What is brand identity? Forbes Magazine defines it as a collective consumer perception of products and services, and refers to branding as "unevenly understood." Branding has two distinct components: brand elements and brand promises. While the brand is not the product, it becomes an integral part of the product. Brand identity marketing takes the concept one step further, allowing you to build your brand through your marketing efforts.
Seven Tips for Building Your Brand
Whether working with the basics of branding or the marketing campaigns that reinforce your brand, always strive to differentiate your products from competitors and highlight their benefits.
1. Start with the Basics
Select a distinctive name, logo, color palette, and other details to use across all marketing communications. Companies frequently purchase or design a brand identity kit that includes these elements. The goal is to make your brand unique and set your products apart from the products of your competitors. Car company logos are a good example. Your fonts, images and colors will communicate a certain energy, so make sure they are in sync with your product.
Maintain consistency. Familiarity does not breed contempt when it comes to building brand identity. In fact, it breeds success. On average, a customer must experience a brand approximately 12 times to form an impression.
2. Know Your Customer
As you build your brand, think about the actual person that you want to buy your product. What will convince her to select your product over a competing item? Give her a name and a personality. Work to fulfill her wants and needs with every decision you make.
3. Make Promises
Every slogan you develop and every piece of marketing material you distribute, communicates an implied promise to your prospective customers. You create an unspoken pact that if they buy your product, they will feel more secure, satisfied, serene, or any number of other desired emotions.
Go ahead and set expectations. For example, if you sell pants that "move when you do," the promise of comfort is inherent. If you sell a large capacity washing machine that allows your customer to "do laundry in half the time," the implied promise is more free time. Customers buy promises.
4. Keep Your Promises
Your marketing sets expectations, but only your actions can build trust. Building trust with your customers is like building your credit rating. A customer's perception, like a credit score, forms over time as a result of hundreds or even thousands of transactions. Every time you meet or exceed a customer's expectations, imagine that you just paid a bill on time. It feels good, doesn't it?
Suppose you launch a marketing campaign for a financial institution with the theme "Your money is safe with us." In response, your customer opens a savings account and makes a sizable deposit. Six months later, not only is her money still safely in her account, it has earned interest at a rate higher than interest offered at competing banks. Your value rises in the customer's eyes, and she congratulates herself on making a good decision.
5. Sell More than Products
Products are not the only thing you sell. For example, Nike may sell shoes, but customers buy Michael Jordan. When someone purchases a pair of Air Jordans, he doesn't just pay for shoes. He pays for the fantasy of stepping into Michael Jordan's footprints. Who are your customers' heroes? Can you facilitate a connection?
6. Give People a Reason to Buy
Recognize that sometimes a consumer may want to make a purchase, but something holds her back. If you can identify and effectively remove the barrier through your brand marketing, you will make more sales.
Volvo is a great example: The company produces high-end, expensive cars, and the $40,000 price tag may discourage cost-conscious moms. Volvo counters by showing that the car will keep her children safe, require little maintenance, hold its value, and last long enough for her toddler to drive it away to college. Suddenly the Volvo becomes more economical than a $20,000 car, and Mom gets to feel great about investing in her family's future.
7. Learn from Mistakes
Brands constantly evolve. If you make a mistake, or a marketing campaign blows up in your face, just take the hit and move on. After Watergate in the 1970's, Richard Nixon's brand identity took one of the biggest blows in history, but he was later recognized as a gifted statesman. Martha Stewart's brand -and stock- crashed after her conviction for insider trading; yet a few years later her company soared to new heights. Consumers love a comeback story.
Remember to Take the Long View
Refining your brand is a journey. It may begin when you place a logo on an envelope or build a website, but you build and strengthen it with every consumer interaction.
Brand identity marketing calls for intuition, empathy and creativity. It requires recognizing and utilizing emotional triggers, cultivating consumer perceptions, and developing trust through words and deeds. This part of marketing is often challenging, yet can lead to substantial profits, when used to its full potential. Get ready to watch your brand profitability soar!