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5 Drivers of a Strong Brand Identity

by Kaitlyn Roberts
6 min read

The Importance of Consistency and Authenticity

Before people can recognize who you are and what you stand for, they must first know who you are and what cognitive associations they should be having with your product or service.

For example, Nike’s brand identity is all about winning and achieving a personal best. People know this brand because it has established itself firmly in the minds of consumers by successfully projecting an image that makes people feel confident and optimistic. Once Nike’s brand identity was established, they were consistent with everything they did all the way from a product design perspective to a social media marketing initiative. You can see this brand identity in almost everything they do. Nike’s logo is known as the “swoosh”; It is a simple and easy-to-recognize brand mark, and it becomes even more recognized by consumers when seen in connection to athletic shoes. Even if you just said the word “swoosh,” most people would think of Nike.

Your business might be significantly smaller than Nike, but one thing remains the same: that all-important brand identity can be built only with consistency and authenticity.

Understanding your business

If you’re looking to build a brand identity for your business, you need to know who you are in order to create the identity you want to be associated with. To build a strong and authentic brand identity, you should be able to identify and clearly communicate the following pillars: mission, values, personality, voice, and a unique positioning statement (UPS).

  • Mission: What is your brand’s “why”?
  • Values: What beliefs define your brand?
  • Brand Character: What kind of demeanor would your brand have if it were a real person?
  • Brand Voice: How would your brand communicate if it were a real person?
  • Unique Positioning Statement: How does your brand differentiate itself from your competition?

Mission: Knowing Your “Why”

Before you can brand yourself, you have to know who you are. This is the first step and the most critical part of establishing an effective brand identity. It is what drives everything else.

The brand identity begins with a brand’s mission, or their “why.”

Begin by answering these questions: “who are you?”, “what do you do?”, and “why does it matter?”. Once answered, dig deeper by asking yourself: “Why does your business exist?”, “What is your business’s driving force?”, “How do you want your business to change the world?”.

After writing out all of these answers, you should be able to summarize your brand’s “why” in one or two sentences. If you feel like you need more than a few sentences, consider what changes need to happen for you to communicate who you are more concisely.

At the end of developing your “why” statement, it is also important to remember who your brand is speaking to. This sentence should read like a brand’s tagline or motto, so keep it simple but still targeted.

Values: What Are Your Beliefs?

Brand values work in tandem with your company’s mission. These values are the ideals your brand stands for and help form the basis on which the overall identity system is built.

To determine brand values, first, think about your business — is it a luxury brand, a brand with a strong environmental ethic, a brand that is active in the community, or is it a brand that is known for its product quality and high performance, etc.? If you can answer this then you know what your brand stands for and can begin to determine your beliefs with this in mind.

To determine your beliefs, ask yourself the following: “What motivates you as a brand?”, “What do you believe in and want to instill in your brand identity?”, “What are core principles that you would like to communicate?”.

Brand values can sometimes be hard to articulate, but you should know them when you see them. If you’re feeling stuck, remember that your brand can also have several values depending on what you want to communicate to customers. When brand values are expressed effectively in brand communications, customers tend to react positively–they want to buy a brand that reflects their own values and beliefs.

Once you know who you are and what you stand for, you can determine your brand’s values.

Brand Character: The Face of Your Brand

Your brand is not a person, but it must interact with people. When a brand develops a personality, it feels more approachable and relatable. Your brand’s character visually communicates your brand’s essence, which is why, as the face of your business, this component needs to be built with intention.

Brand characters should be familiar and recognizable. Do you have a brand that is fun and friendly, youthful and energetic, daring and boldly confident, or sleek and professional? Think about how and where your brand will interact with customers as this will also help you pick the right brand personality.

Your brand’s character is what people should expect from your brand in every brand touchpoint. In the end, you should be able to answer: “What kind of communication methods will my brand utilize?” and “What does my brand want to be known for?”.

Brand Voice: Your Verbal Expression

When your brand speaks to people, it should verbally reflect the personality of the company. When your brand voice is in line with the brand’s personality, it can strengthen brand identity. It’s important to remember that brand voices must be consistent across every brand touchpoint, but they should also change depending on whom the brand is communicating with.

When your brand voice is executed well, your consumers will associate the brand’s tone with the correct feelings you were trying to convey.

How do you want your brand to sound? Do you want to use formal or informal language, a casual tone or a witty tone, do you want to be educational or informative, or how about brand-specific terminology (think Apple’s iPhone or Google’s Gmail).

Your brand’s voice is responsible for the verbal communication of your brand’s essence. Remember, customers tend to prefer brand communication that is clear and concise so keep your brand’s voice straightforward.

Unique Positioning Statement: Differentiating Yourself

Even though a unique positioning statement (UPS) is an important part of brand identity, it is not always built into brand identities. A brand’s positioning statement defines what a brand stands for and identifies how a brand is unique from its competitors.

To differentiate yourself, think about the following: Are you a brand with exceptional customer service, are you an original brand with unique style and taste, or are you a brand known for superior quality etc.?

When brand positioning is executed well, it can help brand identity stick because it tells your customers what to expect from your brand.

To create your UPS, answer the following questions: “What makes my brand’s position distinctive?”, “What are my brand’s unique qualities?”, and “What is my brand’s competitive advantage?”.

Building brand identity is about being intentional

Every brand has a story that sets it apart from the competition, so make sure your brand identity reflects your brand’s mission, values, personality, voice, and unique positioning statement. Consumers need to know your brand before they can recognize your brand, so take some time and be intentional when building your brand identity.

Need some help? Workhorse has helped businesses of all sizes and in all industries develop and communicate their brand identity through a proven, proprietary discovery process. Our team of seasoned marketing professionals will work with you to build the brand identity that will serve as a strong foundation for your business for years to come. Get in touch with our team to learn how you can get started.

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