Right off the bat, I gotta tell you that this post is a bit long and windy. This is a ginormous topic, so go grab a cup or coffee or tea, and move to your comfy chair.
When I asked Wikipedia about Brand Identity (Identity), it came with back with a page that requires some serious scrolling. I use Wikipedia a lot when I do light research and want some quick information or definitions. Nonetheless, the first sentence on the page is from Marty Neumeier’s, The Dictionary of Brand, and it provides a short and sweet definition of Brand Identity:
“The outward expression of a brand – including its name, trademark, communications, and visual appearance – is brand identity.”
Did you go to that page in Wikipedia? Here’s a link.
The reason I think this is relevant is because the page goes on and on with all sorts of stuff. Many Marketing Consultants, Creatives and Industry Savants love to wax poetic about the Identity, and can talk for days about what it is, it’s importance, blah blah blah. But that doesn’t help you figure it out and execute. What it does is make a mountain out of molehill. All that said, I believe that the Identity is really, really, really important. I think you should take the time to figure it out and I think that most organizations don’t. In fact, they don’t x 3.
2. Most organizations don’t take the time to understand their Identity.
3. Most organizations who have taken the time to establish an Identity lose it over time as they fail to make sure that their messaging, sales activities and marketing tactics stay true and in alignment with what was originally established. So, the don’t follow-through.
Don’t Be a Poser
Your Brand Identity should connect everything you do. It’s not just about what you make public! It’s about what is behind the curtain, as well. If you create a public persona that is not what you really are, then you are a poser, and that will come out every freakin’ day when your clients, prospects and partners engage with you.
For example, if your Identity is built around your technical prowess, but you actually have limited engineers who have minimal training, and your account managers don’t understand how to present the right tech solutions to the customer’s pain-points, and your solutions architects are not constantly contemplating the trends, latest releases and innovative, un-heard of tech companies, then you are not being true.
The Entity Has Life
Brand Identity is a living, breathing entity. This entity is driven by your people, partnerships, methods of doing business, business goals, business strategies, expertise, physical locations, culture, organizational structure, product / service offerings, inter-departmental relationships, target markets / industries / audiences, sales methods, reputation and your unique value proposition.
Take a look at this last paragraph; it says absolutely nothing about marketing stuff.
Marketing is not about soft, fuzzy creative stuff. It is not about color palette, logos, creative design, graphics, photography, tag line, blah blah blah. Marketing is about business. The job and responsibility of your organization’s marketing team is to enable your organization to do business, to grow business and to speak its truth. Your Brand Identity tells the world who you are, what you stand for and what to expect from you.
Moreover, you don’t set the Identity and move on. You birth the Identity and then, you work to develop and grow it, everyday in all facets of your business: Sales, Operations, Engineering, Executive, Accounting, and Marketing.
So, How Do You Get There?
When you take the time to discover and author an authentic Identity, you set in motion a true company strategy and begin to build a base of power. One of the reasons people find it difficult to tell someone their company’s elevator pitch is because it is contrived and un-real. When you build your Identity upon what is real in your organization, selling it is simple…there is an authentic story to tell.
All right, to discover you Brand Identity you need to begin with a Discovery effort. In Discovery, you are asking questions and gathering the facts…and documenting everything. Once Discovery is complete, you need to take a step back and do some critical thinking. You are assembling a puzzle. You are connecting the un-seen dots. You are creating the story. Many discovery points are in the paragraph above entitled, “The Entity Has Life”. This effort takes time and focus, and a commitment from your leadership, down to be honest, accurate and complete.
FYI, when I work with client’s, we do a 2-day, face-to-face, no-holds-bared workshop, where we get to know each other and dig in. One of the key’s, is to be flexible and go with the flow…don’t be afraid to take a tangent if you feel the prompting! Remember, an organization’s true identity is a work of art and steadfast deliberation. It can only be discovered with insight, knowledge and fearlessness.
Thanks for hanging in there; I hope this was helpful,
Founder / President
As a pioneer in Managed Marketing Services and Marketing On-Demand, and the Founder and President of Marketing as a Service (marketingaas.com), I work daily with organizations which are creating, distributing, selling and servicing some of the most impactful products in the world