Why is it that groundbreaking products with neverending feature lists laden with USPs don't always make the cut? How can a quality company with a killer app and second-to-none service end up taking an early trip to the graveyard while an inferior service becomes the next unicorn to adorn the startup wall of fame? Well, we'd be pretty silly to try to provide one answer to that, but we're pretty sure brand identity often has something to do with it.
A good brand identity is a bit like a great personality–it can make a lasting impression and still be quite hard to measure.
So how do you define and plan for such an abstract concept? Well, like a lot of things in life, creating a checklist is often a good place to start.
Have a conversation with your customer
In business, you’ll soon find that conversations are essential to nurturing meaningful relationships with your audience. So start as you mean to go on, and have a chat with an imaginary customer.
Start off by telling them about your company. What's your mission? Your values? And what problem are you solving? Now imagine the sorts of responses you might hear back. We guarantee that putting yourself in your customer’s shoes will turn up some questions you hadn't yet considered, helping you create the perfect brand for your target audience.
Build a strong visual identity
Imagine your brand as a person you’ve met for the first time. What do you notice first? Their personality or their appearance? Let’s be honest; it’s usually the latter.
So to give the best first impression, always make sure your brand’s visual identity does your winning personality justice. Things like logos, fonts, slogans, color schemes, and your website user interface are just as important as your words when it comes to expressing your brand values. So don’t let them fall to the bottom of your priority list. Not only does streamlining your visual tick those brand compliance boxes and keep your marketing manager happy, it'll help create a coherent impression people can understand and trust.
Get inside the heads of your audience
Don’t just concentrate on what your audience will say about your brand, imagine what they’ll think about it too. Don’t worry: this doesn’t involve some psychological wizardry. All you have to do is ask yourself what mental space your brand will occupy in the minds of your customers.
Does your product offer value or unbeatable performance? Then maybe you want to appeal to your audience’s practical nature. Or is it something that’s aspirational or exclusive? If so, try to tap into their emotional side.
A trick is to try to think of a situation that you want to trigger your customer to think of your product or service, and use that to inform your branding.
Keep it consistent
Whatever you do, don’t go all Jekyll and Hyde with your brand. To build trust and recognition, it’s essential you keep it consistent. So when choosing your logo, font, color palette and visual style, bear in mind that it’s going to stay with you for the long haul.
But consistency isn’t just about sticking to the same identity–you should also ensure your branding matches your company’s values. The best way to achieve this is through a style guide. It can be as simple as a PowerPoint or as hefty as a Brand Bible, but it’s these guidelines that are going to ensure your visual identity is consistently en pointe.
Don’t stop talking
Ongoing conversations are vital to building a successful brand. If you want to stay relevant, you need to find out what your customers want. And how do you find that out? Simple: you ask them. Whether it’s via feedback surveys or regular in-depth interviews, make sure you’re not just talking at your audience, but that you’re listening to them too.
Finally, don’t forget about your team members. It’s easy to get so bogged down in a brand that you forget to talk to the people that make it all happen. So always make sure you set aside time to check in with your staff, ensuring everybody’s working towards the same end goal.