Guide to Defining your Brand Identity in 5 Steps
Updated: Jul 8, 2021
Just like people, brands have characteristics and qualities that make them distinct. One of our first steps to guiding successful business is a process to help define your brand. A strong brand identity doesn't just make your product more memorable. It helps your brand stand out in the marketplace, builds trust with your customers, and drives new business.
In the name of better business that aligns with your values to drive soul-centered success, here are 5 steps to building an authentic and unique brand identity.
Step 1: Strengthen Your Core (Values)
You might not have expected we’d start by making a case for core values, but here we are. Beyond just defining company culture, core values are the heart and soul of building a strong brand.
By identifying your company’s core values, you can better define your company’s mission and raison d'être (“reason for being”), beyond the tangible products or services you offer. Taking your company through the exercise of defining your core values inadvertently pushes you to define your company’s personality as well.
Sit down and identify a list of key traits that accurately convey your company’s culture. In other words, what are the central, underlying philosophies that guide your business and its employees? It’s best to narrow down your list to about 5 to 10 values. Zero in on the cultural pillars that really matter to you. What energy do you want to convey internally? What aspirational values do you have for your team and their well-being?
Step 2: Know Your Audience
Your target audience is who you want to reach with your marketing efforts, products and services. Building a brand without specifically outlining who you’re building it for can lead to business inefficiencies down the line. By clearly defining who your customer is, you can more efficiently make strategic and financial decisions about your business:
Does this new marketing initiative speak to our audience? - No. Then, cut that initiative.
Does this product update fill a need for our customer? - Yes. Then invest in that update.
To figure out your target audience, sit down and ask yourself the following 5 questions:
Who are they?
What are their pain points and desires?
Where do they hangout (online and offline) and look for information?
What benefit does your brand offer them?
Who do they trust?
Once you’ve brainstormed some answers to these questions, you can write out a simple summary of your target audience. Here’s an example:
Prime target audience: Women, 20-30 years old, living in San Francisco, with a bachelor’s degree, monthly income of $4,000 – $6,000, and passionate about feminism, social and economic injustice and fashion.
Step 3: Answer the Question: Who is She?
Now that you’ve defined your company’s internal cultural values and your audience, it’s time to get to work on clarifying how you want your brand to appear to the public.
Make a list of keywords that best describe your brand’s character as if your brand was a person. Think about how you want your brand to be perceived by your target audience. How do you want to make them feel? Who is your brand as a person? Is she helpful, witty, fierce, glamorous?
Step 4: Identify Your Brand Archetype
Archetypes describe universal patterns of behavior that we all have an instinctive understanding of, in part, because we’ve seen these models time and again in story, art, religion and myths.
One of the most historically popular archetypal frameworks is astrology. There are 12 astrological signs - or archetypes - each of which model a set of human personality traits based on specific mannerisms, responses, and ideas.
One of the originators of modern psychology, Carl Jung, was so taken by the ancient archetypes laid out by astrology that he developed his own set of Jungian archetypes, first outlined in 1919. Jung’s personality archetypes have gone on to become the basis of the 12 brand archetypes used by marketers today.
Now that you’ve compiled your list of brand personality keywords, associate each keyword with one or more brand personality archetypes. From there, it should be clear which archetype aligns with your brand the most.
Again, archetypes are universal patterns of behavior that humans are instinctively familiar with. By harnessing the intrinsic power of these 12 main brand archetypes, you can create a more powerful connection with your audience.
Step 5: Define Your Mission
We’ve finally reached the fifth and final step!
Now that you know your brand from the inside out, it’s time to define what your mission is. This mission statement can be as simple as what your brand wants to achieve, to as elaborate as how, what, when and where you want to achieve it.
Here are some examples:
Patagonia (Brand Keyword: Freedom; Brand Archetype: Explorer): “We're in business to save our home planet.”
Disney (Brand Keyword: Power; Brand Archetype: Magician): “To entertain, inform and inspire people around the globe through the power of unparalleled storytelling, reflecting the iconic brands, creative minds and innovative technologies that make ours the world’s premier entertainment company.”
Target (Brand Keyword: Belonging; Brand Archetype: Everyman): “To make Target the preferred shopping destination for our guests by delivering outstanding value, continuous innovation and exceptional guest experience by consistently fulfilling our Expect More. Pay Less. Brand Promise.”
Apple (Brand Keyword: Innovation; Brand Archetype: Creator): “To bring the best personal computing experience to students, educators, creative professionals, and consumers around the world through its innovative hardware, software, and internet offerings.”
WeSparq (Brand Keyword: Changemaker; Brand Archetype: Sage): “Empowering brands to find their voice and show up values-forward. We support organizations that drive business by thinking digital-first, creating with empathy, and being a force for good in their milieus of influence.”
Your mission statement should clearly communicate your brand's purpose, objective and/or how it plans to serve your audience. It should be action-oriented and descriptive of what your business does and the impact it wants to make. Keep in mind that your brand - like a person - is like a living, breathing, evolving entity. As such, this statement may shift over time as your company grows and redefines its goals.
Remember: a strong brand identity doesn't just make your product stand out in the marketplace, it also builds trust with your customers and drives new business. For more information on how WeSparq can help you craft your brand identity, visit www.wesparq.co or contact our team at firstname.lastname@example.org.