Consider the Classic Coca-Cola drink. Does Coke taste any better than generic or supermarket brand colas or is it clever branding and marketing that has made consumers associate the Coke brand with higher quality? Now, after years of consumption, you most likely have grown accustomed to the specific taste of Coke, but if “Coke” wasn’t the pervasive entity it is today, you may find that all colas taste mostly the same. But, again, thanks to excellent marketing and branding, you’ve got the memo and you associate the branded product with quality. The same applies in the grocery store between branded and supermarket brand canned goods. Interestingly, both products may actually be produced in the same factory using the same ingredients, but the branding can with its better label is often perceived to be of a higher quality than a supermarket brand can. Why do these two equal products with the same ingredients have such a price discrepancy? Well, marketing is costly and all the work put in to make you associate certain brands with quality and value has to pay off somehow. Keeping these concepts in mind, is there a link between brand identity and value? As you can see, if done correctly, absolutely. Here’s how strong branding will help your business grow.
What is brand identity?
A brand identity is how you present your company to your customers. A brand symbolizes the emotional tie to your company.
Marketer, author, and former dot com owner, Seth Godin has a poignant definition of brand: “A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.”
Sometimes, a brand is mistakenly associated with a logo, but a logo is only one piece of branding. On the surface, brand identity means identifying your color scheme, logos, typography, messaging tone, and packaging, across all channels. Your branding should be the same across your website, social media, emails, print materials, products, and so forth. Cohesive brand identity makes customers feel a connection with your company. They “understand” what you’re about.
Think of companies you admire (or even ones you do not) and how their branding and message are consistent and consistently recognized. BMW, Volkswagen, Mercedes, and Audi have kept their brands synonymous with luxury and quality. Starbucks, despite some claiming that their coffee isn’t the best and their tea subpar, has created an all-consuming brand that spans over fifty countries with over 20,000 stores. Nike, Adidas, and New Balance have made themselves the go-to brands for tennis shoes. Despite some questionable practices (such as burning excess stock), many luxury brands like Louis Vuitton, Burberry, Hermes, and Chanel can be recognized the world over with their handbags amongst the most coveted accessories.
Why invest in a strong brand identity?
Although many companies will not reach the heights of global recognition, a strong brand identity is still important. Brand identity can be achieved on a local level too (just think of towns with business owners whose surnames are household names). A strong brand identity improves the perceived quality of your brand or service whether you’re in manufacturing food products or you’re a real estate agency or law office.
Good branding creates an emotional attachment, especially if you’re seen to do good works in the community. Think of brands like Ivory Ella who donate 10% of profits to help elephants ( savetheelephants.org), protecting them from the ivory trade; Toms, which many people are aware of, thanks to amazing marketing, who donates one pair of shoes to someone in need in their “one for one” business model; and STATE bags who fill a bag with school supplies and give it to a child in need every time a customer makes a purchase. And there are so many more companies like these ones who give back to the community (including Key Medium). These companies have done so well because people like to see companies acting ethically and giving back.
Lastly, creating a great brand identity helps motivate employees. People want to be seen working for companies that have a cohesive vision. That’s why so many people want to work for Apple, Google, Netflix, Facebook, and other companies that have vision. Combine brand identity with giving back and your employees will be even more impressed!
Any investment in your brand identity is an investment in the future and longevity of your company.
How do I create a strong brand identity?
Creating a strong brand identity starts with a brand strategy, which is an analysis and plan of how the brand will be perceived by the market. The goal of any company is to develop a good relationship with your target audience, for your target audience to have positive feelings about your company and associate you with quality.
Brand identity is also created with brand consistency in your logo, color palette, typography, photography, imagery, graphic layout, as well as clear communication.
Finally, all brand messaging should be communicated to employees so they can get on board. The way employees present themselves should be as consistent as any of your other branding. You may even create a customer service greeting on the phone or via email that will become synonymous with your brand (think of Chick-fil-a’s “my pleasure” line). Do you want your tagline to be present on all emails and do you want to end your emails with “Kind regards” or “Sincerely” or something else? Again, no matter what you choose, your messaging should always be consistent.
If you have a strong, cohesive vision for your business’s branding, which is defined very specifically in your branding guidelines with every consideration from how your employees talk to the exact Pantone of your letterhead, then you will create a strong brand identity that lasts the test of time. That doesn’t mean that you’ll never tweak your branding and redesign, but you should know what your company branding means to your identity. Strong, consistent branding helps consumers feel your brand is trustworthy which will motivate them to come back and since customer retention is key to business growth, your business will grow over time. Finally, understanding the importance of branding motivates employees too. Employees and employers alike enjoy being part of the same vision.
Want Key Medium to help you with your branding? Get in touch.
Elaine Frieman holds a Master’s Degree and is a UK-based professional editor, educational writer, and former marketing agency content writer where she wrote articles for disparate clients using SEO best practice. She enjoys reading, writing, walking in the countryside, traveling, spending time with other people’s cats, and going for afternoon tea.