Paul Rand said once, “Design is the silent ambassador of your brand”.
He was spot on. When it comes to your business, design is what helps create a clearly defined and strong brand identity that sets you apart from other pet businesses. It reinforces how you want your customers to feel about your business.
But it’s also far more complex than that. What exactly is brand identity, and why does it matter so much for your pet business?
We’re going to walk you through the answers to those questions and provide you with actionable tips you can think about when revamping or creating your brand identity.
What is brand identity?
In a nutshell, your brand identity is the collection of all elements you use to portray an idea or visual concept of your business to your customers. This includes everything from logo and business name to colour palettes and the tone and voice of your pet brand.
In other words, great brand identities are instantly recognizable. When you think of brands like Iams or Purina,
Brand identity vs. brand image
While these terms are used interchangeably, brand image is actually the result of your brand identity. When your brand identity successfully portrays and communicates your message and voice to your customers, it helps shape a positive ‘image’ or perception of your pet brand in the mind of your customers.
Brand identity vs. branding
Like ‘brand image’, the term ‘branding’ is often confused with brand identity. But to put it simply, branding is the marketing practice of actively shaping your brand and doing it consistently.
Overall, the most important and really sole function of your brand identity is to establish a connection between your pet business and your customers. They should be able to associate your brand with your products, but also the emotions they feel and the perceived benefits of buying from your business.
If customers can connect your brand with a positive emotion and a positive experience, what results is customer loyalty and positive brand image/sentiment.
Why does your brand identity matter?
You may be thinking, “But wait, I’m not Purina! So why would this matter for me?”
The reality is, many small pet businesses may never grow to be as large or robust as established brands like Purina, just as tech companies may never be as big as Apple, or athletic wear brands may never grow to be the world’s next Nike.
But that doesn’t mean you aren’t or can’t be successful! And that’s why your brand identity matters. There are a few key benefits of a strong brand identity that all pet businesses can enjoy.
Believe it or not, a strong brand identity can command a price premium.
We can think of it this way: many pet food brands are just as good as the expensive natural ones, but many pet owners are willing to pay more for pricier brands. Why is that?
If we think back to the Apple example, there are many tech brands that make computers and mobile devices that are just as good as Apple’s, and yet, many people are fiercely loyal to Apple. Why is that?
The answer is that it’s all about brand perception. These brands’ identities position them in the minds of their customers as providing products worth paying for. And for small pet businesses, that same benefit applies.
Getting your brand identity to a point where it’s strong, effectively communicates your business’s value, and captures your customer’s attention helps you get your foot in the door with those customers.
Pet businesses have a distinct advantage over larger ones in that they can focus more on the concept of curated quality.
Especially in the post-COVID era, more customers are opting to shop with smaller brands and businesses, which means they’re looking for more personalized experiences.
If customers perceive your both your brand and products as being of quality, it doesn’t matter that other brands may be larger or even more expensive - your customers will shop with you because of the perceived quality you provide.
At one point, many businesses only cared about brand recognition if it meant they could outshine their competitors.
But outshining a competing business isn’t always about ‘looking better’ than them; it’s also about having customers remember why they chose you over that competitor.
With a strong brand identity, you have more opportunity to create and nurture a positive brand image that can then be used to help boost your branding initiatives - in other words, your brand identity always comes full circle.
If customers are happy with your business, your products, and the experiences they have with you, they’re more likely to remember you, recommend you, and remain loyal to you, even if a competitor sells a higher-end product or is larger than you.
That’s because people like to be associated with good brands that make them feel good. Your brand identity plays a significant role in helping to establish that positive feeling.
How do you establish a strong brand identity?
Before you dive into creating a brand identity, which you may work with a professional designer on, it’s important to consider a few different aspects of the core of your business. Even if you’re considering a rebrand, you can follow these ‘steps’ or take them into consideration!
Know who you are
The tangible elements of your brand identity (like logo, print collateral and more) are designed based on knowing who you are as a business.
And knowing who you are as a business and the real people behind that business boils down to a few key things:
What’s your why? This is the mission behind your business and is the reason you do what you do
What drives you? These are the set of beliefs that drive what you do every day in your business
Who are you? The easiest way to answer this question is to think of your business as having a personality. If your business were a person, what would they be like? This is your brand
What’s different about you? This is otherwise known as a ‘value proposition’ and it’s the unique differentiator between your business and that of your competitors
What’s your tone and voice? Like the question of who you are above, think of your business as a person. How would they speak, what would their tone be, and how would they communicate?
If you’re struggling to answer the above questions, don’t sweat it! Your brand identity is one of the most important things you’ll do to build or revamp your business, so it’s okay to struggle with this. In this case, ask yourself:
Why did I start the business? Were you trying to solve a common pain point, or a struggle you’ve personally had?
What beliefs or values are important to me? The beliefs and values you hold personally often define those of your business
What makes us better or special? What is it about you and your business that helps people more than another business does?
If I could describe my business in just a few words, what would they be?
If my customers could describe my business in just a few words, what would they be?
Understand the basics
Most businesses opt to work with a professional designer or branding expert when building their brand identity, and that’s because they have the foundational and experiential understanding of how brand identity works.
But that doesn’t mean you have to go into the process ‘blind’. Instead, having a solid understanding of the basics of a good brand identity can help you in the process.
Let’s break down the common elements or ‘building blocks’ you and your designer will consider when building your brand identity.
Typography simply refers to the font (or type) you choose for your branding materials.
It’s standard practice to use different font pairings as opposed to one font for everything, which is where logo fonts and brand fonts come into play.
The difference between the two is that the fonts you use for your brand won’t necessarily be the exact font you use in your logo.
For example, the text on a website may be the same font in a brand’s tagline, but could differ from the font used for their logo. This is where font pairings come into play.
The most important thing to bear in mind when it comes to your logo fonts and brand fonts is that they should be legible, memorable, and work across every platform. Heavily cursive fonts, for instance, are usually avoided because they can be difficult to read.
Under the broad ‘umbrella’ of colour theory is the idea that we as people have different psychological and emotional reactions to colour.
For that reason, the colours you use for your brand play an important role in how customers perceive it, which is why so much consideration is often given to brands’ colour palettes.
For example, colours like red and orange can be associated with passion, high-energy, and action. But they can also be alerting or alarming colours, so you have to use these colours wisely.
Your logo is or will be the cornerstone of your brand identity. It’s the main element of your identity that people will remember, recognize, or seek out when looking for your business.
Because of that, it’s incredibly important that your logo ticks off a few key ‘boxes’:
Communicates who you are and what you do - this doesn’t have to be a literal interpretation of who you are or what you do, but should allude to your brand and business offering
Is visually legible and appealing - you don’t want your audiences and customers to have to work to understand what your logo is or what it symbolizes!
Stands the test of time - while it’s okay to be trendy, your logo should be like your entire brand identity: able to stand the test of time, not become outdated 6 months down the road
Ultimately, your logo design should make a lasting impression on your audience. For some businesses, this means going with a more literal design while others choose to be more abstract.
While you want to leave room for creativity, don’t forget that taking risks or working ‘outside the lines’ with your logo has to make sense, and not alienate customers.
We’ve said before that your website says a lot about your business, and that’s because it’s part of your brand identity, brand image and branding.
When it comes to your website, it may not be the first marketing piece you create, but once you come to the point where you’re ready to build out your site, it has to emulate your brand.
This is where brand fonts, your colour palette, and any imagery you use, come into play. They should all intersect together to give your customers a seamless experience by tying in your entire brand identity.
Find some inspiration
Whether you’re starting from scratch or are thinking of rebranding, you’ll undoubtedly look for inspiration, and many designers like to gather inspiration for brand work, too.
Aside from trolling Instagram or collecting logos from your favourite brands (which is definitely a good idea!) as jumping-off points for inspiration, here are a few platforms you can use as resources to look for design inspo:
When sourcing inspiration, don’t feel confined to your own industry, the pet industry. Though you may be in the pet business, you’ll find yourself drawn to different design and brand elements from all types of industries and brands that may just inform your own!
And, when the time comes to build your brand identity, keep our tips and advice in mind so you have the foundational knowledge you need to truly own your brand identity!