Think about one of your favorite brands. What is the first thing that comes to mind? Maybe it’s the packaging of the product or the signage on their shopfronts. Maybe their slogan jumps out at you, or the logo that often pops up on your social media feeds. Maybe you recall the feeling you experience when you enter one of the brand’s stores, or when you are using or engaging with its products. Is it a positive association? Is it something you’d want to share with your friends?
Whichever brand or business you’re thinking about right now has made enough of an impact to remain etched in the back of your mind. We are constantly busy making unconscious sensory associations as we go about our day. As you recall your experience with a certain brand, you can see the brand’s logo and colors, you can hear that catchy ad jingle that always plays on YouTube, you can feel the materials of the product, and most importantly, you can remember how the experience made you feel.
That is the power of a brand identity.
The brand identity of a business consists of all the elements that are used to communicate a certain image to the world. It shapes how people perceive and recognize your brand. How can you create a successful brand strategy that accurately portrays your business, demonstrates your unique values and purpose, and attracts your target customers?
Understand the importance of a brand strategy
Each business, no matter how small, needs a comprehensive brand strategy that touches on all the recognizable markers to make your brand totally unique from competitors.
Your brand strategy needs to align with your business goals and target customers. By providing familiar measures for people to recognize you by and create positive associations with, you can offer more than simply selling a product or service. Brand tools enable you to communicate the values of your business, build loyalty and have meaningful, lasting relationships with customers.
A strong brand strategy will help you present your business and its offerings consistently and coherently. Defining visual guidelines and a steady tone of voice will also help to maintain consistency as the team expands or when working with various creatives over the years.
Define your mission statement
Customers want to have meaningful experiences with the retailers and businesses they support. Particularly among younger audiences, people are increasingly becoming more mindful of supporting brands whose values align with their own. What are the values of your brand? Why did you start doing what you are doing? This is what your brand identity needs to portray.
Let’s say you run a coffee shop in the city center that is aimed at young working people in the area. Your mission statement cannot be to make money from busy working people who are on the go and don’t have time to make coffee at home. Your mission statement and purpose should be to create a community hub where young professionals and creatives can step away from their hurried lives to breathe, be inspired and recharge for the day ahead while enjoying the lifestyle experience of your premium coffee and delicious baked goods.
Your purpose should be communicated in your brand strategy. When customers can relate to your brand’s message, they’ll be more likely to support you in the long run and extend their engagement with your business beyond transactions. They’ll want to learn more about your values, stay up to date with your news and new offerings on social media, and recommend you to the people in their networks.
Create your brand identity
Imagine the type of person your brand would be. An energetic, curious kid who loves bright colors and loud ideas? Or a sleek business professional who prefers simplicity and minimalism?
The personality and lifestyle of this character can be used as an ongoing guideline to help you make decisions such as picking a logo, colour palette and typeface. These decisions may seem small in the grand scheme of things, but they pave the way for considerations such as web design, an online shop, writing voice, ad copy, website content, product packaging, store design — the list goes on. Your branding will also play a role in attracting your target customers. Getting it right from the start lays a strong foundation to build on as you grow your business.
Develop your brand design
Your business logo, product packaging, web design, social graphics and business cards are the first design assets on the to-do list. To keep the design of these elements coherent, you need to secure the creative building blocks such as typography, brand colors and shapes, all of which influence a person’s subconscious mind to perceive a given design in various ways. How do you want your brand to be perceived? Formal? Playful? Assertive? Down-to-earth? Trustworthy? Youthful? To bring your brand identity to life, you need to work with an experienced designer who understands the intent behind each design decision. Your logo should reflect the message of your business, be versatile to use across all marketing channels, be relevant to your industry and target market, and be enduring to stand the test of time. The same goes for the design of your website, product packaging, emails, letterheads and business cards.
Create a brand style guide
Once all brand identity elements are finalized, you need to compile a brand style guide to ensure the longevity of your brand identity. A brand style guide should define your brand identity, outline your design assets and include house rules on how, when and where each element should be used, as well as guiding the writing tone of your brand.
You’ll likely work with a designer or branding agency to create and develop your brand strategy. When their work is done, you need to be able to stand on your own feet and implement the strategy to the benefit of your business. A brand style guide will help you maintain consistency in your brand strategy and will guide your brand image in the future as you expand your business, work with new team members or include new channels in your marketing strategy.
Are you ready to transform your business with a strong, relevant and future-proof brand strategy? Engine Room Global is a performance marketing agency that builds brands, drives leads and helps turn visitors into customers. Contact us for a free consultation today!