Developing your brand identity can involve a few simple steps or dozens of activities that, due to the sheer volume of tasks, have to be performed or implemented in stages. That is true whether you are focusing on a globally recognized brand like Budweiser, Nike, or Google, or a brand that is known to a select few on a limited, local basis like Mom n’ Pop’s Tire Shop or The Corner Cafe & Creamery. No matter how big or small your brand may be or how many steps and tasks are involved with developing your brand identity, there are only three core principles that have a significant role in helping your efforts achieve success.
Above all else, your brand identity should be unique. The primary purpose of establishing a unique brand identity is to make sure there is no confusion between your brand and one belonging to another company, especially if that company is a competitor. By proactively preventing the possibility of mistaken identity, you are also ensuring that your target audience will not inadvertently confuse the brands of your competitors as that of your company and choose to enter their sales funnel instead of your own.
Establishing uniqueness with your brand can involve your company name, color scheme, logo design or style, and tagline, as well as aspects of your business identity that are not generally on public display, like your company’s documented purpose, mission statement, or operational values. All of those aspects of your brand identity should be as different from other brands as night and day, and every aspect of your brand identity should work together to support and reinforce who you are, what you do, and why you do it.
Consistency is a critical factor in helping you establish industry dominance. That is true whether your goal is to become dominant in your industry in the area of sales, knowledge, reputation, credibility, or authority. You should be displaying and emphasizing your brand in everything you do and say and with everything you publish or distribute, whether those actions take place in B2C or B2B personal interactions, through multimedia advertising, or content development and selection of marketing channels for your online presence.
Not unlike repetition, consistency raises more conscious awareness of your brand identity by making it more visible and thus more easily recognizable; in essence, you want to brand it on the minds of your target audience. In addition to maintaining consistency in ensuring that your brand is visible everywhere that you have established a presence, you also want to be consistent in presentation of the brand itself. Imagine if Nike had chosen a variety of check-marks to represent their brand, rather than their trademarked “swoosh” logo. Consumers would not know which check-mark identified Nike because there would be no consistency in the presentation of Nike’s brand identity. The same is true of the golden arches of McDonald’s, Microsoft’s four-color window pane logo, and many other companies who are immediately recognizable by their chosen visual logos.
Exposure may sound similar to consistency on the surface, in that you are attempting to keep your brand in front of the eyes and on the minds of your target audience. Where consistency means uniformity in the established visual aspects of your brand identity and a display of that brand wherever you have made your mark, so to speak, exposure is the act of making that mark in the first place. Achieving exposure for your brand identity used to be possible only with big-budget activities like expensive television commercials, radio advertisements, or unsolicited direct mail campaigns. Because of the associated investment, not only of money but also time, effort, and human resources, a company’s level of exposure also depended on its budget. Bigger budgets naturally equaled more exposure, which left small businesses almost entirely out of the competitor pool merely because they had no practical way to compete.
In more recent years, the internet has, in effect, eliminated the correlation between exposure and expense. It also has made it possible for small, local businesses to achieve exposure on par with national or global corporations. There are many different marketing activities that you can do online, and platforms or channels that you can use, to gain significant exposure for your business and brand. Just because you have an online presence, however, does not mean that your company will see an immediate, automatic, or dramatic increase in your level of exposure. Getting the visibility, you need for your brand to become established as an industry leader does require that you still invest time and effort.
When it comes to gaining exposure through the establishment of a robust online presence, you have many different options at your fingertips. In addition to marketing channels like websites and landing pages, blogs and guest blogging, social media networks, email campaigns, and online communities like LinkedIn, you also have access to tools and resources to help your efforts achieve further success. It is ultimately up to you, however, to use these options in a way that maximizes their potential.
The Final Word
When it comes to building a strong, successful brand identity by establishing an online presence and using the multitude of marketing options available to you, there is truly no limit to what you can do and how you can do it. Using the three core principles listed here – uniqueness, consistency, and exposure – as the foundation of your brand identity development and deployment efforts can significantly improve the efficiency, productivity, and effectiveness of your marketing strategies. This, in turn, gives you a wealth of opportunity to increase traffic to your online content, attract the attention of qualified leads, and convert those leads into loyal customers.