Brand: Identify your Identity
Mention ‘brand’ or ‘branding’ to anyone and the word ‘identity’ rarely comes up in people’s minds. And the reason why?
Most businesses and businesses owners mistakenly think ‘brand’ is less to do with identity and everything to do with… the ‘visuals’; how something ‘looks’ or ‘appears’, with a strong focus on the superficial exterior aesthetic. ‘Identity’, by contrast, has far more depth, substance, attributes and value to it. It’s perhaps understandable yet disappointing too, given our society’s increasing focus and value on the external ‘image’ and exterior façade in times of instant and online visual communication as well as ‘fake’ news, ‘fake’ TV and ‘fake’ celebs.
Things of course are slowly changing, but as those of a certain generation will know – we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover (yet we still do, mainly because we’ve got nothing else to go on). Perhaps this is timely – as a brand growth strategist, I’ve been explaining to my Prep aged 5 y.o daughter lately that ‘our eyes can deceive us!’.
The fixation and focus of brand is solely placed on the ‘look and feel’ as an identifier in the marketplace (hence the confusion with a logo as the true brand ‘identifier’ – remember, a logo is not your brand!). In many ways there’s a preference (or bias) for style over substance, which can only end with one result – a lack of trust in brands when the brand promise doesn’t match the reality – i.e. the actual customer experience.
Yet the confusion about brand even extends to the ‘experience’ a customer might encounter with a brand. Yes, the experience is an important part or expression of a brand – but at its core, brand is much more fundamental in nature.
In an attempt to clear up common misunderstandings and clarify what a brand really is, its important to take the focus away from the thin exterior ‘veneer’ of a brand, and uncover the more basic truths that lie underneath the logos, fonts and visual elements – beyond the creative. We need to get to the heart of the matter.
Brand, ultimately, is about perception and is made up of aspects that include mindset, vision, beliefs, values, personality and in terms of outward-customer focus: a clear identity.
Think about it – most people don’t buy products, they buy a personality behind the product. And that personality is derived from an identity: identity as defined as an essence or expression of what someone represents. If you craft and position yourself as a defined, engaging and easily identifiable (and relatable) identity, then more people will resonate and identify with you more easily and more often. Now you can potentially understand how marketing can work so much more effectively when brand and marketing combine together?
The key to brand identity success is to first have the awareness and second, the understanding of how to craft an identity that will resonate with your desired customer.
This is why brand strategists the world over stress the importance of storytelling as
an important narrative tool. And we all know, great stories have great characters with defined personalities and distinct identities right? Because that’s how the viewer engages, identifies and resonates with the ‘character’.
There’s always the idealistic hero – the Peter Pan figure playing in contrast to the ‘evil’ villain – Captain Hook. There’s always the 2 supporting characters, always the love interest, always the comic relief, always the ‘heavy’, always the ‘flawed’ character, always the mentor, who teaches and imparts knowledge and occasionally the ‘anti-hero’ who champions against the status quo. Identities – every last one of them. How does this translate to the business world you ask?
Real word example: A recent brand identity workshop with a client with a background in the care industry revealed some powerful revelations about her identity. In exploring themes of ‘identity’ and ‘narratives’, which she had never considered relevant before, she expanded her personal outlook and business potential at the same time – specifically in relation to creating a clear vision and purpose on the back of her new found identity. The workshop not only helped to develop and craft a solid identity in her mind, but also an identity that her customers can clearly identify with. Hence we got her ‘in sync’ with her customer. The effect was galvanising and empowering.
The biggest revelation was a shift in her business positioning and future possibility. What was once ‘impossible’ was now ‘possible’. The added benefit of securing a solid identity is the great sense of inner-confidence in your business role that it can provide. It therefore impacts on your future outlook and prospects as well as your marketing efforts. This shift will be equally translated and reflected in your interactions with customers, suppliers and business colleagues alike.
Herein lies one of the keys to brand and communication ‘success’ and a pivotal part of the brand blueprint for business growth.
Without a core identity focused on your customer; an identity that resonates with you as the business owner AND your ideal customer or ‘Avatar’, your chances for engagement, conversion, growth and sustaining long-term relationships and therefore revenue is limited.
If you’re lacking an identity – a brand that elevates you beyond ‘commodity’ status – then you’re chasing leads and competing on price – a risky, slow and expensive approach to business.
So it begs the questions – what’s your identity? What’s your brand personality?
How do you define yourself? Because if you can’t define yourself, how can you expect potential customers to define and understand you in a saturated marketplace?
For more information ask about The Brand Entrepreneurs’ one-on-one 3hr Brand Personality Workshop. Be your own story.
I hope you learned something new, insightful or useful from this blog.
As The Brand Entrepreneur, I believe in helping businesses build a ‘brand blueprint’ for business growth. I do this through a series of workshops designed to help businesses realise and communicate their ‘Why?’ Successful brands in the future care about customers, not branding. I believe that future is now. I’m passionate about creating brand stories & design assets that help brands get ‘in sync’ and connected to customers they care about.
Jamie Thomas – The Brand Entrepreneur