What is brand identity? How to create a unique brand identity and story?

Last Updated at: Dec 23, 2020
What is Brand identity? How to create a unique Brand Identity and story?

Since time immemorial, companies, especially those catering to mass consumer segments, have spent enormous amounts to get a flicker of spaces in our minds. Brands have continuously endeavoured to make themselves unforgettable, so much so, that a burger is now synonymous with McDonald’s, photocopying is called Xerox, all kinds of noodles are called “Maggi” and to search for something online has come to be called “to Google”. In this post, we try to carve out essentials of brand identity, what makes a good branding strategy and how you can reap additional advantages of good branding by starting out early. 

What constitutes brand identity? 

Legally speaking, all intellectual property that a company owns can be a part of what makes its brand. This means all proprietary trademarks, tag lines, logos, copyrights, even videos and audio content making up the advertisements are capable of being protected. There are also elements which cannot be legally monopolized, for example, a color scheme – the characteristic red and yellow combination of McDonald’s or the deep purple color of Cadbury chocolates but are nevertheless, very important requisites of holding consumer attention. Thus, all visible elements of a brand, such as color, specific marks such as the tick of Nike, a name ancillary to product function such as Whirlpool are all becoming increasingly important requisites of acquiring a brand identity. 

Deciding on a unique branding strategy 

The purpose behind the brand – When in the initial stages of chalking out a branding plan, a company must think long and hard about the deeper values it aims to leave the customers with. Trust, is one factor that almost all brands aim to advertise. A name like Classmate for stationery exudes comfort and trust. Many insurance and banking companies also focus strongly on coming across as reliable and trustworthy, through campaigns and tag lines such as ICICI Bank’s “Khayaal Aapka”. 

Consistency – The key to make a lasting impact is making sure that the marketing and branding strategies across multiple media such as newspapers, audio and visual advertising, PR events and online services are consistent. New and innovative forms of consistent branding have emerged and are replacing age-old strategies. For example, the indigenous beer-making company Bira that has fun quirky ads, spent enormous amounts promoting the brand at the recent World Cup, a popular strategy once adopted by Pepsi and Coca-Cola, but little explored by alcoholic beverage companies. 

Mascots and Public Figures – Faces of the Brand – In the past, celebrities and their stardom were crucial to adding glitzy value to a brand and glamorize its features. While there’s no denying that celebrity endorsements are here to stay, the upcoming trends are tilting towards innovative mascots, such as the all-time favorite Amul Girl,  Appy’s champagne shaped talking bottle, Zoozoos and Pugs made famous by Vodafone and the quirky guy featured in Trivago advertisements. A celebrity’s stardom may fade, but unique mascots that make the central character of the brand are hardly forgettable. 

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Color coding the brand – What’s with Yellow, Red and Green – When we think of some of the most famous brand logos, we realize the strategic importance of colors. Coca Cola, Amul, KFC are all in red. McDonald’s and Maggi are in bright yellow. Pepsi, PayTM and Nestle are all blue. Starbucks and 7Up are dark green. Most others are a combination of these colors, such as SubWay (Yellow and Green), Google (Yellow, Green and Red), MasterCard (Red and Yellow). Several psychology studies show that colors have a deep potential to impact our subconscious sentiments. Yellow color gives out a fun, happy vibe, red stands for strength, and love and green for trust, solidarity and wisdom. While primary colors are considered desirable, don’t hesitate to play around with a mix of colors. What one should really be careful about is keeping it simple. Simplicity eases printing and replicating the logo on a host of materials, on a tiny app thumbnail as well as a large hoarding. 

Deciding the branding plan – Whether you’re an early-stage company or an established business, a well thought out strategy, that includes a structured marketing and branding regime is essential to building brand values. Digital, online, apps, newspapers, lifestyle magazines, radio and video commercials are several alternatives, and a mix of these should be used for targeted advertising. Sponsoring events and setting up exhibits are also great ways of making the brand known. 

Why must you start your branding process early 

There are several advantages of having a head start into the branding process. If your business is still under development, branding helps build a certain momentum before you actually launch the product. Moreover, with domain names and websites assuming a crucial role in online marketing, your investors and potential consumers could be attracted by an impressive branding strategy. Legally, the advantage of starting to use certain trademarks early is that it can be registered and hence protected from infringement sooner. Moreover, even if the trademark is not registered, in case of a potential suit for infringement of trademark, courts are inclined to favor the party that has started using the trademark first. 

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Avani Mishra is a graduate in law from the National Law Institute University, Bhopal. She qualified the Company Secretary course with an All India Rank 1 and is a recipient of the President’s Gold Medal for her academic distinctions. She also holds a B.Com degree with a specialization in Corporate Affairs and Administration.