Your brand identity is how you want to be perceived by customers. It is much more than just your logo despite what many people think. Brand identity includes anything that identifies your product or service as having quality and being different from other businesses. Components do include your name, logo, tagline, fonts, and colors you use. But, they ultimately must also represent your mission, values, goals, and competencies. Your marketing strategy should be closely aligned with your brand identity.
A great brand identity must inspire, be consistent and engaging, and advocate your company’s core principles. It would be convenient if a fresh logo, fancy colors, and a catchy tagline automatically made your business successful. The reality is that those things alone aren’t enough. The overall impression that consumers get from your brand needs to convey the durable qualities of your offering and what distinguishes you from your competitors. For these reasons, your brand identity should be an integral part of your marketing strategy.
Establishing your brand identity is a strategic process. You must have a clear understanding of your business’ purpose, who your target audience is, and be able to demonstrate what makes you different. It is also important to determine what personality and message you want your brand to communicate. These are all elements of an effective marketing strategy as well.
Let’s look at a few examples companies that have both well-known brands and strong brand identities.
- Designed in the early 1970s, the “Swoosh” is one of the most recognizable and iconic logos in the world. Most people can look at this symbol and tell you who the company is and what type of products they sell without even seeing the company name. The original designer was asked to create a shoe stripe that had “something to do with showing movement.” Nike has taken this logo and built a strong brand identity that inspires company loyalty and trust. Their message is about inner strength, pushing the envelope and being a champion.
- Although Coca-Cola’s logo has been around since 1890, the company has done a fantastic job of keeping their brand fresh and compelling for generations. Coca-Cola’s logo and color scheme have remained almost the same over the years. They are continually refreshing their brand identity by changing slogans/taglines. Coca-Cola is also notorious for using compelling storytelling across multiple marketing channels to stay connected with their evolving audience.
- The logo of Toms Shoes may not be as easily recognized as Nike and Coca-Cola, but the company has incorporated a humanitarian mission to turn their brand into a well-known name. Their tagline, “One for One,” represents their business model which promises that they will give away a free pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair of their shoes they sell. Consumers love the idea that they can both get a great pair of shoes and support a great cause. In a time when many are frustrated with huge, self-serving corporations, Toms’ mission of showing compassion has made them wildly successful.
Consistency is Key
I must reiterate that being consistent is of vital importance when it comes to a successful brand identity. Let’s look at a basic example. You operate a car wash and your logo and branding have a consistent blue and yellow color theme. Your tagline is “Sparkling Like Sunshine,” but your employees are wearing red and black uniforms. A mere inconsistency like this confuses and frustrates customers who want to easily be able to identify employees should they need assistance. Consistency helps build brand recognition, trust, and loyalty.
Let’s talk about emotions for a moment. When shopping, we are not always logical in our decision making. Sometimes we let our emotions take over and don’t choose the lowest price, the safest product or the healthiest food options. For example, a woman does not pay $500 for a handbag because it is a great value. She buys it because it is beautiful, luxurious, trendy, and maybe has a label that makes her feel special. Think men are different? Nah, the brand Harley-Davidson sells thousands of bike because their brand elicits feelings of freedom, vitality, and adventure. Granted, it is a useful mode of transportation, but hey, a Michael Kors purse carries stuff too.
When it comes to brand identity, ensure that yours consistently conveys your company’s mission, personality, competitive advantages and your commitment to your customers. The goal is to leave your customers feeling great. You want them to tell everyone about the experience and have them thinking about revisiting your business.