Creating a Brand Identity That Competes and Compels

5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Modern design is more than just pretty aesthetics. Branding that is rooted in strategy has the ability to propel a forward, creating connection and bridging the gap between a business and its in ways merely good design never could. 

Brand strategy is foundational

A brand strategy is built on the who, what, where, and why of a business. It summarizes a company’s mission, brand adjectives, ideal audience profiles and overall visual identity. It helps define what sets a company apart from its competition and keeps a business consistent, helping to define everything from a company’s presentation to the way its team members work.

But most important, a well-made brand strategy is crucial to the growth of a business. In fact, according to a 2019 Lucidpress study, a company’s revenue is likely to increase by up to 33 percent with a consistent presentation of its , while inconsistent branding will damage a company’s reputation, according to 18.6 percent of people interviewed.

A good business owner understands that creating a lasting first impression on your ideal audience is important. Creating a good first impression starts with brand strategy and ends with brand visuals, brand voice and brand interaction.

The absence of a brand strategy trickles down into all other aspects of a business, making it a crucial part of a company’s overall success. A brand strategy acts as a solid foundation for everything that comes after it, creating predictability that in turn bridges the gap between a business and its consumer.

Related: 5 Steps for Making Your Brand Identity More Consistent

What makes a brand strategy?

A brand strategy starts with a brand designer whose work typically begins with a client questionnaire, a client call and client research. These initial steps give the designer a closer look at a business and its owner so that the strategy they put together is relevant.

The most important insight gained during a client questionnaire is the who, what, where and why of a business: Who is this business intended for? What is it that they do and what problems do they solve for their audience? Where are they located or where do they conduct business? Why does the business or owner do what they do?

Once the questions above are answered thoroughly and are clearly understood by the designer, the designer uses both the client’s answers as well as market research to put together an in-depth brand strategy that covers everything from a brand’s mission to its visual descriptors.

A completed brand strategy pulls everything together in a succinct, easy-to-understand way that acts as a foundation for brand visuals and every business decision that follows, making it an important part of a new business.

Related: Creating a Blueprint for Your Brand Strategy

Brand visuals aren’t just for looks

A brand identity is never just a logo or a set of colors. It’s a collection of brand assets that relate back to a company’s initial brand strategy, connecting them all by both meaning and look.

There are three main reasons a business should invest in a brand identity that is rooted in strategy: attraction, competition and retention.

Brand visuals are meant to attract a company’s ideal client, help a company stand out among its competitors and retain an audience who, in turn, become repeat customers.

However, brand visuals with no strategy typically fall flat, not delivering on any of the above. A successful brand identity uses strategy to create visuals that subconsciously attract ideal clients through thoughtful (and sometimes psychology-based) color, typeface, photography and word choice.

Related: Create an Irresistible and Magnetic Brand Using Storytelling

Strategy before visuals

When a brand’s visuals speak directly to its ideal audience and attract who they are trying to do business with, the company is likely to find success, creating an instant connection with its intended audience. Consider this: If your ideal audience is women ages 15 to 25, you would not want a brand identity that speaks to men ages 50 to 60 because they will not buy from you and your business will fail. It sounds like , but there is a lot of planning and strategic that goes into choosing brand visuals that are both relevant and regard consumer psychology.

The key, and the goal of a brand designer, is choosing visuals that positively affect the right people. And the only way to know who the right people are is through well-thought-out brand strategy insights.

Related: 5 Easy Exercises to Find Your Brand’s Voice

Fitting in but standing out

A company’s brand should not only speak to its audience; it should also stand out among its competition.

A brand designer helps a business find (and fit) the fine line between staying relevant within an ideal audience without blending into its competition. It is when that sweet spot is found that a brand has the leverage to capture its audience without feeling out of place on the shelf or in a web search. 

Overall, a successful brand identity is rooted in strategy, helps subconsciously persuade a consumer and helps a business find its place among its competition.