How to Create a Brand Identity in 7 Simple Steps

Why small businesses struggle to get noticed and what they should know about building a competitive advantage.

How to Create a Brand Identity Blog Post Nov21

The foundation for successful marketing takes shape before you ever begin. It’s something that dictates how your target audience thinks of your business. In fact, it often determines whether they buy from you or someone else.

I’m referring to your brand identity.

A logo usually comes to mind when people think of a brand identity. But a logo is only one small part of it. Building a brand identity is a process that starts the moment your business vision is born.

There’s one more thing you should know: you already have a brand identity.

Your identity is based on anything that gives people an impression of your business. Websites, social media profiles, and customer reviews are examples. People use it all to compare you to the competition.

The quality of your brand identity is critical. So, doesn’t it make sense to take control of the process?

In this post, you’ll learn how to create a brand identity that attracts your target audience.

You’ll discover:

  • what a brand identity is
  • how a brand identity communicates your unique value
  • how to create a brand identity in 7 simple steps

Let’s get started.

What Is a Brand Identity?

Ask ten people how they define a brand identity and the number one answer will be “a logo and colors”. But, beyond that, the idea of a brand identity becomes vague. So, I’d like to begin this post by defining it.

A brand identity is the perception people have of your business.

Your identity is based on tangible and intangible factors. Tangible factors are things a person can see, such as a logo. Intangible factors are linked to feelings and experiences. A sense of elegance, an air of expertise, or feelings of security are examples of intangibles.

A brand’s intangibles are more difficult to communicate. But they have more impact on the customer.

To drive the point home, let’s use a personal example. First, think of a brand you love. Then, ask yourself why you like it so much. What is it about the brand that pulls you in?

The attraction you feel toward that brand illustrates the power of a brand identity. It’s also likely that the brand you chose created their identity on purpose. They developed an identity that people like you would find appealing. Then, they promoted their products and services using that identity.

Are you beginning to see how a brand identity can supercharge your marketing?

An identity that appeals to the target audience pulls in. This makes marketing more effective and efficient.

The Purpose of a Brand Identity

People are busy. They don’t have time to assess every product or service. What’s more, they aren’t always qualified to make educated buying decisions.

So, they use brand identities to evaluate buying options. A brand identity helps them determine a business’s:

  • Level of expertise or product quality
  • Professionalism
  • Trustworthiness

This “sizing up” process helps them decide which brand is most qualified to give them what they want.

Let’s look at an example of how this works.

The moment people land on your website, they will scan the page. Then, consciously—and subconsciously—they assess what they see. If they’re interested in something, they will stay for a moment or two. If not, they will go back to the search engine results and look for another website that gives them what they want.

They will also make this decision about your website rather quickly.

How long will it take?

Research has found that users form an opinion of a website within two-tenths of a second. They then spend the next two and a half seconds verifying their initial impression. This article from Forbes shows customers appraise a company within seven seconds.

Whether you have two, seven, or ten seconds to win people over makes little difference. The bottom line is we have to make an impact and do it fast to hold the audience’s attention.

As the saying goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”

Your brand identity communicates your expertise, quality, and trustworthiness.

All in the blink of an eye.

READ MORE: Creating a Brand Differentiation Strategy That Can’t Fail

How to Create a Brand Identity

Now let’s dig in and find out how to create a brand identity. Be sure to take your time on each step. This process requires a lot of work up-front but will pay dividends indefinitely going forward.

Step 1: Know Your Why

In this initial step, you must explore why you started your business. As time goes on, it is easy to get caught up in the hustle and forget the real reason you wanted to be a business owner.

What did you intend to accomplish when you began? Who do you help the most and how?

As you answer these simple questions, your business purpose will unfold. It’s possible that you already know the answers but haven’t written them down. Documenting your purpose keeps you focused on where you are and where you want to go.

Step 2: Know Your Customer

In the previous step, you identified the person or people you help the most. Now, learn as much as you can about them. Here are some questions to help guide you through this step:

  • What problems do these people have that you help them solve?
  • How do their problems make them feel?
  • What words do they use to describe their problems?

It’s essential to know your target market better than any other company in your niche. The better you know them, the easier it will be for you to connect with them—which is the key to increasing conversions from marketing and advertising campaigns.

Step 3: Brand Values and Promise

Now it’s time to be honest about what you offer customers. How can you deliver your product or service in a way no one else does? What unique offer can you provide that your competitors can’t?

Write down your core values and business philosophy. Then, look for ways to tie these to your customers’ needs and wants.

You learned how to use functional, technical, and emotional benefits to sell boxes in a previous section. Follow this same process to create all three benefit types for your product or service.

What promise can you make to your target audience? First, identify one central theme you want to convey.

If you need help developing a brand promise, read this article.

Step 4: Find Your Voice

Like human voices, brand voices are unique. They can be authoritative, friendly, casual, or formal—there are many to choose from.

You must determine what impression you want to make in all verbal and written communication. Then, hone a voice that is a good fit for your business and your target audience.

For instance, the brand voice for a ladies’ clothing store should resonate with women who match the target customer profile and reflect the business’s personality. If your audience consisted of young females, it might make sense to use slang and jargon common among members of that demographic.

Step 5: Choose Brand Colors and Typography

Now we come to a step many people associate with brand identity—colors and fonts. These are integral to your brand’s visual design, so choose wisely.

If you have thoroughly researched your target market, you’ll know their moods, attitudes, and behaviors. Select colors and fonts that form the image you want to portray and resonate with your prospective customers.

For example, pink might be one of your favorite colors. Therefore, you may be tempted to use it in your brand color palette. But does it make sense to use pink for your business’s image, and will your target audience respond positively to it?

Many businesses choose blue as a primary color to represent their brand. In fact, about a third of the world’s top 100 brands employ blue in their color scheme. In addition, color psychologists claim blue creates a sense of trust with customers.

But how do you plan to stand out by choosing the same color most businesses use?

Look at your competitors’ logos and brand colors. Some of them may not even have these. But of the ones that do, what trends do you notice?

Can you think of less common color combinations that might work well with your target audience?

These same principles apply to fonts. You can use the WhatFont app to identify fonts on websites that you like. Some of these fonts will be free, and some won’t.

READ MORE: Choosing the Best Brand Fonts for Your Business

Step 6: Create Your Logo

Finally, we’ve reached the brand identity component most people are familiar with. Your logo is the primary image that represents your business and should be included everywhere you can put it. Examples are websites, uniforms, letterhead, social media profiles, and company vehicles.

Logo design goes beyond the scope of this article, but creating a good one requires planning. I caution clients against using one graphic designer. If possible, work with multiple designers so you can have several design concepts from which to choose.

99Designs is one of my favorite design platforms. You can work with several talented designers while only paying for the concept you choose. (Yes, if you get a design with 99Designs by using the link in this post, we will receive a small commission.)

Step 7: Brand Associations

This component of a brand identity isn’t discussed often, but it should be.

Some say that “birds of a feather flock together”. This is true for people and for brands.

Technically, a brand association is “anything such as a symbol, activity, or famous person that makes a consumer think of a particular brand or product”. (Cambridge University Press)

Just like people, your partners, associates, and groups of which you are a member will influence how prospective customers see you. Therefore, choose these for your business as carefully as you would for yourself.

It’s also possible that other images can serve as brand associations. For example, a picture of a mountain may symbolize freedom, success, or a desirable lifestyle.

Many big brands have used this brand awareness tactic successfully. It may take a while for people to associate specific images with your brand, but it’s worth the effort.

A word of caution: never attempt to make an association with people, businesses, or charitable organizations with the sole intent of driving sales. This rarely works because these relationships must develop naturally and benefit all parties involved. Forced arrangements and partnerships never end well.

Also, remember that a good reputation is difficult to establish, but it only takes one incident to destroy one. Forming associations for the sake of making money compromises integrity.

Bonus Step: Be Consistent

Consistent branding can increase revenue by as much as 33%.

Communicate the same messages, images, and associations over time and you’ll see results. Consistency separates the small businesses that succeed with brand building from the ones that don’t.

If you’re going to create a brand identity, you must stay the course. When you’re tempted to quit, you’re usually on the brink of a breakthrough.

Conclusion

Do you have questions about creating a brand identity or need help?

Email me personally at chris@goldenvineyardbranding.com.

If you’d like to know more about how to create a brand identity that will set your small business apart from competitors, sell your value, and close more sales, click here.

Until next time,

Chris

Avatar of chris fulmer

Chris Fulmer

Director, The Golden Vineyard Branding Company
Posted in

Learn more about brand strategy.

Are you struggling to connect with your audience? Do you want to show them how you're different from competitors?