It doesn’t matter if you sell wood, own a sushi restaurant, or run a Webflow agency for a living. If you don’t want to be just another ghost brand in the market, you will need a strong and unique brand identity. Read this article and build a memorable brand that will set you apart from the competition.
What is brand identity?
What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about brand identity? Is it your logo, color palette, or general visual appearance? Well, brand identity is much more than that. At least a good one.
Your brand identity is the personality of your business and the message its shares. It helps you define who you are and why you are different from others. It helps answer:
- What is your mission?
- What do you believe and stand for?
- What do you represent?
The term "brand" distinguishes one organization from another. A brand includes things like a name, tagline, logo, design, brand voice, etc. But when we talk about brand identity, this means we give all those elements a human personality. We want our consumers to feel something meaningful and associate with the brand.
“A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories, and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another." - Seth Godin
Why is brand identity important?
We live in a time where you no longer compete with only neighbor businesses. The whole world is a marketplace and there are millions of businesses trying to make a name for themselves.
To stand out from the competition you need a strong brand identity. Most US citizens are exposed to up to 10.000 ads every day according to Forbes. Capturing the attention of consumers is harder than ever before, and the lack of effective branding is a recipe for failure.
Branding helps to define you to your audience. It is a tool that engages how people interact with your brand. Great brand identity is achieved through visual communication. Your visual elements, content messaging, and the overall vibe will curate a relationship with your audience.
A strong brand identity will:
- Enhance awareness of your potential audience and establish your brand as unique compared to your competitors.
- Help you stand out, and create a reputation and credibility for your brand.
- Help you build a strong community of lifelong fans and loyal customers.
As mentioned above, to successfully communicate your brand identity, you need a set of visual elements. Three fundamental elements that are a part of every identity are a logo, color palette, and typography.
How to create a brand identity?
We went through the definition of brand identity and why it is important. We can now finally dive into how to create a brand identity!
Strong brand identity will:
- Stand out among competitors.
- Make a visual impact.
- Grow and evolve with the brand.
- Be flexible and used in many different applications.
- Be intuitive for your target audience.
To build a strong brand identity, there are a few steps you will need to take. Albeit some steps may vary depending on the industry and your goals, we will go through each step that applies to most.
1. Do the research and stay consistent
What does this mean? Once you establish your brand identity strategy, you want to stay consistent throughout every channel. You have to develop a brand image that aligns with your brand identity and your desired customers. This will keep the customers that associate with your brand loyal.
Take a Ferrari for example. From the very beginning, their brand stays the same. Have you ever seen a Ferrari commercial? No? This is because Ferrari doesn't advertise. Yet everyone knows about it and values it as a car masterpiece and a dream of many.
Before developing your brand strategy, and analyzing the competition ask yourself a few questions:
- What is the mission of your brand?
- What makes it different?
- What is the value proposition of your brand?
- With what human characteristics can you describe your brand?
- How would a consumer summarize your brand?
- Who is your dream customer?
- How do you want people to experience the brand?
Once you have answered all those questions (don't expect to answer them in a day) you can start with the research.
Start with market research and analyze your competitors. What is their value proposition, what do they do great, and what makes them different?
Discover the audience for your market and what are pains, goals, and obstacles in achieving them are. Can the competitors successfully help them achieve the goals? Learning what your audience wants is crucial in creating a great brand. You will have to define your target audience and personalize your entire brand to them.
Create a SWOT analysis and see how you fit in the market. What are your strengths and weaknesses? How can you be different from the competition, and how will you communicate this?
Based on those findings you will create a brand identity completely tailored to your audience and what you stand for. Let's take Airbnb for example.
Before them, you could only take a hotel or similar accommodation when traveling to another city. But with Airbnb, you can experience a city like a local. Its mission is to make travelers feel like they have a home wherever they go. It's not about renting a space to sleep, but a space to feel at home. They compliment this promise with a beautiful platform, where you can browse through listed homes. Their brand has developed even further from this, with Airbnb now also offering local experiences.
2. Create visual elements for your brand
You know your audience, the competition, and the message you want to share with your brand. Now it's finally time to get creative.
Let's start with your logo - the most recognizable part of your brand. The logo is a big part of your brand identity and should convey your brand personality. Especially since you will show it everywhere: your website, packaging, social media, etc.
Pro-tip for a great logo: Don't make it complex and confusing.
Make it memorable but still special enough to evoke emotion. Think about Nike and their swoosh logo evoking the emotion of rushing forward, inner strength, and passion. Yet the logo is simple, modern, and minimalistic.
Think about great logos you know and what emotion they evoke in you? Hubspot has a great article on The Psychology of Logo Design.
The logo is not the only thing that conveys your brand identity. You need a color palette that will go hand in hand with your logo and enhance your identity. Colors play an essential role in expressing your brand's attributes and values. A consistent color palette will also increase your brand recognition by up to 80%. Just think about Ikea and their famous blue and yellow combination. The color blue creates the attention to the offer and makes it stand out. The color yellow is an optimistic color giving customers a positive impression when meeting the Ikea brand.
Before picking the color you want to represent your brands with, consider the psychology behind them.
- Red portrays energy, passion, and excitement. It produces feelings of passion and danger. Red is often used by companies when they have hot sales going on.
- Blue is very calming and is one of the most popular picks for brands. While being associated with big corporates, brings stability to your brand.
- Green is the color of nature and gives the consumer the feeling of being organic, healthy, and environmentally friendly.
- Black is the color of mystery, power, elegance, and sophistication. Best for consumers that want to associate with power and prestige.
- Yellow is the color of happiness and elicits warmth. A great choice for a brand that wants to be seen as friendly and cheerful.
As the color and your logo help share your brand identity, the same goes for your typeface. Are you elegant, modern, or more sophisticated? Is your brand traditional or disruptive? All this can be communicated with the right typeface.
It is a good practice to choose two main typefaces that represent your brand and use them consistently throughout your branding. One font should be for headings, CTA's, and all texts that you want to stand out. Your second or "subtitle" font will be for larger texts in your website body. This font must be easy to read since bigger chunks of text will be written in it.
Sometimes it is not necessary to have two different fonts but to just change the styling of your font. For example, you can use the bold style for headings, and then italic for the body. Some brands on the other hand have more than 2 different fonts. Starbucks, for example, uses 3 different fonts in their branding: Sodo Sans, Lander, and Pike. They use Sodo Sans for the body copy, Lander for more expensive short copy, and Pike for the headlines.
There are 6 different font styles, all with different characteristics that will help you shape your brand identity.
Serif fonts are the most traditional fonts that are used to create a classic, traditional and stable feel. This font is a great match for brands that want to evoke a sense of trust and respectability.
Slab serif fonts are closely related to Serif fonts. The font is quite like Serif but has a chunkier look and feel. They are often used by innovative and tech companies.
San serif fonts are clean, crisp, and modern. They are both minimal and engaging while very progressive and open. They are clean, simple and mostly used by forward-thinking companies.
Script fonts give the feeling of intimacy and feminism with their curly font style. With mimicking forms of handwriting, they are great for brands that want to inspire and fill customers with emotions.
Modern fonts are minimalistic, clean, and modern as the name already suggests. These fonts represent exclusivity and intellect and are especially popular among millennials.
Display fonts are used on large-format screens or paper. They are used for billboards, book covers, and headings on your new Webflow page. The biggest advantage of those fonts is their adaptability. You can use it in any way that fits your brand image.
Templates and consistency
As already said, to have memorable branding you have to be consistent. This is maybe even the most important piece of advice when it comes to creating a strong brand. Be consistent even with tiny details like email signatures. Create templates for emails, websites, landing pages, business cards, and every other medium through which you will get in touch with your customers.
Even though we are stressing about consistency so much, stay a bit flexible from time to time. Tweak your messaging and ad campaign to keep your customers engaged and interested in new yet undiscovered opportunities. Keep in mind to stay consistent with any changes you make throughout your entire brand.
One great example of a brand with consistent messaging and branding is Coca-Cola. Everyone everywhere looks at what the Coca-Cola bottle looks like, no exception. The brand consistency also ensures that the drink will always taste the same, so you never have to wonder what your next bottle of Coke will taste like.
Now that you have established your brand identity is time to convey it in the appropriate messaging. How to connect and share your brand identity with your audience through communication?
Creating a familiar and consistent brand language will help your audience empathize and connect with your brand. The language you will use will be a reflection of your brand identity.
The important thing is to match the language you use to your brand personality. If your brand is high-end, use professional language; if your brand is more laid-back, be more conversational. No matter the style of messaging, these three rules will apply everywhere:
- Use first-person plural: this shows that there is a team behind your brand. A team that shares the same vision and aims to achieve the same goal.
- Be definitive: Avoid language that lessens your authority in the field.
- Use correct spelling and grammar: People notice when your texts are full of grammar and spelling mistakes. This gives them a feeling of unprofessionalism. Always make sure to proofread your copy before finalizing it.
No matter what your brand is and what kind of language you use. Always stay professional and keep your audience engaged. A great example of an extremely good brand copy is Oatly. A brand that is winning the hearts of their customer by putting content first in its brand strategy.
3. Connect with your audience
Finally! You established your brand language as well as your identity. Now is the time to put in work and connect with your audience to become a memorable world-class brand. One of the best ways to do this is to create quality content. Give value to your audience and earn their trust through your story. Every piece of content you publish reflects your brand.
No one likes being spammed with “buy now” messages. But everyone loves a good story, so go ahead and tell it! Tell your story, why you are different and how can you improve the life of your customer. Building an emotional connection with your audience will serve as a base for a long-lasting relationship.
Use social media to keep your audience engages daily. Share your insights, behind the scenes, and talk with your audience and how you care. Just check out how Gymshark is crushing the social media game on Instagram and Twitter. With the raise of Linkedin and Twitter, even B2B companies are putting a lot of effort in social media these days.
Stay original and don’t copy your competitors. Quality over quantity. Be unique and show your audience why you are different from your competitors.
We finally come to an end of this long and comprehensive article about creating brand identity. In conclusion, creating a brand identity is crucial when you want to stand out from the crowd and create a strong community of fans. Findings show that 77% of consumers buy from brands that share the same values as them. Another research shows that 66% of consumers see transparency as one of the most attractive qualities of a brand.
Brand identity does not just enhance your brand position in the market and how consumers see it. It also improves and strengthens your company culture. Sharing the same vision will create a strong and loyal relationship with your employees. Working in a healthy environment boost productivity and thus your company's performance. The report shows that 88% of questioned employees believe strong company culture is a key to success.