If someone asked you, “What can of soda is red?” your guess would undoubtedly be Coca-Cola, right? A study affirms this, finding that 94% of people recognize its red and white label and signature script topography. For this reason, the company is one of the most recognizable brands in the world. Sticking to this identity has maintained the brand’s timeless image and conveys feelings of tradition for consumers.
But what makes a brand like this timeless? It all boils down to a brand’s identity—the visual and emotional elements that allow customers to compare it to competitors. This includes elements like a business’s logo, color scheme, or slogan.
While it might seem irrelevant to spend too much time focusing on these things, statistics show brand identity is crucial for all companies, large and small, in building loyalty and revenue. For example, reports show that consistent branding across all channels can increase revenue by over 30%. From the moment you come up with a brand name, to your choice of logo design and mission statement, these elements will have an impact equivalent to your products and services, so they can’t be overlooked.
How do you get started on building a brand? Research shows that consumers recognize brands in the following ways:
- Logo: 75%
- Visual style: 60%
- Brand color: 45%
- Unique voice: 25%
Focusing on these elements, and how they play a role in your overarching mission statement, will give you an edge over your competitors and put you in the “timeless” category.
In this article, learn the 10 most powerful steps for building a brand that connects with your target market.
- Consistent branding can increase revenue by 33%, helping to build trust with customers and highlight company values.
- The top ways in which a customer recognizes a brand is through logos, colors, visual styles, and brand personality.
- The top brands in the world have simple, yet memorable logos, unforgettable signature colors, and a clear mission statement that piques customers’ interest.
What Is Brand Identity?
“Your brand is the single most important investment you can make in your business.”Steve Forbes
Brand identity refers to the visual, verbal, and emotional elements that define a company or product and differentiate it from competitors. It represents how a brand wants to be perceived by its target audience and serves as the foundation for building brand recognition, trust, and loyalty.
A well-defined brand identity helps convey the company’s personality, values, and purpose, making it easier for customers to relate to and engage with the brand.
Some key components of brand identity include:
- Logo: A unique, memorable, and easily recognizable symbol or design that represents the brand is essential for establishing brand identity. Amazon, McDonald’s, and BMW are examples of brands that have established recognition and trust with their logos.
- Color palette: A carefully chosen set of colors that evoke specific emotions and create a visual connection is an important part of establishing brand identity. A report by Exploring Topics shows that 55% of a brand’s first impression is visual and color increases brand recognition by up to 80%.
- Typography: These fonts and typeface styles in the brand’s communication materials help establish a consistent look and feel.
- Imagery: This consists of visual elements, such as photographs, illustrations, or icons used in marketing and communication materials to support the brand’s message.
- Brand voice and messaging: These aspects of branding include the tone, style, and language used in communication materials that reflect the brand’s personality and values.
Creating a strong brand identity requires a deep understanding of your target audience, your company’s values, and your unique selling proposition. By consistently presenting these elements across all marketing channels and touchpoints, a brand can effectively build recognition, credibility, and trust with its customers.
Apple is a prime example of a brand that excels at creating and maintaining a strong brand identity. The company’s design aesthetic, innovative product offerings, and consistent messaging contribute to the powerful connection it has with its customers. Apple maintains a consistent brand identity across all touchpoints, from product design to advertising campaigns to in-store experiences. This consistency strengthens the brand’s identity, making it easily recognizable and memorable in the minds of consumers.
10 Steps for Building a Brand
By following these steps, you can create a distinctive and successful brand that effectively communicates your company’s unique qualities and fosters strong connections with your target audience.
Follow these 10 steps when building your brand:
1. Write Your Mission Statement
To establish your brand identity, you must clearly articulate your company’s purpose, goals, and long-term aspirations to provide a solid foundation for your brand.
Creating a company mission statement will help customers understand what the company does and how it compares to competitors. It will also allow employees, including those involved in brand design, marketing, and content, to understand how the company should be perceived by the public.
A brand mission statement is a concise, clear, and inspiring declaration of your company’s purpose and the value it aims to create for its customers.
Follow these steps to write a mission statement:
- Identify the unique benefits or solutions your brand provides and the core values that guide your organization.
- Craft 1–2 sentences that combine these elements in a compelling and memorable way.
- Focus on using simple, straightforward language that communicates your brand’s purpose while highlighting your commitment to delivering exceptional value and making a positive impact.
Think about Amazon as an example when defining your mission statement: “Our mission is to be Earth’s most customer-centric company. This is what unites Amazonians across teams and geographies as we are all striving to delight our customers and make their lives easier, one innovative product, service, and idea at a time.”
This statement highlights Amazon’s commitment to prioritizing customer needs above all else, and emphasizes their focus on innovation in delivering an exceptional customer experience.
2. Identify Your Target Audience
Identifying a target audience is crucial for a company’s marketing efforts, product development, and overall business strategy. While developing your brand identity, you need to determine the specific group of customers you aim to serve. Understanding their needs, preferences, and pain points will help you to create a brand that resonates with them.
Follow these steps to identify your target audience:
- Analyze existing customers: If you’re already in business, study your current customer base to identify common characteristics, such as demographics, preferences, and buying behaviors. This will help you understand who is already interested in your products or services.
- Research your competitors: Examine your competitors’ target audience and marketing strategies to identify potential market gaps and opportunities. This will provide valuable insights into the market and help you refine your target audience.
- Create a buyer persona: Develop a detailed profile of your ideal customer, including their demographics, needs, goals, and preferred communication channels. A sample persona will help you better understand your target audience and tailor your marketing messages accordingly.
- Monitor and adapt: Continuously analyze your customer data, market trends, and competitors to ensure your target audience remains relevant and accurate. Stay flexible and be prepared to adapt your target audience as your business evolves or market conditions change.
3. Analyze Your Competition
Researching your competitors will help you to identify market gaps, strengths, and weaknesses. Once you have a detailed understanding of your competition, you’ll be able to differentiate your brand so that it’s uniquely positioned in your specific industry.
Here are some key questions to consider when analyzing your competition:
- How strong is their brand identity, and how does it resonate with their target audience?
- How do their products or services compare to yours in terms of features, quality, and pricing?
- What are their strengths and weaknesses?
- How do they differentiate themselves from other competitors?
- What are their marketing strategies and channels?
4. Develop a Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
A Unique Selling Proposition (or USP) is a concise statement that clearly communicates the unique benefits or value that your product or service offers to your target audience. It’s what sets you apart from competitors and establishes brand differentiation, while showing that you are the best option on the market.
This is how you develop a strong USP:
- Consider your target market: Knowing your target audience’s needs, preferences, and pain points will help you define the best-selling proposition.
- Identify your product or service’s key features: List down the features and benefits of your product or service. Consider what makes your offering different from your competitors’ and focus on highlighting what your target audience will find most valuable.
- Know your competition: Research your main competitors and understand their USPs while you consider your own. Look for any gaps in the market that you can potentially fill, and find ways to differentiate your product or service from the competition.
- Keep it concise and memorable: A strong USP should be easy to understand, memorable, and concise. It should effectively communicate the unique value of your product or service in a few words or sentences.
- Integrate your USP into your marketing strategy: Once you have developed your USP, make sure it is consistently communicated across all your marketing channels, including your website, advertising, social media, and packaging.
When developing your USP, use Shopify as an example: “Shopify is the best e-commerce platform that has everything you need to sell online, on social media, or in person.” This highlights the brand’s focus feature and sets it apart from its competitors.
5. Create a Brand Personality
A brand personality refers to the set of human-like characteristics, traits, and attributes that are associated with a brand. It’s the emotional and psychological aspect of the brand that helps shape consumers’ perceptions and experiences.
A well-defined brand personality makes it easier for customers to relate to the brand and develop a sense of familiarity, trust, and loyalty. You establish your brand personality with your brand mission, visuals, story, tone of voice, and customer experience.
Brand personalities can be categorized into various archetypes, such as the following:
- The Innovator: Creative, forward-thinking, and inventive
- The Caregiver: Nurturing, compassionate, and empathetic
- The Hero: Bold, strong, and inspiring
- The Explorer: Adventurous, thrilling, independent, and curious
- The Entertainer: Fun, playful, light-hearted, and humorous
- The Sage: Wise, knowledgeable, and trustworthy
To develop a strong brand personality, it’s essential to understand your target audience and identify the personality traits that will resonate with them.
One example of a popular brand with a distinct personality is Nike, which is centered around empowerment, innovation, and athleticism. The company’s iconic “Just Do It” slogan embodies this spirit of pushing yourself to be your best, while its marketing campaigns often feature high-performance athletes and inspirational messages.
6. Define Your Brand Values
Defining brand values is critical for creating a strong and consistent brand identity that resonates with customers. Bozoma Saint John, Chief Marketing Office of Netflix, said, “You can associate a creative brand with a human being and use some of the good qualities of the human being to make it a really tangible product that a lot of people can love.” You create these tangible qualities by presenting clear brand values to your customers.
Your brand values will highlight your core principles and beliefs, and should align with your target audience’s expectations in order to build trust. Defining ethical values is also becoming increasingly important for employees, who prefer to work for a company that has a positive impact on its community and consumers.
This is how you define your brand values:
- Conduct research: Begin by doing research to understand your target audience, competitors, and industry trends. This can include analyzing customer feedback, conducting surveys and focus groups, and researching industry trends to find out what values your customers want to see in your brand.
- Identify your purpose: A brand’s purpose is its reason for being beyond making a profit. Brands that are driven by a purpose are more likely to connect with consumers on a deeper level. Go back to your mission statement and get clear on your purpose.
- Consider your unique selling proposition (USP): A brand’s USP is a concise statement that defines its unique value proposition and differentiates it from its competitors. This statement should reflect the brand’s values, purpose, and target audience.
Brand values should be authentic, relevant, and consistent with the brand’s purpose and positioning statement. Some common brand values include quality, innovation, inclusion, sustainability, social responsibility, and customer service.
Consider Patagonia as an example—its values center around environmental sustainability and social responsibility. The company’s mission statement is: “We’re in business to save our home planet.” This reflects its commitment to minimizing its environmental impact and promoting sustainable practices throughout the industry.
7. Design a Memorable Logo
According to a report by Zippia, 75% of people recognize a brand by its logo. That’s why developing a unique, simple, and easily recognizable logo that reflects your brand’s personality and helps to create a strong visual identity is critical.
Here are some facts on the most popular brand logos out there:
- They have three colors or less.
- There is typically a signature color that’s used across all channels.
- They are square, rectangular, or another common shape.
- The design is highly memorable and attractive.
As you design your logo, think about the McDonald’s golden arches that form an “M” shape, typically on a red background. The logo has become instantly recognizable and is associated with the McDonald’s brand all over the world. It has two contrasting colors, a simple shape, and is used across all product and marketing channels.
8. Choose a Color Palette
When creating a brand, select a set of colors that represent its personality, evoke specific emotions, and create a cohesive visual identity across all marketing materials. Remember that, according to reports, consumers are visual creatures and 81% of them are more likely to recall a brand’s color than remember its name.
What are the most popular logo colors across the globe?
- Black: 34%
- Blue: 30%
- Red: 30%
- Yellow: 9%
- Green: 7%
- Grey/Silver: 6%
When choosing a brand color, think about the emotion you’re trying to convey for customers and your brand personality.
Here’s an idea of the emotions or personality traits that certain colors represent:
- Black: Sophisticated, modern, and strong
- Blue: Trusting, calm, wise, and inviting
- Green: Earthy, natural, healing, creative, and peaceful
- Yellow: Happy, warming, optimistic, and uplifting
- Orange: Playful, energizing, and exciting
- Red: Passionate, comforting, and loving
9. Create a Brand Style Guide
A brand style guide is a document that outlines the visual and messaging elements that make up a brand’s identity. It serves as a reference for anyone who creates content or marketing materials for the brand, ensuring that all materials are consistent and in line with the brand’s overall identity and values.
A brand style guide typically includes the following elements:
- Logo usage: Proper use of logo, including its size, placement, and color variations
- Color palette: The set of colors used consistently across all marketing materials
- Typography: Selection and usage of fonts and typography across all materials
- Imagery: Images and other visual assets that align with the brand’s identity
- Voice and tone: Language and messaging that align with the brand’s personality
The brand style guide provides examples of visuals and content copy in order to streamline the company’s identity for all marketing and communication tasks.
10. Implement Your Brand Identity Across All Channels
Once you have the aspects of brand identity explained above in place, it’s time to get them out there to the public.
Apply your brand’s visual and verbal elements consistently across all marketing and communication channels, including:
- Social media pages
- Product packaging
- Influencer content
- Public relations
Everyone on your team should be aware of your chosen identity and refer to your brand style guide when completing marketing and communications assignments. Customer service representatives should also reflect your brand’s values and personality daily.
How to Use Marketing for Building Your Brand
Remember that it takes 5–7 impressions for a consumer to remember a brand. That means potential customers need to see your brand often and recognize it before they’ll remember it.
The best way to make this happen is through strong marketing, which builds relationships with your target audience through meaningful interactions on social media, newsletters, live events, and other platforms.
Consider these aspects of marketing when building a brand:
- Send a clear brand message: A brand’s marketing efforts should communicate a clear and consistent message that reflects the brand’s values, personality, and unique selling proposition. Make sure these messages are in your style guide and keep it consistent in every interaction.
- Use social media to build brand awareness: Social media is a powerful tool for building brand awareness and engaging with customers. Brands can use social media to share content, respond to customer inquiries, and create a sense of community around their brand.
- Focus on the customer experience: The customer experience is a critical component of a brand’s identity. Brands should focus on creating a positive and memorable customer experience at every touchpoint, from website design to customer service to product packaging.
- Consider influencer marketing: Partnering with influencers and content creators can be a powerful way to reach new audiences and build brand awareness. Brands should identify influencers who align with their values and target audience, and work with them to promote their products or services.
- Measure and track results: To build a successful brand, it’s essential to measure and track the effectiveness of marketing efforts. Brands should use metrics such as website traffic, social media engagement, and sales to evaluate the success of their marketing campaigns and adjust their strategy as needed.
Think about the marketing funnel as you plan your strategy. Having a clear and concise brand identity will help you get customers from aware, to interested and taking action. You do this with consistency and varied offerings with the same underlying message.
Examples of Successful Brand Design
Several brands have managed to create distinctive brand identities that make them easily recognizable and memorable in the minds of consumers.
Here are a few successful brand designs that just about anyone would recognize:
- Apple: Steve Jobs said, “Marketing is about values. It’s a complicated and noisy world, and we’re not going to get a chance to get people to remember much about us . . . So we have to be really clear about what we want them to know about us.” And the company has done just that—earning the position as a leader in technology and design. Apple’s minimalist design aesthetic, use of clean lines, modern typography, and focus on innovation make its brand identity instantly recognizable.
- Coca-Cola: Coca-Cola’s distinctive red color, scripted typography, and iconic contour bottle shape have become synonymous with the brand. Reports suggest that as much as 94% of the world’s population recognizes the Coca-Cola logo. It also maintains a consistent message centered around happiness, togetherness, and sharing moments, which has created a strong emotional connection with consumers.
- Nike: The Nike “swoosh” logo is one of the most recognizable logos globally, representing motion and speed. Nike’s brand identity is built around the idea of athletic excellence and empowering people to reach their full potential. Their tagline “Just Do It” has become a mantra for motivation and action.
- McDonald’s: The golden arches of McDonald’s are instantly recognizable, symbolizing the fast-food giant’s presence worldwide. The brand’s signature colors and consistent messaging focused on convenience and affordability have made it one of the most well-known brands globally.
- Starbucks: Starbucks has built a strong brand identity around its green mermaid logo, distinctive store design, and premium coffee experience. Their focus on creating a “third place” between home and work, along with personalized customer service, has helped the brand gain a loyal following.
Refine and Evolve Your Brand as Needed
“We can learn more from mistakes than we can from the reasons we got something right. Lean into mistakes and share mistakes so we all can learn from them. The more honest we can be about what we’re not getting right, the quicker we as an industry can get to where we want.”Danielle Tiedt, CMO at YouTube
Continuously analyze, refine, and evolve your brand identity to stay relevant and meet customer expectations. Remember that your brand identity is what sets it apart from competitors and communicates its unique value to consumers.
By regularly evaluating and refining your identity, the brand will remain relevant, authentic, and compelling in the eyes of your target audience. This will build trust and loyalty with your customers, ultimately increasing sales and brand advocacy. Be on the lookout for market changes, too, and refine your unique selling proposition to stay ahead of the curve and remain competitive.
Every 90 days, go back to your company vision and make sure it’s still relevant to your goals and customer needs. If it’s not, refine it and ensure that your brand identity style guide reflects those changes.
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