THE INLAY UNPACKS ONE OF THE MOST MISUNDERSTOOD TERMS IN AGENCY LAND: BRAND IDENTITY
“We need a new brand identity.”
It’s one of the most common inquiries we get from potential clients. And as we start unpacking what a client actually needs, we hear the same three things frequently referenced as a stand in for a branding: a logo, a tagline, and a name. While these are all parts of a brand, they’re not the most important parts of a brand. So what should you know in order to craft the best brand identity for your company?
What is a brand identity
A brand identity is the foundation for the entire customer experience. It captures your vision and unique value, guides all of your customer interactions, and inspires your marketing efforts. A good brand will influence everything: what you say on your website, where you advertise, what your packaging looks like, even how you treat and train your employees.
What makes a brand “good”
The strongest brands have three elements in common. First, they are distinct, meaning they can’t be confused with any other brand. Even competitor companies who do similar things have different leadership, visions, values and more. And a good brand will capture what makes your company different from all the others. Second, they are consistent. Think about a company like Apple. At every touchpoint—from the website to television advertising to product interfaces—the experience is remarkably consistent. Third, they are true. To truly appeal to and retain customers, your brand must reflect your actual product and experience. Of course, you can be aspirational. But you can’t be misleading. Companies that rebrand in a way that strays from their actual mission—like the recent CIA rebrand—face significant backlash.
Elements of a brand
When we work with a company to build a brand, it typically consists of three parts. The strategy captures your brand positioning, prioritizes your audiences, and defines your mission, vision, and experience pillars. It’s the foundation that makes clear what is different about your company.
The voice is your personality. It defines how you communicate, the specific words you use, and the key messages you want to share with your audiences. It guides everything from the way you engage with customers on Instagram to the way you train your customer service team.
The visual identity is your look and feel. It includes things like color, typography, graphic systems, photography, and more. It’s how your brand comes to life and creates an immersive world for your clients on the web and in physical environments.
And experience is how these elements come together to create something truly special for your audiences. It’s the big interactions and little touches that make a brand feel thoughtful, engaging, and complete. For example, clarity and transparency were key to the brand we built for the soon-to-launch disruptor-free skincare company Veracity. So we created a color coding system for the packaging that communicated that the products were all connected while making it easy for customers to select the specific product they need at a quick glance, without reading the labels.
As technology evolves and business models change, so does the mix of elements that constitutes your brand.
Ten years ago, a robust social media strategy (then called social networking) was a nice-to-have element of a brand. Now it’s mandatory for any serious consumer brand. Even as branding pros, there are always new elements of a brand to consider. So while those core attributes—your logo, tagline, and name—all matter, they don’t matter nearly as much as how you look, how you act, and how you make your customers feel.
By Desiree Almodovar