A Brand New Year: Master your Brand and Brand Identity

Brand   ·   January 14, 2020

Who Are You?

If I asked you to describe your brand, right now, in 30 seconds, what would you say? Would you go right to what your logo looks like, your colors, fonts, or maybe even a headline on a piece of marketing collateral? While these are all essential components of a company’s visual brand, we often forget about the other side—the experiences, perception, and expectations your audience believes about your company. How do your products, communication styles, values, or visual design make them feel? What promises do you make to them as consumers? What are the first words or emotions that come to mind when people hear your company’s name? This is the essence of your brand.

Marketing expert Seth Godin takes it one step further by reasoning that these expectations and perceptions consumers hold towards your company are responsible for their decision to choose your product or service over another. If that’s the case, then we as creatives, entrepreneurs and professionals cannot afford to remain stagnant. Rather, we must strive towards continually improving our understanding of the ins-and-outs of our brands, what exactly we are communicating to our audiences through our brand identities, and how to use this awareness to our advantage.

To gather a comprehensive understanding of the essence of a brand, I ask every new client a series of questions, some of which include:

  1. What five to six words would you use to describe your brand?
  2. If you had to think of your brand as a character, who would you be? What is their personality like? What do they wear? What do they enjoy doing?
  3. What makes your brand unique?
  4. Who is your ideal customer?
  5. What five words would your customers use to describe your brand? How do these compare to the answers you gave in the first question?

So, let’s go to work.

Take a few moments to consider your brand from internal and external perspectives alike, and jot down your answers. To serve as an example, I’ve answered these questions for the specialty coffee roasting company I co-own, Indie Coffee Roasters (ICR).

  1. What five to six  words would you use to describe your brand?
    ICR: Retro, Minimal, Welcoming, Canine, Delicious, Educational
  2. If you had to think of your brand as a character, who would you be?
    ICR: Snoopy! He has a minimal style and aesthetic and he is a loyal, loving and friendly canine.
  3. What makes your brand unique?
    ICR: First, our high quality product sets us apart. We source our coffee from seasonal farms and we roast each coffee to highlight the unique character of the beans from that particular region. Second, our focus on educating customers about the coffee industry, brewing processes, and traditional coffee drinks helps us stand out. Third, our welcoming cafe space fosters a community of people who value relationships and togetherness.
  4. Who is your ideal customer?
    ICR: Our ideal customers include coffee lovers who value a high quality product made fresh locally, those looking to enhance their knowledge of coffee, and individuals looking for a welcoming space conducive to building relationships with friends, clients, and community.
  5. What five words would your customers use to describe your brand?
    ICR: Clean, delicious, fun-loving, inviting, and educational.

Illuminating, is it not? By spending those few minutes analyzing your brand and considering your audience’s perspective, you’re not only growing in your brand proficiency, you’re also setting yourself and your company up for greater success.

Creating Your Brand Identity

As a visual designer and small business owner, brand identity is my expertise. The brand identity of a company is the visual expression of the intangible elements of emotion and perception, starting with your logo, weaving throughout your marketing collateral and social media channels, and finding its manifestation in the hearts and minds of your consumers. It’s remarkable how quickly the human mind processes graphics and visuals, and now more than ever, a strong brand identity is essential to capturing the attention of prospective clients and customers.

Studies are revealing that the human attention span is rapidly decreasing due to the overwhelming influx of information and stimuli we receive on a moment to moment basis, which is also altering the way in which we receive and interpret content. Such a revolution in the way we consume, process and schematize information is vastly different than it was even five years ago, which leads us to accept that our approach towards branding and marketing must remain progressive and susceptible to changing with the culture.

So, how do we do it? How do we create a strong and powerful brand identity that will instantaneously capture someone’s attention with the exact messaging and emotions that we hope to communicate?

It’s all about having a strategy.

First, we must start with understanding who you are at your core. What drives you as a company to get up each day? What makes you unique? Who does your product or service benefit? Next, we figure out how to visualize this in your brand identity. What does your logo look like? What colors convey these ideas? What typefaces do we use? As we create these elements, we have to keep in mind how well these elements will start to translate to social media, online, and in-person. The essence of a strong brand identity is being able to clearly acknowledge why each of these elements exist and what purpose they serve in sharing  your company’s story.

That’s what it’s all about, right? Brand identity allows us to take what we’ve poured our creative energy and passion into developing for months, years, and even decades, and communicate that to others in just a few seconds through powerful and expressive brand elements. As a small business owner myself, I know the courage and diligence it takes to step out and pave your own way, and I want to empower you to step into this new season eager to bring your brand to the next level. Be proud of your business, and be eager to communicate the quality of the products and services you offer through the quality of your brand work.

Interested in partnering with us on your next design project? Let’s chat!