What is a Brand Identity?

What is a Brand Identity?

You’ve got the literal elements of a ‘brand’ in place: a name, a logo, a website, etc. Does that mean that you have a unique brand identity that makes your business memorable and professional? Unfortunately the answer for many small businesses is “not really”.

 

Branding is an area that large companies invest heavily in, as they have seen the proven benefits of having a strong brand identity. However, small business owners often think that they don’t have the experience, times or budget to really focus on how their brand is viewed by potential customers. The truth is that businesses that have achieved this are often perceived as being more credible, higher quality, and better value than their competitors.

 

We believe that it isn’t actually all that difficult to create a strong brand identity. If you can see the benefits then you are already halfway there. To get the rest of the way, there are three key elements you need to make sure you are getting right.

 

Design

 

The design of everything associated with your business, including your website, logo, products and adverts, has a huge impact on whether or not people become your customers. Creating a consistent style of design is very important, you can usually identify a good brand without seeing a name or logo. Customers want consistency, they do not want a company to be unpredictable, and having a standardised design style can help create this image.

 

Apple is a great example of how to create an iconic and consistent design. As soon as you see anything they have created, whether it is an iPad, an advert, or a software program, you instantly know that Apple made it. They incorporate minimal colour schemes with small flashes of flair, smooth and shiny surfaces, rounded corners, and a less-is-more approach to text in all of their designs. Setting out your design style as a list of essential elements like this is a great idea. You can check the list against every visual asset associated with your business and make sure it fits in.

 

Another key element of brand design is the use of subtle triggers to make people perceive something without needing to say it directly. Low-cost airline easyJet has a very strong brand identity that relies heavily on its use of colour. The bright orange colouring always used in their design has many positive connotations. Orange is often associated with energy and warmth, which are valuable perceptions for a business to create.

 

However, on a deeper level, I would suggest that there are other more strategic reasons for using the colour. Orange is often used to draw attention to important things, such as road signs, or safety clothing. This makes the easyJet brand really stand out against other colours that surround it. In addition, the orange used by easyJet is so bright that it verges on being garish, or over-the-top. The dictionary definition of ‘garish’ says it all, “crudely or tastelessly colorful, showy, or elaborate, as clothes or decoration”. Although they would probably not admit it, I am quite sure that this is deliberate. The reason for this is that things that are garish are often perceived as being cheap, and easyJet’s main selling point is being low-cost. Most brands would be desperate to avoid looking garish or cheap, but easyJet have used this simple perception trigger very cleverly in their brand.

 

Tone

 

The way in which you choose to communicate with potential customers can significantly influence their opinion of your brand. It is important that the tone of your communication is appropriate to what you are selling, or you could talk people out of buying it. For example, most people probably don’t want their bank or solicitor to use too many jokes or slang terms in their communication. However, this can be a very good idea for a fast-food restaurant or nightclub whose customers don’t want a serious tone and lots of details.

 

UK broadband provider plusnet’s brand relies heavily on its careful use of a certain tone in its communication. The brand gives off a clear image of being straightforward, honest and affordable by playing on the local dialect of Yorkshire, the region where the company is based. A well known Yorkshire saying, “We’ll do you proud”, is the slogan that accompanies the logo on their website. This instantly associates the brand with the principles of being from Yorkshire, which include honesty, being unpretentious and recognising good value – excellent principles for a broadband provider to be connected with. Their 2011 advertising campaign included the strapline “Good Honest Broadband From Yorkshire” which really used tone and language to its potential to create a strong and successful brand identity.

 

To achieve the maximum effect, the tone of your brand should be consistent throughout all communication, including adverts, emails, brochures, telephone conversations and face-to-face meetings.

 

Principles

 

Just having the skills to be able to make a product is often not enough to persuade people to buy it. Customers look for assurances about credibility, service and durability before making a decision to make a purchase. There are two ways to convey your brand principles to potential customers. One is to directly tell them what they are in your marketing, the other is to deliver a great service and let people tell each other how good your business is.

 

Your brand principles are connected to everything you do and should not be consigned to the marketing department to manage. If you constantly deliver a poor service, it doesn’t matter how much you say otherwise in your adverts, your customers will tell the truth in Internet forums or to their friends in person. Word-of-mouth can be your biggest driver of sales, or your biggest enemy, and your brand principles will directly affect this.

 

It is a great idea to make a list of the things that are most important to you when delivering your service to customers. This list can act as an internal reminder and an external mark of credibility for customers. Car manufacturer Volvo is a company that are perceived to have strong brand values, with safety and reliability being values commonly associated with their cars. Because they consistently deliver those standards, they are able to credibly use them as selling points in their marketing. This is taken from the Volvo website homepage: “Volvo provides transportation related products and services with focus on quality, safety and environmental care. Founded more than 80 years ago, a solid position and reputation worldwide has been built up over the decades.” This statement defines the things that Volvo considers to be important, and because public perception validates this, these become the values that the brand is associated with.

 

To put this into practice, make a list of your brand values and ensure that every person employed by your business follows them.

 

If you would like some help with creating a strong and consistent brand identity for your business, please take a look at our small business web design service. We are always happy to advise customers on how to improve your brand message, as well as other areas of your overall marketing strategy.

 

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