What are the first things that pop into your mind when you think about companies like Target and Apple? Both companies have business identities so unique that their brick-and-mortar stores no longer use their names on their buildings. Target uses a red-and-white bull's-eye, for instance, and Apple simply has its bitten apple logo.
What Is a Business Identity
Before you can effectively build your unique business identity, you have to understand what a business identity is.
“A business identity is how an enterprise or organization communicates itself to the public, particularly its target market," explains Bunny Dachs, owner of Bunny's Home Care, a Baltimore-based home care agency. It is your company's visual statement, the combination of color schemes, designs, words, and taglines you use to communicate your business philosophy.
“A strong business identity helps an organization set itself apart from its competitors and maintain a personality that the public can easily associate the brand with," Dachs says.
But a business identity is not the same as a business's image. The image of a company can be positive, negative or neutral at any point in time, but an identity is strong or weak and more or less permanent unless changed deliberately, according to the Business Dictionary.
How to Create a Business Identity
At least six basic elements make up a business identity, Dachs says:
- Unique and memorable business name
- Vision and mission statement
- Relatable tagline and positioning statements
- Recognizable and memorable logo and slogan
- Consistent theme in letterheads, business cards, ads and marketing materials
Make certain your elements are unique. “Do a [web] search on your name and logos in your industry and related industries," says attorney Laurie Lee, who recently rebranded her Jacksonville, Florida, firm. "Even if a name is similar, that could be a problem," she adds.
To ensure your chosen elements speak to your target market, first figure out who your target market is and how you want to position yourself to serve them.
When you've decided on the elements of your business identity, it's time to show them off. Use your identity on:
- Business cards. You should have a large stash of these ready to hand out at every opportunity. They are affordable through services like VistaPrint, so it makes no sense to print your own and chance them looking DIY.
- Business stationery and brochures. Not every business needs brochures, but every business should have branded letterhead and envelopes. It adds a professional touch to your correspondence.
- A website. No matter what business you're in these days, a branded website is a must. It's an inexpensive way to market your business. At a glance of the landing page, your potential customer should be able to see your logo (or your face if you're a sole proprietor), tagline, business name, address, phone number, and email address.
- A business email address. Having your business name in your email address not only makes your business look more legitimate, it also helps to keep your company name in front of your customers. Consider using a service like Google Workspace for ease of use and versatility.
Once you have all the elements in place, you need to put your tools and materials to use and share your business with the world. Be sure to monitor how well they work, as that's how you build your reputation and brand. Your business is a living and breathing thing. It requires care and nurturing to ensure it succeeds.