Identity & Branding - A Brief Introduction
Identity and branding are vital elements of any business.
The two can be thought of as analogous to an individual’s self and personality:
An organisation’s identity is its core values and purpose, its spirit. Branding is the way this spirit finds expression in the world.
Ideally, the two are closely, coherently, and consistently aligned.
In this post I’ll briefly outline what a brand identity is, what the branding process is, and why branding is important.
What Exactly Is a ‘Brand’?
A strong brand has a well-defined identity at its heart and expresses this identity clearly and consistently through every level of its communication.
The identity element comprises core values and purpose, coupled with the understanding of who the organisation serves and how exactly it helps – ‘why’, the ‘who’ and the ‘how’.
The communication elements comprises the organisation’s products and services, its content, messaging, voice and design, and its name, tagline and logo.
Both elements work together to comprise a brand.
A brand is therefore far more than just a logo and the colour scheme used on a website.
It refers to the way the spirit of an organisation is clearly and consistently communicated to the world, as well as to the overall experience someone has when interacting with an organisation.
What Is Branding?
Branding is the process of cultivating a strong brand as described above. Essentially it involves getting ultra-clear the core identity and then intentionally infusing that identity into every layer of the brand.
While this process can take place automatically, far better results obtain when a high level of intentionality is brought to it.
At the core of any branding process is the mission statement.
A good mission statement should signal exactly why an organisation exists and what it does. It should encapsulate the organisations’ purpose, the product or service it delivers, the audience it delivers it to, and the way it solves problems for people - the ‘why’, the ‘what’, the ‘who’ and the ‘how’.
Only when this statement is clearly articulated by the organisation itself (step one of the branding process) can it be communicated effectively to its audience (step two of the branding process).
But Why Is Branding Important?
A strong brand – one that has clearly articulated and is coherently embodying and communicating its core identity – gives people something meaningful to relate to and connect with beyond a mere transaction.
With a strong brand, customers are not just buying the product or service: they are buying into the brand’s core values and purpose.
A strong brand also differentiates an organisation from its competitors. This differentiation is vital. If people cannot instantly see (or feel) what is unique about a particular brand, then people will not be drawn to interact – why would they, when there are any number of other organisations offering similar products or services?
Weak brands get lost in the noise, scrolled past, and instantly forgotten. Strong brands stand out and attract engagement – because they stand for something.
Another advantage of crafting a strong brand is that it helps an organisation to build a strong team. When an organisation’s mission is clearly articulated it attracts people closely aligned with that mission. And if that mission is consistently adhered to by the organisation, then people are moved to commit and dedicate themselves long-term to its goals – for those goals are one with their own.