Are you confused about what exactly “branding” is? Don’t worry, and you’re not alone. A lot of people use the terms “brand” and “logo” synonymously. Although a logo is undoubtedly part of a brand identity, it is far from its entirety. Creating an effective logo is just one small step toward a complete brand identity.
Millions of businesses are trying to make a name for themselves every day, so they have to find ways to differentiate themselves from others. For example, look at a company like Toms. They are competing with dozens, if not hundreds of different shoe companies, yet they manage to stand out and be successful. How? Sure, you could say that some people simply like the way Toms shoes feel, but it probably has more to do with branding, even if the consumer doesn’t consciously think about it.
That’s why brand identity is so important. But don’t just take our word for it. A recent study by Motista showed that consumers with an emotional connection to a brand have a 306% higher lifetime value, stay with a brand for an average of 5.1 years vs. 3.4 years, and will recommend brands at a much higher rate. (71% vs. 45%)
So let’s start with the basics. First, understanding what a brand identity is so that you can create one for yourself.
What’s Brand Identity?
Your brand identity combines what your brand communicates to consumers, what your values are, and what you want people to feel when they interact with your business. It’s a promise to your customers. Think of it as the personality of your business. Are you a casual Carrie Underwood or a bougie Beyonce?
Your products and the experience that comes with buying them and using them leave an impression on your customers long after they’ve made a purchase. The quality of your products or services and your brand identity are how you form that impression.
Strong Branding Examples
Now that you’ve got a better grasp of brand identity, (hopefully) let’s look at some strong branding examples to reinforce your understanding.
We could go the easy route and talk about Coke’s uniquely shaped bottles and their holiday polar bear, or tell you how McDonald’s golden arches make kids smile, but that would be boring. Let’s make things interesting and talk a little bit more about:
At first glance, TOMS is just another shoe company. It doesn’t take much digging to find out that their mission isn’t just to sell comfortable shoes, they want to improve people’s lives. TOMS has done a fantastic job of giving back and making sure people know about it. You probably heard about their one-for-one program, where they’d donate one pair of shoes to someone in need for every pair of shoes they sold. They have since retired that promotion, but their website currently says “Shop with confidence knowing that for every $3 we make, we give $1 away.” Customers can feel good about that knowing that some of their hard-earned cash is going to something useful and meaningful. It’s an effective strategy that creates an emotional connection between consumer and company.
Burt’s Bees had a humble beginning, starting with selling honey and beekeeping. It has since grown to provide a variety of personal products and competes with some of the biggest names in the industry. So how do they stand out from all the other flashy companies in this crowded space? They “make thoughtful choices to reduce our impact on nature and work to protect biodiversity, which preserves our place in the world.”
The logo is of the bearded founder and does not feature bright, attention-grabbing colors like so many of their competitors. Instead, the emblem has underlying feelings of modesty and simplicity. In addition, they differentiate themselves by using sustainably sourced ingredients and focusing not just on the health of their customers but also on the planet’s health.
These are two very different branding strategies in two very different industries, but you can see how they’ve used branding to give their consumers a certain feeling when they interact with their products.
SIGNS YOU NEED A BRANDING MARKETING MANAGER
You’re going green.
Awesome! And thank you! Green businesses are the future. You’ve got to find a way to market your goals and green initiatives without spoiling the image you already have in place. Your Branding Manager will know exactly how to balance that and make sure your sustainable marketing message is attractive and effective.
You’re starting a company.
Yay! Branding consultants will help you spot opportunities and figure out how to situate you within a given industry. They’ll be instrumental in helping you develop aesthetics and voice to attract the right customers. These things need to be in place before your growth marketer starts putting out content. Walk before you run, baby!
Maybe you’ve been around for a while, and you’re starting to see a decline in sales or just stagnation. Perhaps you’re releasing a new product or trying to tap into a new audience. A Branding Marketing Manager is exactly what you need when your business is pivoting so that you can take full advantage of your unique audience. They’ll be your Pivot Pro.
You’re successful, but becoming outdated.
You’ve got a strong track record with Gen X and consistent sales to them, but Gen Z’s response to hearing your name is “who?” or “OK, boomer.” A Brand Marketing Manager can help you find ways to get in front of Gen Z in a way that resonates with them. They’ll help you market to a whole new demographic while holding on to your existing customers.
COMPONENTS OF A STRONG BRAND IDENTITY
We’ll start with the thing most people think of when they hear the word branding. A logo is more than just a cool graphic, though. You want people to associate it with positive experiences and problems solved by being a customer. So don’t just go YOLO on your logo (sorry about that) think it through.
Trust & Authority
A good brand identity doesn’t just make your brand memorable, and it establishes your business as an authority in your industry. You know what you’re doing, and it shows. You’ve found the face of your company and maintained it over time. This develops trust between your customers and your brand.
What does your company stand for? What is its purpose besides income? Every company has a mission statement, what’s yours? Don’t be afraid to get a little mushy-gushy here. If you’re trying to save the planet, say so. Be passionate and make sure your brand identity shows that you are.
New Customers AND Brand Advocates
A strong brand identity does a great job attracting new customers, but it doesn’t stop there. Once they become a customer, a consistent brand identity gives them a sense of belonging. Get them to stick with you long enough, and they’ll advocate for your brand, recommending you to new people and defending you to the grave. OK, maybe not that far, but you get the point.
Creating a memorable brand that speaks to your target audience isn’t a project that can be completed overnight. While the colors, images, and voice will essentially remain the same, you’ll find that your brand morphs and adjusts over time. It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it. When consumers instantly recognize who you are and what you stand for just from a logo, you’ve become more than just a name. You’re an icon. Lucky!