Brand Identity: How You Can Shape Your Brand

three male sailors in boat on body of water

If you’re a business owner, your brand identity has the power to drive your business into the spotlight and become a household name. Think of the brands that are engrained in your memory. 

  • Coca-Cola’s near-immediate sense of happiness 
  • Nike’s go-getter, “just do it” mindset 
  • Headspace’s calm, mindful sense of vulnerability 
  • Jeep’s rugged, outdoor lifestyle

Whether you’re in charge of everything or you have a marketing team, establishing a clear, relevant identity is essential to the success of your advertising efforts and business as a whole. 

In the article, I’ll be covering everything you need to know about brand identity. Continue reading to learn what brand identity is, the difference between image and identity, how to create an identity for your brand and why it’s important to have one. 

What Is Brand Identity?

A brand’s identity is the combination of tangible and non-tangible elements an organization uses to present itself to consumers. If you’re a business owner, your identity is essential to connecting with potential customers, building brand authority and shaping your brand image.

Elements of Brand Identity

Because it’s the overall representation of your company’s mission, values, culture and more, your brand identity comprises various elements.

The main elements of a brand’s identity are: 

  • Brand name: The words used to identify your brand. Oftentimes, the name of your brand is the same as your business and aligns with the products and/or services that you offer. 
  • Tagline/slogan: A short, memorable phrase – typically consisting of 1-2 sentences – to describe your brand. 
  • Colors and shapes: Both color scheme and shape design express the values and traits of your brand visually. An effective color scheme incorporated across all of your business branding impacts how consumers feel about you.    
  • Typography: As with colors and shapes, typography – or the font your brand uses – communicates your values and personality.  
  • Logo: Another memorable component of your identity, your logo is the graphic representation of your brand.  
  • Personality and voice: For a brand to be successful, it has to connect with consumers on an emotional level. Personality and voice form your persona – the human characteristics that represent your brand.  
  • Visuals: Tying all of the elements together, visuals – from product advertisements to employee headshots and infographics – establish your brand’s look.
group of male individuals sailing sailboat on body of water

Each element plays an important role in ensuring your brand is represented accurately and consistently in the public eye. Together, they create the foundation behind your marketing, promotional and advertising efforts.

Brand Identity vs. Brand Image

There are a ton of components to corporate branding and it’s easy to mix them up – especially deciphering what separates a brand’s image from its identity. While they build off one another, the difference between an organization’s identity and image is in who holds the power.

  • Brand Identity is a company’s efforts to create an image or persona, shaping the way consumers perceive their brand. 
  • Brand Image is the consumer’s perception of a brand. 

So, brand identity is in your control while brand image is up to the consumer to determine. That means you have to put in work to shape your identity to match your desired image. No matter how hard you try, the consumer ultimately defines your brand’s image.

Brand Identity Development

Your brand identity drives your marketing strategy and overall business goals. It’s important that you take your time to strategically develop your identity. It’s a calculated process to present your business in a way that taps into the emotions of relevant consumers.

In the sections below, I’ll highlight several steps to take in order to develop an identity that accurately represents your business.

Know Your Mission

Why do you do what you do? It’s the most basic question to ask, but your organization’s mission is the core component of your identity. What – beyond selling products or services to make a living – is your company’s greater purpose?

A business’s mission is often tied to its origin story – how and why it was started in the first place. It’s also an essential step in establishing your brand’s narrative.

If your mission is to offer pharmaceutical products at an affordable price, it’s important to understand why. Maybe you started the business after struggling to pay for medicine essential to your survival. That’s a relatable brand story many consumers can connect with.

Define Your Values

Your company values are the beliefs and principles that drive your business – culturally and economically. Mission and values go hand-in-hand. Usually, your company values align with the overarching mission.

In order to connect with like-minded consumers, your values need to be clearly defined and communicated through your brand’s identity.  Defining your values establishes a culture and objectifies the most essential qualities of your brand.

A brand like Airbnb values curiosity and unity through adventure – making it possible for anyone to travel anywhere at any time.

Understand Your Unique Value Proposition

Every competitor in your market sells a similar product to make consumers’ lives better. What separates you from the rest? Your unique value proposition (UVP) is the element of your brand that makes you stand out among the competition.

It’s important to understand your UVP in order to create an effective brand identity that’s recognizable and memorable.

sailing reel and rope

Create a Brand Personality

The first few steps I’ve outlined were focused on understanding your business inside and out. Once you know what you do, why you do it, what you believe and what makes you different, you begin to understand the qualities and traits that best represent your business – also known as your brand personality.

By humanizing your brand, you’re establishing a set of characteristics that resonate with consumers that have the same personality. A brand like Headspace emphasizes vulnerability and mindfulness, with a sincere and compassionate personality.

Set Your Brand’s Tone

The tone of your brand is the attitude that you communicate and present your company with. In tandem with brand voice, the tone with which you communicate is a direct reflection of your personality.

If you run a law firm, your tone should be serious and professional in order to gain the trust of potential customers. An ice cream brand like Ben and Jerry’s is more likely to be fun, casual and creative in its tone.

Establish Your Brand Voice

As a brand, you have a voice – the words and language that you use to speak to customers. Your brand voice is spread company-wide, from email newsletters and social media interactions to internal communication.

As I mentioned before, voice and tone play off of each other. Your brand voice is the word choice and syntax that you use, whereas tone is the mood you’re creating through your voice.

How To Create A Brand Identity

Once you’ve developed your brand’s identity, it’s time to take action and turn it into reality. In the sections below, I’ll explain the steps to take in order to create your identity and spread it across all of your communication channels.

Create Brand Style Guidelines

Branding is a group effort and every department of your company incorporates your brand. As the foundation of your marketing, sales and customer service, it’s important to create clear brand style guidelines. A brand style guide defines every element of your identity and ensures every employee understands what it means to communicate on-brand.

A brand style guide typically covers: 

  • Font/typography 
  • Colors 
  • Shapes
  • Voice 
  • Tone

Design A Logo

An iconic logo brings your visual identity to life. It’s one of the most recognizable elements of your brand. It gets slapped on almost every component of your business: your website, marketing materials, merchandise, product packaging and more.

Whether you develop your logo in-house or outsource to a designer, make sure that it conveys your brand’s personality, mission and values.

Brainstorm A Slogan

Along with a logo, brainstorm a brief sentence or phrase that’s clever, creative, memorable and on-brand. In a sense, it’s like an elevator pitch for your business – something that grabs attention and explains what you do.

Schedule A Professional Photo Shoot

One of the most crucial components of a successful brand is your visual identity. A full slate of images helps you advertise your business and craft your image. While iPhones have great cameras, no amount of tips or tricks can turn you into a professional photographer.

Hiring a professional commercial photographer with experience in branding helps make sure your personality is represented in a diverse library of images. With a professional photo shoot, you’ll get branded imagery for your website, print and online advertisements, social media content, product listings and more.

water splashing

Schedule a Professional Video Shoot

Along with photos, professional video production is an essential part of your brand identity. Scheduling a commercial video shoot will provide you with content for ads, social media content and more.

If you hire a professional commercial video production, you can double down and hire a production stills photographer. They’ll capture still images of the video production that can be used to extend the longevity of your marketing campaign and increase your profits.

Update Your Website And Social Media Platforms

Once you have all of your assets in place and clearly established your identity, update all of your communication platforms. Start with your website and social media profiles, as those are the most accessible marketing channels for consumers. Make sure to remove any generic stock photos and replace them with authentic images.

Focus on weaving on-brand copy and imagery seamlessly into one cohesive experience that aligns with your identity.

Remain Active On Social Media

The rise of social media has required brands to step up their game and consistently interact with consumers. Connection is the key to building brand loyalty, so you need to stay active on social media and do so in a way that solidifies your identity.

Especially on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, a combination of professional imagery with on-brand commentary create a cohesive social media marketing strategy. Engage and foster an online community of like-minded consumers to win over your target market.

Ensure Future Marketing and Advertising Materials Align With Your Brand

Once your evergreen assets are updated with proper branding, your brand identity should be engrained in the work you complete every day. Whether you have a marketing team or you’re the jack of all trades, you must incorporate your brand into all future ads and promotions – online and print.

Regularly Monitor Brand Image

No matter the effort you put into shaping your brand identity, it’s up to the consumers to decide your brand image. It’s important to regularly touch base and assess the public perception of your brand.

To gain useful insights, you can monitor your brand image by: 

  • Conducting surveys 
  • Holding focus groups 
  • Interviewing existing customers 
  • Reviewing social feedback

Why Is Brand Identity Important?

Your brand identity is your brand. It’s also incredibly important to your business. In today’s market, branding is as important as the product or service that you provide. In order to succeed, you need to build a reputation, establish a loyal support base and connect with customers to separate yourself from the competition and keep your business on track.

In the sections below, I’ll explain in greater detail just how important it is for you to establish a clear, consistent brand identity.

Establish A Reputation And Recognition

Having a clear identity and effectively marketing to the right consumers will help your brand establish a positive reputation. It’s important to resonate with your target market and build an emotional connection.

Once you make a strong impression on consumers, they’ll be more likely to recognize and remember your brand.

Build Loyalty And Earn Referrals

If your strategy is effective, consumers will perceive your identity as you want them to. As long as every action you take remains consistent and true to your brand, you’ll build loyalty amongst happy customers.

One happy customer can lead to exponential growth. If they feel a connection to the brand and have a positive experience, they’re likely to refer your brand to their friends and family – further spreading the brand and support base.

Connect With Consumers

Consumers connect to brands that share the same ideals, beliefs, behavior and personality traits as them. In today’s marketplace, consumers value the brand – and what you stand for – as much, if not more than, your products or services.

If you remain on brand and effectively advertise to your target market, your target audience will feel a natural connection to your business.

Separate Yourself From The Competition

While your perception of the market is ultimately up to the consumer, your brand identity allows you to control the narrative and attempt to set yourself apart from the competition.

As I mentioned early in the post, you should hone in on your USP to form your identity. By focusing on what makes your business one-of-a-kind, you’ll inherently push those qualities of your business in all of your communication with consumers.

three pairs of sunglasses

Keep Your Business On Track

An added bonus, establishing a brand identity helps you better understand your business: why you’re in business, what you stand for and what your goals are.

By keeping track of how you’re perceived and monitoring your business goals, you’ll be able to right the ship if anything steers off course. On the flip side, if you’re seeing positive results you can double down on what’s working for you.

Craft Your Visual Brand Identity With Casey Templeton

Your brand identity sets the foundation of your entire marketing strategy. It showcases why you’re in business and what you stand for. It’s also the only way that you can emotionally connect with consumers.

If you’re in need of a kickstart on your visual brand identity, Casey Templeton Photography can help. An experienced corporate photographer, Casey Templeton has extensive experience in visual branding for businesses of all sizes. To learn more about crafting your identity or to get started on a project, fill out our contact form.

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