10 dos and don'ts of a winning brand identity

brand identity


Let's play a little game: think of the word 'apple'. Did a fruit pop into your mind or did you immediately picture a sleek, silver laptop? If the latter rang true, that's the power of brand identity.

Apple Corporate Identity Guidelines Notebook - Rediscovering Retro Apple

But let's be clear: brand identity is the sum of how your brand looks, feels, and speaks to people. Sometimes, it’s a tactile sensation – for instance, the weight of a watch. Sometimes, it’s an emotional connection – that feeling you get when you wear a pair of sneakers you love.

But more than anything, a unique brand identity is an embodiment of a company’s values, mission, and essence distilled into a form that people can relate to.

Why Brand Identity is a must

Branding is not just about getting your target market to choose you over the competition. It's about getting your prospects to perceive you as the sole solution to their problem. So, why is a strong and distinctive brand identity key?

1. It Dictates Consumer Choices: An overarching 77% of consumers admit that brand names influence their purchase decisions. A strong brand identity can make your brand synonymous with a particular product or service.

2. Loyalty and Recognition: Brands with a consistent visual identity resonate 4 times more with consumers than those without. This isn't just about seeing a familiar logo, it's about feeling something familiar whenever they interact with your brand.

3. Profitability Edge: Companies that prioritize branding are 20% more profitable than those that don’t. An effective brand identity not only guarantees recognition but also ensures consistent revenue.

4. Brands Speak Louder Than Products: 60% of millennials expect consistent brand experiences — whether it's in-store, online, or on a mobile. For many, the ethos of the brand holds more weight than the actual product. A potent brand identity ensures this ethos is communicated seamlessly across all platforms.

5. An Identity Beyond Borders: With globalization on the rise, 50% of consumers worldwide state they would be more likely to buy a product if its information is presented in their own language and culture. A robust brand identity transcends mere language barriers. It's a universal entity that encapsulates your brand’s soul and presents it globally.

The Do’s of a Great Brand Identity

Building a brand can be a challenge — especially if your industry is crowded. If you’re trying to decide how to create a winning brand identity, here are some of the things you need to keep in mind that will impact the way consumers perceive you.

1. Prioritize consistency over creativity: Brand identities thrive on consistency. According to Lucidpress, consistent brand presentation across all platforms can increase revenue by up to 23%. While it's tempting to continuously revamp and redefine, studies show that recognizable and consistent brand visuals make consumers feel more at ease and inclined to engage.

2. Opt for fluidity: Brands like Canva have demonstrated adaptability in their logo, ensuring it resonates with both design professionals and casual users. A fluid brand identity allows for minor tweaks that cater to evolving user bases or product expansions without sacrificing the brand's core look and feel.

3. Harness micro-moments: The tiniest elements can profoundly impact brand perception. According to Google, 96% of users reach for their mobile devices during micro-moments. So, the mobile responsiveness of your brand elements, the tactile feel of your product, or even the on-hold music on your customer service line can influence brand perception.

4. Diversify but stay rooted: Take Duolingo as an example. Their visual elements vary slightly depending on the platform, yet there's always an unmistakable 'Duolingo feel.' Ensuring adaptability across mediums while maintaining a rooted essence can boost brand recognition by up to 80%.

5. Invest in negative space: Utilizing negative space cleverly, like the arrow in the Amazon logo, offers dual narratives without overwhelming the viewer. Such design intricacies can increase logo recall rate by 40%, making it a powerful tool for brand identity.

6. Embed cultural sensitivity: With 40% of consumers turning away from brands that don't personalize their experience, it's crucial to have a brand identity that understands and integrates cultural nuances. This ensures relevance and prevents potential misinterpretations or cultural faux pas.

7. Prioritize depth over width: Brands that focus on the depth of their identity see better consumer trust. Consider Patagonia. Rather than merely selling outdoor gear, they root their identity in environmental activism and sustainable practices. This deep commitment, more than a broad product line, can boost consumer trust by up to 20%.

8. Think beyond two dimensions: Incorporating three-dimensional aspects into brand identity, like the spatial awareness in the logo of Sonos, can be pivotal in an increasingly digital age. With the growth of AR and VR technologies, 3D brand elements are predicted to witness a 150% increase in engagement by 2025.

9. Embrace authenticity over aesthetics: Sprout Social suggests that 86% of consumers claim authenticity is a key factor in supporting a brand. An authentic representation of brand identity, even if not the most 'trendy', can cultivate a long-lasting and trusting consumer relationship. While many beauty and health brands lean into minimalist and sleek packaging designs, Dr. Bronner has opted for labels densely packed with text, covering a myriad of topics from the product's benefits to the company's ethical philosophies.

10. Anticipate evolution: A forward-thinking brand identity is paramount. With the digital landscape evolving rapidly, brands with an eye on the future can ensure relevance for longer. According to a study by MIT, brands that adapt their identity based on future trends see a 17% better performance in market positioning.

The dont’s of a great brand identity

Don't complicate things, go for timeless solutions instead: Complex visuals can hinder instant brand recall. For instance, while Pepsi has changed its logo 11 times since its inception, Coca-Cola has largely remained consistent, making it instantly recognizable worldwide.

Solution: Streamline your brand elements, focusing on what genuinely represents your core values.

Don't echo the masses, unless you're ready to go your own way afterward: It's tempting to adopt design elements that seem popular, but what works for one brand might not work for another. Brands that altered their identity to mimic competitors saw a 15% decrease in brand loyalty, according to a study by Branding Journal.

Solution: Gather inspiration but forge your unique path.

Don't Overlook Cultural Nuances: Failing to research the cultural implications of your brand symbols can be detrimental. When Chevrolet introduced its Nova car in Spanish-speaking countries, it overlooked that "No Va" means "doesn't go" in Spanish.

Solution: Always research the intricacies of the cultural contexts of your target markets.

Don't Neglect Your Unique Selling Points (USPs): Brands often miss opportunities to stand out when they downplay the USPs in their brand identity. Failing to spotlight what makes your brand unique can leave you blending in amidst the industry noise. Consider the clutter of "natural" beauty brands; however, Lush Cosmetics distinguishes itself. Instead of merely touting natural ingredients, they emphasize their eco-friendly stance with 'naked' (unpackaged) products.

Solution: Infuse your brand identity with elements that emphasize your USPs, ensuring you're not just another face in the crowd but a distinctive voice.

Don't change too often, consistency is key: Companies that frequently overhaul their brand identity risk losing their recognizability. Yahoo changed its logo five times in one month in 2013, leading to confusion and reducing brand trust.

Solution: Limit identity changes and, when necessary, ensure they align with your brand's core values and history.

Don't underestimate digital cohesiveness: A brand identity that looks great on billboards but pixelates on a mobile screen misses out on a vast audience. With 80% of shopping interactions occurring online, according to eMarketer, it's crucial to ensure your identity is adaptable across devices.

Solution: Prioritize digital optimization in your brand identity design process.

Don't sacrifice voice for visuals: A stunning visual identity without a consistent brand voice is like a beautiful instrument that plays off-key. According to a study by Lucidpress, consistent brand presentation across platforms can increase revenue by 23%. However, this isn't just about visuals. For instance, if your brand identity revolves around being playful and youthful, a formal tone in communications could be jarring.

Solution: Regularly audit all touchpoints, from marketing collateral to customer service scripts, ensuring they harmonize with your established brand identity.

Don't Undervalue Emotional Connections: While logic drives many purchasing decisions, emotional connections can be the tiebreaker in saturated markets. A Harvard Business Review study found that emotionally connected customers are over two times more valuable than merely satisfied customers. A brand identity that fails to evoke emotion or resonate can lose out on this connection.

Solution: Dive deeper into your target audience's aspirations, fears, and desires. Integrate these insights into your brand identity to forge stronger emotional bonds.

Don't Overpromise and Underdeliver: There's a fine line between aspirational brand identity and setting unrealistic expectations. A survey from PwC indicated that nearly 80% of consumers prioritize speed, convenience, knowledgeable help, and friendly service. If your brand identity signals promises you can't consistently uphold, you risk damaging consumer trust.

Solution: Ensure your brand identity, while aspirational, is grounded in what you can genuinely and consistently deliver.

Don't Rely Solely on External Influences: External agencies, design trends, and competitor benchmarks have their place, but if they're the only sources influencing your brand identity, it could become impersonal. The best brand identities have an intrinsic connection to the company's core, its team, and its history.

Solution: Involve internal stakeholders in the identity creation process. They can bring insights, stories, and values that external entities might miss.

See you at Bolder

Crafting a robust brand identity is no simple task. At Bolder Agency, we excel in pinpointing and addressing the subtle challenges your brand might face. We’re dedicated to converting your brand identity doubts into tangible virtues. If you're ready to reinforce your brand's foundation, reach out to us via our contact form.

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