Your brand identity speaks to who you are as a business. It’s the value you add to the lives of your customers, the problems you solve for them and your ability to deliver what you promised.
Long gone are the days when you could just design a memorable logo to keep customers coming back. Brand identities have multiple layers. There are those layers people see, like logos, typography, packaging and merchandising. There are also those layers people use to learn about the brand, like websites, messaging and a brand’s commitment to a cause.
Fail to devote the time and resources necessary to create an identity that sets you apart, and your brand will likely fail. If customers don’t experience what you’ve put out there for them to see and hear, they will neither trust your brand nor be loyal to it.
Brand credibility speaks to all the qualities you need to be successful. That’s why developing a brand credibility strategy first will help your brand identity make sense. Here are a few reasons why.
You Figure Out What Makes You an Industry Expert From the Beginning
Establishing your brand as an expert in its industry is the path toward building customer trust and loyalty. Becoming recognized as an industry expert doesn’t just happen. You need a strategy for getting there.
The process required to develop that strategy will require some introspection. Where can you emerge as an expert, and what areas might be overrun with them? Where can you find space for new thought leadership? How will you get that message out?
Most brands are somewhat corralled by their existing identities. Moving into those leadership gaps may require tweaking their brands or even undergoing a complete overhaul. If, by contrast, your goals for industry expertise inform the creation of your brand, you’ll come out fighting.
That’s why you should identify those industry leadership gaps first. Develop strategies to fill them. Then develop a brand identity with visuals and messaging that align with that expertise. With credibility as the foundation, your brand will make more sense to your customers.
You Align Messaging Across Platforms
Recent research indicates the increasing importance of brand identity to a company’s success. That demands a sound credibility strategy that lays out brand messaging and the channels used to convey it.
Once a message is out on social media, it’s virtually impossible to put that genie back in the bottle. Even if the message is spot on, the way it’s communicated on each platform is critical. Customers are weary of trying to follow that tweet pulled directly from a Facebook post.
Taking stock of the channels you should be using and plotting messaging practices for each of them can help sharpen your brand identity as you’re developing it. How does your logo, packaging or slogan translate across channels? Will a change in color help? Will a tagline tweak relate to stronger hashtags?
Smart brands use as many channels as they can to talk about themselves and build a following. To make them credible and support the identity of the brand, all messages must be platform-friendly in order to be user-friendly. Taking inventory of your channels and thinking strategically about your content can help you build a better brand identity.
You Plan for Consistency
Consistency may be the hobgoblin of little minds, but not of brand identity. Your brand’s products and messaging must be consistent with each other, or they won’t make sense to your audience. Everything requires consistency, from the way you monitor and respond to chatter on social media to the way you package your products or commit to a cause.
Don’t confuse consistency with sameness. Content to support your brand’s expertise, for example, shouldn’t always feature the same thought leader saying the same thing. However, the goals of the content should be consistent; that is, to build recognition, foster trust and embrace transparency.
Without consistency, you’ll appear to be talking out of both sides of your mouth, and your brand will become suspect to customers. Once that happens, every time they see your logo or your product or messaging on social media, they keep moving. Restoring trust is a tricky task once it’s gone.
A brand credibility strategy will help keep consistency on track, which in turn, will keep your brand identity authentic to the people who count. Be intentional with plans for consistent messaging, processes, policies and procedures. Let those drive your brand identity.
You Develop a Brand Identity From a Position of Strength
I like to visualize brand credibility as a cause-and-effect arc. You do the hard work of developing a sound and comprehensive credibility strategy, and your stakeholders will reward you. Not doing the work will undoubtedly make your identity incongruent with your credibility, occasionally at best and repeatedly at worst.
Brand identity does nothing to prepare your brand if it takes a hit. It’s the brand credibility strategy that will guide you through those rough spots.
Fostering credibility through consistent thought leadership may seem dull. It certainly lacks the glitz and glam of developing a new logo or brainstorming catchy slogan ideas. Consider it to be the solid but lackluster gray concrete foundation of a building. It’s not flashy, but it’s fundamental—all that gleaming steel and shiny glass can’t support itself.
So take the time to pour your brand’s credibility foundation right in the first place. You’ll build that brand identity from a position of strength.