Step-By-Step Guide to Build a Strong Brand Identity
Branding is the key to successful organizations. Without good brand identity, your business will not communicate your message and attain the desired results. Find out more about brand identity and the 7 steps you can use to build a strong brand identity.
Brand identity is often misunderstood because most entrepreneurs and individuals think that a brand identity is the brand logo, brand color palette, style, etc. Yes, your brand identity includes all that, but that’s not all. There’s more to it.
Marty Neumeier, a branding specialist, defined brand identity as “the outward expression of a brand, including its trademark, name, communications, and visual appearance.” Your brand identity is the total of how your brand looks, feels, and speaks to people. For some, this also includes how your brand sounds, tastes, feels and smells. Therefore, in simple words, your brand identity refers to how you communicate with the world, differentiate yourself from the competition, and create brand experiences that encourage individuals and customers to engage with your brand.
Key Elements of a Brand Identity
Here are the key elements that create a brand identity include:
- Design System
- Data Visualization
- Interactive Elements
- Video and Motion
- Web Design
- Brand UI/UX (Interface & Experience)
Key Factors That Create a Strong Brand Identity
A few characteristics have been put together by critically observing many successful and large brands such as Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Tesla, etc.
- Distinct – The brand should be unique so that it stands out from the competitors and grabs people’s attention
- Memorable – The brand should be memorable for the people by creating a visual impact on them. One great example is Apple. Their logo is so memorable and successful in representing Apple that only their logo is branded on their products, not their brand name.
- Scalable and flexible – The brand should leave room for growth and development. For example, if you are starting off a clothing company but currently only have shirts to sell, rather than going on with Mudda Shirts, you can start with Mudda Clothing. This provides your brand with the flexibility to represent the business when it grows into other clothing markets such as Jeans, T-shirts, etc.
- Cohesive – All brand elements must complement the brand identity and remain consistent throughout. For example, brand color palette, graphic design, content, and typography should all be aligned with what the brand represents and complement it to impact the people.
- Easy to apply – Your brand should be intuitive and clear so that the designers and relevant members can use it for branding purposes. Complicated and unclear brand identities can make it challenging to apply them to different instances and obtain the desired results.
How to Build a Strong Brand Identity?
Now that we have covered what a brand identity is, its key elements and characteristics. Let’s jump into how we can use these to create a strong brand identity. These 7 steps can guide you through this process.
Step 1: Formulate a brand strategy
This is where you need to outline what you are trying to achieve and how you are planning on achieving it. Your brand strategy should include the following:
- Brand heart – your purpose, vision, mission, values
- Brand messaging – brand voice, personality, tagline
- Brand identity – logo, color, typography
Make sure to remember that your brand identity is how you communicate your brand to your audience. So, before you find out the brand identity, make sure you critically think and determine your brand heart and messaging, which will help you figure out what you’re trying to achieve and how you can develop a compelling brand identity that complements your objective.
Step 2: Analyze your current brand identity (brand audit)
This is a step only for those who already have established their brand identity but have figured out that there is room for improvement. Do not feel discouraged. We all started somewhere, and all of us have faced obstacles. Take it as a learning and realistically reevaluate your brand and figure out:
- The current brand’s identity
- Points that you feel could be improved
- How you can improve and tweak your brand to align it to your goals found in Step 1
Step 3: Know your audience
A brand identity is the face of your organization and how it communicates to the world. Hence, you need to accurately convey who you are and what your brand represents. But this isn’t only about what you present, but it is also about what your customers want to engage with or are used to interacting with. If your brand identity does not resonate with your audience, it will not be effective.
If you feel that the brand you developed till Step 2 did not account for your customer personas, go back to step 1 and make necessary changes to the brand identity to ensure your brand resonates with your audience and customers.
Step 4: Identify your competition
Building a brand identity is about differentiation, to make sure your brand stands out when put together with competitors by being visible, relevant, and unique. Hence, you need to identify your competition and research how they have developed their brand identity. You can take pointers off them because particular identities may have been successful in resonating with the audience but try not to copy them. Take the insights and add your personal twist to it.
Step 5: Draft a Creative Brief
At this step, you have a clear understanding of the brand identity you wish to develop. But before we dive into the next steps, take a moment to draft a creative brief that aligns with your brand. Here are some key points that your creative brief should include:
- Primary Message
- Value Preposition
- Success Metrics
- Current and recent projects (only if applicable)
- Additional Considerations
- Important insights from past experiences
- References or inspiration
Make sure the creative brief is clear and concise, so your team can be on the same page as you are and work accordingly to align all activities towards developing the brand and attaining the desired objectives.
Step 6: Brainstorm your Visuals
Now you, and your team, have a good understanding of the brand identity and plenty of information. This is the time to take all that information and translate it into visual concepts since that is how you will communicate with your audience. The visuals need to complement the emotional language of your brand personality, goals, and values and resonate with your audience’s persona to be effective.
You can do this by choosing about 5-7 descriptors that best describe the brand identity you wish to create. Use these descriptors to start visualizing how you can put it out in the best way and make rough sketches as you go (you do not need to be perfect or an artist, just a rough sketch to document your ideas). Use these sketches, filter out the concepts, shortlist the top ones, see how you can compile certain elements, and create the ultimate visuals to represent your brand identity.
Step 7: Design the Individual Elements
At this point, you have all the information and the chosen visuals to represent the brand identity. It is the time to design the individual elements representing your brand (refer to Key Elements of a Brand Identity above) and create a brand style guide to help designers create content to develop brand identity while ensuring consistency in style is maintained.