The same way your identity as an individual makes you stand out among others so does your brand identity set your business apart from other businesses.
Brand is one word that gets thrown around a lot these days. You might see someone using “brand” in reference to a logo. While a logo is an integral part of a brand, it’s not the entirety of it. So, what exactly is a brand?
Marketing expert, Seth Godin defined brand as “the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a customer’s decision to choose one service or product over another.” In other words, it refers to the experience that distinguishes different products and services since quality is often comparable. Add an identity to that and you have a brand identity.
Brand Identity vs Brand Image
Brand Identity and Brand Image are two closely related, yet different expressions. They often get wrongly used interchangeably.
To put it simply, brand identity is what you want your customers to see and brand image is what your customers see. In other words, brand identity is from the business’ point of view and brand image is from the customers’ point of view.
Brand Identity is the face of your business, representing your ideas, values and personality. It’s made of features, performances, services, quality, attributes and customer support your business possesses.
On the other hand, Brand Image refer to the beliefs, impressions and ideas customers hold about your business formed by their experience with your brand and other sources. In other words, it’s the way customers think and feel when they see your brand.
Elements of Brand Identity
Here are some key elements that make up a brand identity which can also use to create an identity for your business
What comes to your mind every time you hear Apple? Or better still, open another tab on your browser now and search for Apple on Google. What do you see?
Many years ago, the word Apple meant nothing else but just another fruit. That’s clearly not the same today as one of the biggest tech companies in the world has adopted the name for its brand. Today, you hear of Apple iPhone, Mac and iPad and they all make sense. What has happened is that they’ve successfully branded the name Apple.
Naming brand is really not that hard. The hard part of the work is coming up with an iconic brand name. Or, in some cases, turning a regular name to iconic through years of consistent branding.
Apart from Apple, other examples of brand names that resonate with us all these days are Coca-Cola, Toyota, Pepsi, Google, Gucci and the list is just inexhaustible.
Apparently, this is the most popular brand element. A logo is simply the visual trademark with which a brand can be identified.
Think of the Nike swoosh logo and how it’s all you need to tell that a product is by Nike. Same applies to brands like Adidas, Playboy, Volkswagen, Apple and so on.
There are different ways of coming up with a brand logo, here are some examples:
This refers to a freestanding acronym, product or company name designed to convey a brand positioning or attribute. Think of Google, HBO, ebay, NASA, IBM and the rest.
This is the type of logo that uses one or more letters from the company name. The Y! for Yahoo, M for McDonalds, EA for Electronic Arts and so on/
The type of logo that combines text with a symbol. Harley Davidson, Arsenal and other football clubs logos are what come to mind here.
- Pictorial Mark
A recognizable regular image stylized and simplified to represent a brand. Twitter, Apple, Shell, Playboy, Windows logos are good examples of this.
- Abstract Mark
Unlike pictorial mark logo, the symbol in abstract mark logo is not recognizable. Examples are Pepsi, Adidas among others.
Your theme line as a brand is a catchphrase with which you can carve your space in the market for your brand value. Nike has “Just do it”, Pepsi has “for the love of it”, Coca Cola has “Open Happiness” and we can go on and on.
Think of 5 major brands you know. Done? Did you notice they all have a colour or two they consistently use in their branding? From banks to tech companies, all major brands have their colours and this comes as no surprise.
Colour is very psychological and it has a way influencing human behaviours. Red, for instance, suggest danger or urgency, green; productivity, white; purity and so on. Therefore, depending on their type of products and target audience, brands have over the years successfully utilized colour as a key branding tool.
Other notable branding elements are font type, shape, taste, smell, movement and so on.
Preserving your brand identity online
So, you have a brand (or building one) and you’re bothered about how to preserve your brand identity on the internet. You are not alone, it’s actually a genuine concern for a typical brand in this dispensation.
It’s the age of the internet and you have to keep up with your target audience across all the various digital platforms you can find them. Social media, websites, search engine, email, radio and television and even billboards. You consistently have to put out contents on all these platforms.
This also means that you have to work with different team members for each of the platforms. You may know your brand identity and everything, but what about these people you constantly have to outsource to? How do you ensure that your brand identity is sustained by everyone you have to work with?
Here are 5 things you can do to make sure you preserve your brand identity online irrespective of the number of communications you have to put out there:
Create a Brand Guide
If you work with a topnotch branding agency, they should automatically create this for you. Your brand guide, as the name implies, serves as guide to everyone who sees it on all the various sections that make up your brand. Your brand guide should have the following sections:
- Brand mission
- Voice and tone
- Logo usage
- Fonts and typography
- Brand Colours
- Media formatting
- Value propositions
- Photography and graphics
- Signage specs
There are a number of templates online on brand guidelines that you can use (if you are not working with an agency).
Circulate Brand Guide
So, you have created a brand guideline and kept it in a folder on your computer? Of what use is it then? Your brand guideline should be shared with every member of your team so they can work with it in all communications.
Perhaps for certain reasons you don’t want everyone to have access to your brand guideline, the following people should:
- Sales and Marketing
- Freelancers and Consultants
- Potential Partners
Consistency is a major component of brand identity. As your brand becomes more popular, your audience will always look forward to see contents about you. Not just that, they would also subconsciously expect your contents to be in certain ways. They already see your brand in a certain way and expect that it’s sustained.
Your brand design guidelines make it easy for you to do this, so your designs and contents are all connected and relatable to your audience.
There are always ongoing conversations online, especially on social media. You don’t have a social media account? That has to be a joke.
Branding is almost impossible these days without social media. “But my target audience is not on social media”. Well, that’s debatable. However, even if that’s the case, your refusal to create a social media account would give room for fraudulent people to “create one for you”.
But you don’t just stop at creating a social media account, you have to use it to constantly push your brand. And one way you can do this is staying active to contribute to ongoing conversations, especially when they are related to your industry. Similarly, don’t forget to always engage with your audience.
Place your logo everywhere
That’s right. Don’t be shy to put your logo on every content or communications you put out there. Your logo is a very powerful tool that helps lead people back to you.
So, you are running an ad about your business; include your logo, a DIY (do it yourself) video on youtube as part of content marketing; add your logo, just a graphic post on your social media page to drive engagement; add your logo.
Don’t go on a journey on the internet leaving your logo behind, it’s a key branding strategy.
Now you know how to preserve your brand identity on the internet. But does it end here? Absolutely not. Change is inevitable and you have to consistently be on top of your game. Research on the trend in branding, especially in your industry and see how you can inculcate what you find into your branding effort.