Your company’s brand identity is a collection of all the things that make up its public image. It could include things within your direct control, such as:
- Color scheme
- Brand voice
- Company values
However, marketers often overlook that brand identity is more in your customer’s control than you think. That’s due to numerous aspects outside of your direct influence but are still available for you to affect.
Personal Memories Help Shape Brand Identity
People often remember their associations with a brand even after it goes through changes. Let's say you alter your company’s logo and colours to refresh its brand identity. People may resist and think, “I’ll always remember it how it was. This newness doesn’t resonate.”
The public is exceptionally likely to get upset if corporate sponsorship causes a brand identity change. That happened recently when the Olympia Theatre in Dublin, Ireland, got sponsored by global telecommunications brand 3, resulting in the venue’s new name, 3Olympia.
A relative of the location’s former owner called the change “cultural vandalism." People made fun of the name on social media by wondering how to pronounce it. It’s understandable that the public wouldn’t immediately embrace a new name for a venue that had its former moniker for nearly a century.
However, this is certainly not the first instance of people taking offence at a name change. Some vow they’ll always refer to a place or brand the way they first knew it. Marketers can do several things to help the public feel warmer when rebranding your business.
Start by explaining the reasoning behind what’s different. In the Olympia Theatre’s case, the current owner said the eight-year sponsorship would help the venue recover from struggles caused by COVID-19.
It’s also useful to assure people that many of the things they know and love about the company will remain. Encourage them to create new memories while continuing to cherish their old ones.
The Public Has Selective Attention
While it’s true there’s only one chance to make a first impression, brand identity is a bit more fluid. For example, maybe your coffee brand’s logo is not distinctive enough to stick in a customer’s mind the first time they see it. However, the more often people notice it, the more likely they are to eventually remember it for the long term.
On the other hand, people get bombarded with brand messaging every day. They naturally tune out most of it and pay attention to a relatively small percentage of the collective brand exposure. That’s why it’s critical to figure out how to make customers interested in your company without annoying them.
One excellent way to do that is to get custom bags printed that feature the main elements of your brand identity. Such products raise awareness within your current and potential audience, particularly if a person carries a bag through a busy area. Recipients can also reuse custom bags. Thus, increasing the opportunities to spread brand messaging for a longer period and to more people.
Another benefit of using custom bags is that people view them as a sensible way to promote a brand. Some consumers get fed up by seeing repetitive online ads for websites they only visited once. However, most are accustomed to stores using branded bags.
Think about what details could encourage a customer to look closely at the bag and remember it long after receiving it. That might mean adding a colourful design, using a shiny material or choosing an eye-catching font. Those aspects increase the chances that people feel receptive to the branding instead of ignoring it.
Customers Expect Companies To Use Their Influence
Today’s often-distressing world leaves many socially conscious individuals feeling nearly helpless to enact real change. However, they often do the next best thing by finding companies that support the causes most important to them.
A 2021 poll found that 2 out of 3 respondents are more likely to purchase from or recommend companies account for societal issues they deem important. However, 52% of respondents also said the associated actions are often primarily taken to sell more products. That suggests even when brands use influence to spark positive change, some customers will still question the underlying intentions.
What does this mean for brand identity? Consumers watch brands closely to see if their efforts to do good are genuine or mostly publicity stunts. For example, clothing retailer H&M got scrutiny several years ago when investigations revealed it destroyed tons of unsold garments. This clearly went against their ongoing sustainability initiative.
Examples like those highlight why marketers responsible for shaping brand identity must take the time to assess whether initiatives could ultimately backfire. If they do, people could perceive brands as untruthful and untrustworthy, then take their business elsewhere.
Sometimes, the best approach is to donate a portion of profits to a reputable charity that’s already well-established with its work. Those organisations have the necessary connections and clout that increase the chances of enduring success in helping people negatively affected by a tumultuous world.
Consumers Hold Businesses to Account
A person is not likely to read a set of values associated with brand identity and instantly trust that a company will show those ideals through its operations. They’ll usually — and often unconsciously — watch brands to see how they perform.
Consider an example where part of a brand’s identity includes the statements “Our customers matter to us” and “We make shopping fun!” Then, imagine that a person tries to contact the brand via social media after reading a tip on the company’s website suggesting that was the most efficient method.
Research from 2020 showed that 79% of people expect brands to respond to social media queries within a day. It may also come as a surprise that 40% want responses within an hour.
If the customer does not get a reply after several days, it’ll be hard for them to believe the company truly cares. They also probably won’t find the shopping experience enjoyable anymore.
As marketers attempt to frame accurate brand identity narratives. They must stay mindful of which ideals the company can feasibly and continually achieve. A brand identity’s associated statements quickly become useless if customers realise they sound nice but have little to no substance. Here's an interesting article about how to measure brand awareness.
Customer Feedback Should Affect Brand Identity Decisions
These examples show why, despite best efforts, marketers can’t exert complete control over brand identity. However, staying aware of what customers say about a brand is an excellent way to verify that the aspects you’ve created to make a brand stand out from the rest match with what the public wants and expects.
Eleanor is the editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. She’s also a freelance web designer with a focus on customer experience. Eleanor lives in Philadelphia with her husband and dog, Bear.