What is brand identity, and why is it important?
We hear the word “brand” thrown around quite a bit these days — and with very good reason. People might talk about their “personal brand”, or business activities as “on-brand” or “off-brand”. What we really mean, when we talk about brand in this way, is brand identity. Your brand identity is the bridge between you and your customers: it encompasses how you communicate your values and offerings, as well as the impression you leave on anyone who interacts with your brand. It’s both the essence of your operation and the image you project out into the world.
Brand identity is ultimately about the way you make people feel.
While brand identity might begin with elements such as your logo and the colours and fonts that you use, it’s ultimately about the way in which people speak about your business and how you make them feel. Research shows that meaningful brands form the strongest connections with people and make the deepest, longest-lasting impressions. A 2021 Havas Group survey found that 73 percent of people believe businesses should act for the good of society and the planet, and 64 percent of people prefer to buy from businesses that consider purpose as well as profit. It also showed that consumer trust in businesses is at an all-time low.* How do you demonstrate the meaning and values of your brand? By rolling out a considered and consistent brand identity across all marketing touchpoints.
Imagine, for example, that you come across a website where the visual and written tone is quite serious and professional, but the company’s Instagram page is loud and brash. You may not feel that you could trust this brand, or that you knew who they really were. Likewise if a brand frequently mentions sustainability in its content but then posts its products out swathed in plastic. Or, if you were to be handed a business card that used a green and gold colourway, but then the business’s email signature involved red and blue, you might get confused and wonder if you’re dealing with two different businesses.
Of course, there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to the brand identity you choose, as long as you’re resonating with the right audience (your identified target audience). Depending on your industry, your Unique Sales Proposition (USP) and who exactly you’re trying to reach, your brand identity might be playful, sassy, nurturing, innovative, thoughtful, respectful, brash, modern, traditional, organic, sustainable — or an infinite number of other things. It won’t necessarily reflect your own personality as a business owner or senior manager, but should be driven by research and consideration of your target audience (here at PIER, it all begins with a brand audit).
Why is brand identity important?
- A solid brand identity helps build trust and credibility with your audience, which is more important now than ever before. One survey showed that as much as 86 per cent of modern consumers say a brand’s perceived authenticity is important in determining their buying behaviour.* Because we’re living in a digital age where a high percentage of business interactions now take place online, businesses have to work harder these days to humanise themselves, build trust and convey its values and personality.
- First impressions count. The market is competitive, and brands often have only a split second to capture their audience’s attention amid a sea of competitors. You need to ensure your brand has an identity distinct enough to immediately resonate with your audience.
- A consistent brand identity assists with brand recognition. It takes, on average, between five and seven interactions with a brand before a person recognises it and takes action. The more consistent your brand identity is, the faster people will recognise it and the fewer impressions will be required.
- Though it takes some time and effort initially, having a strong, clear, considered brand identity will inevitably help streamline, organise and simplify your branding efforts. One you’ve decided your businesses’ brand positioning (who your business is, what you’re about and how you’d like to come across), this identity can flow through and inform all your marketing communications.
Where do we see brand identity expressed?
In short: everywhere! This will depend largely on your offering and audience, but some examples include:
- Your logo
- The colours and fonts used across your logo, website, email signatures, packaging etc.
- Printed collateral such as business cards, brochures and stationery
- Digital and print advertisements
- Your origin story
- Uniforms and the visual merchandising of bricks-and-mortar stores
- The tone of voice used in the copywriting of your website, printed collateral and social media
- The tone of voice used by staff when communicating with customers via email, instant messages, over-the-phone, face-to-face etc.
- Signage and vehicle decals
- Packaging and the “unboxing” experiences of customers who open parcels from you
- Any events you hold or host
- Brand ambassadors or spokespeople
Evidently, brand identity extends far, far beyond your logo: it’s a thread that’s woven through almost every aspect of your business. Rather than thinking of creating your brand identity as another hoop you need to jump through, consider the process an opportunity. Each of the above touchpoints represents an opportunity to tell your story, share your philosophy, connect with your audience and, in the end, increase revenue.
Let’s dive in.
Interested in finding out more about brand audits and how to craft a brand identity that resonates? Get in touch with PIER today. We’d love to help.