What is a brand?A brand is a name, term, symbol, design or a combination of these used by an organisation to identify it or its products as unique from others. It acts as an identity and signal, communicating many messages to the market.Therefore, brand identity is its ‘personality’ in context of your target market. In other words, it’s a brand’s characteristics as sees by the market. Every business has one, although some are more subtle and others are very in-your-face.It’s very important for a brand’s success to have a solid, well supported identity as it allows the target market to relate to it. People are emotional beings and this comes across in their buyer behaviour, so therefore, if a business wants their product to appeal to a certain customer, the identity of the brand must offer a relevant characteristic that is pleasing and favourable to them.For example, popular cola soft drinks run intensive branding campaigns with their product on the beach with people enjoying summer, with the intention that their brand will become associated with ‘fun times’ and ‘enjoyable experiences with friends’. This trait, which is an element of brand identity, means that customers will recognise a relatable characteristic, and associate their happy emotions with a product that naturally lends itself to that situation.Five Dimensions Of Brand PersonalityResearch into the marketing and psychological aspects of branding date back to the 60s, 70s and 80s, and identify five main brand personality traits, known as ‘The Big Five’, which encapsulate the main categories of identity.How a consumer interprets all brand messaging is how a brand identity is defined, and the definition tends to focus on one of the following traits.(1) SincerityDown-to-earth, genuine, honest, and comfortable.(2) ExcitementExhilaration, adrenaline, fun, stimulating and sporting.(3) CompetenceReliable, trustworthy, successful and intelligent.(4) SophisticationUpper class, cultured, charming and posh.(5) RuggednessOutdoorsy, tough and strong.Regardless of which category, a brand identity can significantly impact a customer’s interaction and emotional connection with a specific product or organisation.How To Develop A Brand IdentityAn identity of a business, a product or brand functions very similarly to that of a person. When you think of a person, you can list off all of the qualities they have that come across to you when you interact with them. For example, witty, smart, fun, outgoing, frustrating, and so on. These qualities can be both negative and positive, and the way you were able to come to the conclusion of these adjectives lies in how you’ve interpreted the signals they projected through their actions. For example, you would label someone as fun, because they shared an experience with you that you enjoyed, or label someone as frustrating because they were difficult to get along with.It works the same with a brand. The best way to establish, uncover and promote a brand identity is to begin describing the traits and characteristics that come to mind. Then you (as the owner of that brand) must leverage messages and actions which act as signals to the target consumers to allow them to discover and interpret those characteristics and relate your brand to those traits.Branding ElementsBranding elements are the physical identifiers of a brand, such as design, images, colours, font, name, shaping, spacing and so on. Consistency is key here: once you establish your traits, as discussed above, the way your brand physically exists must be consistent with the characteristics you wish to portray.For example, if you want a sporty, exciting brand, you may lean towards brighter colours, modern fonts and trendy logos, as opposed to, say, a conservative fashion brand which may choose a more formal name, a cleaner font, a more conservative colour palette, etc.Customers are very intuitive, and therefore, brand identity and the associated branding elements must be planned very carefully to ensure that they both sync in such a way that the correct messages are being successfully and easily interpreted by the market.Using A VoiceA ‘voice’ in this branding context refers to the entire suite of communication tools used to promote the brand identity and elements, above, to the market. Basically, it’s how you speak and interact with your audience and how they relate to this.This can be the colouring, layout and words used on a website, the music and sound on a radio commercial, or the images featured on a print advert.Again, consistency is very important here. It’s very essential that the voice matches the characteristics and traits originally established for the brand, so that the audience isn’t the victim of mixed or conflicting messages.Write A Branding Guidelines DocumentA ‘branding guidelines’ is a document where all of the branding elements, identity and voice are clearly written out in detail. It provides the ‘go-to’ guide regarding everything about a brand, from design, exact colours, tone, images, sizing, backgrounds, tag lines and correct use.As mentioned above, for a successful brand and strong identity, consistency is paramount so that the audiences are not receiving mixed messages or incorrect signals. The market is already cluttered with noise, and so it’s very important that a business sharpens their message to be so specific that when a customer interacts, they interpret the message positively and correctly.A branding guidelines document ensures that all of the branding is used correctly so that the entire marketing effort is heading in one, uniform direction effectively. Making this document easily accessible internally within a business ensures that everyone working on promoting the brand is doing so in the correct manner.Every business has, or should have, a distinct and unique identity which makes it appealing to their customers, and it lies in a solid branding program to ensuring your brand’s personality stands out from the crowd.