When we think about designing our brand identity, often times the first thing that comes to mind is creating a great logo and maybe selecting some colors and fonts to go with it. But your brand identity is so much more than your appearance. Done correctly, brand design is not simply about how you look, but about how you make people feel.
The best brands have personalities that go beneath the surface, featuring relatable, human-like qualities. They tell a powerful story and invite others to be a part of it by forging emotional connections with their audiences.
Your audience will draw conclusions about how you make them feel, for better or for worse. So how can you, as a savvy digital marketer, ensure your brand conveys the right emotions?
Forget the logo for now. Instead, begin by designing your complete brand personality, starting at the root and working your way up.
1) Start with WHY
In the words of Simon Sinek, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” Successful brands can easily articulate not only what they do, but also WHY they exist. Dig deep and don’t be afraid to get personal. At Marked Point, we’ve been known to encourage our clients to have a few drinks before writing their WHY statement, if that’s what it takes to open up.
To do: Write out your personal, 1-2 sentence “WHY statement.”
2) Own Your Archetypes
Are you familiar with the twelve common archetypes? Archetypes are various human roles within a story. Everyone has a role to play, including you and especially your brand. Understand and embrace the role that you naturally play, stick to it and own it in all your brand communication. This is your voice.
To do: Identify your dominant 2-3 by taking a free test online or by hiring a professional. If you’re designing a brand for an organization, the archetype will be the sum of the archetypes of its leaders.
3) Write out your story
Get your story out of your head and on to a piece of paper. Using your WHY statement to guide you, write out three versions: a full page, a paragraph, and a 140 character blurb. This is a great document to share both internally with new hires and externally with media groups.
To do: Write out three versions of your brand story: one page, one paragraph, and 140 characters or less.
4) Create a Persona
Personas are not just for your product team! The best brands speak directly to one person. Define that person fully. What’s her name? Where does she work? Who are her closest relationships? How does she relate to your company? Think of your persona as your brand’s alter ego and don’t be afraid to test out more than one for a few weeks to see what feels right.
To do: Create a robust illustration of your brand persona, including a written document and a secret board on Pinterest or physical board in your office.
5) Put Everything in Writing
Create Communication Guidelines for how your brand is expressed in every communication channel that you use. Include your WHY statement, your archetype, your story, and your voice. Then, get specific about the content that you create and share. What do you post and what do you never post? What emotions do you convey and which do you never convey? Which words do you use frequently and which do you never use? Capture every detail in writing to ensure your brand is consistent across channels.
To do: Create comprehensive Communication Guidelines for your brand. Don’t forget to include your WHY, archetype, story, and persona.
Congratulations! You’ve successfully created a personality for your brand! This is the root of you and the root of your business. Share it with all team members, internally and externally, and use it every day to guide what you do. Your audience will come to expect it from you.
On that note, feel free to contact a graphic designer about that logo. And don’t forget to send her a copy of your Communication Guidelines to get started.