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How to build a magnetic brand identity in five simple steps

by Canto  |  January 22, 2024

11 min. read
Woman building a magnetizing brand identity with brand elements over a red background.

When you think of Adobe, what color comes to mind? Can you picture the company’s logo? Typography? Do you experience a feeling?

The answers to these questions barely scratch the surface of what brand identity means, but one thing is certain: How you think and feel about a brand isn’t an accident.

A brand identity is strategically planned, designed, and implemented.

A strong brand identity has many benefits, including:

  1. Increased customer loyalty
  2. More brand extension opportunities
  3. Elevated revenue
  4. Built trust

Nearly half of customers say they would pay more for brands they trust. Additionally, two-thirds of businesses report brand consistency has contributed to at least 10% revenue growth.

It’s clear that building a strong brand identity is critical for long-term business success.

But what exactly is brand identity, and how can you leverage it to improve trust and revenue? Let’s break it down.

What is brand identity?

Brand identity includes the visual elements, messaging, and values that communicate a company’s character. It goes beyond a simple logo to the creation of a presence in the market that fosters trust and connects with your audience.

What is the difference between brand identity vs brand image?

As you consider brand identity, you might also have questions about brand image vs. brand identity. Brand identity is focused on how you present your own brand, whereas your brand image is the real-time perception of your brand that is shaped by audience experiences.

Most brands seek to align brand identity and brand image. In other words, you want what customers think about your brand to match the image you create.

Why does brand identity matter?

A strong brand makes it easier to attract new customers, retain existing ones, and expand into new markets or product offerings.

For example, imagine that a content professional is shopping for new software. As they begin exploring options, they’ll compare features and functionality. But also weighing heavily on their decision — either consciously or unconsciously — is brand identity.

The aforementioned content professional already has a few larger brands in mind as they begin their search. As a result, those brands have an edge in the market by already existing in consumers’ awareness.

Translation? Competitors have to work harder to capture attention and earn market share against organizations with a strong brand identity.

How to create a powerful brand identity

Are you ready to create a strong brand identity? Here are five steps to get started:

1. Understand your target audience

It’s possible to work very hard on your brand identity and still fall short on results. Why? Everything starts and ends with understanding your audience. It’s the foundation for creating an identity that connects and wins market share.

Here are a few ideas for collecting audience research to begin building your brand:

  • Conduct surveys and questionnaires: Collect information about your audience’s preferences, behaviors, and demographics
  • Social media listening: Leverage social media monitoring tools to track discussions about your industry and product categories to learn more about your target market’s interests
  • Customer interviews: Talk to your customers. Ask open-ended questions. And explore their experiences, preferences, and challenges
  • Competitor analysis: Analyze your five largest competitors to understand what they’re doing well and where they fall short

Always invest in understanding your audience and the market before you take steps to create or modify your brand identity.

Red illustration of emotions evoked by color palettes and font families to build a brand identity.

2. Create your logo and select your design elements

After understanding your market’s needs, create or modify brand design elements like your logo, color palette, and typography (fonts).

Logo: The face of your brand

Create a logo that considers your audience’s needs. For example, the Nike swoosh takes into account the audience’s desire for speed and performance. Simple logos are easiest for consumers to recall and identify, such as seeing the double arch sign in the distance while driving and recalling the logo of McDonald’s.

Also, avoid selecting logos that are complicated to understand or that incorporate trendy elements that might go out of style.

Color palette: Painting your brand’s personality

Select palette colors that evoke a desired emotion from your target audience. Here are some emotions that typically come to mind when using the following colors:

  • Blue: Trust, loyalty, and dependability
  • Purple: Wisdom, imagination, and sophistication
  • Orange: Creativity, friendliness, and confidence
  • Red: Power, excitement, and fearlessness
  • Green: Growth, hope, and prosperity

Consider choosing a dominant color and a small set of secondary colors to use as accents. If you choose too many colors in your brand color palette, your brand identity could be harder to recognize in the market.

Typography: Communicating brand tone

Choose a font family to create a specific look and feel for your brand. Here are a few font families and styles to consider:

  • Serif fonts: Classic, formal, and reliable (e.g., Times New Roman)
  • Sans serif fonts: Modern, clean, and minimal (e.g., Helvetica)
  • Slab fonts: Bold and robust (e.g., Rockwell)
  • Script fonts: Artistic and personalized (e.g., Pacifico)

Your brand identity could include primary and secondary fonts — one for headings and one for body text. It’s up to you, but the key is defining your selections to ensure your brand looks the same across channels.

3. Develop a unique voice and messaging

Now that you have created a unique logo and color palette and chosen a font family, it’s time to craft a memorable personality for your brand. After all, you want to make sure your voice stands out from the competition.

Is your brand playful, friendly, and authoritative? What sets you apart from competitors? Consider developing a unique brand story and ensure your brand voice adapts to different contexts and platforms. And remember to tap into your audience research as you develop or refine your messaging to ensure your brand will resonate powerfully with your audiences.

For example, Apple used the tagline “Think different” to design messaging around challenging the status quo, pushing boundaries, and redefining what’s possible.

Got all that completed? You are now ready to establish your brand in the market with distinct branded content that creates a consistent look and feel. Next, you’ll need new brand management tools to ensure all of your teams and channels show off your brand consistently.

4. Implement your brand consistently across all touchpoints

Implementing your brand consistently across all touchpoints is critical to building a strong and recognizable brand.

First, create a style guide that outlines the visual and verbal elements of your brand. The style guide will serve as the definitive source of truth for your brand identity and help ensure consistency across all channels. The guide should include details on logo usage, color palette, typography, voice, tone, and other brand elements. You’ll also want to ensure your guide is easily accessible and distributed to all relevant teams.

Next, you’ll need brand management tools that will allow you to add new content upon approval and also remove it from circulation as it becomes outdated or incorrect. Finally, you’ll also need a tool with digital rights management (DRM) and user permission controls to ensure that content is used correctly and by the right teams.

Once your accessible style guide, brand management, DRM, and permission controls are in place, your brand identity can easily scale with your organization.

5. Seek ongoing feedback

A recent study found that fewer than half of marketers understand key information about their audience, such as interests, shopping habits, product preferences, purchase history, and where they consume content.

So, even if you understand this information today, audience needs are a moving target. You need to evolve your understanding of your audience continuously. Here are a few types of information to consider as you evolve your brand:

  • Quantitative: Social media listening and analytics, monitoring online review platforms, and feedback forms on your website are just a few ideas for gathering data. You’ll also want to have a tool that helps gather insights into how teams are using your brand assets to gauge how effective your content is, as well
  • Qualitative: Go beyond the quantitative data and tap into qualitative insights. Examine sales and customer service interactions with your prospects and customers to identify what’s effective and what isn’t

Consider gathering audience data annually and using that information to make data-based changes to your marketing strategy and ongoing brand development.

Brand identity examples from the largest brands on the planet

Need some inspiration as you create the next big brand? Here are five examples of amazing brand elements, messaging, and branding strategies from the most powerful brands on the planet right now:

1. Amazon

Amazon is a go-to online marketplace and tech giant, offering a massive variety of products and services.

  • Logo and design elements: The iconic “A to Z” arrow logo symbolizes an all-encompassing shopping experience. The brand website design is clean and user-friendly and emphasizes an easy navigation experience
  • Voice and messaging: Amazon’s voice is customer-centric and focuses on convenience, choice, and fast delivery
  • What makes this brand powerful: The company has a relentless focus on customer satisfaction, competitive pricing, and ongoing innovation

2. Apple

Apple is known for designing and creating innovative consumer electronics and software.

  • Logo and design elements: Apple has a sleek bitten-apple logo and a design aesthetic representing a blend of innovation and sophistication
  • Voice and messaging: The company focuses on simplicity, innovation, and enhancing the user experience in their voice and messaging
  • What makes this brand powerful: Apple’s power lies in its ability to prioritize and execute a strong user experience, aesthetic appeal, and nurture a loyal customer base

3. Microsoft

Microsoft is focused on developing software, devices, and services.

  • Logo and design elements: The distinctive four-colored windowpane logo and professional design symbolize productivity and technological advancement. Design elements are modern and clean, reflecting a commitment to innovation
  • Voice and messaging: Microsoft uses a clear communication style, emphasizing simplicity and functionality. Their messaging revolves around making technology work for you, not the other way around
  • What makes this brand powerful: The brand focuses on making technology accessible to everyone. It excels at creating solutions that integrate easily into your life and foster productivity for individuals and businesses

4. Google

Google is a market leader in internet-related services and products and a driving force behind information accessibility.

  • Logo and design elements: Google’s vibrant and playful multicolored logo signifies innovation. Design elements are minimalist with a focus on simplicity
  • Voice and messaging: Google uses a clear and approachable voice, focusing on making information universally accessible. Messaging focuses on a commitment to improved user experiences through cutting-edge technologies
  • What makes this brand powerful: Google’s focus on user-centric design, continuous improvement, and ability to make vast amounts of information easily available

5. Verizon

Verizon is a leading telecommunications company in the wireless communication, broadband services, and digital entertainment spaces.

  • Logo and design elements: Verizon has a bold red check mark logo focusing on reliable connectivity. Design elements are modern, clear, and straightforward and emphasize the company’s focus on cutting-edge technology
  • Voice and messaging: Verizon communicates with a confident and reliable voice, focused on staying connected in a fast-evolving digital landscape. Messaging also focuses on the reliability of services, ensuring the customer stays connected whenever and wherever they need it
  • What makes this brand powerful: Verizon positions the brand to showcase its extensive network and how it provides reliability and high-speed communication services

Red illustration of creative and marketing teams working together using a DAM to build and manage a brand identity across channels.

Why digital asset management is essential to manage your brand identity at scale

As you put the finishing touches on your brand identity, having the right toolkit to build and manage your brand identity is critical. Digital asset management (DAM) platforms store your brand asset and brand style guide(s) in one feature-rich library, making your marketing strategy and execution possible at scale.

With a DAM tool, you can:

  1. Create a single source of truth: Find, organize, and share all digital assets from one content library
  2. Promote easier collaboration: Create, manage, and share brand style guides across hybrid and remote teams from your digital asset management platform. DAMs also include workspaces to privately collaborate on your new brand style guide or brand assets
  3. Circulate content in one place: With DAM, you can make content accessible in your library the moment it is approved. You can also expire content at a specific date to ensure promotions or campaigns go offline for all teams and channels at the same time
  4. Reduce outdated content risks: Digital rights management and user permissions features are built in to ensure teams share only the right content on the right channels, creating stronger brand consistency. Download presets make it simple for marketers to grab content and go to market faster without creative oversight
  5. Gather performance-critical insights: Make your own dashboards and reports to understand further how your team is using your brand content, and get full visibility into what’s working and what isn’t. As a result, marketing leaders can make data-driven decisions to inform their marketing strategies further

Canto is the leader in digital asset management

Establishing and maintaining a powerful brand identity can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. Canto’s industry-leading digital asset management platform allows you to organize, find, and share brand style guides and manage your entire library of brand content from one library. With intuitive brand management, DRM, Workspaces, and built-in content circulation controls, you can position your brand identity for success now and into the future.

Need help building a stronger brand identity? Check out our on-demand webinar “Secrets to Building and Scaling a Successful Brand Identity” for battle-tested tactics on how to build and scale your brand identity today.