How to develop or refresh your company's unique brand identity
A brand galvanizes a community around your company’s product or service, vision, and values. These people in your community connect over the physical and emotional experience they have with your brand. Nurturing that community of brand believers will increase loyalty, expand awareness, influence positive impact, and drive revenue.
A "brand" is the relationship a company has with its customers. "Brand identity" is the collection of elements that factor into a customer's perception of the company. This includes company values, desired sentiment, communications, visuals, among other components. What a brand is not: a name, logo, trademark, website, product, or department of your company. These are elements of your brand as you tell the company story to your customers, partners, and media. Your company's brand is the essence of why it exists, who you truly are. It should be present in every aspect of the company’s operations.
We break down the 7 most important steps to creating a powerful, enduring brand. Work through these steps to create a new identity or refresh an existing brand:
1. Determine Your Company Values: What drives the work you do, the people you hire, and the organizations with whom you partner? While many can attest that values have always been important, more consumers and prospective employees are taking note now. Values provide a framework for how you do business and with whom. Appealing to shared values and consistently expressing motiving values will attract and engage audiences with your brand.
Cone Communications’ 2017 CSR Study determined that “87% of consumers would purchase a product because the company advocated for an issue they cared about — and 76% would boycott a brand if it supported an issue contrary to their beliefs.” We're seeing several examples of this taking place in the market today, positive and negative - from Salesforce to Facebook.
Take the time to think about who you are, who you want to be, and why you do things the way you do helps to create criteria to evaluate how your decisions contribute to the advancement of your vision and goal as the business grows and thrives.
2. Mission & Vision: A mission statement articulates the company’s goals in terms of what the company does for its customers. employees. ownership, and the community as a whole. Mission statements clearly and succinctly communicate your reason for being; how and why the company will implement its vision.
The company's vision is a forecast of business goals over the course of the upcoming 5-10 years. Vision statements look ahead. Developing the mission statement is an important step, but don’t let it bog down your momentum. Some organizations take months crafting and revising statements. There are many resources that will go into great detail on best practices should you want more information on writing the perfect mission statement.
3. Research The Market: Many businesses have an understanding of the marketplace before creating a new brand, though this step involves a deeper level of research. Assess weaknesses and opportunities in the market, evaluate which companies are doing well and why, and be sure to factor in industry trends or legislative/policy changes that may impact your business. By gaining a full picture of the marketplace, you can make informed decisions about brand positioning and marketing.
4. Know Your Audience: Casting a wide net to reach new consumers may result in reaching a sampling of people who are interested in what you have to offer. However, companies are more likely to capture the attention and business of customers who are already primed to received information about the types of products or services your company offers. You want to speak directly to consumers that you know want, need, and like your product or services. Audience research and analysis identifies prospective consumers by taking into account psychological, behavioral, and demographic data to gain as much insight about the consumer as possible. Businesses who put the customer at the center of all company activity are better able to provide customers with what they want and need in a convenient manner.
5. Determine Your Value Proposition: Consumers should understand how your product/service is different from others in the market and why they must have it. This unique offering is also known as your value proposition. Often framed as a benefit to the consumer, propositions can promise efficiency (e.g. saving consumers time), improved health, happiness, or other passionate motivations. Provide consumers with a reason to believe.
6. Detail Your Brand Story: Crafting the brand’s narrative takes your work from the previous steps to describe and visually showcase the company brand. In this step, you'll create a vocabulary, messaging framework, elevator pitch, and talking points. The story describes how the company will carry out its vision while also providing consumers with insight into the company's personality and style. Transparency and authenticity are key to emotionally connecting with consumers, building a solid foundation of affection and trust for a long and loyal customer relationship. Take the time to refine your tone, word choices, and truly express your brand's personality to closely connect with audiences.
7. Create a Plan: Now that the brand has coalesced, you can establish company goals, objectives, strategies, and tactics. These elements of the plan detail the process and tools with which the company will employ to achieve the desired outcomes. To be efficient with time, money, and other resources, brands need to prioritize goals based on realistic, real-time factors that can encourage as well as challenge success. Inventory assets, develop a budget, define roles and responsibilities, and establish a timeline with your launch plan. Sometimes, companies want to jump right into tactics to start doing, but you can’t achieve results without the best insights to drive your efforts.
Creating a brand requires thoughtful reflection and steadfast commitment. Your brand shines through at every customer engagement, every product or service, and even your employees. Use these seven steps to develop your brand identity and check in with yourself from time-to-time. As the company grows, your brand identity is likely to evolve.
Invest in research, analysis, and strategy to develop your company’s roadmap to success. If you're interested in a brand audit, repositioning messaging, or building a new brand, C. Change Consulting can help. Schedule your brand consultation today!