and planning. It also requires having a team that understands the company’s values and long term goals. The team also needs to have great communication skills to be able to translate the vision to the visual elements of the company.
- Conduct a thorough brand audit: Before you even begin developing your brand identity, you must first get a clear understanding of where your brand stands in the market. You must be able to understand how people perceive your brand. You must also understand what is needed to be able to drive the growth of the company. All this is done internally, as well as analyzing the competition. A thorough market research will help you develop a brand identity that your target audience will easily relate to.
- Research your audience: You must be able to identify your target audience and how can they best relate to your brand. If you do not know who you are marketing to, all your marketing efforts and marketing budget may all just go down the drain. Aim to get information of who your target audience is, where they get information as to where to purchase as well as where they currently make their purchases. Understand their demographics and purchasing power. This will help in developing messages and a tone that they will identify with.
- Analyze your competition:
Your competitors should be the first place you run to get information. Do not be afraid of going to your competitor’s website, social media pages, and see what they are currently doing. Take a critical look at the gap they have left in the market and position your brand to fill that gap. This will help you find your niche. However, do not imitate your competitors brand strategy, instead, differentiate yourself from them.
- Develop your Unique Selling Point(USP)
A unique selling point (USP) is what separates you from your competitors. It is what your brand provides and your competitors don’t. Your USP identifies what motivates your customers to buy from you. This could be their demographics or financial status. It should also address your customer’s pain points. Your brand identity should be able to communicate this.
- Create your brands elements:
The next step will involve creating the look, feel, and voice of your brand. This will be carried across consistently across all marketing channels – your website, your social media channels, and packaging if you are offering a product. While designing the elements of your brand, bear your target audience in mind. What are their preferences, are they millennials, married couples or children. All these groups have different interests and preferences, consider this when developing your creative brand elements.
- Consistently implement your identity
Once you’ve defined your brand identity, apply your new messaging and visual identity across every medium you plan to use in your marketing strategy.
Check your traffic sources in Google Analytics to help identify which marketing channels are sending you the most traffic. Once you’ve identified the most popular channels for your industry, prioritize your brand identity improvements by focusing on high-impact channels first.
Common mistakes during branding
Creating a brand identity may take a lot of work, time, effort, and money. It would be quite unfortunate if you make some avoidable mistakes. Here are 5 of the top mistakes people make when creating a brand identity.
- Inconsistent corporate identity: A company must use the same logo and tagline across all its marketing channels. People need to consistently see the same information coming from your company. Ensure that your branding is the same on your business cards, website and even advertisements.
- Poor visuals: Bear in mind that people are able to memorize images than words. Therefore your logo should be catchy and easy to remember and identify
- Failing to focus the branding on the core service: If you want your branding to be successful, you must decide your core product or service and focus all your marketing efforts towards it. Don’t confuse the public with a long list of services.
- Not training employees: Your employees are a crucial part of your brand. Think of them as walking advertisements of your brand. Ensure that they understand the name, goals, tagline, and values that your company represents. Reward them when they are doing it right.
- Not having a tag line that is believable: Your company’s tag line should be believable and should be easily relatable. Having a tagline that is exaggerated will only lead people away.