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How to Develop a Brand Identity in 3 Simple Steps

Updated: Dec 8, 2023

Why Establishing Your Brand Roots is Essential Even Before Beginning Your Business

In the world of business, success often depends on a solid foundation. In the realm of brand development at Sun Becoming, this foundation is aptly named Brand Roots. Just as a mighty tree needs deep roots to withstand storms, a business requires a well-established brand identity to navigate the challenges of growth and evolution.


In this guide, we'll delve into the process of discovering and nurturing these roots, broken down into 3 simple steps.


Step 1 is Establishing Clarity: Defining Brand Identity as the Soul of Your Brand

Before laying the first brick of your business, it's imperative to gain clarity on what your brand truly represents. In the analogy of parenting, your brand is akin to a child—a distinct entity with its own identity that you are responsible for nurturing.


Beyond aesthetics, such as logos, fonts, and colors, your Brand's Identity is the soul of your creation. You would not reduce a child's identity to their clothes or name would you? In this likeness, we can understand that a brand is on a path that is not traversed overnight, but unfolds over time, and like a child, the better we can prepare in the early stages of development, the more capable they will be to venture through the ups and downs that the future holds.


As your brand grows, things will naturally become more complicated. Sometime's choosing the right path becomes frightening as there could be more to lose than when you first started. Perhaps issues arise that threaten your creation monetarily or legally. Having an established set of guiding principles becomes the compass that brings you back into alignment.


Your Brand Roots Guide is there to provide you with instantaneous clarity, a remembrance of your why.


For the duration of this guide article, I want to make sure to convey that establishing Brand Clarity is primarily for YOU and the success of YOUR venture, and it is not to please or control the perception of your brand to the outside public (a tempting path to go down).


Step 2 is Establishing the Three Pillars of Your Brand: Mission, Vision, and Audience

With clarity as your compass, the next step is to build the three pillars that will support your brand's growth over time. This will also inform the strategic solutions that you explore when preparing for the stage of Brand Strategy.


Mission

The mission defines your purpose—both short-term and long-term—and ideally aligns with the greater good or a deeper moralistic value that you have inside (whether conscious of this or not). We are looking to establish a 1 sentence description of your brand's mission. If this sounds difficult, don't worry, it is difficult. You may ask someone you trust to take a look at your sentence. Sometimes it is useful to have an additional set of eyes that can challenge your thoughts or beliefs and highlight any inconsistancies so that you can create a strong pillar.

Mercury Coffee Company, a rapidly growing organic-coffee serving coffee chain in the PNW, has the mission, "To Embrace People, Foster Relationships, and Spread Love - One Greeting. One Connection. One Relationship at a Time" which seems to be a lofty mission for a coffee company at first glance. Does this connect with a distinct community, or is this a feel good mission aimed at pleasing everyone? Or, does this sound like a compass that the creators of this business can use to guide them back to their own personal mission if they ever need to?


Vision

The vision paints a picture of the future that you are aligning to. Maybe this is done by illustrating how your brand contributes to a better world, or focuses more on a specific problem that you are attempting to solve (no matter how small or trivial). You don't have to establish your vision as some dramatic paradigm shifting spectacle. It can be simple and based in reality. Again, this is for YOU and YOUR brand's identity first and foremost. Be careful not to put your target audience first when you are creating this vision. We are looking to avoid inauthenticity which sometimes creeps in when we are looking outward, rather than inward.


REI, a co-op for outdoor adventure gear, has the vision statement, "to inspire, educate and outfit for a lifetime of outdoor adventure and stewardship."


Spotify's vision statement is, "We envision a cultural platform where professional creators can break free of their medium’s constraints and where everyone can enjoy an immersive artistic experience that enables us to empathize with each other and to feel part of a greater whole."


In these instances, the vision statement is a reminder of the path these companies have chosen to walk. The vision is where the path is heading.


Target Audience

Finally, identifying your target audience forms the third pillar, crucial for directing your efforts toward those who will benefit most from your product or service. This is one of the most important steps to establish before embarking on any growth strategy or campaign.


A target audience can be varied, however, the more variations you are targeting, the more difficult you will find it is to develope a growth strategy down the road. One way to stick to a target aucience of 1-2 types, is to remind yourself that you are not alienating those who don't fall into this audience.


Some common characteristics to discover your target audience can be:

Demographics:

  • Age: What age group is most likely to use your product or service?

  • Gender: Is your product more appealing to a specific gender?

  • Location: Where does your target audience live?

  • Income: What is the income level of your potential customers?

  • Education: What is the educational background of your audience?

Psychographics

  • Interests: What hobbies, activities, or topics are your potential customers interested in?

  • Values: What values and beliefs do they hold? What is important to them?

  • Lifestyles: What is their lifestyle like? Are they busy professionals, students, parents, etc.?

Behavioral Factors:

  • Buying behavior: How do they make purchasing decisions? What influences their buying decisions?

  • Usage rate: How often do they use products or services similar to yours?

  • Brand loyalty: Are they loyal to specific brands, or are they open to trying new things?

Pain Points and Needs:

  • Identify the problems or challenges your audience faces that your product or service can address.

  • Understand their needs and preferences in relation to your offering.


Step 3 is Crafting Perception Through Story: Unleashing the Power of Narrative

Humans have evolved alongside stories, making them a powerful tool for inspiring action. Crafting a compelling brand story aligns with your established pillars and resonates with your target audience. At Sun Becoming we dive into the depths of storytelling with our clients, using powerful tools such as archetypes to match your personal style with the brand's essence. Your story becomes the beating heart of your brand, connecting with people on a visceral level and compelling them to take action.


A Clarifying Word on What a Brand Identity is Not:

It may help you better establish you brand identity if we take a moment to dispel some common misconceptions or limiting ideas about what brand identity is.


1. Brand Identity Is Not the Creator's Identity

Just as an actor is not the character they play, a brand identity is not the creator's identity. This is particularly crucial when the brand revolves around an individual rather than a product or service. Creating space between the brand identity and the brand persona (the person who is the face of the brand) is just as important for the brand as it is the psychological health of person who may be the brand's face.


2. Brand Identity is Not a Pandering Device

Authenticity is paramount in the age of discerning consumers. A brand is not a tool to please everyone but rather a courageous expression of truth. Embrace the inevitability that not everyone will resonate with your brand, as challenging the status quo is an inherent part of fostering change. We are seeing what is happening to brands that pander (based on sales) and the long term effects that this has on the reputation of the brand itself.


Being perceived as disingenuous is the public eye is far more damning, than being perceived as a beacon of moral virtue (which in itself is a noble path).


What I Hope You Take Away From This Guide Article

Creating your Brand Roots is the process of discovering your Brand's Identity and establishing the foundational pillars and story around this identity. Brand Roots can and should guide you through the duration of your business or venture (though sometimes updates are needed) and play a pivitol role when it comes to growing your business through strategies such as marketing or referrals.


Finding your brand's roots will challenge you to find your own roots which you might discover are being nourished by something bigger than you.


If you enjoyed this article, or have comments, questions or ideas which could challenge this guide, I would love to hear your thoughts.

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