This week we interviewed Winnie Lee, Branding Creative & Co-founder at Tengri to get her experienced marketing insights on BRAND IDENTITY for tech B2B companies. Here’s the low-down on what she had to say.
Why is brand identity important for tech B2B companies?
Brand identity is important for all types of businesses. A good brand identity reflects what the company offers (i.e. services/products), its culture and also its personality. It’s a shorthand articulation of what the company is, a way of differentiation from its competition, and a promise to its audience/customers. It builds value and reputation and is considered to be one of the most valuable company assets. A strong brand identity will help build brand equity through recognition, awareness and customer loyalty, which helps make a company more successful. Brand equity is the perceived value that comes from the perception of the brand – company/product/service.
“Brands are intangible assets and account for, on average 75% of the value of the company.” Blake Deutsch
What is brand identity?
Firstly, we have to ask what is a brand? To me, it is the DNA. The essence of a company, its product, its services. What is the promise that brand is making to its customers. And hence, brand identity is the look and feel – the tangible part of a brand that showcases the essence or DNA of what the company/product/service is about and what it can deliver. It is made up of elements such as logo, typography, colour, imagery, sound, motion, and even smell. And when these attributes work well together, it will form a distinctive and memorable identity in the minds of key audiences and customers. Its aim is to build awareness and extend customer/client loyalty.
Let’s say that a company in the tech b2B space decides to reshape their brand identity. What steps should they follow?
I’d recommend following 8 easy steps for this –
Step 1: Identify why there is a need to reshape their brand identity:
- Research – Conduct a brand audit to see what works and doesn’t work with the company’s current brand identity, as well as a competitive audit that looks at competitor brands. It can be through conducting research (with internal/external stakeholders). Usually that will give you an idea of whether to take an evolutionary or revolutionary approach.
- Evolution – Usually means updating/invigorating the identity (so that it still has some recognisable elements) to reflect and/or bring the brand up to speed to what the company/organisation stands for e.g. the current identity/logo treatment looks dated and needs a face-lift, employees are embarrassed to use the presentation decks, it is difficult to implement the identity, the current identity does not work in certain applications, or our touchpoints lack consistencies (the list goes on).
- Revolution – Means to scrap the current identity (perhaps it is not relevant anymore) and create a totally new identity to reflect what the current company/organisation stands for now e.g. the current identity may not be suitable for the company/organisation at all for various reasons such as there has been a change of name, everyone in the company hates it etc.
Step 2: Make sure everyone is on board:
All the internal stakeholders (board of directors, investors, employees) should be aware about the upcoming brand changes. Get them involved and share their thoughts throughout the process, since they will be using the refreshed identity, and they are one of your most important brand ambassadors. Emphasise why the rebrand is necessary and how the rebrand will benefit the company and also benefit them.
Step 3: Identify the company’s USP (Unique Selling Point):
This helps to demonstrate the brand promise, and develops/clarifies the strategy. Also, it’s helpful to know what might appeal to customers/clients. This part of the brand identity will make the company stand out from its competitors and in its industry/niche.
Step 4: List all the brand touchpoints:
List the touchpoints that might be affected by the brand identity reshaping/refresh. This can include the website, stationery, presentation decks, advertising/marketing collaterals, packaging etc. Every touchpoint is an opportunity to increase awareness and build customer/brand loyalty. The key is to create a consistent, yet flexible look across all touchpoints.
Step 5: Designing the brand identity:
Using the analysis, strategy, imagination and creativity. Consistency and flexibility across all touchpoints are key. They accurately represent the values and personality set out in the strategy.
Step 6: Implementation:
Creating the brand guidelines, and touchpoints. Make sure all staff are trained and know where to find the assets and how to use/apply the refresh brand identity.
Step 7: Brand launch:
- Internal brand launch: Launch your brand internally first to ensure all employees are in line with the brand refresh.
- External brand launch: Launch your brand refresh publicly to your customers/clients and try to implement the changes all in one go, instead of in a phased approach so that there will not be any confusion. Use it as a means of generating publicity and engaging with your customers. It could be via the e-newsletter or through a post in LinkedIn, or in an article with an industry magazine.
Step 8: Get more feedback:
- From your internal stakeholders: As they are using the refresh brand identity, they might encounter any hiccups or might have more ideas/tweaks for improving certain touchpoints.
- From your external stakeholder/customers/clients: Discover how they feel about it – perhaps it excites and engages them to buy into your new service?
What internal and external stakeholders should be involved?
This depends on the size of the company and the industry.
- Internal stakeholders could be: Shareholders/investors, board of directors, employees.
- External stakeholders could be: Customers, suppliers, partners, competitors, government regulators, industry experts, media.
What are the latest trends in brand identity?
The latest trends are as follows and depending on the industry/service/product… some are more applicable than others:
- Approachable – like a trusted friend/partner, sometimes informal/quirky/fun
- Tell your story – “About us” and start with “why”
- Humanised technology – even with technologies like VR/AI/chatbots
- Caring – Socially responsible/Go global, act local
Graphic brand identity can be demonstrated as follows:
- Simplicity/minimalism – clean lines/shapes, flat colours
- Versatile/responsive brand logos sizes
- Warm – bright/poppy and futuristic neon colour palettes – bold, optimistic, uplifting and stands out
- Gradient colours/background – for versatility
- Metallic materials – ‘wow’ effect e.g. in business cards or packaging
- Diversed/Freeform typography – break from the norm, sense of excitement/surprise/creativity, not rigid
- 2D and 3D graphics/videos combined
- Illustrations – refined line art, hand-drawn, more human-like (but not childish), charming
- Motion – more engaging and dynamic
What is your favourite example of brand identity beautifully executed?
Some good examples are:
- Apple – Simplicity, usability, creative, innovative, ahead of the times, putting customers first
- Airbnb – Approachable, warm look and feel. Beautiful and inspiring photos and illustrations
- Spotify – App user experience, fun advertising
They all have something similar about them: human, warm, delightful.
This IsoLive interview can be found on our Resource centre here.
For more information on how we can help you create a clear and creative brand identity, please contact on [email protected]