May 30, 2013

Steps To Creating A Strong Brand Identity

building brandDo you remember the one kid in your middle school who more or less blended in with the background.  He or she was the kid whose picture never made it into any of the candid shots in the yearbook and perhaps didn’t even show up for yearbook photos to begin with.  He or she’s the kid who, when you hear their name now, you struggle to remember what they looked like even if they did spend all year seated next to you in Science class.  Today’s article is all about how to make sure your company is not that kid!

Brand identity is one of the tenants of marketing for good reason.  You are not going to be able to develop a strong brand that people recognize if you don’t first have a good idea of what your brand is.

Before we begin, let’s remember for a minute that when I talk about ‘brand’ I’m not talking about your logo or other visual aspect of your company or brand.  Those pieces are actually elements of your brand identity.  In a nutshell, if someone asked you to describe your brand you should be able to, in 1 – 3 words, succinctly sum up your company.  As an example, Small Food Businesses is trusted, approachable resource.  Doesn’t mean I always hit the mark nor that every single person out there would agree with me, but that’s what I strive for every day with this business.

If you don’t already have a brand identity, or if you think yours could be stronger, then walk yourself through these five exercises.  While these can look simple on the surface, getting to the core of each of these does take considerable thought and time.  So grab a white board or some scrap paper and start jotting down notes as we get started:

What’s your vision statement?  I’ve written before about vision statements and while they may sound fluffy to some, they are the best starting point for creating your brand identity.  Look here and here for past articles that walk you through creating a vision statement.

What’s your mission statement?  A mission statement need not be those paragraphs chockfull of marketing speak like ‘leveraging synergies’ but instead focusing on answering questions with real ‘human’ words.

  1. Who are you?
  2. What do you do?
  3. Why does it matter?

What’s your brand’s essence?  What emotions do you want people to feel when they interact with and think about your brand?  How do you want other people talking about your brand?  Check out this colorful personality wheel to help guide your thinking.

What’s your brand’s personality? If your brand was a person how would you describe it?  You will want to convey this personality in your visual branding as well as through the brand ‘voice’ via e-newsletters, social media outlets, and even down to how you answer the phone.  When you envision your brand is it fun or serious?  Flirty and playful or businesslike and down-to-earth? To help you get started check out this list of personality traits and write down the ones that appeal to you.  After you have your list, narrow it down to the 3 key traits you want your brand to embody.

What’s your brand positioning statement?  Now is when you take into account some of the market research you’ve done about who your target market is, what your competitors are doing, and combine it with the above information to create your positioning statement.  This one line sums up where your business stands in the overall commercial landscape.  Check out this prior post for information on how to develop your brand positioning statement.

What’s next?

So you’ve worked diligently through the exercises, perhaps even brainstorming with friends and colleagues (always a great idea) to help you really nail down exactly what – or who, if you will – your brand is.  Now what do you do with it?  That’s what we’ll tackle tomorrow…

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