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I help neurospicy small business owners and entrepreneurs clarify the nuance of what they do, how they do it, and why it matters in order to more effectively market their do-it-different approach.

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The 4 Components of an Unforgettable Brand Identity

This past October I had what I’ve affectionately been referring to as a Burn It All Down weekend.

It started because my dear son, my first born, the child nicknamed Potato refuses to nap and has the most intense fomo you ever did see. Translation: 8 months after his birth and I still wasn’t able to find any time during the day to wedge in just a little bit of anything, let alone the client work I was so eager to get back to. I had Saturdays and Sundays to work – in between nursing that is, since Potato decided at six months he would no longer deign to drink from a bottle. And with the cost and crisis of childcare in the States, the situation didn’t look to change for quite some time.

Thus, in a fit of “I Cannot Continue In This Manner”, I spent one weekend in mid-October entertaining every version of burning it all down, including and not limited to shutting down MD&Co and not reopening anything.

It quickly became clear that I didn’t want to shut down MD&Co, and also there was absolutely no doubt I needed to simplify everything I was doing from the ground up.

So I started over.
From the very beginning.
A very good place to start.

The business plan came together simply enough, then came the nuance – the minutiae of what makes my services, my audience, my brand stand out from others who do what I do. It all came down to 4 deceptively simple questions:

  1. What do you do?
  2. How do you do it?
  3. Who is it for?
  4. Why does it matter?

Which, as I answered the questions, quickly became 4 core components:

  1. Values
  2. Offer
  3. Buyer
  4. Message

And these, dear reader, are the focus of our time together today: these are the 4 components of an indelible brand identity. Answer these questions clearly, concisely, and steeped in nuance, and you’ll have a brand that doesn’t just compel attention: it demands it.

What is a brand identity?

brand identity
/brand/ /īˈden(t)ədē/
the collection of elements defined and designed specifically for your brand.

Your brand identity encompasses your values, mission, personality, and yes, visual elements. It’s how you convey the essence of your brand, set the vibe, and make it clear what you stand for. In short: a brand identity is how you want your brand to be perceived by your audience.

Obviously we all love a gorgeous brand design (yes, I have been known to buy a product purely based on packaging)… But for most us small creative business owners the most important part of our brand identity isn’t our visual signature: it’s understanding how to talk about our business clearly to folks not in our world.

A moment of complete transparency: what I really wanted to do in my Burn It All Down weekend was scrap my current website and rebuild it all with a brand-spankin’ new design and fresh visual brand. I also knew that wasn’t going to magically answer the questions of what I did, how I did it, who it was for, and why it mattered. So I set a timer and let my mind delight in Creative Market templates for an hour, then got back to the work that would actually move the needle when the alarm went off.

The four components of an unforgettable brand identity

1 – What Do You Do?

In the context of your brand identity, what you do is how you practice and demonstrate your core values through the ‘transformation’ your business provides. It’s a combination of your core values, your mission statement, your vision of impact: this is the soul of your business, the beating heart that drives every decision and action you take.

Whether you’re a product-based business or a service-oriented entrepreneur, articulating your purpose through the perspective of your core values sets the foundation for everything that follows. This is what you do.

2 – How Do You Do It?

Once you’ve defined what you do, the next step is understanding how you bring it to life: how do you deliver on your promises? What sets your approach apart from others in your industry?

This is where the magic happens: in the methodical execution of your unique process. This is the core offer of your business.

It also feels important to note that the answer to this question need not be flashy or proprietary; answering how you do it is simply finding the language to describe to someone who is not remotely familiar with your business or industry the how of the what. That’s it.

3 – Who is it for?

Understanding your audience is essential for creating meaningful connections and fostering brand loyalty. Whether you define your ideal client through a detailed avatar or market research, knowing who your core buyer is allows you to tailor your messaging and offerings to resonate with those who matter most.

Your answer to who is it for is a simple statement with one or two key adjectives. Initially you may choose to create an entire buyer persona as you answer this question, but in the spirit of simplicity this entire persona will boil down to a short statement of your target audience.

4 – Why does it matter?

The why of it all is perhaps what we’re all most familiar with – especially within the Online Business Industrial Complex. But this isn’t why you started your business, why you want to work for yourself, answering why does it matter in the context of your brand identity is the clear, concise statement of the need for what you do. It is the answer to the high school essay imperative “so what” – this is the core message of your brand, the thing you need everyone to know about your business. 

More than a checkbox

If nothing else, this is what you need to take away: these 4 questions aren’t just checkboxes on a branding to-do list. They serve as the foundation upon which your entire brand is built, guiding every decision you make and every interaction you have with your audience. By clearly articulating what sets you apart from your competitors, you carve out a unique space for your brand in the minds of your audience.

Consistency Builds Connection

You’ve heard it before, you’ll hear it again: consistency is key to building trust with your audience. When your core brand identity is consistent across all touchpoints – from your website and social media profiles to your offers and customer service – you reinforce your credibility and reliability, you make good on the promises your brand made in marketing.

Consistency is not just about posting on social media regularly or committing to a weekly email, and it definitely isn’t enough to just have a consistent font pairing or color palette. Brand consistency is understanding and applying the answers to what do you do, how do you do it, who is it for, and why does it matter in every bit of your marketing and client experience. You set the expectations with your marketing – your consistent follow-thru on those expectations builds connection.

Great… now what?

This is the question most frequently on my mind when digesting others’ content marketing: what do I do with this information?

The answer is, similar to the questions, deceptively simple: can you answer these four questions in a clear, concise manner that any layperson could understand? Are you able to articulate your core values, your core offer, your core buyer, and your core message? This is the foundation of all successful marketing: clear language that answers these questions for the viewer/reader.

And if you’re struggling with answering these questions – 

If you know you know what you do but don’t know how to talk about it – 

Might I offer the Brand Identity Quickstart?

This guide walks you through answering the 4 key questions of all brand identities, and helps you weave them together to craft a brand identity statement. With this clarity of language and purpose, you’ll be able to better market your unique brand and business, and maybe even land your next client.

Remember: clear is kind. And being clear in your brand identity is the starting point for effective, ethical marketing.

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