When it comes to setting up a business, one of the most important things to do is learn what is brand identity and how you can grow a successful brand online. In this article, we will discuss what is brand identity and how you can develop a brand on a budget.
No matter the size of your business, the industry you’re entering, or whether you’re B2B or retail, getting your branding right is what will ultimately set you apart from your competitors.
But what exactly is branding and how do you apply it your business?
Let’s imagine your business is a person.
That person has a name, they dress in a certain way, they have a personality, and they hold values and ideas.
All of these elements allow them to project themselves onto the world in a way in which they want to be seen.
It sets them apart from everyone else and gives them individuality. In a sense, that person is their own personal brand.
If we apply the same idea to your business, it has a name, it will have a certain look and feel, and it has an ethos, values and ideas that you perceive as valuable.
All of these elements combine to help create your business’ individuality and ultimately shape your brand.
“But there are so many brands out there, how will I be any different?” I hear you say…
It’s true that the world is saturated with recognizable brands, all selling similar services and products in slightly different ways.
But more often than not they all start to merge into one when you think about them.
They follow the same trends, copy styles, and in many cases lack any real substance.
Then there are the truly great brands…
A truly great brand goes beyond a recognizable logo and catchy tagline.
A great brand has a purpose, a single idea behind it, and a mission statement that permeates through everything that business does.
These brands stand head and shoulders above the rest of the competition.
They understand that business isn’t just about selling a product or service, it’s about promoting an idea, building relationships and breaking ground.
If you can apply the same thinking to your brand, you’ll be on the right track to creating something much bigger than just business.
What is brand identity and five steps to stand out
Define your brand
Defining your brand isn’t something that should be rushed. It takes commitment and introspection.
Do your research, learn the needs, habits and desires of your prospective customers.
Don’t rely on guesswork, you must ensure you know how your customer thinks.
Develop your brand story
Why does your business exist?
What happened that made you decide you needed to bring your product or service to market?
Who are the people behind your business and what do they believe?
These things can help you establish your emotive brand positioning and inform the identity and character for your brand messaging.
Imagine your brand is a person
We are all in a sense our own personal brands.
We hold beliefs and values which define who we are and how we connect with the world.
We dress and behave in certain ways to suit different situations, but ultimately we maintain our overall sense of self.
It can be difficult to dissect our own character, but when it comes to building a brand it is vital to have that understanding.
Don’t copy the big brands
Some say there’s a fine line between inspiration and plagiarism, however, I would suggest staying as far away from that line as possible.
The fact you’ve reached the point of creating your own brand shows intrigue and creativity and you should use that to carve out your own identity.
Remember, authenticity is key.
Consumers now more than ever need a reason to buy into your brand and a good way to ensure you’re on their radar is, to be honest, original and authentic.
Don’t be afraid to go against the grain. If your brand stands for something, shout it from the rooftops.
Be innovative, daring and break ground. As a new brand, you have a blank canvas, an opportunity to shape the way the world sees you.
Big brands no longer have that luxury.
They have layers of executives, shareholders and decisions makers making it harder than ever to innovate and react to the ever-changing consumer world.
With infancy comes flexibility. Use it to mould your brand.
How to build a brand? (on a budget)
The knowledge that you don’t have a big budget to help you build a brand online can be quite daunting and at times feel like a massive barrier to success.
When you’re first starting out on your business venture, chances are – unless you’re very lucky or can get a small loan of 1 million dollars from your parents (I’m looking at you Donald Trump) – you’re not exactly rolling in cash.
After all, how can you compete with the big players in your industry, who spend millions on brand development and have monthly marketing budgets worth more than your house?
Well, the answer is that branding doesn’t have to be an expensive game.
If you’re willing to put the hours in, there are some pretty creative ways to brand your business without having to sacrifice your food budget or sell the family car.
Develop and understand your buyer personas
If you don’t already know, a buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your own or your competitors existing customers.
The reason this insight is so important is because the needs, goals, and behaviour of your potential customers dictates how you convey your product or service.
It might seem time-consuming and perhaps a little trivial at first, but getting these right will set you up to be able to attract valuable visitors, leads, and customers to your business.
Maintain a confident identity and consistent voice
Equally as important when you build a brand, is your brand’s voice. Whether you’re a one-man-band or a corporation with a thousand employees, your business’s tone of voice must be consistent and always on message.
Remember, your tone of voice is not just what you say, but how you say it. It should build trust through familiarity, express personality, and set you apart from your competition.
Take social media seriously
You’ve spent time doing audience research and crunching data to create buyer personas.
You’ve developed a brand identity and consistent voice.
Now you just need somewhere to start a conversation.
Where are your potential customers hanging out? You guessed it, social media.
It’s easy to sign up to a selection of social media platforms and start blindly shouting from the rooftops, but it’s not recommended.
You need to find out which channels your personas spend most of their time.
While that doesn’t mean you should ignore the others, it does give you an idea of where to dedicate the majority of your resources.
Social media requires creativity and dedication. It’s easy to post any old content, but you need to carefully consider how you can add value to your customers with everything you share.
Nail your customer service
How many times have you received poor customer service from a business and forevermore had a tainted opinion of or felt disconnected from that brand?
For something that’s so simple to get right, so many businesses slip up and it can really damage the public persona of their brands.
Equally, a great customer service experience can turn a customer into a brand advocate, likely to share their experience with others.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re serving customers or clients, the aim is to create a positive, genuine and shareable experience.
Your blog is one of the most powerful weapons you can use to build a brand.
It helps you to reach your target audience, like the buyer personas you spent all that time developing, by creating informative and interesting content that plays to their curiosity, solves their problems, and inspires them to take action.
That’s why it’s so important to ensure your content is good quality, relevant, and that you post regularly.
The other great thing about blogging is that it serves as material to populate your social media channels and although it can be time-consuming, it’s a super inexpensive way to attract visitors to your website, who you can turn into paying customers and brand advocates.
Building a brand might seem like a daunting task, especially with limited resources.
This is just the tip of the iceberg in learning what is brand identity, but hopefully, the advice above has set your creative juices flowing.
But if you follow these steps and dedicate time to the little things, you’ll start to build momentum and quickly find yourself in a position where you feel much more confident.
Before you know it, that barrier to success will be a thing of the past.
Get out there, do your research, dream big and make something awesome.