In order to define a brand identity, first we need to define the brand itself. In a nutshell, a brand is the specific term, name, symbol, design, and similar, which helps your business stand out from the crowd in the market. Or, we can paraphrase a timeless Jeff Bezos’ definition by saying that a brand is what people have to say about your business behind your back. Now, we’re ready to ask the question about brand identity. What is brand identity and what do we have to do in order to ensure its successful development?
Brand identity is your business reputation. It includes all values, emotions, associations, and similar, your customers associate with your brand as such.
How well is Your Brand Identity Positioned in the Market?
The simplest and most efficient way for you to determine your brand identity position is to create your company’s SWOT analysis. You probably know that SWOT is an acronym with the following meaning:
- Strengths – What’s your company’s competitive advantage?
- Weaknesses – What are your company’s disadvantages in the market?
- Opportunities – What are potential advantages your company can benefit from?
- Threats – What are potential disadvantages and risks standing in your way?
Developing your corporate and brand identity is a process, which requires more than one step and a thoughtful approach. In order to ensure it is successful, you need to go through these steps:
Step #1: Vision Statement
Your company’s vision statement should be both inspirational and inspirational. With your vision statement, you’re describing your future expectations. You need to make sure it’s not too long. In addition, you aren’t supposed to explain how you plan to achieve your vision. This is something you’ll take care of it later. Your vision statement has to address the following points:
- Your company’s most important services and products
- All things that are unique about your brand and business
- The simplest and most efficient way your customers can describe your business and brand
- Your company’s future in the next five years
Here is a good example of a Vision statement by Apple's CEO Tim Cook:
"We believe that we are on the face of the earth to make great products and that’s not changing. We are constantly focusing on innovating. We believe in the simple not the complex. We believe that we need to own and control the primary technologies behind the products that we make, and participate only in markets where we can make a significant contribution. We believe in saying no to thousands of projects, so that we can really focus on the few that are truly important and meaningful to us. We believe in deep collaboration and cross-pollination of our groups, which allow us to innovate in a way that others cannot. And frankly, we don’t settle for anything less than excellence in every group in the company, and we have the self- honesty to admit when we’re wrong and the courage to change. And I think regardless of who is in what job those values are so embedded in this company that Apple will do extremely well."
Step #2: Mission Statement
With your company’s mission statement, you’re defining the very purpose of your business. It’s supposed to be very simple, easy to remember and understand. A successful mission statement should be motivational for both your customers and employees. While working on your company’s mission statement, you should keep these in mind:
- All specific market expectations your company needs to address
- What do you plan to use or do in order to address these expectations
- What would your company’s guiding principles in this process
- What are your competitive advantages
A great example of a cool mission statement is by ikea:
"At IKEA our vision is to create a better everyday life for the many people. Our business idea supports this vision by offering a wide range of well-designed, functional home furnishing products at prices so low that as many people as possible will be able to afford them."
Step #3: Your Business/Brand Essence
In plain English, your business/brand essence is the very heart and soul, all that your company stands for. In order to determine your brand’s essence, you need to address the following points:
- What kind of emotions your customers associate with your product, business or service
- Imagine that your brand is a person, and now describe “it”
Here is a link to a cool slideshare that shows examples of what brand essence means: The 9 Criteria for Brand Essence
Step #4: Brand’s Personality
If your brand was a person, how would “he/she” speak, behave, act, and react. Don’t hesitate to associate human characteristics and emotions to your company’s brand. Here are some questions to consider when you’re determining your brand’s personality:
- Is it fun and lighthearted?
- Is it more serious and only about the business?
- Is it more down-to-earth?
- Is it mainly matter-of-fact or playful?
Step #5: Value or Position Proposition
The final step includes a value proposition or a brand positioning statement. You need to come up with a simple statement that addresses both your unique business value and all benefits your customers can expect. The following points can certainly make it easy to come up with the right kind of statement:
- Your target audience: market, persona, and demographic
- The specific market segments you want to address
- Your brand’s emotional and rational main message
- Your specific competitive advantages
The most important part: Implementing your Brand Identity into your Marketing Strategy
Once you have clearly identified and specified your brand’s identity, you’re ready to implement it into your marketing strategy. This implementation process asks you to address the following points adequately:
1) What are your marketing strategy deliverables?
Are you planning to launch a website, create an infographic or a whitepaper? Maybe an email campaign?
2) How do you plan to accomplish your goals?
Your brand’s identity should contribute to your overall marketing strategy. You need to define ways and methods how to achieve that.
3) Whom are you addressing to?
You need to be crystal clear about your targeted audience.
4) What are your main messages?
The best way to determine them is to derive all essential elements from your brand position statement.
5) What kind of a reaction or emotions do you plan to provoke?
For this particular point, you’ll use the findings from the brand’s essence section.
6) What is your strategy’s justification?
How do you plan to ensure your corporate credibility? What can you offer better than your competitors?
7) Where do you position your brand and messages in the market?
This is a point where you need to convince your customers what is so special about your business, products, or services.
8) How do you plan to contribute to your brand's positioning?
All methods you use have to contribute to your brand’s identity.
9) Can you anticipate all potential obstacles and restrictions?
Implementing your brand’s identity has a lot in common with the accurate and relevant future predictions.
Your company and brand identity go hand-in-hand with your marketing strategy. Developing a successful brand identity requires a lot of time and energy. Choosing a team of marketers with a proven track record in this field improves your chances of achieving the desirable results. Therefore, investing in your corporate and brand identity means to invest in your company’s future in the best possible way.