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How to Create a Brand Identity: A Step-By-Step Guide

Arjun Kohli
Arjun Kohli

Brand identity is one of the most effective strategies that businesses of any size can use to gain a competitive edge.

In today's digital world, if a business doesn't have a strong brand identity, they're going to have a lot of trouble keeping up with their competition. 

In fact, in today's highly competitive marketplace, brand identity is one of the most effective strategies that businesses of any size can use to gain a competitive edge. 

So with that said, in the following article, I am going to discuss top tips to help you develop a strong and memorable brand identity that will have customers thinking of your company time and time again. 

What is brand identity?

Essentially, a brand's identity includes all visible elements of the brand. This includes colors, message, voice, design, style and logos, just to name a few. 

In other words, it's the way in which a company or business entity presents itself to the public as well as how they separate themselves from their competitors.

In many cases, people will often confuse the term brand identity with similar terms like branding and brand. However, each of these terms has its very own, distinct meaning. 

So when we're talking about brand identity, we're basically talking about what your customers, prospects, and competitors will see when they think of your brand.

This includes: 

  • Logo or trademarks
  • Logo variations
  • Brand colors and color schemes
  • The font used by a brand
  • Consistent imagery and content style
  • Brand style guides
  • Domain names and subdomain names

Typically, you'll see larger companies carefully maintain their brand identity. In fact, most larger corporations have entire departments dedicated specifically to building and maintaining their brand identity and reputation. 

On the other hand, smaller companies don't usually have the resources to dedicate an entire team to building and marketing their image. 

However, no matter the size of your business, it's vital that you take the time to build a strong and memorable brand identity, which will help your brand relate to its current customers and future prospects. 

In the end, brand identity refers to all of a brand's visual elements unified into a single, complementary package. And with that said, whenever the elements of a brand's identity are displayed publicly, they need to be consistent in terms of appearance, scope, message, colors, logo, etc. 

We also can't forget the importance of your business's domain name when trying to maintain consistency across your brand. In today's digital landscape, it's more important than ever for your brand to be easy to find online. 

And this is exactly why it's crucial to find a domain name that matches your brand's identity and that is easy to remember for both your current and future customers. 

How exactly can you build a strong and memorable identity for your brand? 

There are three crucial steps involved in creating a powerful brand identity. 

Research your market

Like any other aspect of launching a successful product line, the first step in creating a solid brand identity is to perform market research. This allows you to learn more about your industry, your target audience and how your brand's products can relate to them. 

To complete a comprehensive round of research, you'll need to research a few key areas of your market, such as your core audience, your unique selling propositions, as well as your competition. 

At this point, you're also going to want to start looking into potential domain names for your brand. It's important to never underestimate the effectiveness of having a good, memorable domain name. Therefore, it's a good idea to get started early with your domain name research, to make sure that the best domains don't get taken by your competitors.

It's also a good idea to work on clearly establishing your brand's mission statement and personality, all of which will help you determine the best ways to present and relate your products and services to your audience. 

Next, when it comes to researching your target audience, realize that by understanding who the people are that you want to sell to, you'll be able to determine the best products to offer to them. 

Therefore, learning about what your audience wants and needs is a crucial step in creating a strong, memorable brand identity as well as being able to know which products and services will serve them best.  

Next, you're going to determine what makes your business unique from other similar brands in your industry. In other words, you need to determine what you're capable of offering consumers that other brands aren't. 

To do this, you need to research your competitors and learn about what they're currently doing to attract their customers. And then, you'll be able to hone in on their weaknesses and take advantage of them for yourself. 

Plus, by researching your competition, you'll determine what branding and marketing techniques are and aren't already working for your industry. 

Finally, as a business owner or marketing professional at a large company, you already know what your business or organization is offering. However, you need to make sure that your brand identity has a clearly defined mission statement, which lets consumers know what your business is doing. 

By fully understanding the purpose of your business, and by relating this information to your audience, you'll generate a brand personality and brand identity that resonates with them. 

In the end, performing this type of research might not be the most exciting part of owning and operating a business or running a marketing department. 

However, the more you know about your business and the people that you want to sell to, the easier it is to create a strong brand identity that connects with them. 

Create your logo and brand identity guidelines

After you've researched your industry and have a better understanding of your target audience, it's time to bring your brand identity to life. 

The first step in building a strong brand identity is to create a memorable logo or refine your organization's existing one. 

Although your logo is far from the entirety of your brand's identity, it's a vital component, because it tends to be one of the most memorable aspects of any brand. 

Think about it, your logo will be on virtually all of your business assets, ranging from your website headers and business cards to your products and packaging. 

But beyond creating a memorable logo, you need to be consistent in representing your business through everything you do. This simply helps build familiarity and trust with your audience. 

Therefore, everything from the colors that you use to the fonts on your website must be consistent … at all times. 

On top of helping to build familiarity, having a predetermined color palette and typeset also provides you with a variety of ways to create unique designs, all without straying too far from your brand's identity. 

Finally, in the context of enterprise marketing, individuals must also decide whether or not they want to associate any new product lines to the mother brand, or if new product lines will have their own branding. 

This can all be pulled together in what's known as a set of brand guidelines. 

Essentially, a brand's guidelines outline all of the do's and don'ts of your brand. 

This includes the colors and logos to use in design, the brand's domain and subdomains, the fonts and typefaces for marketing materials, the tone of voice and type of language, the audience personas, and essentially everything else that explains the brand's identity. 

Although it might not seem all that important, having a clearly defined brand guide ensures that any employees you hire (or any other companies that you work with) can easily learn about your brand identity and use it when creating new brand assets in the future. 

Continue to monitor and improve your brand identity

Once, you've researched your industry and have clearly established brand identity, completing a SWOT analysis is important to help you understand if your strategy is effective or not. 

The term SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. 

  • Strengths: When analyzing your brand identity, list all of your brand's positive traits and characteristics. This provides you with a competitive edge in your industry, knowing what sets you apart.

  • Weaknesses: Here, you want to determine which characteristics are a disadvantage to your brand identity. By identifying your weaknesses, you can see where you need to improve your brand's image in the future.

  • Opportunities: Always be on the lookout for changes or trends that are happening in your industry. By understanding current patterns and trends, you can focus on how you can take advantage of them for yourself.

  • Threats: It's always a good idea to know and understand all of the elements that could cause problems for your business in the future. By knowing what threats exist, you'll be able to prepare for them and potentially mitigate business risks as much as possible.

Why is brand monitoring important?

When used strategically, brand monitoring can help businesses attract, acquire and retain customers. Brand monitoring can be used to help you improve the impact your marketing is having. 

Brand monitoring can also be used to help you learn more about who your customers are and how you can better serve their needs. In other words, it will help you align the products and services that you're currently offering with what your current customers and prospects are looking for. 

Lastly, brand monitoring can be used to help you improve your customer service and retention. 

In the end, by listening to what your customers have to say, you're able to offer products and services that they truly want and need. This leads to better customer retention and increased sales for your business. 

Brand monitoring vs. domain brand monitoring

Finally, in the context of brand monitoring, it's also important to distinguish between brand monitoring and domain brand monitoring. 

When we talk about brand monitoring, we're simply discussing the process of monitoring all online channels for mentions of your brand to help understand what your audience is saying about your brand, or its products or services. 

In other words, brand monitoring refers to watching all types of media, such as newspaper articles or complaints on social media, for any mentions of your brand. 

Essentially, the purpose of brand monitoring is listening for mentions of your brand and then reacting accordingly. 

Domain brand monitoring, on the other hand, refers to a similar practice, where brands must continuously monitor their website domains to ensure that they're kept free from all ties to any type of malicious or infringing activity.

By unknowingly having a domain name that's tied to any type of illegal or malicious activity, you could be putting your entire business at risk. 

Developing a strong brand identity in 2020

In the end, it's important to understand that your brand identity is about much more than just a logo or a chosen color palette. In fact, your brand identity is about all of your brand's visual elements and messaging, all tied into a single package. Essentially, it's the personality of your brand, almost as if it were a real person. 

In the end, not only does having a clearly established brand identity help make your brand memorable, but it also helps create trust and familiarity between you and your customers.

By learning about your audience, understanding your brand's unique selling points and keeping your visual elements consistent all across your company's assets, you'll be well on your way to creating a truly unique and memorable brand identity.

Arjun Kohli
Arjun Kohli,
business.com Writer
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Results-focused Inbound Marketing consultant with a thorough understanding of automation tools, marketing funnels, content marketing, customer engagement, and community building strategies.