The word identity is defined as “the distinguishing character or personality of an individual.” Establishing an identity for oneself is vital. It’s the process of seeking an identity that forces you to ask yourself questions about who you are and create self-awareness. This will build confidence, give clarity on what goals to set and help determine what you want out of life.
Creating a brand identity is no different. A brand identity establishes how you're viewed, how you speak, how you create and how you’ll ultimately evolve. Tackling a brand identity creation project from the ground up is a big challenge, but one that is doable. It’s a challenge you should take step-by-step. Below, I’ve laid out a high-level process that’s worked for me in the past.
Define What Makes You Unique & Who Would Care
When you’re looking to build something strong and lasting, you always start with the foundation. The foundation of your brand identity lies in the details. The first thing you want to do is establish a unique value proposition (UVP). What’s a UVP you ask? Your unique value proposition is a concise statement that explains what makes your product, service or company unique. So, the question you must answer is “what do we bring to the table that no one else does?”
It could be anything from unbeatable customer service to the only gluten-free sourdough bread that still tastes great on the market. The formula to determine this is customer demand + gap in the market = UVP. What do your competitors’ lack that you can offer? What is a need in the market that is unsatisfied? Answer those questions and you have your UVP.
Your UVP will dictate your target market, which will dictate your buyer personas. See how that snowballed?
Let’s go with the gluten-free sourdough bread that still tastes great as an example. Well, your niche is people who don’t eat gluten because of health concerns, love bread, and value taste. Determining this criterion whittles your market down a bit.
Now it’s time to create a buyer persona. A buyer persona is a fictional character that represents a segment of your audience. This could be Health Conscious Cinthia, Allergic Aaron, and Sourdough Loving Larry.
They all represent different people from different walks of life who would buy your product for different reasons. What this exercise ultimately does is give you 3D characters to base all your future communications off.
Mission Statement & Company Culture
You now know what makes you stand out in the market and who in the market would care. A great foundation to build from.
Now it’s time to look internally. The purpose and culture you instill within your company will permeate throughout your brand identity.
Take Chick-fil-A for example. Their brand goes beyond their UVP and target market. If you’ve ever been to one (if you haven’t, I highly recommend you do), they are always very well kept, and their employees are beyond polite.
They also are very stringent on who can become a franchise owner. These internal standards help round out their brand identity.
When you click on their about page, the first thing you read is a quote from their founder, which says “We should be about more than just selling chicken. We should be a part of our customers’ lives and the communities in which we serve.”
Just as the quote says, they go beyond selling quality fast-food chicken, and it’s that internal standard that truly adds personality and identity to the brand.
You need to do the same with your brand.
What’s our mission? What do we care about? How do we interact internally? How do we interact with customers?
This phase will build on the groundwork you’ve laid out and continue to elevate your brand identity.
Name and Tagline
You’ve done most of the legwork. Now comes the fun stuff. The creative part! Naming your company.
Some people go with something obvious and descriptive with a charming story behind it. Pizza Hut is obviously a pizza place and their reasoning for naming it that is “in 1958, two brothers borrowed $600 from their mom to open a pizza place in Wichita, Kansas. They named it Pizza Hut because their sign only had room for eight letters.” A great example of descriptive but carrying some cachet.
You can also go the route of being clever. Google’s name stems from the number googol, which is 1 followed by 100 zeros. A playoff how much information the search engine could provide.
Whatever route you go, I recommend that it’s something that feels right to you, encompasses who you are, catches the eye, is easy to remember and has some type of story behind it.
Your name should be accompanied by a tagline. Your tagline is essentially your UVP transferred into something concise and catchy.
Apple had a great campaign in 1997 behind the tagline “think different.” With two words they told you about their company culture, mission statement and the type of products they supply.
So, when you’re making your tagline, take some advice from Apple – make it effective and think differently.
Colors and Logo to Match
Just like with the name and tagline, this is the fun creative stuff. You’ve put together your foundation, your home is up, the interior decorating is done and now it’s time to add a little color – break out your paintbrushes!
There is some level of visual psychology behind every color and font type. Your design team or design agency can talk your ear off when it comes to this matter.
The point I want to really convey and highlight here is when you’re filtering through the suggestions and options, make sure you match your logo and brand colors to everything you built to this point.
You have the information, you understand who you are and what your audience is looking for, so don’t try to do too much. Just do what you’ve laid out for yourself.
Less is more is the general rule of thumb with logos, color, and landing pages.
When you look at the most iconic logos of all time, they’re simple in design and color usage.
Take the Target logo for example. It brilliantly blends the use of simplistic colors and shapes (a clean but striking red, white and three circles) to form a bullseye. It plays into the name, delivers something simple and friendly which reflects a shopping experience there, and it’s easy to spot and remember.
They really hit the mark with that one, and if you follow these steps you will too!
Brand Voice & Marketing Materials
Similar to creating your logo and colors, you’ve already paved the path for yourself and your brand voice should simply reflect what you’ve created.
Consistency is the goal here. If you’ve built a fun and lively brand, your writers should reflect that.
Back to the Chick-fil-a example, maybe your brand is all about fun, community, and gratitude, then your content should reflect that just like they did:
The same goes for marketing materials and marketing campaigns. You know your buyer personas and you know where to find them, simply showcase your identity through your marketing – let them see your culture, name, colors, logo, tagline, etc. all creating a brand that feels like a living, breathing entity that your customer can look at the same way they look at a friend walking down the street – seeing an identity.