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Brand stories are an important component of branding. This includes both your literal history -- such as how and why you were founded -- and the story of the role you play in your customer's life. Your brand's story should ultimately make your customer a hero. Perhaps you're able to make them more effective at their jobs, so they receive tons of compliments from their boss. Maybe your mortgage products help them purchase their first home and start a family. This story can be an important basis for your brand identity and marketing content.
An important exercise towards defining your brand's identity can be developing a list of five adjectives that describe your brand's personality, look, and voice. If Chik-Fil-A were to create a list, their five words might be: Quality Consistency Values Customer Service Commitment What drove your CEO to start your company in the first place? How is your company different? By examining the values that run through your company, you can begin to develop a list of descriptive words.
Your company's logo is one of the most important aspects of your visual brand identity. Ultimately, you don't "own" your colors and font. Your logo will be one of the few original aspects of your visual identity, and an effective logo can create a lasting impression. Original: contain some visual elements, such as color combination or design elements, that no other company has. Timeless: avoid incorporating trendy design concepts, to ensure your logo will "age well" over time. Adaptable: the logo should scale well from thumbnail to a much larger scale. It should also translate well to both print and digital formats. Memorable: While "memorable" can be a difficult concept to test, your logo should leave a lasting impression. Relevance: Your logo should be clearly connected to your industry or products and services.
Typography communicates a lot more than "just" letters. It can impart feelings of energy, fun, humor, traditionalism and more. Much like colors, humans associated emotions and adjectives with fonts. Common font associations include: Serif Fonts, including Times New Roman, Georgia, and Garamond: Authoritative, Traditional, Respectable Sans Serif Fonts, including Helvetica, Arial, and Verdana: Modern, Clean, Stable Slab Serif Fonts, including Rockwell, Courier, and Museo: Bold, Strong, Modern Script Fonts, including Lobster, Lucida, and Brush Script: Elegant, Friendly, Creative Modern Fonts, including Politica, Eurostyle, and Matchbook: Fashionable, Stylish, Exclusive Most brand's visual guidelines include a list of three or four fonts. This will often include a primary and supporting fonts. By selecting typography from within the category that best aligns with your brand's values, you can get the right message to your target customers.
Humans associate colors with emotions. Your brand's primary and supporting colors are an important component of your visual identity. By selecting colors that are associated with your brand values, you can instantly communicate your company's mission. Common color associations include: Blue: Integrity, Trust, Tranquility, Loyalty, Intelligence Green: Money, Growth, Freshness, Environmental-Friendliness Yellow: Happiness, Originality, Energy Purple: Royalty, Spirituality, Luxury Pink: Femininity, Compassion, Playfulness Red: Power, Strength, Passion Orange: Courage, Originality, Success White: Cleanliness, Purity, Freshness Black: Elegance, Drama, Strength It is important for global brands to take note that color associations can vary according to culture. Blue's perception in the U.S. may be drastically different than in the Middle East.
Once you've developed a visual branding style guide, assess it to see if it can be streamlined or improved. Your visual identity must be able to scale up and down across digital and non-digital mediums. Test the digital and print performance of your: Logos Color combinations Fonts
Determine what your buyer personas value from a brand. Are they looking for cost savings or the highest quality? Do they want deep relationships with their vendors or convenience? By understanding your ideal buyer's pain points and priorities, you can formulate a relevant identity.
The voice you use to interact with customers via social media and content marketing is an extension of your brand voice. Are you humorous, or straight-to-the-point? Do you respond to questions with experience, or links to peer-reviewed studies? Your brand guidelines should include instruction for social media and customer interactions, in order to deliver a consistent brand experience.
Your customers don't start looking for your company because their lives are perfect. Chances are, you offer a product or service that will solve a problem. Maybe you offer personal finance software, and they're tired of over-drafting their bank account. Perhaps you do compliance training, and they're worried about regulatory requirement related fines. Your customers need you because of an existing pain point, or problem.
What are the words and terminology your customers use to describe your industry, products, and services? There's a good chance they don't head to Google to search for "enterprise productivity solutions." Chances are, they're looking for "startup apps," or "time-tracking apps." Keyword research in Hub Spot or another tool can be a critical step towards defining your language.
Human personalities are rarely single-faceted. Brand personalities shouldn't be, either. When you are in the beginning stages of defining your personality, it may be helpful to think in terms of archetypes. Some household brands and associated personality archetypes could include: Apple: Rebel Taco Bell: Jester REI: Outdoors-lover Target: Bold Subway: Optimist Whole Foods: Peace-lover
What does your brand offer that your competitors can't? Perhaps more importantly, how can you communicate this in your brand identity? Whole Foods is one of the most visible and well-known organic grocery chains. Their difference is communicated clearly in the brand's logo, which is green and includes a leaf. It is important to note that simply being different isn't enough. As branding blogger Tito Phillips highlights, you need to actively "make a difference." This means actively carving out a niche, and continually playing to your strengths. Anyone who's shopped at Whole Foods knows the grocery chain isn't trying to compete on price. In order for Whole foods to maintain their "niche" of fresh, local, and specialty foods items, they can't compete on price -- and considering their brand identity, that's perfectly fine.
When it comes to defining and documenting your brand voice, look to your customers for inspiration. When your buyer personas read and speak, what do they sound like? Are they academic or conversational? Do they reference studies and statistics frequently? Are they prone to incorporating anecdotes or stories? Are they long-winded or straight to the point? Your brand's voice should sound relevant to your buyer personas' education level, language preferences, and tone.
Conducting customer interviews or talking to your sales team can be an important tool for learning why your customers ultimately pick your company. The factor that leads to prospect trust and customer conversions can provide important clues to your brand identity. Your company's unique trust factor could be: Transparency Expertise Flexibility Use this "trust factor" as an important tool for defining why your brand is different, and building an appealing brand identity.
Whether or not your organization has put effort into defining a brand identity in the past, you have some identity if you have an online presence. It may not be cohesive or well-defined, but you have an identity in some form. If your company is considering a rebranding or brand definition project, it may be important to consider why you're initiating this effort. Is your existing brand poorly-defined to the point that it's almost non-existent? It it a poor fit with who you really are? Have you introduced a new leader or ownership team that's drastically changed your culture? Understanding the reason you need to define your brand can reveal some important room for improvement. Use this knowledge to inspire the right kind of change.
You don't need to look towards brands with similar products, services or customers. Developing a list of brands you admire can offer various types of lessons that can be helpful. Perhaps you admire Boxed Water for their values-forward branding and minimalist aesthetic. Maybe you're a huge fan of Zappos for their intense focus on company culture and customer service. These concepts can be translated to companies in a different sector.
Minimalism isn't the right approach for everyone, but few companies can benefit from a "cluttered" brand identity. The minimalist aesthetic and design movement is closely associated with concepts of modernism, rebellion, and edginess. It's the concept of stripping down a design or object to the bare elements necessary for function. While a truly minimalist brand identity may be appropriate for a creative agency or architecture firm, it could feel out of place for a corporate insurance firm or accountancy group. It's possible to communicate elements of traditionalism, reliability, and values with a brand identity that's pared-down, but not minimalist. Ride-sharing company Uber is a great example of a company who uses simple, sans serif fonts, bold colors, and a basic logo. However, in Uber's case, they avoid appearing "too" minimalist. Simplicity is always better than confusion, but it's important to ensure you're still communicating the right message.
Once you've developed a brand identity, it could be important to "test drive" it in front of a group of your existing customers or qualified prospects. This audience may be able to provide important insights that your marketing team missed. Capturing your customer's honest perception Shortening your information cycle, or how apparent critical info is. Rethinking research to include A/B testing. If performing brand perception research isn't plausible . for your company due to timelines or budget constraints, I encourage you to perform research on how colors, fonts, and other aspects of brand identity are perceived by the public. Existing marketing and psychology research can provide brilliant insight into your brand's future perception.
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