Strong brand identities that attract and retain clients don’t just happen overnight. Think about the iconic brand Coca-Cola. According to this 27-page booklet (detailing the history of the company), the business has been “sharing happiness” and “refreshing the world” for exactly 130 years now. It placed its first newspaper advert in 1886 and has used everything from calendar ads, soda fountain urns, celebrities, and its own magazine to promote the Coke product and brand. It’s reported that the company even went so far as to hijack Santa for their advertising campaigns – changing the colour of his attire from a selection of red, purple, green or blue to just plain red and white – and he’s never been the same!

If you’re just starting out with your business, you’ll want to create a brand identity that equally stands the test of time. For this, you’ll need to know who you are and your business’ unique value proposition. You’ll also need to be consistent in your offerings as you implement strategies across multiple channels that support your brand.

Know who you are to develop a solid brand identity

You can’t promote a brand that you aren’t 100% sure about. Brand identity is formed around your company’s unique ‘personality’– it’s values, goals, function and the way it engages with its ideal target market. Your brand identity is the ‘face’ of your business, which is reflected both in your brand design and the tone of your marketing and internal communications.

To develop your startup’s brand identity, you’ll need to take the time to:

  1. Establish your company vision and values;
  2. Figure out your ideal target audience (their likes/dislikes, pain points, values, aspirations, and information-                      gathering behaviour etc.);
  3. Develop a motivating mission statement;
  4. Create appropriate logos and artwork that reflect what you are about;
  5. Develop descriptive messaging, in the form of taglines and slogans, that best communicate who you are, what you      value and what you do – all in a voice that’s uniquely yours.

You’ll also want to ensure that you share your visions, values, mission statement and goals with your employees so that they have clear direction, can ‘talk the talk’ and serve as effective brand ambassadors.  

Be different and establish a unique value proposition

What does it mean to position your brand in a competitive marketplace? For one, it entails having a good idea of what sets your business apart from your competition. Do you know who your direct competitors are, what their services entail, their unique customer appeal and strengths?

Companies don’t exist in a vacuum. To correctly position your business within the industry, you’ll need to know how your product and services differ from the rest.

  1. Are your business offerings more diverse?
  2. Do you cater to a more niche target market?
  3. Maybe you have a technological advantage over your competitors – a mobile app that makes ordering and                     payments easy, for example.
  4. Are you able to undercut the market with better prices?
  5. Is your brand identity so appealing that prospective customers are just scrambling to be associated with you?
  6. Do you use a different business model that could set your company and brand apart from the rest?

Once you know what makes your business unique, you can better advertise and market these niche offerings. If you don’t have anything that sets you apart, you’ll need to do your homework to develop and fine tune those strengths that’ll help you stand out from the rest.  

Implement strategies to establish your brand identity

Your brand identity will be strongly linked with your online presence. Brand awareness is generated through the numerous touch points that you create for potential and existing clients. Social media makes it easy for customers to engage with brands online, via Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram for Business, or Twitter, for example. You also need to ensure that your website is responsive, loads quickly, is easy to navigate and search and is value-adding. With an overabundance of websites for customers to visit, if yours is a hassle to use, they just aren’t going to bother.   

Lastly, be sure that you have an effective PR strategy in place across all the marketing and media channels that are relevant to your ideal target market. This includes magazines, radio, and print interviews.

Be consistent with your brand’s offerings

Consistency has to do with tone, style and customer service. Customers are looking for an authentic and consistent experience with their brands of choice. Try not to surprise them in negative or confusing ways. This can happen when familiar brand designs change without warning, prices escalate for no apparent reason, or customer service is erratic. Always be sure that your visual marketing materials and copywriting marketing materials stay consistent.   

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