Luckily, you’ve dressed to impress. As you pass a group of rebellious-looking teens, someone notices your favourite distressed Never Mind the Bollocks T-shirt and dishevelled bouffant hair.
A conversation ignites.
Straight away, they start making assumptions about you based on their preconceptions, current observations, and the ideas and feelings these impressions evoke.
Your interests and beliefs are important in these first few moments. As you relax into the conversation, moving past the usual pleasantries, you find yourself telling them about your fondness for ballet and the new set of Spokey Dokey's you just fitted to your Chopper.
That was some Sixth Sense level twist. Your appearance and conversation don’t align. Your new friend is a little confused and turns cold from the sudden turn. The conversation becomes stilted, and you’re left sitting by yourself with your Optimus Prime lunch box.
Brands have a lot of similar desires to people. They want to build meaningful relationships and make friends. They want to be understood and valued. In general, we don’t like to be confused and naturally distance ourselves from the unexpected and unpredictable. And like any relationship, a brand needs to do more than just look like it fits in.
When growing your business, it’s important to be able to clearly articulate what your brand wants to be. There is a difference between your brand and your company after all.
If a noob asked you to explain what makes your brand a brand, could you answer in real detail? We're going to make a bold assumption here and say you can't. This is where a Brand Identity comes into play.
It is not the visual aspect of your brand (that is your Visual Identity). Instead, it’s the combination of all the defined elements that make your brand uniquely yours: Vision, Mission, Values, Name, Logo, Imagery, Promise, Behaviours, Personality, Typography, Tagline, Story – and more! These aspects all work together in a cohesive system designed to form a larger image that represents the company and engages your audience on several levels.
By definition: “A Brand Identity is a system of components and characteristics used to create the Identity of a Brand.”
Brand Identity is like a road map or blueprint for your desired brand expectations. It outlines what your company wants to achieve as a brand.
Fundamentally, a Brand Identity is a weapon (just as cool as a Lightsaber) to wield. With every strike, it helps your organisation to become familiar with your customers. It ultimately determines how your audience perceives your brand. It will forge a connection between you and your customer. With a deep-seated Brand Identity, your audience will connect those visceral associations with your product or service, building an engaged and loyal customer base.
There are no right or wrong approaches to this, and not every business needs the same Brand Identity elements. Some companies don’t even need one at all! It all depends on what you want to build. But ultimately, the goal is the same: to define the purpose, meaning and direction associated with the business and create a collective understanding so that when communication channels are used to engage the audience, they are all working from the same Lego instructions. The last thing you need is someone building a house while you're trying to build the Batmobile.
A Brand Identity is essential for the day-to-day running of your business.
For example, several people from the same organisation might be expected to communicate with the world through pitches, presentations, social media, customer service, advertising, radio jingles and karaoke song choice. But without an established Brand Identity, can you feel confident that their messages will align to accurately portray your company’s services, beliefs and ideas?
Instead, your team will present their own interpretation of the brand. Fragmented communication and inconsistent messaging will leave your audience feeling confused. Like our potential new BFF in the dining hall, your customers could walk away to find someone with a clear confidence in their identity, leaving you on a hard plastic stool, eating your Pickled Onion Space Raiders and wondering what exactly went wrong.
Accurately shaping your brand’s identity requires work and time. It’s best to do this in the early stages of business development. Even before you decide on a name, create a logo or generate other branding touchpoints. That being said, it’s never too late to flick that switch, twist that knob, crank up that dial and make moves to transform your business into a brand.