How to Build a Lasting Brand Identity

Investing in brand identity may feel like something that only massive businesses like Nike and Amazon do, but in reality, every business can benefit from defining and investing in their own. 

When customers have a clear picture in their minds of what your business is and what it offers, they’re more likely to buy from you, recommend you to others, and remember you in the future when they need your product or service again. Creating a brand identity helps customers recognize your business in a crowded marketplace and is a great way to set yourself apart from your competition.

Creating a distinct brand identity may seem like an elusive challenge, but it doesn’t have to be. In this article, we’re digging into the elements of brand identity and the steps you can take right now to build yours.

What Is Brand Identity?

Brand identity is the visual elements of a brand that set it apart from competitors in a customer’s mind. It includes aspects like:

  • Colors
  • Fonts
  • Logo
  • Shapes or other visual elements in your promotions

It also includes how you speak to your customers about your product (your messaging) and how you want them to feel when they interact with your brand (your customer experience). 

Each of these items needs to work together and match the core aspects of a company. For example, if your messaging claims that you’re a young, hip company but your logo is outdated and boring, you send conflicting messages to your customers. If they don’t understand who you are, they are less likely to trust you and buy from you. 

How Do You Build Your Own Brand Identity?

Branding isn’t actually about how you see your business; it’s how the outside world sees you. Sometimes, this can be totally different from how you want to be perceived. Customers have different experiences with your company, and if your branding isn’t cohesive, they may get the wrong perception of your brand.

The more consistently you present your company across various channels (your website, social media, storefront, ads, print assets, etc.), the better your chance of creating your desired business image.

So, how do you create a cohesive, desirable brand identity? Well, it’s going to take more than a great logo. Here are a few places to start: 

1. Create a Brand Strategy

Before you can dig into the work of creating a brand identity, you need to do some strategizing about how you want your company to be perceived. What is your brand personality? Make a list of distinctive adjectives that describe your company, such as:

  • Strong 
  • Bold
  • Delicate
  • Feminine
  • Comedic 
  • Youthful
  • Classic
  • Refined

Then, think about the key challenges you solve for customers. Do you:

  • Save them money?
  • Provide the absolute best-in-class product?
  • Save them time?

What are the most important concepts or facts you want customers to know about you? Are you:

  • Locally owned?
  • Nationally recognized?
  • Passionate about sustainability? 

While you can’t always control the outside world’s perception, you can present information about your business that aligns with how you want others to see it. Intentionally defining the information you present is a huge step in the right direction. 

Consider involving your stakeholders, employees, and customers in this process. You might be surprised by how they see the company. Their ideas aren’t right or wrong. Instead, they serve as a reference to what you’re best at and where you need more work.

2. Choose a Color Palette

A color pallet is simply a set of complementary colors for all your brand’s visual elements. The combinations are endless, but a few examples of pallets are below. 

The most recognizable brands, like Pepsi, have a defined color palette that they don’t deviate from. Some of the places you’ll see their company colors include their:

  • Logo
  • Website
  • Social media
  • Product packaging
  • Shipping boxes
  • Printed material
  • Advertising

You can say a lot through your color choices, so make sure they match the adjectives you used to define your brand. If you want your business to be perceived as feminine, you may want to steer clear of bold colors like orange and green. If you want your company to be perceived as strong, you may not want to choose muted neutrals. An experienced graphic designer can help you create a color pallet that brings your ideal brand to life.

3. Make Your Logo

Now that you have a color palette, you can either make or revamp your logo to match your choices. Keep in mind that there is a psychology to colors. If you choose red, you can create excitement. Blue may signify reliability.

While it isn’t an exact science and people’s life experiences mean their reactions vary, you can use color to drive emotion.

Take the time to develop a logo that represents your values as a brand. People should understand what you’re about when they see your emblem. For example, if customers see a green leaf in a logo, they probably assume the company is natural or eco-friendly.

A logo is often the most recognizable aspect of a brand, so it’s worth investing in. Some logos are so powerful that you don’t even need to see the company name beside them to know who they belong to. 

The fonts you pair with your logo and use on your visual assets should also match your brand’s personality. Remember that there should be cohesion, so a young, hip brand may not want to pair a sleek logo with an antique font. 

4. Standardize Employee Interactions With Customers

Your brand identity goes beyond visual elements like your logo to include how your brand makes customers feel. Your customer-facing employees have a huge hand in creating the emotional experience you envision for your brand. 

You may want to invest in detailed employee training if you haven’t already. Consider things like how you want your team to handle customer complaints, questions, and even kudos.

Companies like Apple, Chick-fil-A, and Publix are well-known for how employees interact with customers. You can be sure that these companies all invest considerable time and energy into training every team member so that no matter which location a customer walks into, they receive the same outstanding experience. 

5. Nail Your Messaging

Your messaging is the words you use to communicate the value of your product or service and what your company values are. 

When you get your messaging right, it will clearly and concisely communicate what you offer to customers, why they should buy from you, and your brand personality. 

Nailing your messaging starts with understanding your customers and the challenges they face that bring them to you, then articulating your value in the same language your customers use to describe their challenges. 

Messaging includes your company tagline or slogan, your value proposition, and the benefits of your offering. 

6. Study Your Competition

According to a recent State of Competitive Intelligence Report, researchers found that 94% of businesses are looking more closely at competitive intelligence (CI) than ever before.

They’re tracking what others in their industry do well and finding holes in their strategy so they can take advantage of that opportunity to fulfill consumer needs.

When you study your competition, your goal shouldn’t be to copy what they’re doing but rather to find ways that they’re not serving the market as well as you can. Then, your branding can hone in on this differentiating factor and help you appeal to new customers who aren’t being served.

7. Create a Style Guide

Once you’ve done all of the work to define your brand identity, you should create a comprehensive style guide so that every creator on your team can easily create content that matches your identity. Things you should include in your style guide are:

  • Color palette
  • Logo – where to use it, sizing, positioning, etc.
  • Typography – preferred fonts, sizes, and placement
  • Messaging pillars
  • Voice & Tone
  • Brand personality
  • How you want your customers to see you

Be as specific as possible by creating sections in your guide for easy reference. If someone new works on your website, they can refer to the guide to ensure they use the same style as previous designers. Having a clear guide is a great way to make sure your brand image stays consistent over time and across creators. 

8. Create Visual Representations of Complex Topics

A great way to implement your branding and educate your customers is by creating infographics. These handy images are a great way to visually represent data and tell your company story in an engaging, easy-to-digest way. 

So how do you create meaningful infographics that benefit your customers? Start by thinking about questions you commonly get from customers. Is there a way to explain the answer simply through an image or infographic? 

Many people are visual learners, so infographics are a great way to share data in your marketing that aligns with your style guide and messaging while also engaging your audience. 

It’s also a great way to showcase your company as an expert in your field and make a lasting impression on people who interact with your brand.

Monitor Your Reputation

Even after your brand identity is in full swing, it’s inevitable that someone, somewhere, will have a poor experience with your product, service, or employee. That person may even leave a negative review for you. If you don’t address that negative review, it can keep people who find your company from becoming paying customers. 

When possible, reply to the review or reach out to the person directly and try to make the situation right. If you solve their issue, you can turn an unhappy customer into a lifelong fan. Even if you aren’t able to change their mind, future customers will see that you made an effort to make things right. 

A Word Of Advice: Keep It Simple

It’s tempting to sing your own praises. You may be great at multiple things and want your customers to know about them. However, for the purposes of branding, embrace only one or two UVPs (unique value propositions). Make sure they’re ones your competition isn’t promoting to give your business a distinctive edge.

Sticking to basic messaging also allows you to drive the same point home over and over. Every time consumers see an ad, your tagline, a post on social media, or get an email from you, they should get a similar message.

You may be afraid that using the same message over and over will get redundant, but we promise it won’t!

People are inundated with advertisements. According to Forbes, people see an average of 4,000 – 10,000 ads every single day. Phew! If you want customers to remember you, you need to say the same thing more than once, or your message won’t stick.

If you’re not sure where to start with developing your brand or just don’t have the time or resources to manage it yourself, reach out to a professional SEO agency or marketing agency. Companies like ours have helped businesses just like yours define and create impactful brand identities. Get in touch with us if you’re ready to get started. 

Eleanor Hecks

Eleanor Hecks

Eleanor Hecks is editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. She was the creative director at a digital marketing agency before becoming a full-time freelance designer. Eleanor lives in Philadelphia with her husband and pup, Bear.

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