Developing a brand identity
A brand identity is a system of elements designed to work together to keep your brand focused and clear. When done right, it provides consistency and purpose to your marketing. Without it, you run the risk of appearing fragmented, or worse, being irrelevant. Developing a solid brand identity is a great way to connect with your audience. We use a systematic and collaborative approach to developing a brand identity, keeping our clients involved every step of the way.
The whole process begins by conducting an in-depth discovery session with our clients. We go through a comprehensive series of exercises in order to learn as much as we can about the business. This working session includes all the appropriate stakeholders and covers a wide range of topics, from goals and aspirations, to audience segments and competition. This step is critical. The more information we get upfront, the more thoughtful we can be with recommendations moving forward.
At this point, we take a close look at the internal characteristics of the brand. To define a brand, we evaluate the goals and purpose, as well as distinguishing qualities of how our clients operate. This phase is made up of three key elements: vision, mission and values.
The vision is an aspirational statement of purpose and long-term goals. The mission is a tactical statement that defines how the vision will be achieved. Values are the fundamental truths about our client’s business that act as a set of guiding principles.
The results of the Brand Definition phase help align our client’s internal team and set the foundation for subsequent work.
During the Brand Position phase, we look at external factors that will shape the brand identity. We learn as much as we can about the target audience and use various insights to guide how we should speak to them. We study the competition and begin to identify opportunities to differentiate the brand. This phase is comprised of two distinct elements: the positioning statement and the positioning line.
The positioning statement is the overall value proposition. It’s a clear and concise expression that explains how our client’s product or service solves the target’s audience’s problem in a unique way. For example, Volvo’s positioning statement is “Volvo is the automobile that provides peace-of-mind to drivers concerned about the safety of themselves and their passengers.” It speaks directly to the audience and states why they should consider a Volvo instead of any other vehicle.
The positioning line is a concise summary of the ideas expressed in the positioning statement. This line can usually be used as a consumer-facing tagline. Some of the most recognizable taglines include Nike’s “Just Do It” and McDonalds’ “I’m Lovin’ It”. They are short, memorable, and help differentiate the respective brands.
This phase includes two major categories: voice & tone, and look & feel. The voice & tone is the personality of the brand. It defines the manner in which it communicates. The look and feel is the visual language of the brand, which could include color palette, typography, photography and illustration style, and any other distinguishing visuals that are specific to the brand.
Putting It All Together
After all these foundational elements are in place, we develop a comprehensive document to share with our clients. This brand identity book helps communicate the brand internally, and acts as a guide for all future marketing efforts.
It’s important to remember, a brand identity is a living/breathing collection of work. On-going research will help you identify opportunities to evolve the brand and ensure you are staying relevant to the ever-changing needs of your audience.