Brand Identity 101: How to build one your customers love?

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You are sitting at your desk late in the evening, comparing your website, social media handles, and PR with your competitors.

Something seems off with your brand - it is not unique or connects with your audience.

As a founder or a brand manager, you are constantly struggling to differentiate your brand from competitors and maintain consistent messaging across platforms.

To understand what you are missing out on, you spend hours analyzing your competition and the latest branding trends.

You finally found that ‘Brand Identity' is the first step to getting started!

But isn't it going to cost a lot of money and resources?

If you ask us, our answer is a ‘big No.' Not when you do not overcomplicate branding and take a simpler route.

Brand Identity is not a fancy expensive logo or a catchy tagline but a blueprint that tells how your company is presented to the world, helping you stand out, connect with your audience and foster loyal customer relationships.

In this blog post, we will break down the concept of brand identity, discuss its importance, and guide you in building a strong brand identity for your business.

By the end of this read, you'll have a roadmap to creating a brand identity that aligns with your business and engages your audience.

So, let's jump right in with a clean canvas and build a strong brand identity for your business.

Understanding Brand Identity

Brand identity is the face of your brand. It is the efforts put in for customers to see, think, perceive, and feel about your brand.

To build a unique and easily identifiable brand identity, any brand can use the brand board template or create these 7 brand elements.

7 Elements of Brand Identity

  1. Brand Name: The brand name is most customers' first contact with your business. It should be memorable, easy to pronounce, and signify your brand's purpose.

Here is a brand identity example, Headspace, a mental health app. The name reflects peace, calm, and mental well-being, which are the brand's key attributes.

2. Brand Logo: The logo visually represents your brand that people instantly recognize. Just because the brand elements should reflect what the brand is about, do not stuff it with everything about it.

Continuing our previous brand identity example, Headspace uses a simple and meaningful logo that aligns with the brand. The orange dot means the feeling of being centered and calm. It also resembles the temple of the forehead, considered the source of mental energy.

Headspace brand logo - brand identity
Brand logo - Headspace

3. Graphics and Images: Similar to the logo, the graphics and images used by the brand should be consistent and in line with the company's product/ service as they reflect the brand's personality.

Headspace uses cool-toned, cartoonish, and illustrative visuals with a playful and relaxed vibe, aligning with its mission of promoting stress-free living.

graphics and images - brand identity
Graphics & images

4. Color Scheme: As human beings, we tend to relate colors with the colors of nature, which result in emotions and behaviors. As example for this brand identity element, ‘Red' can mean passion but also anger, and ‘Blue' can mean calm but also sadness. So, choosing the right shade of color for your brand is essential.

As for our example of Headspace, it uses cool blues and oranges, invoking feelings of calm, optimism, happiness, and creativity. Look at the Instagram handle of Headspace. Just the sight of the colors can bring a calm feeling in you 🧘🏼‍♀️

Color scheme on Instagram - brand identity
Color scheme on Instagram - brand identity
Color scheme on Instagram

5. Typography: Fonts have 2 goals. One is to improve the readability of the text, and the second is to create a mood and convey your brand's personality.

Headspace majorly uses Brandon Grotesque font for all of its text. It is clean, modern, and makes it feel approachable.

6. Tone and Voice: This is the personality and emotion infused into your company's communications.

Headspace's tone is friendly, approachable, and clear.

Here are more examples of tone and brand voice examples that can be used in the brand identity process.

Even after having a brand voice and tone, most brands struggle with being consistent in their communications and messaging. This confuses the customer. To bridge this communication gap, we'll soon dive into maintaining a consistent brand voice across all communication channels using Writesonic.

7. Slogan and Tagline: You may not remember the name or logo of a company, but a strong brand's slogan/ tagline definitely connects to their audience. These catchy phrases encapsulate your brand's identity and reflect the audience's aspirations.

Headspace's tagline, "Meditation made simple," concisely communicates its promise of simplicity and ease of use.

Slogan and tagline - brand identity
Slogan and tagline 

Along with these brand identity elements, knowing the company's purpose, future vision, values, and positioning can help you build the perfect brand identity for your business.

Brand Identity vs. Brand Image vs. Brand Personality

While discussing the brand identity elements, you have come across words like brand personality and brand image. Before they confuse you even further, let's understand the difference between them with the help of an Apple brand identity example.

Brand IdentityBrand ImageBrand Personality
This is how a brand portrays itself to the world.This is how the public perceives the brand.This refers to the human characteristics associated with a brand.
Apple's identity revolves around simplicity, innovation, and high-quality.Apple has successfully positioned itself as a premium, innovative, and reliable technology provider.Apple's brand personality is imaginative and innovative.
Apple - brand identity

Notice how 'innovative' is a consistent thread through all three? That's no coincidence.

Apple is known as the world's most valuable brand for a reason.

It has a long history of being the first in many areas - personal computers, iPods, iTunes, Siri - and has communicated these innovations so effectively that the word 'innovative' is now imprinted in consumers' minds when they think of Apple.

Creating a solid brand identity might seem like a challenge, but it is worth accepting. Once you get it right, it becomes your golden ticket to differentiating your brand, effectively communicating your USP (Unique selling proposition), resonating with your audience, and growing your business.

A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is - it is what consumers tell each other it is! - Scott Cook, co-founder of Intuit

Why is brand identity so important?

Let's get straight to the point. Brand identity isn't just a fancy buzzword – it's a crucial pillar for all your branding efforts that lead to your business's success. And here's why:

  1. First Impressions Matter: Your brand identity elements form the first impression of your business.

It's said that 55% of a brand’s first impressions are visual. While the first impression isn't the last, it significantly impacts how potential consumers perceive your brand.

As a brand identity example, Nike's iconic "swoosh" logo gives an immediate impression of motion and innovation.

Nike swoosh - brand identity
Nike Swoosh

2. Personality Counts: Your brand identity is the personality of your business. Just like you might resonate with a person because of their personality, a well-crafted brand identity can make your brand likable and relatable.

Take, for instance, Old Spice. Its quirky, humorous advertising has created a fun, irreverent brand personality that sets it apart from competitors.

Old spice - brand identity
Old spice

3. Brand Awareness: A distinctive brand identity puts you on the map and can attract new eyes to your business.

When Adam’s Michelin-starred restaurant revamped their brand identity, they saw unbelievable results - 2500+ unique website visitors on the launch day, and 100% of available tables were booked for the 3 months.

Brand Identity can transform an unknown company into a trustworthy and respected brand - By Stephen Houraghan, CEO and Founder of Brand Master Academy

4. Consistency is Key: A solid brand identity ensures your messaging is consistent across all communications. This clarity and cohesion make your brand easily identifiable.

Think of McDonald's – wherever you go, the golden arches and "I'm lovin' it" slogan are instantly recognizable.

Mcdonald's (I'm lovin' it) - brand identity
Mcdonald's (I'm lovin' it)

5. Loyalty & Trust: According to studies,

81% of consumers need to trust a brand before considering buying.

A consistent brand identity builds trust and loyalty among consumers. Consider brands like Apple or Coca-Cola; their consistent branding has fostered a loyal customer base.

6. Finding New Customers: Once you've established trust through your brand identity, you're more likely to attract new customers and increase your revenue by 33% (on average).

7. Enhanced Advertising: When you're investing a considerable sum in advertising, a robust brand identity ensures your efforts pay off. While advertising reaches people, a strong brand identity engages them.

Consider Dove's "Real Beauty" campaign – the brand's identity of promoting self-esteem made the ads more impactful.

Dove real beauty campaign

8. Attract Top Talent: A compelling brand identity can attract talent who resonate with your mission, values, and vision.

Take Google, for example; its innovative and inclusive brand identity attracts some of the brightest minds.

Google - best place to work - brand identity
Google - best place to work

Finally, a strong brand identity contributes to a sustainable and respected brand image. Isn't that the ultimate goal?

If you're nodding your head in agreement, you've realized the importance of brand identity for your business. It's not just about having a good-looking logo or a catchy tagline; it's about creating a holistic experience that positively shapes your audience's perception and interaction with your brand

How to build a strong brand identity for your business?

Building a brand identity is not as simple as piecing together elements like logos and color schemes and calling it a day.

It requires strategy and a well-thought-out approach. One such method is using the Brand Identity Prism, and we'll understand this shortly. Additionally, we'll look into the importance of brand identity guidelines in the identity-building process.

Brand Identity Prism

Also known as Kapferer's Brand Identity Prism, is a concept in marketing developed by Jean-Noël Kapferer, a French marketing professor. It visualizes the six building blocks of a brand's identity. We will discuss each block briefly by referring to the Coca-Cola brand identity example.

Brand identity prism - brand identity
Brand identity prism

In the above image, the sender is the brand (Coca-Cola), and the receiver is the consumer or target audience.

  1. Physique: The tangible elements that make up your brand. For Coca-Cola, this would include their red-and-white color scheme and their classic logo.

2. Personality: The character or manner in which your brand communicates. Coca-Cola conveys a friendly, upbeat, and approachable personality.

3. Culture: The value system and basic principles that your brand represents. Coca-Cola's culture emphasizes American values, sharing, and being social.

4. Relationship: The rapport or connection your brand has with its customers. Coca-Cola builds a customer relationship through notions of enjoyment and celebration like friends.

5. Reflection: The stereotypical user of the brand. Coca-Cola reflects a broad demographic of consumers who are youthful, fun, and seek refreshment.

6. Self-image: How the consumer feels when they use the brand. Coca-Cola consumers might see themselves as fun-loving, youthful, and sociable.

Importance of Brand Identity Guidelines

You remember how when you play that old game of 'telephone,' where a message gets passed around, it ends up totally different when it reaches the last person?

Well, that's exactly why it's important for brands to have everything about their brand identity clear.

The brand identity guidelines document is a brand's rule book or playbook. It is filled with details about using the brand identity elements like the logo, right colors, fonts, and brand voice.

  1. Logo Usage: This section outlines how to use the logo, including its placement, sizing, color variations, and what not to do with the logo.

2. Color Palette: The color palette section specifies the primary and secondary colors of the brand, usually with specific color codes for print (CMYK) and digital (RGB or HEX) formats.

3. Typography: This involves the specific fonts that should be used in different scenarios, including headline fonts, body text fonts, and possibly even web fonts.

4. Imagery/Photography Style: If a brand uses specific types of images or has a particular photography style, this will be outlined in the guidelines. This could include things like the color treatment of photos, composition, subject matter, etc.

5. Voice: This section specifies the style of writing and tone to be used in all brand communications. This can cover everything from formal reports to social media posts. You can now create your own brand voice with this simple template!

6. Brand Values/Mission: Although not a design element, including the brand's mission and values in the guide can help ensure that all communications align with the brand's core principles.

7. Examples: Finally, many brand guidelines include examples of what to do and what not to do to help clarify the rules.

You can refer to this brand guidelines document by Slack for a deeper understanding.

Why does all this matter?

A brand guideline book is a ‘brand bible' that employees can flip through to get a crash course on the company's verbal branding - Michal Eisikowitz, Brand Copywriter & Founder of CopyTribe

These guidelines keep the brand on track, making sure everything looks, feels, and sounds consistent no matter where you see or hear about the brand. This makes the brand recognizable and memorable, which is what any brand wants. It acts as a reference point for your team and any external agencies, helping maintain your brand's integrity.

7 Steps to Build Brand Identity

Now that we understand the components and importance of brand identity let's get to real work, i.e., building brand identity for your businesses with these simple yet effective 7 steps.

To break the common misconception - ‘building brand identity is expensive’, in this section, we will look at an example that made it big without spending thousands of dollars - Oatly.

Step 1: Purpose Behind the Brand's Existence
Every company has a backstory and a strong reason to be founded. Your job is to find what it is. You can look for answers to questions like,

What problem does your brand solve? What values does it represent? Understanding this helps to build a foundation for your brand identity.

For Oatly, they wanted to make it easy for people to turn what they eat and drink into personal moments of healthy joy without recklessly taxing the planet's resources in the process.

Step 2: Research Your Audience and Competitors
Identify who your customers are and what they value. Also, understand what your competitors are doing right and where they fall short.

The primary target audience for Oatly were individuals who choose a plant-based diet for sustainability reasons, rather than just for health benefits.

Step 3: Audit Your Existing Brand Identity
If you're rebranding, evaluate your existing brand identity. What works? What doesn't? This can guide your new brand identity.

Oatly is not a recent brand but was founded in 1994. Their packaging and messaging initially looked was not different from others milk brands. But when they Oatly was rebranded in 2012, it transformed into a visually distinctive brand with activistic messaging.

You can see the difference yourself!

Oatly brand identity - brand identity
Oatly brand identity

Step 4: Brand Voice and Messaging

Define how your brand communicates with its audience. Is it formal or casual? Fun or serious? Your brand voice should be consistent across all channels.

Oatly did not leave any chance to educate their audience about plant-based milk. They use a casual brand voice but activistic and transparent messaging. They ditched the regular packaging and came up conversational stories on the packaging to connect with their audience.
Oatly - brand identity
Oatly - brand identity

Step 5: Visual Brand Identity: This includes your logo, color scheme, and other visual elements.

Oatly logo is nothing fancy but shows their product and purpose about plant-based milk.
Oatly logo - brand identity
Oatly logo

Step 6: Maintain Brand Consistency

Your brand guidelines will help maintain consistency across all platforms and communications. This consistency strengthens brand recognition and trust.

Oatly did their best to maintain consistency with their brand's visual identity. From outdoor posters to social media and events, the distinct imprint of the Oatly brand is instantly recognizable.
Oatly consistent branding - brand identity
Oatly consistent branding
To maintain a similar consistency in brand voice and messaging, you can simply use Writesonic Brand voice.

Step 7: Monitor Brand Identity
As finally, regularly check social media, reviews, and forums to understand customer expectations. Be ready to adapt and evolve with time while maintaining your brand's core identity.

If we understood anything from Oatly, then it is their adaptability over the years. They transformed from a boring oat milk brand to an interesting activist plant-based brand.

Creating a powerful brand identity is not an overnight process, but with these steps, you'll be well on your way to developing a compelling and resonating identity that sets your brand apart.

How to build your brand voice on Writesonic?

Keeping a brand's voice consistent is more challenging than it seems. While visual elements are readily identifiable, detecting shifts in brand voice during editing and review can prove tricky and easily missed.

But not with Writesonic Brand Voice. We have mentioned this earlier. In this section, we'll show you how it can help you keep your brand voice consistent throughout all the content.

Step 1: To begin, log into the Writesonic account. In case you do not have an account, you can sign up here in a few minutes.

Build your brand voice with Writesonic - brand identity
Build your brand voice with Writesonic

Step 2: On the left panel, you’ll find a list of features. Choose ‘Brand Voice.’

Build your brand voice with Writesonic - brand identity
Build your brand voice with Writesonic

Step 3: You can click on the ‘Get Started’ option.

Build your brand voice with Writesonic - brand identity
Build your brand voice with Writesonic

Step 4: It will take you to a pop, ‘Add Brand Voice’ which has 3 options to import your existing content to train Writesonic on your writing style. You can choose one from them.

  • Add a link to your website or one of your blog links
  • Copy and paste branded text
  • Upload a file with text (.pdf, .docx, etc)
Build your brand voice with Writesonic - brand identity
Build your brand voice with Writesonic

Step 5: Based on your choice, submit the content data and hit ‘Analyze’

Build your brand voice with Writesonic - brand identity
Build your brand voice with Writesonic

Step 6: Give a name to the voice, and click on ‘Create Voice’

Build your brand voice with Writesonic - brand identity
Build your brand voice with Writesonic

Step 7: And just like that, your brand voice is saved! Now, when you're writing in the future, you can easily ensure your content aligns with your brand's voice.

Build your brand voice with Writesonic - brand identity
Build your brand voice with Writesonic

Evolving and adapting brand identity

A brand that remains static may find itself lost in the crowd. Adapting and evolving your brand identity and brand image is an essential practice that aligns your business with market trends and audience expectations. Let's delve into the when, why, and how of refreshing your brand identity without losing the essence of what makes your brand unique.

Reasons for rebranding brand identity

A brand is often mistakenly reduced to its visual components such as logos and color schemes. While these are vital, a brand encompasses much more. It's a blend of your company's personality, values, mission, and the promise you make to your consumers. It's how your customers perceive you and the emotional connection they feel with your products or services.

As the face of your company, your brand should align with your evolving business goals, audience, and market trends. But how can you recognize when your brand needs an update? Here are some signs:

  1. Misalignment with Business Goals: If your brand no longer represents your company's core values or objectives, it's time to reassess and rebrand. A clear disconnect can lead to confusion among customers and employees alike.

Once known as a brand for older men, Old Spice shifted its focus to target a younger demographic. They realigned their branding with humorous and edgy advertising to successfully reach this new audience.

2. Changes in Target Audience: As your business grows, your target audience might shift. Your brand must resonate with those you aim to serve. If you find that your audience's preferences and needs have changed, your brand should evolve to reflect those shifts.

As the demand for healthier options grew, McDonald's expanded its menu to include salads and smoothies, adjusting its branding to appeal to health-conscious consumers.

3. Outdated Visuals or Messaging: In a dynamic market, what once was trendy can quickly become outdated. An antiquated logo or color scheme can make your brand appear out of touch. Regularly review your visual elements and messaging to ensure they align with contemporary aesthetics and communication trends.

Apple's rebranding in the late '90s, shifting from rainbow-colored logos to sleek, modern designs, helped refresh the brand's image and align with its innovative and cutting-edge technology focus.

4. Competitive Landscape: If your competitors are outshining you or your brand seems lost in the market's noise, a rejuvenation might be needed to set you apart. Analyze what others in your field are doing, and determine what unique value you can emphasize to stand out.

Acquiring health-oriented brands like Naked Juice and KeVita, PepsiCo evolved its brand identity to better compete in the rapidly growing health and wellness market.

PepsiCo logo (before) - brand identity
PepsiCo logo (before)
Pepsico (after) - brand identity
Pepsico (after)

5. Negative Perception: If your brand has faced controversies or negative perceptions, it may be vital to revamp your identity to regain trust and rebuild relationships with your customers.

Once associated with gang culture in the UK, Burberry managed to overcome this negative perception by revamping its image, pulling certain products, and realigning with luxury and exclusivity.

6. Decline in Engagement: Monitor customer engagement levels, feedback, and loyalty. If you notice a consistent decline in these areas, it may signal that your brand is losing its appeal.

Facing a decline in sales and engagement, LEGO reconnected with its core audience through innovations like LEGO movies and collaborating with franchises like Star Wars, revitalizing the brand.

7. Introduction of New Products or Services: If your business expands into new areas, you may need to revisit your brand identity to ensure that it adequately represents the full scope of your offer.

As Amazon expanded from an online bookstore to a global retail giant, its branding evolved to reflect its broader offerings, including introducing new sub-brands like Amazon Prime and AWS.

How to rebrand brand identity without losing brand equity?

Don't rush into rebranding and risk harming the reputation you've worked hard to build. You've come far in your industry, and that shouldn't be lost because of a quick change. Careful planning can help you update your brand without losing what makes it special.

Here's how you can rebrand without losing the brand image you've created.

  • Maintaining Core Values: Your values are what makes your brand unique. Keep them constant as other elements evolve.
  • Using Data-Driven Decisions: Inform your decisions with research and data that reflect your audience's needs.
  • Involving Stakeholders: Foster collaboration with customers, employees, and other stakeholders for a smoother transition.
  • Gradual Implementation: A phased approach allows continuous feedback and necessary adjustments.

Create a memorable brand identity for your business

We started this journey of brand identity, and here we are. We've discussed its elements, highlighted its importance, and explored a step-by-step process to build one that resonates with your business values.

Along the way, we dove into the Brand Identity Prism and touched upon the vital role of brand guidelines with examples of brands like Oatly and Slack. We hope these examples convinced us that brand identity building need not be expensive.

While building a brand identity might seem challenging, it's an investment that can significantly elevate your business. Tools like Writesonic's brand voice template assist you on this path.

So, are you ready to build your brand identity that stands out? There's no time like the present to begin. Here's to your branding success!

Aishwarya Gindham

A content writer at WriteSonic who loves to write long-form content with details and examples. The agenda is to help the reader find a solution to their problem.

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Discover what writing with AI feels like. See for yourself with a free trial -- we assure you'll save 20+ hours every week.
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