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Business can be cutthroat. Attracting customers, especially in a competitive industry, is genuinely tough.

You need to stand out like a Jedi at a Star Trek convention. What’s the vehicle to accomplish that?

A polished, unique, and memorable brand identity.

Before you worry about designing a new website, running Google Ads, sponsoring an event, or any other shiny marketing tactic, be sure you have standards for how your brand is presented.

Why Does Having a Unique Brand Identity Matter?

At its core, a brand identity is the visual, verbal, and emotional representation of your brand. It’s your brand’s personality – the distinctive traits and characteristics that set you apart from competitors and relate with your target audience.

A unique, consistent brand identity offers:

  1. Differentiation: In a sea of commodities and a world of constant distraction, a unique brand identity helps you stand out from the crowd and capture attention (step one to selling anything).

    By showcasing what makes you different, whether it’s your values, your story, how your product is designed, or your service delivery method, you can carve out a distinct spot in your market.

  2. Memorability: A memorable brand identity, at a very basic level, means people can pinpoint your brand quickly. When you leave a lasting impression, your brand identity becomes instantly recognizable, making it easier for people to recall and choose your brand over competitors.

    Whether it’s the tone of your advertising, colors, font selections, photography styles, you have to hook and create the ability to recall your brand. That’s an intentional exercise, not passive.

  3. Trust and Credibility: Familiarity and positive reputation Customers are more likely to do business with brands they know, like, and trust.

    A unique brand identity helps you build trust and credibility with your audience by conveying professionalism, consistency, and authenticity. When customers can easily identify and relate to your brand, they’re more likely to choose you over competitors.

  4. Brand Loyalty: Giving customers something to hold onto makes building loyalty possible.

    When customers feel a personal connection or deep familiarity with your brand – whether it’s because they share your values, identify with your story, or simply love the product experience – they’re more likely to become repeat customers and brand advocates who spread the word to others.

    But it’s up to you to give customers that something to hold onto.

Key Considerations for Building a Memorable Brand Identity

1) Brand Values: The Quest for the Holy Grail

At the core of every successful brand lies a set of values – whether formalized or not. These values guide the brand’s actions and shape its identity.

Values are the building blocks upon which your brand is constructed. They represent what your brand stands for, what it believes in, and what it strives to achieve.

Identifying your brand values may require a little journey of self-discovery. It requires introspection, reflection, and a deep understanding of your brand’s purpose.

If you’re on the sole proprietor or very small business side, start by asking yourself what principles are non-negotiable for your brand. More critically, which of these principles are largely unique to how you deliver service?

As a larger company, you probably have anywhere from a few to a dozen stakeholders who genuinely influence the values of your brand. Conducting stakeholder interviews throughout this group is critical. With this exercise, you’ll discover both positive crossover and also strong contradictions, most likely.

Mending those gaps is where the money is.

We’re a hair biased, but at this stage, it’s helpful to consider pulling an outside branding agency into the board room for brand consulting. The external, unbiased questioning and auditing that a branding agency provides will make for a better outcome than you get from within your own bubble.

Once you’ve identified your core values, it’s essential to integrate them into every aspect of your brand’s identity. From your messaging and visual elements to your company culture and customer interactions, your values should be evident in everything you do.

Why are brand values important?

For starters, they help you connect with your audience on a deeper level. Consumers are drawn to brands that share their values and beliefs, and aligning your brand with the values of your target audience can foster a sense of loyalty and trust.

2) Brand Voice: Should You Speaketh Like Shakespeare or Jar Jar Binks?

Your brand’s voice echoes across the entire customer experience, from that initial sales call to social media, your website, and beyond.

Whether it’s regal and majestic or witty and irreverent, finding your voice key to winning over customers.

Your brand’s voice is the heartbeat of your brand identity. It’s the tone, style, and personality that infuse your messaging with character.

In essence, your brand voice is not just a stylistic choice – it’s the essence of your brand identity. It shapes how you’re perceived by the world and lays the foundation for meaningful relationships with your audience.

So, whether your voice is bold and authoritative or playful and whimsical, make sure it speaks volumes about who you are as a brand.

Need help getting a grasp on how your marketing sounds? You’re in brand identity territory. Let’s develop your brand guide.

3. The Audience: To Infinity and Beyond!

Branding isn’t just about slapping a logo on everything. It’s about intentionally building relationships with the people who matter most to your business.

And that all starts with knowing exactly who those people are.

Picture your brand as a bridge between you and your customers. The stronger and more resonant that bridge, the smoother the journey from “just another business” to a beloved staple in your customers’ lives.

Here’s why identifying your target audience is like fuel for your branding rocket:

  1. Precise Marketing Messaging: Knowing your audience inside out allows you to craft messages that hit home. You’re not just shouting into the void; you’re able to write and share in a way that resonates with the people you think are most likely to buy from you.

  2. Relevance: When your brand speaks directly to your audience’s needs, desires, and pain points, you’re not just another option – you’re the solution they’ve been waiting for.

  3. Authenticity: Authenticity isn’t just a buzzword; it’s the secret sauce that builds trust. By aligning your brand with the values and aspirations of your audience, you’re creating genuine connections that stand the test of time.

  4. Loyalty and Advocacy: Happy customers are your best advocates. When your brand resonates deeply with your audience, you’re not just earning their business – you’re earning their loyalty and their enthusiastic endorsements to others.

4. Brand Auditing: CSI, the Brand Identity Edition

Whether you’ve been around for 6 months or 75 years, it’s healthy to don your detective hat and conduct a brand audit worthy of Sherlock Holmes himself.

Like a forensic investigator, sift through your existing creative to find misalignment across marketing channels. The goal is to identify inconsistencies or areas for improvement.

A helpful exercise is to simply print every active creative asset used in your company’s marketing and sales efforts. Everything from flyers and pitch decks to social media and primary pages of your website.

Tape everything up on the wall or spread it across the table.

What do you see?

An honest review will likely uncover where customers are getting dropped or confused. If you haven’t been following a brand guide, you might find your marketing materials are using different fonts, improper variations of your logo, the wrong colors, and conflicting photography styles.

Or you may find disconnects between the creative + message from flyer to flyer, ad to ad, and page to page.

Pro Tip: For reviewing website pages, print screenshots of your website on 11×17 paper.

Don’t stop with yourself.

Do the same for your competitors. Print what you can find, hang it up or spread it on the table, and take note of what gaps they have in their branding and marketing.

5. Brand Story: Once Upon a Time in Brandland

Every great brand has a tale to tell. There’s an origin story, struggles, and triumph! It doesn’t have to be monumental or worthy of making a Hollywood movie; it only has to be impactful to your ideal customers.

Your brand story is more than just a narrative – it’s the essence of who you are, what you stand for, and, most importantly, why your business should matter to the people who you want to attract.

Begin by exploring the origins of your brand, uncovering the moments of inspiration and innovation that led to its creation.

Then, delve into the challenges and obstacles you’ve faced along the way, highlighting the moments of triumph and resilience that define your brand’s character.

People love an underdog.

Most critically, don’t forget to include how your audience fits into your story. Making them the hero is key to creating an emotional connection with your brand.

Podcast fan? We did a whole episode about The Hero’s Journey. Have a listen!

6. Brand Standards: Pixel-Perfect Consistency

From your logo and fonts to the colors that adorn your creative and ads, being intentionally consistent is at the heart of what it means to have a brand.

Establish clear brand standards that govern every aspect of your visual identity, from font choices and color palette to photography and creative layouts.

Read More: Why Your Business Must Have a Brand Guide

Having a brand guide and following it is, in practice, what gives rise to a brand experience.

Consistency is not just about the aesthetics. You also need to deliver a clear, cohesive message that stays true to your brand’s values and personality across every customer touchpoint.

Bonus: great brand standards also make your marketing, design, and web teams really, really happy.

7. Authenticity: Keeping It Real

In a world of shape-shifting imposters and snake oil salesmen, authenticity is the magic potion that can set your brand apart.

Authenticity gets tossed around a lot, but it’s more than just a buzzword. Authenticity is a guiding principle that informs every decision and action you take as a brand.

The best way to get and stay authentic?

Listen to your customers.

Understand their needs, preferences, and how they view your brand. It’s your job to uphold this perception, influence it gradually to be something different, or identify a different audience that fully aligns with the core values of your brand.

But you should always stay true to your “why.” If you’re constantly trying to be opportunistic or gimmicky just to make a quick buck — rather than building a brand worth adopting — people will quickly feel like their experience is inauthentic.

8. Iterate: The Fellowship of the Brand

Warning: it never ends!

No brand can afford to become stagnant.

Audiences change. Some faster than others, but they all change.

Technology changes.

Economies change.

Embrace continuous improvement and set aside regular time to audit your brand – is it staying true to its north star while still innovating around customer needs?

Pushing for change or identifying inconsistencies on an ongoing basis is another situation in which an outside branding agency can be invaluable.

Managing a brand identity isn’t something you turn off and turn back on when it’s convenient. It’s a day-in, day-out exercise of being intentionally consistent, accepting customer feedback, and iterating to meet specific customer needs.

Jonathan Payne

Author Jonathan Payne

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