A brand identity is the DNA of every product. It defines a brand, thus making it unique. Why is it so decisive for a company's success? And what should be considered when determining one's own brand identity?
Why is brand identity important?
The brand identity is the internal self-perception of the brand. It brings together the values and brand characteristics of the company and thus creates a recall value among customers. It concerns what the brand has to say, how it is visually represented with images and design, and what it wants to convey to customers when they interact with its products.
Essentially, it is the appearance and personality of the company. Distinctive and unique.
Branding is an important component of a brand’s identity. It describes measures and strategies that are consciously initiated and undertaken by a company in order to build a certain image among consumers.
The brand is the overall picture that customers finally form of a product. It represents an emotional connection between consumers and the company. By communicating its identity to the outside world, the company gains trust and loyalty. Customers respond more to the brand than to the product itself.
Successful management consultant Simon Sinek studies the thought and behaviour patterns of successful (leadership) personalities. He points out similarities and differences and packs his inspiring knowledge into books, lectures, YouTube videos and TED Talks. One of Sinek's core questions is the question of WHY.
Sinek argues that before planning the HOW and the WHAT, companies must be clear on the WHY. If this is not the case, the enterprise will lack drive and objective. "People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it," says Sinek. Customers don't buy the product because they want the product, but because of what it stands for – its brand identity.
Defining your own brand identity in 5 steps
The Brand Steering Wheel is the traditional tool used by marketers for developing brands. Originated by brand consultancy Icon Added Value and developed further by brand communication consultant Franz-Rudolf Esch, it encompasses the hard and soft facts related to a brand.
The hard facts are the brand benefits and the brand attributes. These are objective facts and can be described as such. The soft facts, brand voice and brand image, are subjective and linked to emotions. All four are part of the brand essence.
Online companies that do not have tangible/physical assets to represent their brand benefit particularly from a strong identity. Developing this requires work and time. Using the Brand Steering Wheel companies can achieve this in five simple steps:
1. Brand essence
As in Sinek's model, the Brand Steering Wheel also asks the question WHY. Why does the brand exist? Once this has been answered, further questions follow. What is its mission? What distinguishes the product from the rest? All these characteristics, but also the history of the brand and its origin, belong in the brand essence.
2. Brand benefits
What do I offer? How does the product benefit the customer? Why is it better than other products? Brand building always starts with the customers. They inform themselves about the brand as if they were getting to know someone for the first time. It is the customer’s first impression and first conversations that count.
3. Brand attributes
If a target group’s first encounter is positive, they want to learn more about the brand. Their next question will be: "What are its characteristics?” Brand attributes ensure that the customers believe in the company's offer. These build trust and a feeling of affiliation. In the best case, this can even lead to identification. However, it is vital that false expectations never lead to customers feeling disappointed.
4. Brand voice
Brand voice encompasses the world of feelings and emotions that consumers should associate with the brand. The question here is: "What personality does the brand have?
5. Brand image
Brand image makes a brand’s identity visible to the world. It determines how the product is communicated externally. Brand identity should not force itself on the target group, but it should not be too discreet either. It is defined by logo, name, product design and brand messages.
What makes a strong brand identity?
An effective brand identity helps to communicate the full personality of the brand or product, attract customers and increase brand recognition. It is the foundation for every advertising tool and every marketing activity. In short, for everything that customers see and feel. Ideally, the brand image corresponds to the brand identity.
It is therefore all the more important that strong brand characteristics correspond with the values of the company. The brand itself can be developed, the design changed or the slogan altered. However, the essence, a brand’s inner character, remains constant.
These elements are not just for external communication. The company's own employees are equally important brand ambassadors. They should be able to identify with the brand and represent its values. This ensures authenticity for consumers and creates trust.
It is important that customers experience a brand’s identity consistently throughout their customer journey. Its existence and communication create high recall value and makes a strong impact on consumers. Consumers identify with the brand and buy the product out of conviction. The success of a company begins with its brand identity. If it wins over customers, then the company has achieved its objective.
Simon Sinek: Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action