Trust builds confidence.
That is why a strong corporate brand identity can make or break a business. Brand identity is more than key values or approved color palettes; it is the collection of all elements that a company creates to portray the right image to its consumer. Here is one helpful way to describe it:
Brand identity is the image or character of your business as people relate to it. For example, the BMW image of elite luxury has grown naturally from customers’ repeated exposure to BMW’s ads, endorsements, and products.
Brand imagery is the aesthetic appearance of your brand’s core identity and messaging. This results from all the visuals (from billboards, print ads, or product packaging) that represent your brand’s identity.
When a company has a strong brand, it is easily recognized, which grows people’s trust. Trust builds confidence, and confidence begets loyalty. When a business has built superiority in a particular niche, repeat customers are more willing to buy in other areas. When you have loyalty from your base, you have space to increase prices or ask for bigger commitments.
Breaking Down the Brand Experience
When building a brand, think of an iceberg in which only the tip is visible.
The substance exists below the waterline. The brand elements that are most seen and celebrated (like brand imagery) are not always the most important. The brand experience – the mosaic of customer interactions people have with your business – is part of a greater journey.
Here are four dimensions of this mosaic:
1. Brand Voice
If your brand was a person, what would they sound like?
Are they loud and animated or reserved and refined? An organization’s name, tagline, and editorial style comprise an overall projection of its voice. As these elements are developed, consider how the words would sound in the mouth of a brand spokesperson or its founder.
Also, try to contrast the voice of your competitors. If your rival brand has a highly polished voice, you might consider adopting a friendly, down-to-earth style.
2. Consistency in Core Elements
Building the foundation of your identity starts with identifying core elements.
Strong brands create a style guide that anchors them to brand colors, key fonts, a logo projected across different backgrounds, and a style they hope to express (e.g., “elegant, clean, scalable, approachable yet excellent”).
Once you’ve nailed these keys, you can embellish with design tweaks, humor, or variations on patterns (of ads, print layouts, customer stories, and more). Like music, good design balances order and variation to make a beautiful composition.
3. Total Time
People want to feel like they are in control.
The total time invested in transactions is an essential consideration for today’s consumers. Don’t want to wait in a massive drive-through line? Order ahead in the app. Hate the grocery store line? Use the self-checkout. Perhaps you need to focus less on saving them money and more on saving them time.
Small tweaks you make to the customer experience can assure clients that their time is valuable.
4. Framing Customer Choices
Brand building is about affecting customer choice.
While prospects initially engage with emotional triggers like color, shape, image, or tone, eventually, they’ll ask deeper questions about their spending or time commitments. This involves both upfront expenses and opportunity costs; if customers buy from you, they implicitly say no to another brand.
Think strategically about speaking to buyer emotions regarding loss aversion, short-term sacrifices (vs. long-term gains), or sunk costs (how people don’t want to lose what has already been invested).
Brand identity goes beyond simple appearance. Decisions you make about voice, consistency, time, and customer choices can create strong feelings that prompt a profitable response!