How to Build Your Brand Identity

Six ways for startups, early stage and established companies to expand their brand and connect with a target audience

In addition to branding your products and services, it’s also important to establish a brand identity and build an authentic brand image for your company–especially if you’re a startup or an early stage company.

Beyond company logos, fonts and design styles, you can increase the possibility of establishing strong connections with clients and prospects if you expand your brand identity to reflect your organization’s values. Factors such as corporate responsibility, dedication to relevant causes, and transparency can help build a foundation for trust with your audience in today’s market.

The easiest way to start building your brand identity is to show your audience who you are and how you got here. Start with these six ways to establish, grow and share your brand identity:

Write a strong mission statement and/or brand story.

In addition to an elevator pitch about who you are and what you do, the About page on your website can also be a great place to share your story. Describe who founded your company, when and why they founded it, and be sure to include any personal details that led to the birth of your brand.

For example, if you’re developing a product or an application to solve a problem you experienced in your own life, tell that story on your website, on social media or on product packaging. It’s an easy way to find an audience who can relate and see the potential use cases of your services for themselves.

While you’re at it, incorporate that sentiment in a mission statement that clearly defines your purpose and the principles that will guide you. A mission is not reserved only for non-profits–it’s simply a way to convey your goals and your values, and it’s a great place to start building your brand identity.

Establish a company culture

Once you’ve defined your mission, you can establish an authentic company culture that reflects it. To get started, think about your own work-life values and implement them in your company. Do you strive toward a healthy work-life balance? Do you love company retreats with team bonding and skill-building exercises? Do you support working remotely or work-from-home options for employees? Or, maybe you want to send out a weekly all-staff email showing praise and gratitude for team members who have done an exceptional job.

Decide what type of company culture you want to create and stick to it. Let prospective employees know what you have to offer, and keep it going once they join the team. Your employees will live and breathe your brand identity, and it will show in their interactions with prospects, customers and colleagues.

Create a workspace that reflects your brand values

Whether your team works remotely, in an office or a combination of both, you can create a workspace that reflects your brand values. If you’re working remotely, start a Slack channel that’s just for fun conversations, and one that’s just for internal news and communications unrelated to specific projects. Your team will feel connected, informed, supported and heard even if you aren’t in the same place.

If you have an office space, think about easy ways you can make it your own. Add a dry erase or chalk wall just for inspirational and motivational messages. Choose furniture or wall art that fits with the colors and styles you’ve established for your brand, so it feels cohesive to employees and guests (and looks great in photos!). Even if you have a co-working or shared space, you can highlight how that aligns with your values.

Showcase your employees in new ways

Framing a photo of your employee of the month may not be the most inspired method of employee appreciation, but there are other simple ways to make your team members feel noticed. You could feature an employee spotlight on your blog or Careers page with a fun Q&A about their likes and interests. You could welcome them to the team with a social media post during their first week. You could survey employees to gather testimonials on their favorite parts of working with the team, and share them on LinkedIn.

Don’t be afraid to pull back the curtain and humanize the talented team you’ve built! It can also mean a lot for customers to put a face to the name they may have only met over the phone or online.

Choose relevant charities to support as a team

According to Entrepreneur, corporate giving improves company culture and provides an opportunity for organizations to reinforce their purpose. Consider choosing one (or a few) non-profit organizations to support as a team. Gather a group to participate in a charity walk, or offer an employee donation-matching program. Alternatively, you could provide employees with a set number of PTO time, which they can use to perform charitable work during normal business hours.

Then, ask employees to submit photos or blog posts describing their experiences, so you can share them with your audience. It’s a great way to make new connections, boost morale, build your brand identity and support a worthy cause all at the same time.

Highlight your brand identity with pictures & videos online

It may be obvious by now, but it’s worth repeating–now that you’ve done the work, share it with your audience. Let outsiders in on your company culture by posting about the environment you’ve built. You may already have content at your fingertips that could endear your audience to your organization.

One way or another, the atmosphere you create internally will become a major part of your brand identity, and that identity will be perceived by your audience. Make sure it’s an image you can be proud of by starting from the ground up.

By Erica Warnitsky, Strategist