Whether you’re a freelance writer starting your first website or a small business competing against big brands, building a unique brand identity is a crucial first step in marketing yourself or your business.
Your brand identity is an important tool for establishing who you are and what sets you apart from every other business in your field. Therefore, the more cohesive and consistent your brand identity is, the easier it is for others to understand and connect with your brand.
In addition to making your brand memorable, having a unique brand identity also makes your brand more authoritative in the marketplace. A survey conducted by Nielson found that 59 percent of consumers prefer to buy products or services from brands or companies they are already familiar with.
A unique brand identity is what allows you to leave a memorable impression in the mind of your target audience. It will help you to stand out from your competitors. You are also building customer loyalty by maintaining a consistent brand. A good product may generate customers but a good brand will generate advocates.
Once you have established strong brand identity, you can use it as a template for future advertisements, whether in print or online. By creating an instantly recognisable image for your brand and establishing industry credibility, you will be more prepared to promote yourself and leave a memorable impression on your target audience.
The first step in creating a brand identity is to complete market research – which starts by identifying your audience. After all, if you don’t know who you’re marketing to, your attempts to grow your business will most likely be unsuccessful.
By establishing who your audience is, you can create a brand voice that speaks directly to them. When researching your audience, here are just some of the questions you could ask them:
Even if you feel like you have established your audience, it pays to keep in touch. From hosting surveys and polls to observing comments on social media, there are plenty of ways you can talk to them to ensure your brand positioning is where it needs to be.
Within your market research, you should also analyse your competitors’ brand positioning. This will help you to better establish what makes your business unique in your industry and what you can offer your consumers that others can’t. Keeping an eye on your competitors will also educate you on what branding techniques work well and those that don’t, as well as giving you ideas for your own brand. That being said, it’s important not to imitate your competitors’ brand strategies. Here are just a few things you can look at:
An important step in the initial stages of creating a unique brand identity is to establish exactly what your business offers. You can do this by writing a mission statement that clearly describes your vision and goals and defines your unique selling proposition (USP). While it may sound obvious, you’d be surprised just how many businesses skip this step in the excitement of launching their brand. However, without knowing your brand’s purpose, it’s very difficult to create a personality for your business.
Go one step further in understanding your brand by completing a SWOT Analysis. ‘SWOT’ stands for:
Using SWOT analysis, you can better develop business goals and strategies for achieving them, while addressing weaknesses, deterring threats, and capitalising on opportunities. That being said, you should keep in mind that it is only one stage of the business planning process. For complex issues, you may need to conduct more in-depth research before making decisions.
Once you know your business inside out, the next step is to bring it to life by creating the look and feel of the brand that will be carried through all marketing channels. This can be reflected in various creative elements, which we’ll discuss in more detail below.
Your logo is the most recognisable part of your brand, so it’s important to get it right. A well-designed logo ensures people remember your brand and creates positive associations with you. An unprofessional logo, on the other hand, leads people to question how well you’re able to deliver your products and services. The best logos are clear, easy to interpret, and simple in their design, therefore working in various sizes and across multiple platforms. Use tools such as Illustrator or Photoshop to create stunning imagery.
Creating a colour palette is a great way to enhance your brand identity. In fact, research shows that up to 85 percent of consumers believe colour is the biggest motivator when choosing a particular product. Colours are one of the first things your customer sees and can elicit emotions and feelings within them. Colours also convey certain information to the customer, helping them to decide whether or not they want to engage with your brand.
Just like colours, unappealing fonts can reflect badly on your customers’ emotional response to your brand. As well as conveying your business’ personality and values, they also influence how your brand is perceived, making them one of the key elements of visual branding. While you don’t need to limit yourself to one font, mixing lots of different fonts isn’t always a good idea. The aim is for your brand to be instantly recognisable, so if you’re using a variety of options, keep the usage consistent.
Your brand voice is what you’ll use when you talk to your target audience and customers. So, like the design elements of your brand, it’s important to be consistent with it. Your brand voice leaves a memorable impression on your audience and sets the tone for the rest of your business.
Whether it’s informal and friendly when it comes to your brand voice, the important thing is that it allows you to talk to your customer in a way that makes them feel valued.
In addition to paying attention to the tone of your brand voice, ensure you use the language that matches the personality of your brand. If your brand identity is high-end, it may be better to use professional language. If it’s more laid-back, you could be more conversational.
The messaging of your brand also needs to be consistent. If the ‘About us’ page talks about being committed to sustainable products, for example, then all of your messages should keep this to the fore. Partnering with a brand where products are made purely from non-recyclable plastic would send mixed signals to your audience.
After establishing your brand within your company, it’s time to integrate within your community. The good news is, there are many ways you can do this.
One of the most efficient ways to introduce your brand to the world is through ads. Whether print or online, they are a great way to get your brand message seen and heard by your target audience. Due to the increasing difficulty of reaching consumers organically, paid ads such as Google Ads or Facebook Ads have become particularly popular in recent years, allowing brands to target specific groups and test various elements to see what works and what doesn’t.
In the modern world, it’s easier than ever to establish a connection with your consumers, and that’s largely thanks to social media marketing. Through various platforms, you can directly converse with your customers, responding to comments and answering questions in real-time. It’s a great way for brands to establish their voice and gives them the opportunity to gain a reputation as a personable or responsive brand, thereby winning the approval of consumers.
Face-to-face marketing may be old-fashioned, but it works. Networking events are great opportunities for raising awareness of your brand. As well as allowing you to meet new people — many of whom could be future clients and customers — it’s also an opportunity to see what other brands are doing. Rather than going with the sole intention of promoting your brand, however, use it as a learning opportunity. Anything else will be a bonus!
Customers love great content — and so does Google. Whether through blog posts, video, Instagram lives, or podcasts, creating valuable content generates traffic, in turn, increasing your revenue. It also gives you the opportunity to highlight yourself as an authoritative expert on a particular subject. Just remember, quality trumps quantity and as easily as a great piece of content can win the approval of a new customer, it can just as easily deter them from choosing your brand.
Each of the stages detailed above is essential in establishing a brand’s intrinsic value to the consumer but this can change over time. To keep your brand current and remain competitive, it’s important to revisit these steps to ensure that your brand remains an accurate reflection of your business.
Looking at things like customer reviews and social media discussions will help you to establish what is working and what isn’t. When doing so, there may be one element of your branding that lots of people mention – whether good or bad.
You might, for example, get lots of reviews about how great your customer service is. While it might be tempting to become complacent and begin to focus your efforts elsewhere, this is a sign to further consolidate that brand identity and continue to improve. On the other hand, perhaps you’re receiving lots of negative feedback about your logo looking confusing. You can’t always avoid negative comments but it’s important to listen to the majority of them.
One of the most effective ways to ensure your efforts are paying off is to look at your website's organic traffic. Google Analytics breaks down your site traffic by source, which gives you a good idea of how many visitors made their way to your website just by knowing your brand name.
The best way to do that is to look at the keywords. In the sidebar on Google Analytics, click on ‘Acquisition’, then ‘Campaigns’, and then ‘Organic Keywords’. This will tell you the proportion of your traffic that is driven by organic search results. You can do the same for pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns by clicking ‘Paid Keywords’ instead.
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by Emma Gibbins | 07 May 21
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