Creating A Brand Identity 101: Everything You Need To Know
Whether your business is still in the ideation phase or already up and running, a strong brand identity is crucial to your long-term success.
Many businesses gloss over the brand identity creation process. They may feel like creating a consistent brand identity is an unnecessary step just slowing them down, or they may be overwhelmed by the thought of branding in general.
Whatever the reason, these entrepreneurs jump straight from product creation to full-fledged marketing campaigns and other visual elements, without stopping to think about what their brand identity really is.
The branding process does take time. Just like your business idea itself, your identity isn’t something you create in 10 minutes and let run on its own. It takes forethought, strategy, planning, and maintenance.
If you want to create a brand identity for your business but just don’t know where to start, read on. We’ll be covering:
- How to build your brand identity from the ground up
- Strengthening your brand identity
- Three common (easily avoidable!) branding mistakes we see every day
The first step to creating a brand identity that resonates with your target audience is to figure out who your brand really is. Yes, businesses have personalities too! And once you tap into who your business is, at its core, you can start building your branding ina strategic, effective way.
Before we jump into how to create a brand identity from scratch, you may be wondering what this term even means! In short, it’s ever branding element that makes your business distinctive.
Your brand identity consists of your:
- Brand feel
- How your present yourself to your audience
These factors come together to create a brand identity that’s memorable, unique, and relatable. It gives your branding depth and personality that a name or logo alone can’t convey.
A brand identity isn’t technically necessary. Lots of businesses are selling their products or services with no identity at all. But without a distinctive branding behind your offerings, your business can be quickly forgotten.
A strong brand identity, built with memorable visuals, colors that exemplify your values, messaging your customers can repeat in their sleep— that’s the catalyst for success. And once your business has a successful brand identity behind it, every sale and every new customer becomes easier.
Put another way, your business’ brand identity is like the perfect salesperson. It gets customers excited about what you’re selling, communicates the better life your product or service delivers, and overcomes their objections, before you even ask for the sale. That selling power is exactly what makes all the effort to build your own brand identity worth the work. And then some!
If you want your brand to stand out and attract more customers, it has to be different from your competition. Your brand identity should be original and speak directly to your niche audience.
While it’s tempting to tell the whole world about your amazing business, the most effective thing you can do is tailor your brand identity directly to your small group of dream customers. That’s how you get noticed, build your base of raving brand fans, and grow!
Once you’ve built a strong brand identity that’s all your own, you can begin generating brand awareness. Businesses with high brand awareness and a clear brand image also have higher brand loyalty, trust, and familiarity. You might choose to start creating brand awareness through:
Social media. Showing up on the right platforms with compelling social media graphics gets your brand in front of your target audience. Once these users have seen your brand a few times, whether through organic content or paid ads, they’ll begin to become familiar with your name and look. Soon, you’ll be at the top of their minds when they face the problem your business solves!
Search engine optimization. Your ideal customers are searching for the product or service you offer. Make sure your business shows up by optimizing your website to capture this search traffic.
Brand partnerships. One of the best ways to get in front of your audience and build successful brand awareness is to partner with other brands they already know and love. Think about other places your customers shop. Can you partner with those businesses and offer a joint discount, combined product, or offer to mention their brand if they mention yours? Cross-promotion is a great way for both brands to expand their reach.
The best brand identities are those that are so distinctive and descriptive that the identity itself adds value to your brand.
Here’s an example: Think of what makes Nike’s brand identity unique. This particular brand is innovative, inspirational, aspirational, forward-thinking, and motivating. When customers buy Nike products, they know they’re getting high-performance fashion. But their brand strategy goes beyond the products.
Nike has become an entire lifestyle centered around fitness, performance, and going the extra mile. It’s an attitude that calls customers to live better, faster, and stronger. What a powerful, hard-to-duplicate identity!
Nike’s incredible brand identity and personified character isn’t an accident. It’s the result of strategic planning. And you can do the same for your business.
Start with eye-catching colors to build your brand's visual identity. Your brand image should describe your business’ values, positioning, and personality. Then add a vibrant logo, one that’s bold, different, and instantly recognizable. Next, strengthen your brand’s messaging. Who do you help, how do you help them, and why? Those central ideas should be at the heart of every single piece of content you post, send, and share. Compelling visuals, distinctive colors, and clear messaging… That’s how you begin to build an iconic brand identity design!
Want to learn more about building your brand identity design, strategy, brand voice, and guidelines? Check out our detailed article, How to Build a Brand the Smart Way, where we cover these key elements and more!
Brand identity guidelines are the guardrails that keep your carefully crafted identity on track. In fact, creating brand guidelines might be one of the most important steps you take once you’ve identified your brand’s personality. These helpful directions keep your brand clear and uniform across every platform and channel— giving your customers a similar experience no matter where they find you.
Your brand guidelines should include:
Your brand’s story. Consider your core values, your company's mission, and your overall vision. Who are you trying to reach? How does your brand differ from the competition? The answers to these questions come together to form your brand’s story.
Your visuals. Include rules about your logo colors, placement, and size. Describe how to use your brand’s color palette and typeface. Your visual guidelines can even describe what kind of photography should accompany your marketing.
Your voice. This section of your brand identity guidelines describes how you sound and what you say. What common phrases and keywords does your business use? Do you take a professional and informational tone, a casual conversational tone, or somewhere in the middle? Describe it!
Once you’ve built detailed brand identity guidelines, make sure they’re easily accessible by every person who represents your company. From marketing and customer support to your contractors and vendors— if they represent your brand to the world, following these brand guidelines will keep every part of your brand consistent.
Need help building your brand’s core? Start with this quick branding exercise. You and your team can have a fully developed brand core in under 30 minutes!
The cost of building a brand identity depends on the tools you use. A pen and paper are free, but you may find yourself overwhelmed by the brand creation process if you go it alone.
At ZeBrand, our user-friendly brand identity builder starts at just $38 per month. With this tool, you can develop your own brand guidelines, define your brand DNA, bring your visual identity to life (with a built-in logo creator and color palette maker!), build a customer persona, and share this helpful information with your entire team.
Building your brand identity isn’t rocket science. But there is an art to it! That’s why we’ve put together a quick list of three common branding mistakes we help our clients overcome every day:
- Watering down their brand identity
So often we see great brands lose their potency when, over time, they begin to stray from the brand identity they first developed. They may have started out with strong brand guidelines, but over months or years, their brand becomes inconsistent, chaotic, and even confusing!
It’s crucial to solidify your brand’s identity with a thorough set of brand guidelines,beforeyou begin to produce content, products, and marketing. This keeps every element of your brand on track and aligned, building better awareness along the way.
- Ignoring brand identity altogether
Without a brand identity in place, your business is at risk of being overtaken by the competition— your competitors who have done the work to build an identity that resonates.
If you want to scale your business, reach new audiences, and hold onto your valuable existing customers, creating a memorable brand identity is the best way to do it. Familiarity is absolutely invaluable when it comes to growing your business. People trust the brands they know and love— and communicating your values, visuals, and voice is crucial to creating that trust.
- Waiting too long to rebrand
Sometimes the brand identity you created when you first launched your business doesn’t exactly fit anymore. Your customers may have changed, your products might be evolving, or you may have discovered your original brand just doesn’t speak to the target audience you were pursuing.
In these cases, the sooner you rebrand, the better! A successful, strategic rebrand can keep your valuable customers loyal to your brand and begin attracting new ones right away.
Learn how to create a brand identity and how it can grow and improve your brand’s awareness. ZeBrand has multiple services to help you gain brand recognition and brand loyalty.