How Do I Create A Brand Identity?

When you build a brand, you're building a personality

Posted by Rog How, April 24, 2018

If you’re looking to start a new business you might have the practical side all worked out – what you’re selling, your business plan… But you also need to consider that you’re also creating a new entity.

Whether you’re a sole trader, charity or limited company, you’re still giving birth to a new being that needs to interact with – and be understood by – your customers. Your brand identity is what gives your newly formed being a human quality that can be understood by other humans.

The way to do this, is not to present your company as a person, but more like a character from a book or film. You’re creating a personality, but the characteristics of that personality are simplified and then amplified to make it easier for real people to understand. It’s a bit like a cartoon caricature drawing of a face with emphasised features, except it’s the characteristics or personality traits that you are emphasising instead.

Choosing which characteristics to go for is the next step. This depends on your target audience and what will resonate with them. Some people connect better with certain personality traits – either ones that they are similar to, or things they are aspiring to be. You’re essentially trying to work out what traits will connect with your ideal customer. It helps if you can visualise the person you are trying to connect with, so create a persona who is your ideal customer – more on this subject soon – but a persona is basically an imaginary person who is your typical customer. Create a “top trumps” style list with their age, what they like, their pastimes, their job etc.

Once you have a persona, the brand archetype wheel (pictured) is a really good reference to look at to try to work out where your customers might sit and therefore where your brand might also sit. You can go one step further and look at the desire you are trying to meet. For example, if your ideal customer is someone who wants to get fit, it’s a desire to master something, so then a Hero archetype might meet their desire (think Nike). If your customer is outdoorsy they might be yearning for freedom, so an Explorer archetype will connect with them (North Face). These are two sports fashion brands, but for two very different customer bases.

Brand Archetype Wheel designed by Neil Quinn

It may sound a bit prescriptive, but a strong brand has a strong sense of identity. So you should be able to place it in one or two of the categories on the wheel, and the most memorable brands usually fall into one archetype and make that trait runs through everything they do – from packaging, to copy, imagery, logo etc. Even the way they behave. Look at Brew Dog, for example. They are a rebellious brand and so therefore went on to brew the world’s strongest beer (55%), and sold it in a stuffed squirrel. All PR stunts, and all bang on brand… even if you don’t agree with the packaging!

In summary, if you first can understand who your customer is, you can then start to understand who your brand should be. Once you have done this you can amplify the personality of the brand and make sure it runs through every aspect of what it does. All brand decisions that follow should be a doddle and your new baby can mature into a fully fledged, grown-up brand.