Brand strategy and identity twirl and swirl like a Texas two-step to shape and communicate the essence of a brand. (Did that sentence just make you want to eat Blue Bell ice cream or head to the nearest dance floor and turn up the music? Our answer is yes to both — it’s summertime after all!) Treats and tangos aside, understanding branding strategy, strong brand identity, and how they work in tandem to develop your brand will make a world of difference.
Shimmy and Shake With Clear Brand Strategy and identity
Brand strategy refers to the long-term plan and approach adopted by a company to achieve its business objectives through its brand. It involves making deliberate decisions about how a brand will position itself in the market, differentiate from competitors, and create value for its target audience. Brand strategy encompasses multiple elements such as target market definition, brand positioning, value proposition, key messaging, and competitive analysis that will help your own business stand apart.
Strut Your Stuff With Strong Brand Identity
On the other hand, brand identity is the outward expression of a brand strategy. It represents the visual, verbal, and sensory elements that embody the brand and distinguish it from others. Brand identity includes visual elements like the logo, color palette, typography, imagery, and design elements as well as intangible elements such as brand values, a brand’s personality, tone of voice, and customer experience. Brand identity is the sum total of how a brand presents itself to the world and how it is perceived by its audience.
How the Two Tango and Create a Successful Brand
Here are five ways brand strategy and brand identity depend on and influence each other.
Strategy shapes identity. Brand strategy provides the foundation of guidance for developing a brand identity. It outlines the brand’s purpose, target audience (and the audience’s key questions), and key messages for the brand to communicate. These inform the creation of the visual identity of the brand. This visual representation is paired with the verbal brand elements (the brand voice) to create what’s ultimately a memorable brand identity.
Bottom line: The strategic decisions made in the brand strategy phase directly influence the brand identity design.
Identity supports strategy. Brand identity plays a crucial role in executing and reinforcing the brand strategy. The visual identity, when designed in alignment with the strategic objectives, helps communicate the brand’s intended positioning, values, and promises to the target audience. When people see or hear your brand identity, you want them to remember it — that would be a mark of success.
Bottom line: The identity elements act as a visual and emotional bridge between the brand strategy and its ideal audience.
Consistency and coherence. Brand strategy and brand identity must be consistent and coherent for effective brand building. When the brand identity is consistent with the brand strategy, it helps establish a strong and recognizable brand presence in the market. Consistency across various touch points enhances brand recognition, fosters trust, and creates a unified brand experience for customers.
In a larger organization where multiple people are creating content that represents the organization, you might want to consider creating brand guidelines and even a guide to writing in the brand voice. These tools can provide a solid foundation to someone creating social media content, for example, and will keep your brand identity strong.
Bottom line: A memorable brand identity is created through consistency and coherence.
A constant relationship. The relationship between brand strategy and brand identity is ongoing. As the brand evolves, its strategy may be refined or adjusted to adapt to changing market dynamics. Similarly, the brand identity may be updated or refreshed over time to reflect the evolved strategy or to stay relevant in an ever-changing marketplace.
Bottom line: And the beat goes on … the dance of brand design, brand messaging, and clear brand strategy never stops.
What to Ask Before Your Great Brand Boogies
Before you get to work on your branding process, here are seven things to ask yourself.
Are you clear on your brand purpose? You need to be able to easily explain why your business exists as well as the value it brings to potential customers.
Do you know your target audience? Knowing who exactly your ideal customer is (their interests, preferences, behaviors) will be a pivotal move for your brand strategy.
What are your key messages? How are you communicating your value, benefits, and personality to a customer?
How do you want your brand to be perceived? And don’t overlook the small things! For instance, how the receptionist answers the phone, making it easy to unsubscribe anytime, the level of instant access people feel like they have to your brand all play into the perception of your brand. A strong brand thinks about the small things.
What are similar businesses doing? You want to assess your competitors not to copy them, but to differentiate yourself and stand alone. Knowing what other businesses are doing will ultimately help you set yourself apart and foster customer loyalty.
Is there consistency across all your brand’s touch points? Between your website, social media, ads, and customer interactions, are there differences in the visuals and copy? Your design choices will need to be the same everywhere to create a cohesive, lasting impression.
Do assets such as your logo, website, and social media presence accurately reflect your brand values and personality? It may be time for a refresh on your visual identity.
Ever wondered what the difference is between Fort Worth and Dallas branding? Our President and Founder wrote on that very topic in a recent blog post!
Let J.O. Agency Cut In Here
This blog post is the just the start of our thoughts on brand design and strategy. Our team — marketing strategists, graphic designer, copywriter, account executives and more — is dedicated to helping you build your dream business. Whether you’re starting from scratch with a brand-new online business, ready for a refresh on your brand identity, or stretching your company into new markets and ready for a reinvigorated strategy and process, we’re here to talk.
P.S. Want to know our personal take on brand identity and strategy? We dish on it right here.