8 Ways to Establish Your Brand Identity

Brand identity is arguably one of the most crucial components to a brand. Think Airbnb, McDonald’s, Coca Cola or Lush, one thing these brands all have in common? A strong brand identity. In life, first impressions mean everything. When it comes to brands, customers will judge you in less than a second – this means you need to pull them in as soon as they set eyes on your website, social media or advertising campaigns. So, what goes into building brand identity? You’re about to find out…

1. Brand position within the market

Firstly, you need to consider the positioning of your brand within the market, not only this, but also who you are targeting your products and/or services to. By considering these elements first, you will be able to build your brand based on the findings from the research. For example, if you’re targeting millennials, you are likely to want a bold logo and modern feel to your aesthetic. On the other hand, if you’re aiming products at those over 50, you may want to consider a style more suited to their tastes.

Everything you do will stem from this research – from your online presence and advertisements to the overall brand personality. One of the best ways to define your audience is creating a customer profile – we recommend creating a persona for each segment of your target audience. Keep it tight; don’t create 10 different profiles that might fit into your target market. Keep segments well defined and include everything from where they shop and their favourite brands, to celebrities they admire, social media habits and online behaviour. Once you have done this you should have a clear vision of your market and who they are.

2. Brand manifesto

Traditionally, a brand manifesto was a mission statement that had vague objectives and paragraphs about company goals. This no longer appeals to a modern market and the time has come for brands to step their manifesto writing up! Ultimately, your brand manifesto should exude soul and life whilst telling people what your company is all about; what you stand for, what your objectives are and what you offer to customers.

We believe a manifesto should be transparent and truthful to customers. Brands who have successfully established a manifesto are able to shape their overall image around it whilst cementing their values within everything they do. The manifesto is evident from advertisements and marketing, to packaging, products and customer relations. Nike is a brand giant and their simple tick is instantly recognisable globally. Through branding, Nike became not just another fitness clothing brand, but a lifestyle for customers. The famous tagline ‘Just Do It’ was invented off the back of their brand manifesto and has been incorporated into everything from advertisements to merchandise.

[image from Nike marketing campaign]

3. Competitor research

Researching competitors is a key aspect to consider when establishing your brand identity. It’s important to know not only your market but everything competitors offer; this could be where you find your niche. If you offer something your competition doesn’t, then push this to attract potential customers to your brand! On the other hand, if your competitors, for example, have a better customer journey or purchasing process, look into how you could improve yours to better your brand overall.

Many brands these days play on their competitor’s weaknesses. Burger King is infamous for doing so, having created campaigns mocking key competitors like McDonalds and KFC. The latest in the sting of these Burger King ads is ‘The Not Big Macs’. Earlier this year, McDonalds lost the trademark on “Big Mac” within the EU meaning anyone could adopt the name. Not surprisingly, Burger King tapped into this and created a menu to celebrate the occasion! The menu called “Not Big Macs” contained burgers with names such as “Kind of like a Big Mac, but juicer and tastier”, ‘The Burger Big Mac Wished It Was” and “Like a Big Mac But Actually Big”. Now, we aren’t suggesting taking down your competitors in your advertising, but by keeping an eye on competitors, you can successfully create a campaign that will appeal to the market and hopefully draw in potential customers.

4. Creative elements

After establishing who you are, who you are targeting and who your competitors are, it’s time for the fun part – developing creative elements! This covers everything to do with your brand, your tone of voice (both in person and online), your website, your advertising campaigns, your logo and marketing strategy. Therefore, your creative look needs to be cohesive in everything you do! This is how the public view your brand, if customers find your brand too marketing heavy, boring or simply doesn’t appeal to them, they’re unlikely to even browse your products or services.

When establishing your brand identity, you need to consider all the points above and use these to create an identity for your brand. When establishing an aesthetic for your brand, you should consider colours and typography, logo, a tone of voice and an overall style. One great example of a brand with a strong aesthetic is a company called Baboon who sell duffle bags designed for adventures. Their branding is loud, strange and in your face, from the product itself to packaging to the website and through to social media. The consistency of this brand is pretty impressive with tone of voice, colour combination and graphics remain the same over all platforms!

[images from Baboon Instagram & website]

5. Marketing Plan

Setting up a marketing plan for your business is a whole other blog in itself, so let me just touch on a few points here. We’ve already covered establishing your brand as well as target market and competitors, moving on from this, next you need to set goals. We recommend setting a number of goals over a period of 6 months to a year, including small goals and larger accomplishments you want to see within the company. These goals can cover any aspect of the brand from getting 1,000 followers on Instagram to team moral to sales, it’s really up to you!

Next, you need to put in place a strategy of how you’re going to achieve these goals with your online and offline marketing.

6. Create an online culture

A social media branding strategy doesn’t need to be overly complicated. There are a number of steps in creating a buzz on your social media accounts. Firstly, you need to be selective about the networks you want to publish content on. You should focus your efforts on the platforms used by your target market. For example, if you’re targeting millennials you will be more likely to use Snapchat and Instagram as your social media marketing platforms.

Once you’ve selected where you want to publish content you need to ensure you inject your brand aesthetic into all accounts you create! The content you create should scream your brand aesthetic, whether it’s video content, imagery or gifs. Captions of each post should use a cohesive tone of voice.

Ensure you post regularly and hit key topics surrounding your brand that you know followers will be interested in. This will drive engagement, shares and comments, expanding your reach beyond your followers. We recommend creating a monthly timetable in advance of posting then scheduling all posts at once over a staggered time period. This means you can do your social media work at the start of the month and not think about posting for the rest of the month unless you want to.

7. Implement

Now that you’ve done everything from creating customer profiles, establishing your target market, developing your aesthetic and found the correct social media platforms to target, it’s time to implement everything.

8. Review

Once everything has been applied, it’s really important to review your work and the results. After you have created your brand identity, we recommend evaluating how things are going after the first year or sooner if you want. If you find something isn’t quite working for your brand or you aren’t inline to achieve the goals you set, find out why! Once you discover the issue, dig into why this is happening and how to change it. Do this regularly to check up on how your brand is doing overall, by doing so you can constantly improve and reach your goals!

[header graphics from REILLY]
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