Your 3D Brand Identity: 6 Steps to Discover, Develop, & Document Your Company Identity
To stand out in a crowded market, you need a strong brand identity to represent your company. But how do you develop one?
It’s hard to know where to start when you’re looking to evaluate or strengthen your brand identity. And you should understand that it takes time and hard work to uncover an identity that aligns with your brand and resonates with your target audience.
Use a structured 3D approach to discovering, developing, and documenting your brand identity. It’s important to involve everyone in your company so that your identity is a reflection of both your people and your brand. We’ve come up with a six-step approach that will help you assess your current position, align key team members, and uncover a strong brand identity that will continue to evolve and grow.
Step 1: Assess Your Current Market Position
Differentiating your brand starts with evaluating where you currently stand. You have to take an in-depth look at your competitors, your target audience, and how they perceive you. With a deeper understanding of your competition and target audience, you can better assess why customers choose to buy from them or from you.
Take note of the tactics that you see from competitors that worked well. Look at their social media or website and try to find any type of engagement related to their overall brand. For example, if a brand posts a hype video for a new product that has a lot of engagement, look through the comments and find out what the audience likes about it. Was it the colors, the imagery, the overall message? Identify what customers like and take notes. Conversely, try to pinpoint the things you want to avoid doing as well, like posting images that don’t align with your brand or visual inconsistencies between platforms.
Research Your Target Audience
If you want to find out how your audience perceives your brand, the most direct way is to ask them. Your goal is to find out why they purchase from you, what makes them feel connected to a brand, and how you can attract them to your brand.
There are a few ways you can do this:
- Marketplace and social research (via reviews and feedback)
- Focus groups
Looking at reviews and feedback on social and in marketplaces can be especially beneficial if you’re not able to conduct interviews, surveys, or focus groups. For example, if you’re an eCommerce brand, you may search for reviews and feedback left on competitors’ social profiles and marketplaces.
Conduct a SWOT Analysis
A SWOT analysis will assess your brand’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats with regard to your brand identity. Identify the characteristics of your brand that could put you at an advantage and the ones that could put you at a disadvantage. Consider changes and trends in your industry and the overall economy when you determine what your opportunities and threats are.
Use the results of the SWOT analysis and research to determine where your brand has the best opportunities to be the most impactful. For example, try to find areas of opportunity and growth in the places where your competition is lacking.
Step 2: Add Structure to Internal Strategizing & Collaboration
Brand identities aren’t developed overnight or by just one person — it takes strategizing and collaboration. And a bit of structure. Use Mailchimp’s recent restructure as an example: “We have a lot of creative people with unique voices under one roof... To keep the system from feeling disjointed, we have introduced a framework of core components.”
To add some structure to your own creative processes, establish a framework that allows your teams to easily work with each other while developing your brand identity. Within your framework, make sure all stakeholders, leadership, and appropriate department heads align on your value proposition and have a clear understanding of their role in your branding strategy. Set up recurring meetings between your marketing teams and other departments to keep everyone involved, and to update the right people about new brand strategies or audience findings.
Misalignment within departments can cause inconsistencies in your brand identity, like the usage of an outdated mission statement or the wrong logo. Avoid those kinds of inconsistencies so that you can protect and manage your audience’s perception of you.
Step 3: Develop Your Brand Voice & Tone
As part of your overall branding strategy, you’ll need to establish your voice and tone based on the type of messaging and content that will resonate with your audience.
Think about a voice and tone that would align well with your value proposition. Is your company more serious or fun? Casual or formal? For your brand identity, be sure to create a clear connection between your voice and tone and your image so that your brand is completely aligned. For example, if your tone is more serious and formal, the color hot pink probably won’t find its way into your brand identity.
Once you’ve developed a strong voice and tone, you should establish guidelines and a brand profile for consistent use across your company. Your brand profile should include examples of the voice and tone that anyone within your company should use and some examples of what not to use. Once you have established strong voice and tone guidelines and examples, document this within your brand profile and make sure that all employees have access to it should they need it.
Step 4: Test Different Creative Elements
While your brand identity is made up of more than just visual components, creative elements are an important part of your overall identity. When potential customers visit your website or see your brand on social media, the first things they see are the logos, colors, and imagery that you use.
As you start developing your brand identity, you’ll need to test different visual elements, like illustrations, animations, color palettes, fonts, logos, and imagery. Determine which types of pictures resonate with your audience. For example, do you get more engagement with your calming scenes or more artsy visuals?
The best way to test is with focus groups and on social media. When you use social, be sure to track engagement metrics like comments, shares, and reactions to better understand what makes your audience tick. You could also consider hiring a customer experience (CX) partner to test creative elements with your target audience.
Step 5: Create Consistent Brand Identity Processes
Developing your brand identity is an evolving process. As you evolve, you should protect the integrity of your brand identity and make sure that anyone who uses the creative elements uses them in the same way. Consistency will help you be recognizable anywhere on any platform.
Create a set of brand guidelines and templates for your brand identity and update them when anything changes. Your guidelines should set forth clear expectations around your brand identity, including using the right voice and tone, color palettes, and logos.
To ensure consistency across all platforms, create templates with approved designs for the following:
- Logo styles and placement
- Email marketing
- Social posts and ads
- Website and landing pages
- Product packaging
- In-store signage
Having guidelines and templates in place makes it easy for any department to obtain the right creative assets when they need them. You’re also able to maintain more control over your brand and how it’s perceived by your audience.
Step 6: Measure the Impact of Your Brand Identity
A strong brand identity will grow as the company grows. Some of the best brands have strengthened their identity over time through constant change and evolution. The best way to find growth opportunities in your brand identity is by measuring the impact and effect you have on your audience.
Use an analytics platform (like Google Analytics) to find out how your website visitors are interacting with your brand. You should also keep track of comments and feedback that you get from your social followers. This will give you an opportunity to make changes or address any problems, like losing customers to the competition or a decline in sales.
Use a Brand Management Platform to Grow Your Brand Identity as It Changes Over Time
Don’t let all your hard work fall by the wayside. Use a brand management platform, like Frontify, to document everything related to your brand identity in one place. A brand management platform can house all your brand guidelines and templates where anyone on your team can access them. Plus, you can collaborate on creative elements so that consistency is kept across all departments.
Simply put, Frontify helps you simplify the management of your brand. Want to learn more? Book a demo for a personalized walkthrough of our platform and its functionalities.