Oh well… Where do I even start? Perhaps I should go back as far as 1975. It was a tremendous year for many reasons, but my main point is that 1975 gave us The Muppets. 

If you’ve been paying attention to my blogs, yes, we’re about to go on a wild goose chase yet again. However, I promise that along the way I’ll fill you in on how to develop a unique brand identity. First thing first…

What is a unique brand identity?

In one word, it is your personality. However, I’m quite verbose, so in many words, it is made up of what your values are, what your brand says, how you actually communicate your product or services, and overall, how you want people to feel and act when they interact with your brand.

“It’s not easy being green”

Kermit

… Or unique. Kermit kinda nailed it with that statement. The Muppets have been somewhat divisive when it comes to entertainment. Is it a kids’ show? Certainly appeals to all ages. 

Is it a comedy? For sure, but with many skits that now also bring nostalgia and melancholy. Though mostly, it is just good ole’ fashioned slapstick jokes and wacky comedy.

The Muppets were branded as wholesome entertainment of a much simpler era. They consistently provided quirky escapism, outlandish characters, and transpired into full feature movies, cartoons, books, albums and countless merchandise. The Jim Henson Studio strategically built up the brand with its distinct identity.

What’s the secret to a unique brand identity?

ORIGINALITY. The Muppets were original in 1975, and the felt puppets are still rocking it in 2022. There is still nothing quite like it (ok, I’ll give you Sesame Street). And now, we’re on point. How could they stay on point for decades? We often assume that creativity shines through the lens of advertising, marketing or PR at best.

Nope. Before singing all the praise of your brand through advertising and marketing, originality should be woven into your whole business model and that starts with branding. Why? When you incorporate uniqueness into your overall look and feel (your character), your company culture (how you want to be seen), and your assets (your offerings), your intended audience will take notice.

When you start implementing unique communication strategies that tell exactly who you are and what you’re doing, your customer acquisition and retention will also improve.

Finally, when you start exuding confidence because you truly embrace your brand, you will build long-lasting relationships that will ultimately cement your brand identity. 

Building a brand identity

Now that we established that having a strong brand identity also comes with great benefits of trust, brand recall and increased brand loyalty, it begs the question. How to get there? 

  1. Understand and build trust with your audience

Why do the Muppets resonate with us (well, at least me, this is my blog after all)? Likeability is the key, along with a strong play on emotions centred around our humanity. Uh, yes, I went deep. 

Think about it. The Muppets are the best representation in pop culture of the ideal family who are unique and diverse (think of your crazy uncle), but unified for one purpose: to support the underdog Kermit to help make real people’s dreams come true. They mirror in us the passion of belonging to a family, supporting each other’s dreams, and celebrating each other despite our differences.

By understanding our need for human connection, even if it’s disguised under some wacky jokes, the producers managed to hook generations of audiences onto the show, building lifelong fans of Fozzie, Piggy and Kermit, of course.

Now it’s your turn to work out how you can take your audience on a long-lasting ride. Make sure you touch on their emotions, understand their problems and desires, and then deliver on those with authenticity.

  1. Keep up with the competition

The landscape of traditional entertainment has forever transformed with the introduction of the digital era. Online content, streaming services and snippet-type content are penetrating every waking moment, altering consumer consumption and attention span along the way. 

You would think that a bunch of felt-and-foam animals armed with some terrible puns would just fade into the past, right? Wrong. The Muppets are available through streaming, gaming, and interactive merchandise. They kept with the time.

Even the jokes are relevant to the 21st century. Why? The creators have been closely keeping up with the competitors and the industry at large. Audiences, based on their demographics and psychographics, consume entertainment in a variety of formats on a wide range of channels.

Obviously, this is down to careful research and a lot of strategic thinking. They go where their fans are, with a proactive approach.

Now, if you have a unique brand identity, you’re likely going to leave a memorable impression on your target audience’s mind. By doing so, you end up staying in the frontline. 

However, you still need to work on your strategies, and need to keep a close eye on both your audiences and your mortal enemies (ok, your competitors).

  1. Plant seeds of customer loyalty

Just as I’m loyal to Miss Piggy’s funny infatuation with Kermit, you can become your customers’ favourite by maintaining a consistent brand, with strong values and a clear, overarching brand storyline.

Such values, consistent visual identity, clear communication, devotion to social causes, and so on (celebrity guests also help), can give your customers a unique brand experience.

And, in case you didn’t know, people will kill for a good experience. Well, not exactly kill, but they’d pay 16% more for better customer experience.

These happy customers are quick to spread the word too, therefore, helping you get new customers. See what’s happening here? You’re building a successful brand with the help of a strong brand identity. 

Once you reeled your people in, all you need to do is to stay consistent and deliver over and above experiences each and every time. Boom. Customer loyalty is born. 

I’m not saying that isn’t painstakingly hard work, but remember, that 20% hardcore loyal fanbase will provide 80% of your business, so you better keep them happy, right?

Understand your Purpose

Why? Because knowing your purpose helps you understand your core values, mission statement, and value proposition. If your brand is built on a bunch of crazy felt puppets, it’s almost like you need to deliver wacky jokes with some half-hidden innuendo (to keep the grown ups happy) to prove your entertainment value. Brainiac work, right there.

You can’t tell what makes you unique or why folks should buy from you if you aren’t clear about all these things.

Hence, a good starting point is grabbing your planner and answering the following:

  • Why is your business, well, in business?
  • What makes you different?
  • Why should your target audience care about you?

Use these answers to plan your tagline, brand voice, brand message, and more.

For instance, for The Muppets, it’s their delightful mix of old and new in the digital era that brings in the moolah.

Their unique value standing comes from their generational transition of the variety show through poking societal fun at a large number of issues on racism, inclusivity, and social standing. Not all of those jokes have transitioned well or stood the test of time, but we tend to forgive because it’s all wrapped into nostalgia through some colourful fabric, and music and dancing.

Your takeaway from this: don’t just mentally tell yourself what’s different about your business. Write it down. You’ll need to share this information with your team and include it in your style guide to create a consistent brand voice, then make it come alive, and stay on track.

Research your audience 

To create a brand identity that’s memorable, you’ll want to know as much about your target audience as possible. This way, you can create a brand that resonates with them.

For instance, if you’re Fozzie Bear and are desperate to show off your fart shoes for comedic purposes, think carefully, does your audience care for fart jokes? (Yes, yes, I do. Fart jokes are never not funny).

Based on who your audience is, you can create a brand voice that speaks directly to them.

When researching your audience, ask the following questions:

  • Who is your ideal buyer and what do they do?
  • What are their goals, pain points, interests and motivations?
  • Where is your target audience likely to hang out?
  • Why and when are they buying?
  • What’s their budget?

Audit your brand identity

Once you’ve studied your core values and brand purpose, potential customers and competitors, evaluate your present brand identity.

(Feel free to skip this step if you’re new and only just creating your brand identity. However, for those planning a rebrand, this step is an absolute must.)

Ask yourself:

  • Is your brand consistent both online as well as offline?
  • Does your brand resonate with your audience?
  • Is your brand visually consistent (the same across all marketing channels)?
  • Is your brand messaging, behaviour, and voice consistent?

Develop your brand voice and messaging

Now that you’ve done market research and have all the know-how, it’s time to start creating.

Begin working on your brand voice. Is it humorous and professional? Is it friendly and expert? Does it sound like a shy green frog, trying to hold together a troupe of mismatched ragtags with a penchant for musical theatre? (I’m not even joking, your brand persona should be as detailed and lifelike as possible.)

This is the voice you’ll use as you talk to your target audience and customers. Whether you’re emailing new customers, writing a social media caption or putting together your website copy, you need to stick to a consistent brand voice.

This consistency in voice leaves a memorable impression on your audience.

You also need to give thoughts to your brand message. It shows what you stand for.

Say, you’re all about pet products. All your messages, therefore, should keep this to the fore. You don’t want to send mixed signals to your audience by, let’s say, recommending a French restaurant around the corner that is big on frog legs (sorry Kermit).

Oh and before we move on: no matter what your brand voice, remember to be conversational. You want to talk to your customer, so they feel valued.

So, repeat after me: “My brand is not a robotic, corporate business. It’s by humans, for humans.” Take that, AI. And, there you have it, a brand identity that resonates and talks to your audience.

Create your visual identity

Now’s the part where you’ll get to work on all the visual elements that define your brand. These include your logo, colour palette, typography and so on.

Let’s address each of the design elements that will make the face of your brand:

1. Design your logo

Your logo defines your brand personality. What’s more, logos tell stories. Did you know that the arrow pointing from the A in Amazon to the Z indicates that you can get everything, from A to Z, on Amazon? Clever, right?

2. Select your colour palette

Selecting brand colours is essential for maintaining a uniform visual identity. Your packaging, website colours, social media graphics and everything else will follow these brand colours. So choose wisely.

Ideally, it’s best to start working on your colour scheme by diving into colour psychology. Make sure you pick one primary colour and other secondary colours that complement it. And, keep the hex codes and Pantone numbers handy for consistency in using those colours for digital and print purposes, respectively.

3. Finalise your brand visual elements

Will you be using circles or squares in your design? Or do you prefer illustrations as part of your visual branding? As with colours, there’s also a certain effect that design elements leave on your audience. Rounded design elements, for instance, are linked with life and health. Sharp shapes, however, denote danger. And angular shapes are known for triggering fear.

4. Work on your typography

The fonts you use have a personality too. They reflect a mood and leave a lasting impact.

In short, fonts speak a visual language. It’s why horror movies usually make use of bleeding typography. Similarly, a cursive font is feminine.

Choose between 1-3 fonts and settle on the typeface (the formatting: bold, italic, regular and so on) as well. Here’s a handy article on typography alongside the details you’ll need before you get work.

When selecting, however, make sure your brand fonts are easy to read. After all, you don’t want potential customers to squint to try and understand your tagline.

Be consistent with your brand identity

You’re done with most of the heavy lifting by now. Moving forward, your job is to market your brand identity. How? Share your logo. Design all marketing materials using your brand fonts, colours and design elements. In fact, the infographics you design should also be on-brand.

At the same time, make sure you stick with your core value and brand message and talk to your customers using your unique brand voice.

One good way to maintain consistency in branding is by creating a brand style guide to share with your team. You can also create templates informing your team about your ideal audience, your voice, what you stand for and your value proposition.

Monitor your brand identity

Remember what I said several Kermits above about a brand identity being carefully cultivated? Now this step talks about that. You don’t only need to create a brand identity and consider the work done.

Instead, building an appealing brand identity that wins customers is a constant process — one that requires listening to your audience’s thoughts about your identity, and one that can span across almost 50 years, am I right, puppets.

This way, you can learn how well your brand personality resonates with your target audience and what you can do to improve your brand identity.

Some performance metrics to track include customer reviews, social media discussions, brand mentions and comments about what people are saying behind your back. If you find that there’s something that several people are constantly talking about, consider working on it.

To sum up this brand identity thing

To finish, I’m going to share something personal with you… Even though I’m a grown-ass adult, I do hide a silly little kid inside the darkest parts of my soul. And when that kid gets worn out of the dreariness of adulthood that includes working for money, she retreats to one song that NEVER EVER fails to put a smile on her face.

It immediately transports me back to my childhood, to simpler times, when I was watching The Muppet Show with my parents every Friday night. And that’s, Ladies and Gentlemen, what a strong brand identity does.

Of course, it wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t share that little gem with you here. It goes something like this…. Mahna Mahna Do doo be-do-do. Enjoy. 🙂 

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