If you’re starting a company, switching up a brand, or launching a new product, it’s not an uncommon experience to feel overwhelmed with the process of coming up with the right name, feel, and brand language that communicates your brand identity to your target market. You want to make sure you create positive associations that help buyers really connect with your brand and its products. You want something that sets you apart from the competition and fits your mission. Your brand identity should also fit the products you produce or plan to, as well as fit with the target market(s) you envision for your brand. Hence, finding your brand identity is hard, complex, and often frustrating with conflicting ideas among your stakeholders. It’s also a very serious consideration since changing your brand identity causes confusion for your stakeholders and may damage sales far into the future but choosing the wrong brand identity might mean your brand never resonates with your market. Here, we go back to look at why finding your brand identity is hard, how you should navigate the challenge to end up with a good brand, and how you can fix it if your first effort toward finding your brand identity doesn’t work out as you hoped.
Below, we can see an example of a product that was initially marketed with a poor brand identity. Luckily, the management did hit on a brand identity that allowed the products to thrive.
What is brand identity and why it matters
According to Hubspot, brand identity is:
made up of what your brand says, what your values are, how you communicate your product, and what you want people to feel when they interact with your company. Essentially, your brand identity is the personality of your business and a promise to your customers.
Thus, finding your brand identity is much more than creating a cool logo, choosing branding colors, and finding unique fonts to represent your brand. Sure, these design aspects help you translate your brand identity but they’re only a small part of your brand identity. Design elements are more like giving your child a name; they act as an identifier. But, more important than the child’s name, is his/her character and actions as they grow up. That’s the true meaning of brand identity.
In their article on brand identity, Hubspot interviewed brand managers from major companies. Here’s what the brand manager from Wayfair, Jared Rosen, said about finding your brand identity:
Why finding your brand identity matters
Brand identity is the essence of your brand and everything it stands for. It embodies your brand personality and it’s this personality that either draws customers to your brand or turns them away from a purchase.
Maybe the most important aspect of your brand is the trust it engenders in your target market. As the face of your brand, its identity encompasses everything the brand stands for and what it doesn’t. By reinforcing the values held by your target market, that brand gains credibility and trust as long as the actions it takes match those values.
As you build trust and credibility through shared values, branding allows you to build relationships with your target market.
Just as your name and face generate recall among your friends and foes alike, a brand’s visual identity is like a shorthand that defines your mission, values, and the accumulated actions that draw customers to your brand. For instance, Starbucks sells overpriced coffee and part of the appeal justifying this expense is the values enforced by the company. Starbucks only sells “fair trade” coffee purchased from small farmers at a price reflecting their efforts. It also treats employees well by paying tuition and other benefits to most workers.
In contrast, Papa John’s Pizza, suffered a serious threat to sales when the company chair used a racial slur. Financial troubles continued even after the chair stepped down.
Without a definite difference between your brand and those of the competition, you don’t stand a chance of gaining loyal customers. Think about how produce is usually unbranded. Why would you prefer one farm’s produce over another farm’s produce? Yet, Chiquita successfully branded bananas before a controversy over funding for Columbian forces engaged in human rights violations that linked the brand to such atrocities.
As I mentioned earlier, a brand reflects the personality of the products produced by the brand and differentiating your brand from the competition is key to success. Below, we see the way Apple uses the brand personality of its Mac computers to help consumers identify with the brand, resulting in a price premium over other brands.
Tips for finding your brand identity
You need to build an authentic connection
Every brand needs a story. There are, largely speaking, two successful kinds of brand storytelling. You can tell the story of the business, its founders, and its team, which can highlight a passion and dedication to your craft. Or you can craft a story of your business in relation to your customers. Understanding your customers, understanding their needs, and understanding the values that inform the brand choice of your target market are all critical for finding the right brand identity. From there, you can work toward building an authentic emotional connection between your brand and its target market.
Brand names are especially tough
Finding the right name for the business can be tough, indeed. You want to choose a name that’s easy to recognize, easy to say, and easy to remember. But if you go too generic or too short with your syllables, then your chance of running into others sharing that brand name increases. What’s more, you want to avoid any potentially negative or embarrassing connotations. Not everyone is a whiz with words, which is why name development teams can help with finding the right name for your brand that will resonate with your target market. You also need to choose a name with a corresponding domain name available, which is sometimes hard as folks gobble up desirable domain names as an investment when a company wants to use that as the basis for their brand.
Working with folks equipped to help you avoid the names that could prove potentially problematic while helping you find that which fits your business makes it more likely you’ll grab the market’s attention.
It requires a strategic foundation
Good brand names and identities get better the more your audience encounters them. If you’re choosing a name that gives an idea of friendliness and brightness, then you need to make sure that your customer service fits that same vibe. Similarly, a brand built on a feeling of prestige should be supported by professional conduct all the way down. Your brand needs to match your company. It requires brand authenticity and choosing an authentic personality to underpin your brand. If it doesn’t work over time, you can switch it up but reflect that rebranding is usually challenging.
But don’t get too clever
You must find a natural, authentic fit between your branding, your company, its products, and your market. However, this doesn’t mean that your brand, name, and logo have to contain cryptic clues as to the nature of the company. For instance, Elon Musk not only chose a weird name for Twitter (now X) but for his children, as well. One child’s name is the very cryptic, X Æ A-12 Musk.
You want whatever branding you choose to communicate your brand’s personality and values simply, at a glance. As such, you should avoid getting too fancy with allusions, typography, and especially creating names that make use of symbols or numbers that make a name difficult to type or use in voice-activated devices. Simplicity is king.
A lot goes into a name, and even more into its associated brand identity. Hopefully, the tips above give you a better idea of how to navigate around the challenge of finding your brand identity.
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