Creating a Distinctive Identity

As we develop our business and look to expand our success, it’s natural for us to consider the impact on our brand – in fact, are we still “on brand” so to speak.

What refinements do we need to make to ensure that we are consistent with our brand values and the clients we are looking to attract?

Last week I was speaking to a coaching colleague who has been working on re-defining her corporate brand. While my friend has, over the years, developed a large community and mailing list, unfortunately what she has come to understand is that her community are not prepared to invest in any of her products and services. They will attend the free events she offers, but are not prepared to pay a fee, which is clearly not a sustainable business proposition.

This has meant that she has had to radically re-think her brand, her target market and what products and services to offer.

I received a very excited email from her saying that she had come across a website that was exactly what she was looking to create as she moved forward.

As we develop our corporate identity for our business and then look to brief a designer, it is important to define how we want our brand to look visually and also the tone of voice of our brand.

It is always helpful to research our competition and associated business sectors offering similar solutions in this phase of development. But our personal views alone are not sufficient on which to develop a brief for a designer to work their magic and create a compelling and magnetic corporate identity. Yes we can take ideas and inspiration from many places, but we should take care never to infringe copyright and trademarks of another brand.

I was interested to see the website that my friend was so excited about. The website she liked and wanted to emulate was quirky and fun; the colours of the logo and website clashed on purpose; and the photographs of the business owner on the site were vibrant and far from the usual corporate photographs we usually associate with a corporate website.

My only concern for my coaching friend was that was not at all how she comes across. That is not my perception or experience of her brand.

Her subject is serious, her writing and teachings are very intellectually framed, and as for the fun and frivolity – well let’s say I have never experienced her like that in all the years I have known her.

While she might want to emulate a fun, lively brand, that is not my experience of her.

As we develop or refine our brand, yes it is helpful to take into account our competition and seek input from many sources.

However it is important to remember that our corporate identity needs to not only reflect our brand essence (how we are distinctive from others) but also whether our brand will connect for our ideal target audience.

It is not just what we say but the way in which we express what we stand for, be that visually on the web or when we meet someone in person, that will enable us to not only stand out from the crowd but help our target audience and ideal clients connect to our message.

A great way to ensure that you create a corporate identity that expresses who you are and what you stand for with your ideal clients is to get feedback about your corporate identity in the design phase from a small research and development team made up of your ideal clients and business partners.

It is easy to become personally enthused and energised about your corporate identity, but if it does not connect with those who you want to serve, you will make it harder to then communicate your message in a compelling way.

So if you are working on re-developing your corporate identity, or have not yet started creating the identity for your small business, do take time to research your target audience and niche so that you can provide a robust brief to your designer. And don’t forget to build into your project, time to connect to your clients and business partners and access their valuable feedback before you sign off on the design of your corporate identity.

Krishna De

Krishna De is and award winning brand engagement and social media communications expert. She is also the Founder and Vice Chair of the Association for Coaching in Ireland.

She guides executives in how to create high performing businesses with a focus on building compelling and engaging corporate brands, employer brands, internal brands and their own personal brands leveraging traditional and social media marketing and communication strategies.

Krishna is a contributing author to several books and is an inspiring speaker and sought after spokesperson on brand engagement, social media, leadership and coaching.

Krishna's expertise has been featured extensively in the media and leading publications including the Wall Street Journal, The Independent, The Sunday Times, Marketing Age and Labour Mobility.

You can access more of Krishna's insights and tips about branding, social media and leadership at her business blogs and podcasts 'Biz Growth News' (www.bizgrowthnews.com), 'Talking Coaching' (www.talkingcoaching.com) 'The Podcast Sisters' (www.thepodcastsisters.com) and 'PodCamp Ireland' (www.podcampireland.com) the unconference about social media in Ireland.

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Comments

  1. I totally agree with all your points, Krishna.

    A creative brief is a good starting point. This brief lays the foundation of what concepts your brand will be built on. As a designer and marketeer, I use these briefs as a starting point in developing a brand identity or logo. I look at the key concepts and brand characteristics as personality traits of logo. I then incorporate the essence of these traits into one creative vision of the company.

    If the identity doesn’t project the essence of your business then there may be something amiss in your brief. As Krishna points out in her entry here clients and business partners are your best focus group to “test the waters” to determine if you’re on the right track. If you are, fabulous! If not, then go back to the brief and collaborate with the designer.

    An effective firm or freelancer will understand your market and audience. Be sure that they do by arming them with lots of information.