Brand identity. What does this term even mean? Is it even important? The short answer is this: brand identity includes elements such as logos, imagery, and even the tone in which copy is written. And yes, it absolutely does matter.
Think of it this way. How would a friend speak to a peer? What about how a subordinate speaks to his or her supervisor? A CEO talking to a fellow CEO? The tone for each of these interactions will be slightly different. This is the same approach that a brand should follow when determining its brand identity.
Who is the brand speaking to? What is the target audience, and what do they want to hear? The answer to this question will differ if the brand is targeting parents of toddlers versus 30-something millennials who are single. While, of course, many brands are marketing to different groups of people, it’s nonetheless important to define a strong brand identity before hitting the ground running.
Determining Brand Tone
Messaging is a key element of any brand’s identity. This encompasses things such as the tone of any copy on ads or on the company’s website, to the actual “feel” of any graphic materials and even the product packaging.
Let’s say that an entrepreneur is launching a startup that offers a service for booking large parties at restaurants. The service is intended to be mostly virtual, requiring little-to-no interaction with an employee. Without any sort of human conversation, how does this business ensure that they’re reaching their customers without seeming automated or robot-like?
The proprietor experiments with a few different pieces of copy. A/B testing is a common practice in situations like this, as this allows a company to test different projects to see which resonates better with the target audience.
This particular startup knew that they needed to be relatable. This translated into a more conversational tone on the website, rather than something more formal and “polite”. Here is an example of copy:
“Hey, how’s it going? Let’s get started with booking your event!”
“Click here to start booking your event.”
See the difference? Even simple sentences can be tweaked to have a tone that is more “on-brand” with the business. Of course, some businesses may need to take a more authoritative or formal tone. This is where effective research and analysis comes in to play.
Design to Match Tone
Now, when it comes to design of packaging and marketing materials, tone is also something important to consider. If the business is intended to be friendly and conversational, then designing marketing materials with little imagination will only hinder the campaign. Instead, try to think creatively.
Utilize less copy and trust your messaging to get the point across. You should not need to list every feature of a product or service on an ad. Take the time to define and test a strong motto or slogan and short ad copy. Less is always more when it comes to design.
Finding a way to communicate with target customers without alienating others can be a challenge, and not everyone will be attracted to the product. However, by taking the time to define what the tone of a business is and what its brand identity is, the business can be more well-established and be more relatable with its customers.