The Oxford dictionary defines rapport as "a close and harmonious relationship in which the people or groups concerned understand each other's feelings or ideas and communicate well." Almost all marketing experts agree that rapport is essential to a business' success online and this cannot be achieved if a company does not have a strong brand identity.
It's this simple - if you don't know who you are and what your brand represents, how would your target audience relate to you and establish a connection with your brand? Further, if you don't know how to represent who you are online, your audience will find it difficult to see what role your brand can play in their lives. You may have a great looking web design, but does it strengthen your unique selling point and your value proposition for your market?
If you think your brand is suffering from a mistaken identity, a weak identity and any other identity crises, here are ten tips to help you.
A logo is NOT just an icon
One of the biggest mistakes you can commit in brand identity building is seeing your logo design as a mere icon. Your logo is your brand's fingerprint - it should be unique to your identity and when done right, it should serve as a powerful imagery that surmises who you are as a business and as a brand. A great logo design should take into consideration the mission, vision and values of your company and summarizes all these into one impactful beacon.
Make your logo flexible
Do you notice how Google's logo changes on its home page depending on the occasion? From Halloween to Christmas to Valentine's Day, Google's logo exudes playfulness and fun while still being able to represent what the brand is all about. Strive for something like this. You never know when you would need to adapt your logo according to the situation so it would be great if you're logo would remain recognisable despite possible alterations.
Know who you're speaking to
This is kindergarten marketing. You cannot design a brand identity if you don't know who you're talking to, what matters to them, what they are looking for and what makes them tick. If you don't take time to know your audience, rest assured that the disinterest would be mutual. Thou shall know your audience - let this be your first step in anything and everything you do in terms of marketing.
Create a memorable and appropriate tagline
Just do it. Melts in your mouth, not in your hands. Think different. Without mentioning other clues, you already know which brands these taglines represent. Next to your logo design, your tagline is arguably the second most important element for you to effectively design a brand identity. Keep it short and sweet. In three to seven words, you have to communicate what your brand can offer.
Use a healthy dose of wit and humor
One of the main flaws of many businesses is they forget to humanise their brand. Sure, you have to maintain a certain level of professionalism, but at the end of the day, you're dealing with humans and humans like to talk to humans, not cold-hearted corporations.
Whenever appropriate, feel free to inject a healthy dose of wit and humor into your marketing executions. For example, as you are designing a website, maybe you can allocate a space wherein you can feature a day in a life story of one of your employees. Be witty all the time and be funny if the opportunity presents itself.
It's a given fact that people will take into consideration rational things when making the decision to trust a brand or not. But what will ultimately tip the scale are the emotional factors.
As such, a good practice when you design a brand identity is to take what your audience might be feeling when they're looking for something that can be provided by your business. Is it a desire for luxury? The need to be secure? A craving to be entertained? This is extremely important when creating a web design. The look and feel of your site should invoke these emotions in order for you to have a strong rapport with your audience.
Brands with multiple personality disorders are prevalent and more common than you think, yet there are more brands who are committing the fatal mistake of having a schizophrenic brand identity. Do you think the most established brands of today will be where they are if they kept on changing their visuals, typography and colors? No. Frequently changing these crucial brand identity elements will weaken your identity. From your logo design to your web site design, make sure that these elements are consistent all throughout.
Create your own visual niche
An art connoisseur would know whether a painting was made or influenced by Picasso, Monet, Van Gogh, etc. without looking at the signature or doing research. This is because the great painters are known for their signature visual aesthetics. Creating your own visual niche or specialty is a great way to design a brand identity. This can be done by looking at what everyone else is doing and exploring those that haven't been done yet.
Let's go back to the example of Google and how it manipulates its logo. This is an example of a visual niche. In this case, Google owned the niche of altering its logo tactically depending on an occasion or an event.
Create a brand rulebook
Sometimes, a brand loses its identity because different people in the organisation have their own take on how to interpret this identity online. By having a brand rulebook listing all the do's and don'ts in terms of your brand identity, your entire organisation will be guided properly and everyone will work in the same direction to strengthen just a single brand.
Know who you are
Lastly, it would be a herculean task to come up with a logo design or a web design or even talk about how to design a brand identity if you yourself don't know where you fit in. Without a crystal clear definition of what your business is, what your products are, what sets you apart, what benefit you bring to your market and what your vision is, brand identity building would be next to impossible. In psychology, self-awareness is the first step to self-realisation and it's no different when it comes to online marketing.
Subhash Chandra is an SEO & Social Media Consultant at TisIndia, in Noida (UP), India. TIS India is a leading web design development and social media marketing company offers innovative web solutions to world-wide clients.
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