Brand Identity: understand it, create it

What is brand identity? Well, in order to begin to explain, let’s compare it to your own professional identity.

As you work to create your professional identity, you connect with the people, choose the projects, put out the messages, and work to the standards that you expect will create the image you wish to have. This image might be that of a high-energy female professional, a strong woman on the cutting edge of her industry, a fun-loving excitement producer, or a practiced, sage advisor.

No matter what image you desire for yourself, you will go to great lengths to generate the professional identity to support it.

The same goes for your brand. You have a good idea of how you want others to perceive your brand, and how you want your brand to make its customers feel. And so, you can work to produce a brand identity that creates the types of impressions which will result in that brand image.

Here’s how you can make that happen:

  • Know Your Brand’s Strengths. These are the things you’ll use to ‘get ahead.’ They’re the things your brand will be known for. Now, decide if those strengths align with the brand image you want to create. If not, you’re going to have to hire some rock-star professionals to fill in the weaknesses or adjust your desired brand image.
  • Identify Opportunities. What connections do you already have that will benefit your brand? What can those connections do for your brand, as far as recommendations, testimonials, referrals and more? Consider these pathways and how your desired brand image will land there. Will it be well-received? Will it fill a gap that’s already been noticed by the people there?
  • Recognise Threats from Competitors. Competition is healthy; it keeps business owners on their toes and serving customers in the best ways possible. Before you decide on a brand image, take an in-depth look at your direct competitors and plan on positioning your brand in a way that is unique to all of them.
  • Name Your Goals. Your brand image should be one of a number of things that help you to reach your goals—and in order to create that beneficial image, you’re going to have to solidify those goals. After all, it’s difficult to ‘arrive’ if you don’t know where you’re going.
  • Pinpoint Your Ideal Client. What brand image will be welcomed by your ideal customers? What have they been wishing and waiting for? What will grab their attention and show them that there’s something better available? Understanding the psychology of your target market will help you to have that Aha moment when you ultimately create the right brand image.
  • Envision Your Desired Perceptions. Think ahead to next year, after your brand image has been created. What perceptions will it cause your target market to have? Are these the perceptions you had intended? If not, it’s time to tweak that brand identity. Help from an outside, objective source may be in order here.

After you’ve established your brand’s identity, it’s time to create your visual brand identity. This is a collection of all the elements (colour, lines, fonts, shapes) that will make up your logo and other visual touchpoints. It’s important that you design your visuals after your brand identity is in place, or you could risk sending the wrong messages to your target market.

Every element of your visual brand identity will deliver a message. That’s why you need to know what your intentions are…before creating those highly communicative graphics.

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