How do I Create a Brand Identity?

It's important to remember that when you create a brand, you're creating a new entity.

By Rog HowPosted in Ideas

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 to see your company more like a person, or more so, 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 and relate to. 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.

A person is made up of a body, mind and soul, and so too should you brand. The body is the functional part; what your brand does. The mind is the values; what your brand believes in. And the soul in the personality; what your brand is like.

Functions / Attributes

These are the real things about your company. The practical reasons someone has to buy your good or service. If you sell drinks, you sell the ability to quench thirst.

Values

These are the things that drive you as a business. The things that you see as valuable and resonate strongly with your target audience. It could be things like efficiency, quality, sustainability or luxury.

Personality

This is where we get emotional, and emotions are complex, but incredibly, well... emotive! Understanding the emotional needs of your customers is a must for a strong brand identity. It could be that they are craving control, freedom, enjoyment of safety, whatever it is, if you can understand it, then you can meet that need in your brand character.

It helps if you can understand and visualise the person you are trying to connect with, so speak to customers and create a persona who represents your ideal customer. 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 how your customers emotional needs might be met by your brand character.

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.

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.

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