January 29, 2018
In the past, a brand’s identity was often closely tied to its logo, slogan, and catchy jingles. Logos, slogans, and musical jingles can still be an important part of branding, but these are far from the only elements that brands need in order to establish themselves in their industry and create a modern brand identity. In today’s world, a brand’s identity should not describe the company, but rather the customers that the company serves. Here’s everything that marketers need to know about creating a modern brand identity:
Brand Identity vs. Modern Brand Identity
A brand’s identity used to be defined by the products or services it sold, its target audience, its price, and many other factors. But, creating a modern brand identity is about creating an identity network, which is a social network of customers who share similar passions, likes, dislikes, and lifestyles. The members of this identity network, over time, will begin to define who your brand is so you don’t have to do so with catchy jingles and memorable slogans.
One brand that has been able to build a strong brand identity through an identity network is Goop, which was created by actress Gwyneth Paltrow. The lifestyle company is targeted at people who are willing to spend a significant amount of money on natural or homeopathic products and services that will improve their lives. In addition to selling high-end products, the website also produces a great deal of content that is valuable to their community. Members can find healthy recipes, blogs written by Gwyneth and other health and wellness experts, and detailed gift recommendations. While outsiders may not understand the point of purchasing a jade egg for nearly $70, members of the Goop community would. By bringing together like-minded individuals—people who are willing to try alternative products and all-natural remedies—Goop has created its own brand identity that was defined entirely by its customers.
Another brand that has managed to build an identity network of loyal customers is Lululemon. Even though Lululemon is a retailer that sells high-end yoga clothes, its community of customers has created a much deeper identity for the brand. Lululemon is not just an athletic apparel retailer, but rather a retailer that represents everything about the yogi lifestyle. Loyal Lululemon customers believe in living a life of health, wellness, and mindfulness, and they’ve attached this belief to the brand. For this reason, Lululemon has managed to remain at the top in an industry saturated with other brands, even though their prices are higher than many of their competitors.
How to Create A Modern Brand Identity Using Identity Networks
Many marketers understand the importance of building an identity network, but they just don’t know how to do it. Instead of obsessing over how to launch an identity network of loyal followers, it’s best to let it happen on its own. The brands that are the most successful in creating identity networks are those that clearly state who their company is and then let customers take control of the narrative from there. If you try to control the brand narrative, it may come off as inauthentic or forced.
As customers start to form an identity network and define who your brand is, it’s important to pay attention to what they are saying. No brand—no matter how successful—should ever ignore feedback coming from their identity network. If you don’t pay attention to the feedback from the identity network, it’s possible that you will upset the customers in your network by moving the brand in an undesirable direction. For instance, if Goop started selling products with artificial ingredients and harmful chemicals, their network of loyal, health-conscious customers may start to dissipate and their brand identity would suffer tremendously as a result.
Marketers also need to recognize the importance of fostering an intimate relationship with their identity networks. Embrace their likes and dislikes—even if they are not directly related to the products or services that you sell. Goop, for example, recognized that their customers were not only interested in purchasing unique wellness products, but they were also passionate about eating healthy. Even though Goop does not sell food products, the company still invests heavily in producing recipes that their community can use to live the healthier lifestyle they desire. If your identity network is passionate about something, then your brand should be passionate about it as well as long as it doesn’t go against your brand’s values.
The customers that make up your identity network should have a lot in common with one another, but marketers should be careful not to make a community too exclusive. Although the only people who used to purchase Lululemon clothing were dedicated yogis, the increasingly popular athleisure trend has completely changed that. Now, many people who shop at Lululemon are not as dedicated to the yogi lifestyle as others. Some may even appreciate the lifestyle without actually practicing yoga. Instead of shutting these customers out, Lululemon started to offer new products that were designed for everyday wear. The company remained true to its core values while embracing a new group of customers who wanted to join the identity network. If they had turned their backs on this growing group of customers, there’s no telling whether or not Lululemon would still be considered one of the top athletic apparel brands.
It doesn’t matter how long your brand has been in business—there’s still time to create a modern brand identity by building an identity network of loyal customers. For more marketing insights, talk to the experiential marketing experts at Factory 360. Contact us today to discuss your marketing needs and plan your next event!