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Developing a Brand Identity With James Flaherty

Developing a Brand Identity With James Flaherty

Developing a brand identity is one of the key aspects of successfully marketing yourself. Josh was joined by branding expert James Flaherty to talk about what brand identity is, what makes a strong brand, and how to find and create your brand identity. James is the  Social Beast. He has over 20 years of experience in marketing and strategy in the Australian and UK markets. He specialises in the business-to-business and consumer marketing sectors where his strategies are driven by who the customer is.


What Is a Brand?

People think they have a brand, a logo and a website, but what is the meaning of a brand? A brand is the DNA of your organisation. It’s everything from your logo to how you answer the phone and the experience you give to your customers. The logo you’ve developed is meaningless without the rest of the brand experience. You can refine it into how an organisation or a product makes you feel.

These are the brands you trust and give you a good experience. David Ogilvy said, “You can define the brand as the intangible sum of a product’s attributes”. The brand experience determines whether or not you will buy it. This is how you make your customer feel and think about you and your organisation.


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Developing a Brand Identity

You should build your brand identity in line with your target market. You can’t get too far from how it reflects you and your values. If you are somebody who’s not the most honest and integral or reliable person, don’t build your brand on honesty, integrity and reliability.

For example, Burberry had this premium brand but suddenly it was the opposite of their target market. They had to go through a radical repositioning because there was a disconnect between who they were and who they wanted to be. They scaled back their design and made it more muted and more understated. However, the product line changed, and it didn’t have the same resonance, shininess and attractiveness for the demographic they wanted.

Another example is the fitness brand Abercrombie & Fitch. The CEO said they don’t make plus-size clothing because they don’t want people wearing plus-size clothing with their brand on it. This famous brand’s brand positioning, materials and visuals are about a “good-looking” American, a girl and boy college sweetheart. They may lose a few sales but fundamentally their target buyers are the people who are going to buy their product.


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Building a Strong Brand Identity

Brands like Facebook and Google are not known for their fantastic customer experience, but they are connectivity brands and they’re known for their ability to connect through their advertising platform. How can you dissect the DNA of other brands to see where they sit? How do you create your brand identity?

Elements of Brand Identity - Dorks Delivered

Brand Identity Is About Consistency

When you’re really hungry anywhere in the world, you can pull out $5 and get a Big Mac. It’s consistently not the best food in the world, but it’s consistent. You know that a Big Mac in Birmingham is going to be the same as a Big Mac in Toronto. That kind of consistency and delivery is good branding.

Start to compare yourself to other organisations you admire in the same or in a different industry.

  • There’s the jester, their advertising is about fun.
  • Microsoft is a ruling brand. You’re going to do it or you’re not going to do it.
  • Häagen-Dazs is an inspirational brand that puts love into ice cream and they kind of almost sexualized chocolate ice cream.

It will come down to what your brand archetype is. Have a look at your customers and your products. That will give you the best way to fit all those components together.


Going Against Your Industry’s Brand Archetype

What happens if you go against the archetype or the general brand identity of your industry? Apple is in the technology industry, but their brand is inspirational.

A good example of this is the Virgin. They did money, airlines, and records, and they made different approaches to conquer different markets. They played themselves as the underdog even though they were backed up by a multi-billionaire, so they’ve got this smart position of going into a new market and saying, “We’re going to disrupt this. You don’t want to deal with these stuffy old brands anymore. Come and work with us.” And people do that.

It’s about how you take your approach in your industry.


Brand Evolution: Uber in Brisbane 

When Uber came to Brisbane, we were celebrating it and begging the government to legalise it. Uber promised a brand of speedy delivery, ease of use and drivers who will always be available, but Uber has been letting us down on service.

It’s interesting to see that kind of evolution of brands and how market dominance can allow them to become complacent and allow the next challenger to take over the market. With the democratisation of technology, people can become challenger brands because we have access to power like we never had previously.

Likewise, business success can also have a good effect on the evolution of brand identity. It’s about how integral and connected the business remains with its brand. Nike, BMW, and McDonald’s continually evolve their brand and they continually have the DNA through every aspect of the organisation.

Developing a brand identity is like anything in business. If your sales team becomes complacent, your sales don’t achieve success. If your delivery team becomes complacent, you can’t meet your customers’ needs. It’s the same with your brand.

Keep evolving your brand, keep it up to date, and keep meeting the needs of your customers.


Get a Digital Marketing Audit for your website and social sales worth $499 for free. Leave your contact details and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible. 


Be Careful 

Your brand is a living thing. You don’t develop your brand and all your collateral and then lock them in a drawer for two years and go, “I haven’t had a look at that document. Maybe we should do a rebrand.” It’s really all about that relevance: how it’s still capturing in with the people that you’re trying to target and how you keep evolving it.

But don’t fall into that trap. Developing your brand identity is not about redesigning your logo or changing your colours every two weeks. It’s about being sensitive to what your customers want or how they’re changing and making sure that your brand still checks out for those you want to service.

Take the Nike logos for example. There are about 40 of them because they evolved all the time as technology changes and as the materials that they’re able to use change. They moved away from this idea that they see everybody as an athlete. They want to get you off the couch and running or on the golf course, playing soccer and using their product. They want to inspire you to be a better version of yourself. It’s all about the relevance of how it’s still capturing people and how you develop your brand over time.


Get a Digital Marketing Audit for your website and social sales worth $499 for free. Leave your contact details and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.  


Brand Identity Tips

A lot of psychology goes into logos, colours, both the user experience on your website and when people are emailing through or calling in, the experience that your vendors have, the experience that your end clients have, the experience that your staff have. But you should also consider the following:

  • What are the trends that are going on in your marketplace?
  • Who are you building this brand for?

When you are building your brand identity multimillionaires, don’t make your brand execution at the bottom of the last-minute Rugs a Million sale type of thing because it’s not the right place and approach.

Do you need help in building a strong brand identity? Get in touch with James Flaherty on LinkedIn.

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