The millions of businesses in the world are as unique as the fingerprints of the billions of people on Earth. Why do some stand out more vividly than the rest? It all comes down to brand identity.
Let’s first clear up some terms that can be confusing: brand vs. brand image vs. brand identity. They all sound similar enough to be used interchangeably, right? Let us be brief – no. Your business’s marketing strategy will benefit from learning the distinctions between them to more clearly define and share what sets your brand apart.
Still sound too close for comfort? Examples are our friends: let’s say you’re Apple Inc. and break it down like so:
While they all seamlessly work together, each has its own purpose when it comes to presenting your brand to the world in a professional manner. They paint consumers a picture of what your brand is all about, so that if your identity resonates with them, you can begin to establish relationships and build brand loyalty.
Now that we know the what – let’s dive into how you create a solid brand identity.
What is a touchpoint? Every. Single. Thing. Associated with your brand. Have employees? They’re your walking, talking brand billboards. Company vehicles? Check. Business cards, website, social media pages, merchandise, storefront signs – when we say everything, we mean every little detail a consumer would associate your brand with.
We like to paint a picture of how your brand’s touchpoints affect your image – almost like that of a rollercoaster. Your employee answers the telephone with a pleasant demeanor: brand image goes up 25 feet. Company’s website is user-friendly and has a modern, aesthetically pleasing design? Advance another 50 feet up, Mr. Fancy Pants. Company vehicle cruising around town with the driver chatting away on a cell phone, cutting people off? Hang tight, because that rollercoaster is about to take a steep dive down 100 feet.
Understanding the vast amount of touchpoints your brand has and the importance of keeping your standards high in every facet will help your brand showcase its identity properly and develop a positive brand image in the public eye.
The key to many things in life is consistency. Want to stay fit? It’s not going to happen if you break a mean sweat for three days and then couch potato it the rest of the year. Trying to master the accordion? Don’t expect to sell out any venues if you play once for your mom (who said you were amazing, of course) but fail to practice regularly.
Branding is no different – consistency is a staple in solid branding strategies. Consistency makes it easy, almost natural, for consumers to recognize any aspect of your company and know without a doubt that it is your brand. When everything from your website and business cards to employee uniforms and koozies is cohesive and presented consistently, it just makes sense.
Why do you need to make it easy for people? To be blunt, a lot of people won’t give a hoot enough to look into what sets your brand apart; they want you to (concisely) tell them what you’re about and how your brand or product is going to solve all their problems. First establish the trust, then build the loyalty.
Standards – whether low or high, everyone should have them. When it comes to your brand, make sure your standards are high and create guidelines for everyone to follow, both internally and externally. Do not leave it up to Joe Schmo at the local newspaper to size and color-correct your ad or logo. Rather, set your standards and follow through to make sure the final product looks professional and properly represents your brand.
At Stray Media Group, one of the many things we recommend is that all businesses have logo standards sheets ready-made for everyone from your graphic designer to your screen printing vendor to follow step by step to ensure it’s represented correctly.
Any of this feel a little out of your realm? Not to worry; that is what we’re here for. We often refer to ourselves as ‘The Guardian of Your Brand’, always fighting in your corner to make sure every aspect of your branding is top notch. Give us a shout to learn more about how we can help.