Differentiating by Defining Your Brand
While you might watch Netflix every day or eat frequently at Wendys or Dennys, these brands are ultimately, not your friends. So, why do their social media accounts post like they are? All the tweets, memes and jokes serve the purpose of establishing a strong brand identity. Developing a unique and memorable brand identity not only helps your business stand out from the crowd but can also create repeat customers eager to engage with your content and use your products or services. Read on to understand why brand identity matters, and tips and tricks for how to incorporate a coherent identity throughout your copy and digital footprint.
The Ins and Out of Identity
So what are the key tenants to brand identity and why should they matter to your business?
Identity Defined: Brand identity encompasses a brand’s visual style and written copy, the values it imparts to its audience, and signals how it wants the consumers to feel when interacting with its communications and products/services. Essentially, it’s how we perceive a corporation's personality. Are they an inviting and friendly part of everyday life like Coke? Are they edgy and irreverent, like Dollar Shave Club? Or maybe they’re outdoorsy and environmentally-friendly like Patagonia. The words that come to top of mind when you think of a brand typically come from a conscious effort on the company’s part to evoke a specific identity.
- Standing Out in the Crowd – Simply put, brand identity is a differentiator! According to a Sprout Social survey, consumers noted “memorable content,” “distinct personality” and “compelling storytelling” as three top reasons why some brands stand out more than others. Anyone who advertises online is in a constant battle for attention, not only among other advertisers in a given space but with all types of content. Communicating that breaks the mold of a typical commercial or value proposition is eye-catching and if done correctly, appealing to your target audience.
- Establishing Connection – In the era of social media, it is easier than ever for brands to connect with their audience on a constant individual basis. While there are pitfalls (complaints can go viral now!), there’s never been more opportunity to create authentic relationships and establish loyalty. Repeat customers who not only buy your products and services but engage and promote their purchases to their own social audiences can be a valuable tool to drive revenue and growth.
Strategy Tips and Tricks
Below, we’ve compiled a list of our top techniques to action on your newfound identity across all your channels.
- Do the Research – Establishing your brand identity upfront will help create consistency across your messaging and signal to consumers the experience they can expect each time they interact with your company. Experts suggest identifying three broad traits that describe your brand, creating a brand voice chart, and gathering a representative sample of your content to align your communication. If your Brand was a person how would you describe them? Quirky? Funny? Inviting? Bubbly? Gregarious? It’s up to you to decide, but once you do, stay consistent! Brands who have done the best work in this space are identifiable by image and copy text alone, even without the presence of their name.
- Understanding Tone vs. Voice – Your brand identity will be communicated through your voice, that is, the unique personality you produce across your communication. Consistency is key here, the personality and feel of your messaging should not shift drastically between Facebook, Email and Twitter. What will shift, is your tone, the attitude and specific wording behind your message, that changes based upon the sub-segment of the audience you’re speaking to.
- Consider the Space, Consider the Audience – There are pros and cons to standing out amongst your competitors. Depending on if you’re in education, travel, fashion or a different industry, your peers will likely have a tone that’s worked for them that you can build off or contrast. It’s a good idea to complete audience research so you craft copy and visuals with an in-depth customer profile in mind. Is your target an in-the-know trendy teen, or maybe their teacher or grandparents? The way you address each will differ.
- Don’t Let Branding Fall to the Wayside – The development of brand identity and strong copy is just as important as developing new products. Consider partnering with an agency or consulting experts in the branding space to kickstart the process and achieve the results you desire.
- Get Personal – 70% of Consumers told Sprout Social that they feel more connected to brands whose CEO had an active presence on social. While we all can’t garner the same amount of clout as Elon Musk, think about how you can incorporate real-life voices to communicate with your base and provide a name to a (brand) face. Encourage your audience to engage in conversation to strengthen connection and loyalty.
- Live Your Values – Millennials and Gen Z crave authenticity and consumers holistically are turning to brands to provide a positive social impact. Start with a strong mission statement and demonstrate what your company stands for on a regular basis. When engaging with any social issue, let authenticity be your guide.
- Follow Copy Best Practices – Finally, remember: proper punctuation, grammar and spelling always comes first! Develop a house style guide and ensure at least two sets of eyes look at any messaging or visuals before they head out the door!