What is Brand Identity and How to Create One in 4 Steps

Your brand identity is what makes you unique among others. It’s how you think, what you believe and how you operate. It’s about the real value you create for your employees, your customers, your investors, and the world. Brand identity is so important for organizations because it creates clarity, relevance, and appeal. The better you know yourself, the more effectively you can help others understand and value you. With our brand identity consulting services, we help our clients communicate this in differentiated, relevant and lasting ways.

Defining Brand Identity

Your identity is the reality of who you are. If you want customers and prospects to understand and appreciate that reality,  is critical that you express yourself as clearly and compellingly as possible. The visual and verbal tools that help you express your reality in compelling ways is your brand identity.

Visual brand identity should be a unique and memorable expression of who you are. It’s not just about a logo – it includes the use of type and color, image type, and placement, as well as logos, symbols or wordmarks. When these tools work together as a system, they create a cohesive presentation for your organization. When expressed effectively across touchpoints, your visual brand identity will reinforce a positive image in the minds of your important audiences.

Verbal brand identity, which might include your name, a tagline or slogan, voice and tone and other verbal cues, goes hand in hand with your visual brand identity to reach your audiences in memorable, compelling, and authentic ways. It is an equally important part of your overall toolkit, helping you express your unique promise across all touchpoints.

Why You Need Brand Identity

When your brand identity is clear, things fall into place. Decisions become easier. Team members are motivated to do the right things. Customers and investors come to you for the right reasons. Your brand identity should be the driving force behind decisions and behaviors, as well as visual and verbal expression. Strong brand identities set clear expectations, motivate beneficial decisions and build strong customer relationships.

How to Create a Brand Identity in 4 Steps

We take pride in our ability to understand our clients from the inside out, to help them resolve the fundamental questions about their collective brand identity, and to express that identity in compelling and sustainable ways. While no two situations or strategies are identical, there are core phases of work that apply to all brand identity development. Below, we spell out an approach that will help surface an organization’s unique opportunities and help them arrive at a powerful brand identity.

Step 1: Set Clear Objectives

Before you can begin to communicate your unique essence to the world, you need to understand it yourself.  You must dig deep into your own business, engage your internal community, and analyze the competitive environment in which you operate. This work should lead to a disciplined and distilled analysis with a clear point of view on brand opportunities, challenges, possibilities, and objectives. Hearing from important voices, auditing communications, audiences and competitors, and establishing core objectives for the brand identity is essential for the following work to be authentic and effective. When we do this work in partnership with our clients, the activities we undertake include:

  • Workshops and immersion
  • Stakeholder interviews
  • Communications and materials audits
  • Competitive audits
  • Distillation and analysis
  • Objectives development

Step 2: Know Your Audience

Any objective you set, and promise you make, has got to resonate with the needs and aspirations of your key audiences. This doesn’t mean you should tell people what they want to hear – but it does mean you need to know what their perceptions are today, so you can set their expectations for the future. Qualitative and quantitative audience research can be a very useful tool in getting a read on current needs and perceptions among your many key audiences. More importantly, it can help you understand the gaps in their knowledge about you, and expose opportunities to communicate in a new way.

Step 3: Think Differently About Why You Exist

Once you have a clear understanding of your opportunities, objectives, and audiences you can begin to develop your identity strategy. The ideas you develop must be based on the reality of who you are but expressed in a way that can build appreciation and enthusiasm for your unique promise and build a sustainable competitive advantage. This means you need to focus no only on who you are and what you do, but why it matters. What would a future without you look like? Conversely, how can your presence in this world make that future meaningfully different, and better for those around you? With your understanding of your objectives and audiences, these questions can help you think differently about making a renewed rational and emotional promise to the world. The disciplines you will want to consider as you think differently about why you exist include:

Step 4: Tell Your Story

At this stage, you should have the promise, the core ideas, and the audience messages you want to take out into the world. You need to give it form, visually and verbally. Verbal expressions of your brand identity should be aspirational but backed with clear proof points to that internal and external audiences believe what you are telling them. They should also be simple and inspiring so that they want to take part in your story.

Designing the visual expression of your brand identity should include imagery, typographic systems, color, and visual style. You won’t just be developing a new logo, you will create a visual language and attitude that incorporates multiple visual tools to create a memorable, ownable and emotional statement. Designed identities should have an underlying rationale centered around the idea that is true to your brand, positioning and character, and should have the flexibility to be applied across a mix of marketing and communications media, from physical to virtual.

Brand Identity concepts and stagings typically include:

— Logo

— Logo animation

— Website home page

— Business cards

— Social media icon and landing page header

— Conference booth wrap

— Full page ad (or other awareness marketing collateral)

Once you have created a set of communication tools that exemplify your brand identity, you should publish the brand identity elements into a set of Brand Identity Guidelines, to help internal and external audiences represent you in clear and coherent ways.

Our work as a Brand Identity Agency has helped organizations across industries each define and express their brand identity. Our clients have considered this work to be instrumental in their success as they mature and grow.

Learn more about our approach to helping clients develop a winning brand identity.

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Why One Identity is More Powerful Than Many

Why Large, Complex Organizations Need a Strong Brand Identity