Why Is A Brand Identity Important & How Can We Build One?
Who the Hell are You?
Let's be honest; Your brand has a logo, it has a Twitter, it has a Facebook, and it has an Instagram.- Hell, it even has some customers. However, even after incorporating all of these... "things"... these things that are supposed to reflect the value of a company, you're still not quite comfortable in saying that your brand has an identity. I mean, sure, you have a mission statement- and a slogan too- but, even still, something feels a bit off. Maybe, it's atmospheric pressure, or fluoride in the water... or maybe it's your conscience saying that you- and your company- could do better. Whether you care to admit it, or not, a brand identity is more than a pretty website. It's more than cute pictures and funny tweets. It's more than the founders and the customers. - And, I hate to break it to you, its certainly more than your product.
Let me ask you something, do you remember a little device called the Zune? Of course you do. Sort of. Do you remember it because it was cheaper than the iPod? No. Do you remember it because it had FM radio capabilities and the iPod didn't? No. Do you remember it because, instead of Apple's rate of 99 cents a song, it offered a $15 year-long pass to all of the music you could think of? No. Unfortunately, the sad fact is, the only reason you remember the Zune is because the only thing that matched the superiority of its product capability, was the inferiority of its product identity.
As you can see, very clearly, even if your product (or brand) is superior, if it isn't supported by a believable, honest, and powerful, identity, no amount of perks will save it from an underwhelming and, short-lived existence.
Now that we've examined the importance of having a Brand Identity, let's build one.
I know. I'm pushing your attention span to the limit. So, I'll make it quick. I call this the CPR list because it, almost literally, will breathe life into any brand's (struggling) identity.
Though you don't want to become boring, your customers need to know what to expect from you. You need to pick out some pivotal aspects of your marketing and stick to them. Keep them varied enough to be interested, but keep them consistent enough to build a reliable and established customer base. Slogans (or mottos) are a great example of the need for consistency. Sure, you might wake up with a brilliant jingle in your mind every day, but there is a reason McDonald's has stuck with "I'm Lovin' It" for 13 years as well as covering their signs with "Billions and Billions served." You see, McDonald's believes what I believe...
- Slogans are like Martinis. - One isn't enough & three is too many.
Simply put, keep your branding, your message, and your marketing interesting, but not erratic.
This one is simple. As a result, it will be short and sweet. If your brand has principles, it means you're being honest with yourself and your customers. You know not only what you make, but why you make it. Nike is successful because it doesn't try to be something it isn't. - This becomes apparent when examining the company's decision to cancel its production of golf equipment. With golf, Nike focused heavily on the what and very lightly on the why.
When examining your own brand, it must be understood that, without a purpose, without a why, your attempts to create and garner a meaningful following and customer base will almost always fall short.
Simply, nobody buys what you make. - They buy why you make it. So make it matter.
When someone decides to spend their money on your products, they are essentially saying that your brand, your messaging, and your identity is representative of who they are. This is where it becomes immensely important to cater to your targeted audience.
This is the easiest concept in the book. Find out what makes you different, and if you market correctly, the aspect of your company that makes your brand different is the same aspect that makes your brand relevant.
The formula is this: Difference + Relevance = Identity.
The companies with the most powerful identities are the ones that capitalize on their innovations, and turn them into the defining aspect of their brand.