Brand identity has always been important, but it’s even more important in the mostly-digital world we live in today. Everyone’s personality is different, and the same can be said about your business’s brand identity.
With so many businesses and shoppable options for consumers to choose from, having a unique and memorable brand identity sets you apart from the competition.
Imagine your business as a living, breathing person. That person has a personality, and it shines through in everything they do. The same should be said about businesses.
Your business is one of a kind and has a unique personality, and it can only be expressed through a visual identity.
What is brand identity, and why does it matter?
A brand identity is the visual aspect of a brand. It’s a visual framework that helps customers and prospects easily pick your company out of the crowd of competitors.
Your image, on the other hand, is how your customers view your business. It’s what they think of it — good or bad.
Elements of a brand
A brand identity is made up of visual elements, including the font you use, your logo, and your brand colors.
What goes into building brand identity
To build a brand identity, you need firm knowledge about your business. You’ll need to do a deep dive into your business. An easy way to do this is using a SWOT analysis.
SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.
- Strengths – what does your business do well? Think; what are you best at?
- Weaknesses – what aspects of your business need improvement? Being honest is the first step to growth. Think; where do you struggle?
- Opportunities – what are things you could be doing better, or tactics you have not yet taken advantage of? Think; things you wished you had time, energy and resources to do or improve.
- Threats – This is self-explanatory: what are your biggest threats? Think; competitors and the environment.
Analyzing your business in this way will set you up with a framework to build brand identity. Once you understand your business, you’re able to recognize what sets you apart, makes you unique, and attracts customers to you.
Some points to keep in mind while you are conducting your SWOT analysis are your offer, your competitor and your customers.
Understand who you are and what you offer. Once you know this, size yourself up against your competitors. What makes you different?
Lastly, you must understand your customer. There may be multiple customer personas that are common customers of your brand. Understanding who they are, why they shop with you, and why they come back, helps you reach them in more meaningful ways.
These ideas are fairly abstract. That’s why we’re serving as an example. We’re letting you in on Constant Contact’s process for the most recent brand identity refresh.
The evolution of Constant Contact’s brand identity
Here at Constant Contact, we’re no strangers to refreshing our brand identity.
We’ve made some noticeable changes to align our visual identity with updates and improvements to our company’s mission, vision and values.
But before we get to what we did, we need to understand why we did it.
Constant Contact circa 2020
A few years ago, the company was a different being. We had the same branding for years. But during that time, the company grew immensely. In addition to our core product of Email Marketing, we launched a broad suite of digital marketing tools, including Surveys, Event Management, Social Media Marketing, List Growth, Website, Ecommerce, SEO, and even more great productivity tools.
But our brand was only known for email marketing, and we needed to revamp our identity to signify our modern updates. Cue, brand identity update.
We rebranded in a fun way to help signify our modernization as a business. Our brand identity signified that we were fun, colorful, bubbly and strong.
Our purpose was to modernize our identity to match our technological capabilities.
In 2022, we refreshed our brand identity again. Some might think this was notably soon after the previous rebrand, and we agree. But we also know it was absolutely necessary.
Refreshing Constant Contact’s brand identity
The pandemic brought significant change, and the landscape for small businesses completely changed.
Businesses had to move online. And, as a digital marketing platform, we were here to help businesses transition to the digital world. We delivered for small businesses, with tools, education, and even temporary price breaks.
As we helped small businesses make the digital pivot, we also embarked on a new path of our own toward a new set of goals and renewed purpose for our business. We grew so we could help our customers grow.
After looking inward at our values, addressing the environment, and understanding what our customers need, we realized our brand identity didn’t quite match up to who the company is now and what we stand for.
Simply put — we grew a lot through the pandemic, just as many of you did, and our brand identity didn’t do justice to who we are now.
We needed to realign our visual identity with the updates and improvements we’d made to our company’s mission, vision and values.
What changes we’ve made
Your business is unique, and you want your brand to be easily identifiable. And, you want your visual identity to align with your brand as a whole — so both prospects and current customers know at a glance who you are, what you do, and what you stand for.
We think the same about Constant Contact. Here’s what we did:
This font is just our type!
The first thing we noticed was that our font was being used by various businesses. We wanted a font specific to us, that would never be confused with another company.
Now we use a unique font that only we have access to. While this may seem like a minor change, using a unique font helps to differentiate us from other brands.
We know not every small business will have a completely unique font, but it’s easy to peek at your competitors and see what they’re using. If everyone is using one style of font, experiment with other font styles until you find one that portrays your brand narrative and voice, and is also easy to read on a variety of digital devices.
A refined logo for a refined brand
Logos are the face of a brand. They serve as a quick-glance visual identifier for customers. And, as a business, the ultimate goal is to be recognized and remembered just by your logo.
Here’s our new logo. Can you spot the differences?
Our new logo has the same bones, but we’ve updated it with our new font. We’ve made the icon line width match the width of the font — a minor detail that makes the logo more polished.
Our new logo is less playful, and more down to business. It says, “we deliver the tools to bring you big results,” when our previous logo said, “we’re really fun people, and we hope your business does well!”
That’s why identifying the message your brand identity gives is so important. Once you know what message you’re sending, you can make adjustments, so your logo aligns with the message you really want to be sending.
A new wardrobe (color palette)
Color is incredibly important, and something that businesses sometimes overlook. Your colors should be used throughout your materials — from your logo to your website to your email to your storefront (if you have one).
Random use of colors adds a layer of confusion and incites the question “who are they?” about your business. Instead, you should tell your audience who you are with a set of colors that you consistently use.
Using the same colors throughout your materials looks professional and leaves little room for your business to be confused with others.
It helps customers identify who you are online. A color palette helps your business stick in customers’ minds when they are bombarded with numerous types of content online.
Here at Constant Contact, we organized four color families, cyan, green, pink and orange, together to create our core palette. This balance of cool and warm tones allows us to use contrast to draw attention to certain topics by using them together to make certain areas “pop.”
Our new color palette helps us communicate in a confident, optimistic way, and the balance of tones allows us to emphasize certain points where needed.
For your business, choose colors that are used in your logos, or that complement that logo. Spend some time thinking about how your colors will interact in your marketing, and select the primary and secondary colors you’ll use from now on.
Remember, your color palette should be the only colors you use in email, social media, on your website, and anywhere else you represent your business. Stick with something that you like, and that helps represent your business in a meaningful way. And, if your biggest competitor uses a royal blue and a charcoal palette, make sure you use colors that will differentiate you from them.
Telling our story, with style
This year, we introduced a visual element called growth rings. Growth rings are used to symbolize exactly what you’d think — growth.
We use growth rings to highlight messages, topics, promos, photos — anything that deserves a little extra attention.
Why growth rings? Well, because our mission and values state that we’re here to help small businesses grow to their full potential, and expand even further. Using these rings in our branding reinforces our core mission in a visual way.
You can do the same thing, even if you don’t have a lot of creative resources. Maybe it’s the type of photography you use — the specific shot types, focus, or overlays.
Maybe it’s the use of lines, arrows, or boxes in your marketing. Your visual elements could be anything that works hard to help tell your story in addition to your color, font and logo.
This is the space where you can really get creative. If you’re struggling to come up with an idea, look up some of your favorite businesses and see what they’re using for visual elements. This can spark ideas for creating your own unique elements to use as part of your brand identity.
Create a document that details the essential features of these elements, and you’ll be clear on what your brand is, does, and stands for. You’ll also have a suite of materials to use in marketing moving forward, making your life easier and getting your marketing done quicker. It’s a win, win!
When you should consider refreshing your brand identity
Sometimes your business will need a tune-up. Maybe the industry environment has changed, or maybe your business has evolved in a certain way. This is why refreshing your brand is important.
When you notice a shift in your business value or mission, notice your business lacking in areas that it used to excel in, or if you want to change the way your customers view your business, analyze your business and plan for an identity refresh.
The best part about refreshing your brand identity is that it’s fun, productive and cathartic. The process allows you to connect the dots between your business and its customers. It helps you understand and solidify the values, mission and culture of your organization. All while helping you to see your business through the eyes of your customers and prospects.
As you start with your SWOT analysis, document the process. Then, when you’ve nailed it all down, be sure to maintain clear documentation on all the components of your brand identity. This should be an internal guideline to help you master how you represent your business to the public in a meaningful, consistent and effective way.
Whether you call it your Brand House, Brand Guidelines File, or Brand Stand. This living document should contain detailed information on your font, logo, colors and any other visual elements you use to show your customers who you are and what you stand for. Update it when you need to, and allow your employees to view it frequently.
Refreshing your brand allows you to tell your story, in your own style — however it may change over the years.
Remember, when it comes to standing out from the competition, your brand is your superpower. So use it well!
If you’re refreshing your brand identity, let the world know about it with these brand awareness tips.