5 Steps for Building Your Brand Identity

5 Steps for Building Your Brand Identity

A successful brand is more than just a great logo.

A successful brand is more than just a great logo; it’s the internal and external representation of your company. Your brand includes everything from your visual identity to tone of voice, a strong social media presence, and more. All of these elements combined define your company’s personality and culture, and guide your target audience’s perception of your product and/or service. 

Establishing your brand requires research, a clear message, and an understanding of the target audience. Overwhelmed or unsure where to start? Here’s a set-by-step for building your brand identity.

1. Begin with the end in mind.

What action do you want potential customers to take? Whether it’s downloading an app, purchasing a product, signing up for a service, or attending an event, your goal should be clear to both your internal team and the end consumer. It’s tempting to dive into your logo and website, but having your goal in mind while developing a visual identity pays off in the long-run and guides the user’s experience across multiple marketing platforms. For example, an event-driven website will look and act differently than a retail site. 

2. Get to know your audience.

Knowing your audience is essential to successfully targeting and reaching potential customers. Why? Demographics respond uniquely to marketing messages. For example, millenials will understand different cultural references, use different platforms, and adopt unique vocabularies when compared to baby boomers. If you want to drive conversions, it’s important that your brand’s message, visual appearance, and media platforms resonate with the end consumer. 

If you’re an established company considering a rebrand or brand refresh, take a look at your current customer base. If you’re new to the game, research your potential competitors and their audience. Analyze your product or service to outline each feature’s benefit, as it relates to every possible purchasing demographic. Consider the following factors: 

  • Age
  • Location/language
  • Gender
  • Income level
  • Marital or family status
  • Occupation

Next, consider your audience’s values, interests, hobbies, lifestyles, and personality traits. Take it a step further by creating user profiles, detailed examples of the target consumer. Is your ideal customer a middle-income dad from the Midwest that likes to hunt, or a high-income female retiree from Connecticut that’s involved in charity work? Pinpointing exactly who you’re marketing to before you dive into the branding process will help guide your messaging, visual identity, and marketing channels. 

3. Determine messaging and tone.

Now that you have an idea of your brand goals and target audience, it’s time to take a closer look at the personality you want to portray.  Whether you want to present your company as professional, casual, or somewhere in between, your overall messaging and tone needs to resonate with your target audience. 

Should your brand be serious or casual? Techy and witty, or approachable and family-friendly? Start by determining your contributions to the marketplace. What’s missing in your market, and what’s proprietary to your brand? Highlighting these features will help determine your overall tone, and drive your business’ name and visual identity. 

4. Establishing a visual identity.

Building a brand’s visual identity from the logo up might be a designer’s favorite activity. Great logos not only make sense visually but also illustrate what your company has to offer. Your logo doesn’t have to be an exact visual representation of a product or service, but the end result should give customers an idea of what motivates you from a quick glance. 

Your visual identity should also include:

  • Workmarks and other logo variations
  • Fonts
  • Colors
  • Imagery
  • Textures, line styles, etc.
  • Use of negative space

Later in our series, we’ll dive deeper into these design elements and offer tips for incorporating them into a cohesive brand look.

5. Apply your identity to your marketing strategy.

Your marketing strategy should reflect your brand as a whole. If you have a youthful, casual, and younger-marketed brand, you’ll find yourself using social media apps like Instagram for advertising. If your brand appeals to an older demographic, then Google or Facebook ads may be the route for you. While social media can be a great marketing tool, not every brand needs a strong social media presence to be successful. Focus on creating a strong website, using SEO to boost search results, and connecting with your audience wherever they “live.” Take a look at our post about using content marketing to tell your story and create a consistent brand.


Creating a strong brand can be tricky, but every brand can be successful in their field with careful research and an understanding of your target audience. It may be tempting to skip out on research at the beginning and jump straight to a logo, website, and social media, but examining your market will pay off ten-fold in the long run. 

Interested in learning more about building a brand? Check back in two weeks for blog No. 2 in this series: “How to Build Your Brand Identity from the Logo Up.” We’ll offer a few tips on creating a cohesive visual identity, and outline the specific design elements that should be included. 

About the Author

Bryan Horstman

Bryan Horstman

Partner | Design Director 

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