Creating a brand identity in a competitive market
A brand identity doesn’t need to be overly clever or complex to be effective.
We know from some of the world’s most powerful brands that the simplicity of their brand identity is rooted in their brand’s presence wherever in the world we see them. And that simplicity speaks for itself.
Campaign slogans such as ‘Just do it’ and ‘I’m lovin’ it’ are synonymous with their brands, and require no backup from other brand markers to be recognisable.
Shockingly, across 7,000 people surveyed, 88% managed to identify the McDonalds logo, compared with 54% who recognised the Christian Cross. And while brand identity ventures much further than logo alone, it’s McDonald’s powerful brand identity that has solidified the company as the unmistakable market giant we know today. Everything from the language, the symbol, the packaging, and the colours are known as unmistakable markers of the brand. And this starts and ends with the brand identity.
So how, in one of the most competitive environments we’ve ever seen, do we create a brand identity that is unique, memorable and remarkable?
The work you do on your brand identity will be some of the most important work you do.
As mentioned above, brand identity goes much further than simply your logo and name. It’s about creating a brand DNA that seeps into every interaction your customers and prospects have with your brand. It should be woven into your brand’s voice, messaging and creativity. It should be recognisable without needing a logo or a name. When we understand this, we understand the position of brand identity as the umbrella to everything else ‘brand’.
Brand identity key considerations
What are your core values? Your primary messages? How do you want people to feel when they communicate with your brand and interact with your product? These are all key considerations before embarking on the creation of your brand identity. Let’s dig a little deeper below…
Language and tone
Most successful brands will have watertight tone of voice guidelines. These will establish the personality and tone you wish to be conveyed through your communications from the very beginning. These will consider language choice, abbreviations, vocabulary and colloquialisms, to name a few. Are you warm, friendly, approachable, or professional, corporate and knowledgeable? Once these have been set, ensure these guidelines are followed by your team across all departments. From copywriters working on your website to content writers developing your blog to social media executives.
But, there does need to be an element of flexibility. Your ‘Cookies’ pop-up message will indeed be different to a social media post, as will your T&Cs. Take a look at Innocent Drinks for an example of this done well. While their tone and personality is colloquial, light-hearted, self-deprecating, their ‘Cookies’ message might not directly embody those traits. But, it’s still clear they are being true to their guidelines by opting for more conversational language as opposed to stuffy, corporate speak. We suggest checking out their Twitter feed too, for a bit of light-hearted social media research!
Be unique and memorable
As human beings, we are all unique in our own ways. Some of us may be ashamed or try to hide our unique traits so we can blend in. But with our brands, we should embrace those qualities that differentiate us from others. Following the crowd and trying to blend in will not end well, especially in such a saturated market. So, embrace differentiating qualities whether they come from your team, your product, or your own personality, and pour them into your brand DNA to create an unforgettable experience for your customers.
A successful and powerful brand identity won’t materialise overnight. It requires strategic planning, direction and focus, and it will take time to develop. Similarly, a successful brand identity isn’t one that’s simply launched one day and left to its own devices the next. You’ll need to implement a strategy to maintain and tweak your brand identity over time, in line with landscape changes and cultural expectations.
Be open-minded and flexible
Drop things that are not aligned with your identity and abandon strategies that do not sit well with your audience. Be open-minded and open to constructive criticism. Treat your audiences and employees as brand advocates and listen to their feedback.
Brand identity will encompass several elements pertaining to your brand, as far as the people you hire and your on-site culture. A powerful and effective identity is consistent and effective across all channels and carries your brand DNA, whether that’s an experiential campaign, digital marketing platforms or packaging. A brand identity needs to have all employees, advocates and customers on board.
Gen Z are rapidly saturating the marketplace and as they move up the career ladder will begin to seep into the B2B world too. Brands cannot afford to be stuck in their ways. Your brand identity needs to be agile and flexible, and open to new channels of exploration in order to cater to, and relate to, newer audiences. This might seem contradictory in some ways, but let us explain. A brand identity is centred around your personality and values, yes. But that doesn’t mean you should completely shut down further development. If you remain true to your core values and brand beliefs, and keep your strategy aligned to those values, you will naturally maintain consistency while practising agility.
Establishing your brand identity shouldn’t be hard or taxing. It should come naturally if you are clear on your brand’s personality and core values. And this takes us back to the importance of simplicity. Doing too much at once will be to the detriment of that consistency.
The more challenging part will be communicating that to wider audiences, but with the considerations above, you can maximise the time your audiences spend with your brand by creating an unforgettable and recognisable experience that elevates your brand above competitors.
If you would like to explore the creation of your brand identity with a helping hand from our team of strategists and creatives, feel free to get in touch.