Who am I? Why am I here? What does it all mean?!!
Brand identity is a powerful thing and it’s about far more than simply having a strong visual presence (a cool logo does not a brand make!).
Your brand identity is your organisation’s DNA.
It’s what you do and how you do it.
If your organisation was a person, it’s how they’d behave, what they’d say and how others would describe them. In short, it’s the essence of your organisation.
Having a strong brand identity is important on many levels, not least of which because it enables you to forge strong connections, both internally and externally. It can help in building trust, authenticity and a robust workplace culture, setting a level of expectation among target audiences and employees alike.
Where problems can arise is when there’s a mismatch or lack of consistency. Expectations may be missed, or an organisation may act and speak in a way that doesn’t quite ‘fit’. The experience of employees may also not match the image presented to the outside world, casting a shadow on who that organisation really is.
While the label ‘identity crisis’ may sound serious – and sometimes, it can be – it’s a good idea to make reviewing brand identity part of the natural lifecycle of any organisation.
How do you know if you’re suffering a brand identity crisis?
One of the easiest ways to find out if you have an identity crisis on your hands is to open a dialogue. If it is a challenge for leaders, managers, employees and customers to define exactly what that identity is, then there’s a problem!
There are many reasons why this might happen. For example, you may be a start-up business that’s just finding its feet and deciding on a roadmap for where you’re headed and how you’re going to get there. Equally, you may be a growing business that’s scaling up and grappling to keep your identity in line with your evolving business model. Or you may even be a large, established organisation that needs to stay nimble and to move with the times while retaining its traditions and heritage.
It may also be down to a loss of focus, or that your communications are stalling, calling for a reboot and a refresh.
So, what can you do about it?
Research the market
One sure fire indicator of an identity crisis is a mismatch in expectations and that’s why it’s important to understand the bigger picture. Do your research and make sure you have a clear view of the current landscape. Think about who your customers are and what you’re offering. Have your business goals changed? Have your products and services changed? Who is the target audience? What is the market like right now? Who is the competition?
Talk to the team
Don’t forget to speak to employees too – anonymously if it helps. What do they think about the organisation? What do they think it stands for and what are you all working together to achieve? How would they describe the organisation to a friend or family member? What type of attribute and characteristics would they use to describe it? How does it make them feelto work there?
Now think about your brand identity in light of your research. Is it still relevant and a clear representation of you right here, right now? Can you spot where things may have gone wrong? Define as clearly as you can what your organisation is all about. Who are you? Why do you exist? What do you do? How do you do it? Are your purpose and values understandable and up to date?
Next consider all the ways you are communicating your brand identity, from visual representations such as a website and branding, to tone and style of voice, and every touch point of the customer and employee journey (i.e. anytime someone may come into contact with you for any reason). Which areas need improvement or a revamp? And which need a complete rethink? Are your visuals, messaging and voice consistent, both internally and externally?
Be in it together
Think about how you might better embed your brand identity within the culture of the organisation. If you are pushing ahead with a rebrand or any major changes, then communication and engagement will be key. Be transparent and share messaging in a creative, engaging way. Find ways to help managers reinforce and communicate key messages. Also, think about improvements you might make to your workplace’s physical environment. Employees need to be engaged and to understand what the organisation is about and how their role fits within its greater purpose.
For further inspiration on nailing your brand identity, why not take a peek at:
Amy Archer for Alive!