When you first set out to develop a brand identity, there are a lot more questions than answers. The problem isn’t finding questions to ask, it’s asking the right questions of your team to arrive at a brand identity that is truly representative of your company and relevant to your marketplace.
There are three major areas that you need to focus your inquiries early in the branding process. In order to build a solid foundation for your brand identity, you need to focus on your visual identity, your brand’s voice, and your positioning in the marketplace.
Questions About Your Visual Identity
Developing a strong visual identity is all about consistency, but visual consistency is much harder than it looks. Developing a look and feel that you can consistently replicate across several mediums is difficult, even for the best marketers, but it is possible with a lot of deliberate thought and foresight. Here are some questions you should ask before developing your brand’s visual identity:
- What digital mediums will this brand exist in? Email signatures? Social media? Our website? Other people’s websites? Etc.
- What print mediums will this brand exist in? Business cards? Flyers? Postcards? Direct mail pieces? Billboards? T-Shirts? Etc.
- Will this brand always be accessible in color, or will there be times that the brand will be represented in black and white or grayscale?
- Will this brand have colors that are difficult to match either on print or digital mediums? How can we avoid this issue?
- Will we be printing branded items in-house on our printer? How high quality is our printer? Should we worry about colors bleeding or looking faded on our printer?
- How will other people use this brand? Will third-party vendors be re-using our logo or color palette in their own design?
These questions should be informative in helping you develop great brand designs that can scale consistently.
Questions About Your Brand’s Voice
Your brand doesn’t stop with your visual identity, however. You also need to have a solid understanding of how your brand talks if you want to build an effective brand presence. Here are some questions to help you find your brand’s unique voice:
- Where will my brand be speaking? Will it be prevalent on blogs and social media? Will it be featured in the media at all?
- Who will my brand be speaking to? Who are our ideal clients, employees, and vendors? What makes them want to work with us? How can we appeal to them in a unique and compelling way?
- Who will be using my brand’s voice? Will my executive team be active in the media? How does my sales team or marketing staff use the brand to help generate business? What do these individuals sound like? Why?
- What do other companies that we admire sound like? Whether it is a competitor or someone from a completely different industry, try to find companies that communicate in a way you aspire to communicate.
- What’s my brand’s personality? If I had to give my brand three or four personality traits, what would they be?
Once you’ve asked these questions, your brand’s voice should begin taking shape, but there is one final aspect you need to consider before rounding out your brand book.
Questions About Your Brand’s Positioning
Look at the competitive marketplace. Too many businesses simply settle for anyone who will cut them a check. Others develop a strong brand based on something fleeting like the latest technology or a pop-culture trend. The best companies, however, position themselves, for success in the short run and the long run by asking these tough questions:
- Where does our business currently fit in the competitive marketplace? Are we the high-cost provider or the low-cost provider? Do we truly innovate, or do we iterate on other people’s innovation to make it better?
- Where do we want our business to fit in the competitive marketplace? In a perfect world, what would our brand look like, feel like, and talk like? What products and services would we provide compared to our competitors?
- What technology could disrupt our business in the future and how are we prepared for it? How are our competitors prepared for it? Are we at an advantage or a disadvantage in the future?
After you’ve understood your place in the marketplace, developed a voice for your brand, and generated a consistent visual identity, your brand will be ready for the world to see.