Building a Brand Identity: Secrets of Successful Branding

Building a brand identity means knowing your customers and helping them get to know you.  It forges a relationship before the formal introduction, so to speak.  Your customers will be able to sum you up in a glance and decide almost instantly whether or not they want to buy into what you have to offer. 

Whether you’re selling candles, music, or your services, every part of you that the public experiences will be part of building a brand identity.  That means that having business cards that don’t flow with your website, having no website at all, looking sloppy at shows all detract from your own vision of your business.  You might think that no one will notice that your “Coming Soon” page has been up for a year, but people do notice. 

Now let’s get down to the business of building a brand identity that will let your customers know that they can trust you, that you are the person to go to whenever they need donut soap, raw wool, an awesome tune, whatever.

  1. Customer Story.  I put this first because in my experience this is what shapes everything else when you're building a brand identity.  The customer is the person who funds your lifestyle, essentially.  This is the group of people who you need to communicate to in order to build your business.  So you’ll want to find out who your target audience is and then create a statement about that group of people.  I call this statement a “customer story”.  Be realistic when you craft this statement and be ready to change it along with your brand as you identify your actual customers.  Don’t be surprised to find that the customers you thought were your target are actually completely different from your actual customers. 
  2. Identity. This is all you.  This is the part of building a brand identity that focuses on your uniqueness and your creativity.  Successful branding answers these questions: What makes your business different and special?  How does that uniqueness relate to your target customer? 
  3. Credibility. Just like a good speech, your audience will want to know why they should listen to you. Why should they buy from you?  Is it your method of production, your unique sense of style and color, your speedy delivery, your years and years of experience?  Put your credibility at the forefront and your successful branding will come through clear as day.
  4. Consistency. Make sure that all three elements of successful branding come through in all forms of communication.  That means using the same tone, the same colors and fonts on packaging, business cards, website, and even blog.  You never want to interrupt your customer’s fantasy of who you are.  If your customer arrives at a website that looks nothing like the business card you handed them at a show, they may feel confused and not bother to keep looking.  If you show up at a craft show looking haggard from a previous night’s party or even just working late, your credibility may just fly out the window the instant your customers take a look at you.  Even not smiling can make the difference between trust/sale/repeat customer and distrust/no sale.  It only takes a split second to interrupt that flow, so consistency is key! 

It always helps to get inspiration from successful companies and businesses when building a brand identity.  Take a gander through your favorite shops and take note of what you like about their packaging, store experience, etc.  Last but not least, don’t forget to enjoy the process!  Successful brandingis an extension of your personality, so have fun and stay true to your artistic side.

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