15 Essential Steps to Build a Strong Brand Identity

Market Crafters| Branding | February 1, 2024
5 minutes

Your brand identity serves as the bedrock of your success as a business. A brand provides unique and memorable visual and emotional representation. It allows you to differentiate your company in a competitive market and enhance your brand strategy. It fosters trust and credibility. It is the foundation for you to build strong emotional connections with your customers. And ultimately, it allows you to cultivate loyalty.

Here are our 15 essential steps (with examples!) to build a strong brand identity:

1. Brand Assessment:

This requires a thorough examination of the current brand value and equity. When we do this with clients, we typically like to look inward and interview different stakeholders in the organization.

2. Brand Opportunity:

This is the research phase designed to expose perceptions, competitive gaps, and marketable brand attributes. You could add in this phase research about your target audience, if you don’t already know it. Knowing their preferences, needs, and behaviors sets you up to create a brand identity that actually resonates and doesn’t miss the mark.

Example: Apple is arguably one of the strongest brands in the world. They have access to all kinds of consumer data (when you purchase an Apple product, just think about all the information that you’re giving them). And they use those insights to understand preferences, needs, and behaviors.

3. Brand Differentiation:

This is when you begin to narrow those marketable attributes to a concise series of positive differentiators.

4. Brand Development:

Then you start translating those differentiators into a meaningful customer expectation.

5. Brand Position:

This is the part of the brand identity and value proposition that is to be actively communicated to the target audience and that demonstrates an advantage over competing brands. It describes what the organization does and for whom. It also includes the unique value proposition and promotes aspects of the organization that lend credibility. They need to be aligned and working in tandem with your business goals.

6. Brand Traits:

This illustrates what the organization wants its brand to be known for.

Example: Patagonia’s mission statement is: “We’re in business to save our home planet.” This statement emphasizes the alignment of their brand’s purpose with their business goals, which revolve around sustainability and environmental responsibility. Patagonia’s core values, such as environmental stewardship and corporate responsibility, further reflect its commitment to these principles. They have gone beyond words to action by incorporating sustainability into their product design, manufacturing processes, and corporate culture.

7. Brand Story:

This illustrates the organization’s history, along with why the history adds value and credibility to the brand. It also usually includes a summary of products or services. This is one of Scott’s favorite parts of this process – and he’d love to help you create your own. Email him.

8. Brand Promise:

This is the single most important thing that the organization promises to deliver to its customers. It is your UNIQUE value proposition-how you want them to FEEL about your organization after interacting with them.

9. Brand Testing:

Now it’s time to enter research phase, part two: testing the brand’s core attributes with target consumers, decision influencers, and decision-makers.

10. Brand Identity:

This creates the visual expression of the brand (logo), the positioning statement (slogan), and supporting value positions.

Example: Disney has masterfully created a brand voice and tone that aligns with its values of magic, joy, and family-friendly entertainment. This is what resonates with their audience. Disney’s brand voice is friendly, optimistic, and enchanting, mirroring the magical experiences it offers. This voice is consistently and dare we say meticulously applied across all its communication channels, from theme park advertisements to animated movies and social media posts. Whether you’re visiting a Disney theme park, watching a Disney movie, or browsing their website, you’ll encounter the same consistent tone that evokes a sense of wonder and nostalgia.

Example: We don’t need to tell you how important it is to create an impactful, distinctive logo. It’s the visual centerpiece of your brand identity. It’s a biggie. A striking example of a memorable logo is McDonald’s. The significance of the McDonald’s logo lies in its simplicity and immediate recognition. The golden arches, resembling an “M,” are not only a visual representation of the brand’s first initial but also symbolize the idea of an inviting doorway, welcoming customers into their restaurants. This logo effectively conveys the essence of McDonald’s as a friendly and accessible fast-food destination. Another important element is the color palette that represents your brand identity. There are 485 million results on Google for the science behind how colors motivate people in different ways. You could learn a lot by doing a deep dive into color psychology. Or you could hire a designer who knows about the importance of selecting a color palette that aligns with your brand’s values.

Example: Coca-Cola is a great one. The brand’s signature red color choice is rooted in color psychology. Red is associated with emotions like excitement, energy, and passion. It’s a color that stimulates the appetite and creates a sense of urgency, which is particularly relevant for a beverage company. Additionally, the color red can symbolize happiness and celebration, aligning with Coca-Cola’s brand values of joy and togetherness. Typography reinforces your brand’s visual identity. Choose font pairings that reflect your brand’s tone and maintain consistency.

Example: Netflix uses typography effectively to convey its brand personality and maintain consistency across various platforms. Typography plays a crucial role in Netflix’s brand identity by reflecting its modern, innovative, and user-friendly image. The company primarily uses the Gotham font for its branding, which is a contemporary and clean typeface known for its readability and versatility. This choice aligns with Netflix’s commitment to providing a seamless and enjoyable user experience.

11. Brand Training:

This means helping every employee, function, and department understand their role in maintaining and building brand equity and the consequences of the failure to do so.When you build consistency across channels, you create recognition and trust. Consumers know what they can expect from your brand, over and over again.

Example: Starbucks is an excellent example of consistency. Starbucks has successfully created a globally recognized brand with the uniformity of its brand elements across all touchpoints. Starbucks maintains a worldwide consistent logo, color scheme, store design, products, and more. This uniformity enhances recognition and trust among customers.

12. Brand Plan:

This is the area that defines what you’re going to DO to build the brand to be what you envision it to be. Key actions or processes you plan to put in place that will support each area of the brand plan and stick to them religiously.

13. Brand Launch:

This is the point at which the brand is revealed to the target audience.

14. Brand Management (Enhancement):

This is all about continually adding new value to the brand from the inside out.

15. Brand Measurement:

This is the ongoing assessment of brand equity and value position. It’s so important to stay open to growth and adapt to changing market conditions and trends. You should create a plan to revisit and refine your brand identity as your business evolves. Amazon is a compelling example of this step, continuously evolving and adapting to changing market trends while continuously evolving its brand identity. The company’s evolution from an online bookstore to a global e-commerce and technology giant underscores this

The Takeaway?

Building a strong brand identity is a multifaceted process that demands careful consideration and strategic planning. Each of these steps plays a vital role in crafting a brand that not only resonates with your audience but also aligns with your business goals and values. By following these steps, you’re establishing all the pieces you need to create a memorable, relevant brand experience.

By understanding your position, defining your brand, understanding your audience, and creating a distinctive voice, you establish the foundation. The visual elements, from logos to color palettes and typography, reinforce your identity visually. Establishing clear messaging, ensuring consistency, and remaining adaptable in a dynamic market environment are equally crucial. Collectively, these steps provide a comprehensive roadmap for building and maintaining a brand identity that not only stands out but also evolves and endures in the ever-changing business landscape.

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