What is brand identity?
First and foremost, a brand identity is how your company presents itself to customers.
Another way you can define brand identity is to think of it as all the components that help people differentiate your business from competitors. Things like a color scheme, tone, logo, tagline, font, or even your most popular, signature products can all help build a lasting brand identity.
Why does brand identity matter?
As a local business, you may be asking yourself, “Why does brand identity matter to me?”. Perhaps you’ve already reached your goal of ranking in the local pack. But once you’ve reached that oh-so-coveted number one spot, what are you doing to make potential customers engage with your business?
Without a clear brand identity you could leave searchers confused, alienated, and simply not wanting to take action on your listing.
As I’ll explain later, with Google My Business spam on the rise, it’s more important than ever to stand out in local SERPs.
Simple vs complex
When it comes to branding, you have a choice between pursuing a simple or complex brand identity. In this blog I’ll be showing you why simplicity wins and how you can begin to transition (or continue to champion) simplicity in your branding and marketing efforts.
After all, when it comes to local search, avoiding complexity could help your brand excel in a saturated landscape that all too often includes misleading or spammy content.
Let’s look at five specific reasons simpler brand identities are preferable in today’s spam-filled environment.
1. Simple brand names reduce the chances of spelling or punctuation errors
There’s an enduring trend whereby brands purposely misspell their names or use incorrect punctuation or grammar. Company leaders do that for a variety of reasons, including wanting to differentiate a brand from its competitors.
However, if part of your brand identity makes it harder for customers to remember you, it’s easy to see how search outcomes could suffer.
Grasshopper, a virtual phone services company, initially had the name GotVMail. It changed when company representatives realized the new name was easier for people to understand and spell. The company ran radio ads, and decision-makers likely realized that people could mishear the letter “V” as E, C, G, or even P. Then, if people tried to search for the company after hearing about it, they’d almost certainly end up in the wrong place.
It doesn’t get much clearer than this. Source: getblk.com
Indeed, your name is only one facet of a brand identity, but it’s something you need to get right early on — or be open to changing — if you want your business to succeed in local search.
2. Simple brand identities give marketers more time to focus on other projects
A knock-on effect of having a simple, easy-to-understand identity is that consumers are likely to see you as caring more about other aspects of your business, like customer service, for example. In turn, you yourself as a marketer, might just find yourself with extra time on your hands to conduct other tasks.
If your brand has a simple, clear identity, customers are more likely to view you as having a focus elsewhere.
Focusing on excellent customer service could then also aid your business in achieving higher search engine rankings through review generation. It’s a well-known fact that Google My Business reviews influence SEO as well as consumer purchasing decisions.
The internet is an environment where people can give their feedback to the world in a matter of minutes. Many individuals are more likely to do that when they are either exceptionally pleased or unusually displeased with the services received. If you opt for a less complicated brand identity that prioritizes customer service, it could be easier to anticipate a continual supply of those all-important positive reviews.
3. Simplicity helps brands stand out
We live in a complicated world, and people get bombarded with choices.
This reality can lead to a problem called decision paralysis, whereby a person has trouble selecting just one option due to the plentiful number of choices available to them. Perhaps you’ve experienced a similar feeling when using a query like “restaurants near me” to steer your choice of where to eat in an unfamiliar town – sometimes the sheer number of options means you give up on looking all together.
If your brand is too complex, it might get lost among the noise. Alternatively, people could get overwhelmed as they attempt to search for options in your brand’s category and decide which one best suits their needs.
A straightforward brand identity can help people make faster, more confident choices.
Quick-service restaurants learned that lesson after reevaluating their menus. The brands that reduced their menu options saw 75% higher sales gains than those that added more things to eat.
4. Embracing a simple brand identity allows you to meet your target audience’s needs
If your brand aims to be everything to everyone in a local market, it’ll be virtually impossible to address the target audience’s needs because you’re not specific enough. Most people have heard of at least a few brands that make them say, “Sure, I’ve heard of them, but what do they offer me?”
You can create ideal and negative buyer personas to guide how to meet the needs of a target audience. After pinpointing their needs, the next step is to ensure you’re doing everything necessary to ensure customer expectations align with what you give them.
If your brand identity is too complicated, you could be alienating potential customers. Then, you might waste valuable marketing resources on efforts that bring few rewards. Meanwhile, a simple brand identity can appeal to people from all walks of life.
One local search metric that can help gauge customer satisfaction is your site’s bounce rate – the percentage of visitors that leave a site after only viewing one page. If you notice a bounce rate getting higher, that could be a sign that members of the target audience aren’t engaging with your brand sufficiently.
Perhaps that’s due to the website promoting too many products or having poor organization. Don’t forget that many of the visual aspects of a site are things people can evaluate quickly, and they tie into your brand identity.
If you’re not offering a cohesive brand experience across all channels, that could lead to confusion, once again alienating potential customers.
5. Creating a simple brand makes personalization easier
Research from Epsilon showed 80% of people were more likely to choose companies that gave personalized experiences. Personalization had positive effects on the likelihood of customers becoming loyal, too.
Building a simple brand helps you determine when and how you’ll provide personalization for customers. The ways to apply personalization to your local business are virtually endless.
For example, you might send someone coupons for products they’ve searched for on your website in the past. Or, you could send them news about personalized events happening close to where they live.
Of course, your digital marketing efforts can be personalized, too – think emails, GMB posts and offers, and social messaging.
If you sell physical goods, you can take the trend of personalization even further — think monogrammed products, decorated cakes, or custom-made clothes.
If your brand identity becomes too complicated, people may perceive that the personalization they want is not available, whereas having a simple brand identity allows you the flexibility to prioritize personalization for users.
A 2018 study that evaluated corporate simplicity named Netflix the world’s simplest brand. It’s not a local brand, but it does capitalize on personalization. People get viewing recommendations based on their streaming history, as well as personalized cover art and trailers based on a user’s previous engagement history.
In fact, if you look at some of the world’s most popular brands – Apple, Amazon, Google, and the like – you can see that they’re huge champions of simple brand identities. And now, when you see a picture of an apple or you see that signature orange arrow, only one brand will come to mind.
Brand simplification takes time, but it’s worth the effort
Simplifying an existing brand can take substantial time and effort but, oftentimes, it’s worth the hours you’ll put in. If marketers prioritize simplicity from the start, they could save time and gain lasting momentum.