How to Create Brand Identity and 3 Reasons You’re Doing It Wrong

Written by Irakli Beselidze - May 28, 2015

Brand is a product name known to others. Brands were initially created for boosting product’s credibility via its popularity. People trust well-known products and more willingly buy them. But before introducing a brand to buyers, you first need to come up with the idea of a brand and its unique features that differentiate it from competitors, i.e. you should create brand identity.

Since branding was invented before the appearance of Web 2.0 where customers become co-creators of brand stories and products, it’s not surprising that customers’ needs were not taken into account in the process of brand development.

Now we need to find out some ways of improving the situation as the existing gap between a brand story and real buyers’ stories about the product leads to the loss of confidence in marketing. This contradicts the main reason of brands’ existence – increasing product credibility. Since identification is the brand’s attitude to itself, probably now the term “identity” doesn’t reveal the essence of the task as today we’re more interested in how buyers’ attitude influences brand’s identification.

Here are 3 typical reasons for wrong brand identification:

1. All competing products are similar, so it’s crucial to create brand’s distinctive features.

In fact, the above statement comprises two problems but let’s focus on the first part (“All competing products are similar”) and try to show why this statement is false. Firstly, even quite simple goods produced at one and the same plant with the same technology won’t be identical. They always have some differences regulated by production tolerance. Secondly, people who buy competing products select them because of some specific features that meet their needs and expectations. For example, my wife says she prefers Pepsi-Cola to Coca-Cola as it includes more sugar and has no teeth grinding effect.

As you can see from the above, the idea of competing products identity is wrong, and it serves as a root cause of a problem.

2. Development of creative ideas that has nothing to do with real life and the buying context of your product.

How can I make my product unique? How should my brand’s idea and story look like to be different from competitors? Surely, such questions arose in your head while you created your product and brand.

No one argues that marketing supports a cult of creativity and a big idea each brand should be based on. That’s fine but only in case creators get inspiration from real buyers’ stories about their buying experience. Unfortunately they don’t. Nowadays branding is just focused on creating innovative ideas and developing product’s distinctive features. In most cases buyers already understand the differences and can explain the reasons for choosing this or that product. So why don’t marketers stop making up brand’s values and just learn how to listen to buyers, clarify their real needs and values and clearly formulate them?

3. Marketing makes brands look identical.

Need some proof? No problem. Here you are:

  • Being constantly in search of new and innovative ideas, marketing falls under the influence of competitors or other brands. Studying other companies’ examples, marketers subconsciously copy strategies and solutions they’ve liked.
  • Marketers develop strategies based on common ideas about buying insights of certain socio-demographic groups. Quite often this leads to the loss of brand identity.

It’s not surprising that the majority of brands that have the same target audiences are very similar to each other and can easily be confused. It happens because marketing messages are created under the influence of wrong perception of the same socio-demographic groups. Besides, quite often brand strategies for different companies are developed by one and the same creators.

As a result, you may easily insert the name of a competing product to a marketing message without the loss of meaning.

I’m sure now you have the following question in your head: What am I to do with this entire staff? Does any solution exist?

It does! It’s quite simple and hard at the same time. It’s easy because a new concept of brand identity should be based on buyers and their attitude to your brand. And it’s hard because it requires fundamental changes in a people’s approach to marketing and implies the reconstruction of the whole industry.

Perhaps the term “brand identity” should be substituted with some other term like “brand attitude.” A new concept should be based not on company corporate values, its mission, industry standards and top managers’ opinion about peculiarities of target audience’s consumer behavior, but on clear description of consumer behavior while purchasing your product. Studying active buyers who influence brand attitude the most and developing marketing strategies based on the results of the research will help to resolve the range of problems. This will:

  • make marketing messages and brand’s content closer to real buyers’ values;
  • create brand’s key marketing messages with due regard to solving certain buyers’ problems;
  • boost credibility to brand’s promotion and consequently to products;
  • avoid copying competitors communication strategies;
  • keep your individuality and uniqueness.

Are there any mistakes you’ve made or seen others make when identifying a brand? How were they overcome? Please share your ideas in the comments below.

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