What is your brand identity? Is it your logo, your tone of voice, your product or service, a set of values you abide by. Well, reality is, it’s made up of all of those things, but crucially it’s your desired perception of what you want your brand to look like. The 3 big questions at the heart of your brand identity are always thus; Every business knows What it does, most know How they do it (USP’s, features, etc.), but very few know Why they do it. We have to absolutely nail the reason why you do what you do in order to fully implement a cohesive brand identity for all parties.
Let’s explore the concept of creating a cohesive brand identity, and why it’s important to do so for your business!
Why Brand Identity Matters
Having a consistent brand identity helps your brand build reputation, credibility, and trust. Whether it’s your blog posts, your social media profiles, your newsletter, or your paid ads. Every time someone arrives at your content, you want it to be indistinguishable to another piece of your content elsewhere. That doesn’t mean that you copy everything word for word, but more in reference to your content’s style, tone of voice, and its key messaging. These elements all need to say the same recognisable thing.
I’m sure you’ve heard the expression ‘First Impressions Count’. Let’s assume someone has arrived on your web page for the first time. Your branding sets the tone for this interaction. If you come across as professional, trustworthy, and memorable you’ve already got your foot through the door to a sale.
Let’s assume however, this visitor doesn’t make contact with you immediately, they purely gather some information and leave your site. 3 days later, the same visitor then finds themselves on your social media profile. It’s recognisable, your branding is cohesive across each of your individual channels, and they know that they’ve already seen some content from you. There’s an instant connection, this brand has at least a level of expertise, and consistency in this field. Having this cohesive brand identity is crucial to building trust, loyalty, and ultimately making sales and conversions.
So brand identity, it’s an amalgamation of a load of parts, but the difficulty then becomes how can you make a load of individual stakeholders (employee, client, customer etc.) fully invest into a cohesive brand identity and brand image. What can you do to align all the moving parts?
A Cohesive Brand Identity
The first and most important part of creating a cohesive brand identity is to understand where you currently sit. The end goal is to align your identity (what you think & desire), with your brand image (what your current perception is from your clients). Align your vision and your reality.
The task we have is to outline the emotional, self-expressive, and functional benefits of your brand and product from everyone’s perspective, and create a set of guidelines that we can use to breed consistency for everyone moving forwards.
1. Mapping Your User Journey & Service Design
It’s always about the customer or client. No one really cares what you do generally, but more what you can do for them specifically. You have to have a well mapped out idea of your target audience’s buying journey, so you can ensure everything is designed with them at the heart. Communicate with all the key stakeholders (clients, employees, suppliers, in house marketing or design teams etc.). Establish the must-have features of your brand and product, and use this insight to design a buying journey that fits appropriately with your client at the centre. How can you shape this journey to highlight what you can do for them? This idea will narrow and improve the guidelines around your brand identity, and how you interact with your clients.
2. Using The Visual Stimulus
There are a lot of visual elements that people will instantly connect with a brand. Their logo, their colour scheme, their typography, imagery, symbology and styling. Each of these components are important individually, as they can all say something unique. It’s most important however, that these elements are defined. If they’re defined before you create anything, you have a guide of exactly what to use/choose when you do create content anew. This process breeds consistency and brand cohesion.
3. Brand As A Person
Imagine your brand as a person. Who do you want it to be?
- Laid back, or super serious
- Super friendly and welcoming, or exclusive and privileged
- Incredibly organised, or super spontaneous
- Speak like university professors, or friends at the pub
- Do we write long sentences that include lots of flowery adjectives & adverbs, taking the user on an enlightening but meandering & quite possibly slightly irritating journey of unnecessary superfluities? Or do we get to the point?
Try and find a few characteristics that you want your brand to be, and start creating some guidelines as to how you can implement these characteristics into your content and communication. What is your diction like, your syntax, your formality and tone. This manifestation not only helps us outline our brand identity guidelines, but also tells us a bit about our buyer. If they align with us we begin to understand some of their personality as well.
4. Brand As An Organisation
Everything clients experience from their client journey can be attributed to the people they meet, and thus a lot of emphasis needs to be placed on how these people represent your organisation’s values. Everyone needs to be on the same page in terms of who you are and what drives you as a collective.
- Are you driven by a certain belief, an aspirational mission, a philanthropic vision, or a political stance?
- Are your drivers emotional, social, epistemic or functional?
- What are your core company values (integrity, honesty, accountability, etc.)
Driving these focus points into your day to day operation is a great way of ensuring individuals within your organisation are all aware of what they’re representing!
All these elements and more make up your brand identity! Most importantly though, these are the elements where change can ensure there is brand cohesion amongst individuals at an organisational level. Take a look into your current user journey, and see if you can plot out a more succinct journey with a focus on your client. Take a look at your visual branding to ensure the colours, fonts, icons and imagery you’re using is reflective of what you’re trying to say.
Finally explore your brand as a person and as an organisation, and ensure you set some guidelines as to how you communicate. Communication is the key! If you’re looking for some more support on your brand strategy, contact us here for a free consultation!