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How to use surveys to build brand identity

Mathew Maniyamkott

Mathew Maniyamkott

10 min read

Do you have any trouble at all remembering Nike’s swoosh logo or KFC’s colors? Do these brands’ colors, logos, mascots, etc, strike an immediate chord with you? That is because they have built a brand identity so strong that there are no equals in their realm. If you see a yellow-color arch in the shape of the letter ‘M’, your mind immediately screams McDonald’s. Wouldn’t you want your customers to remember your brand this way? You bet!
Finding your brand identity can be the singular exercise in creating a strategy for brand loyalty, customer retention, lead generation and even being able to better your competitor’s success just by virtue of being a company with better brand identity. By understanding your customer persona and using customer insights, you can build a brand identity that your customers will value and cherish.

What is a brand identity?

Simply put, it’s what your customers think about your brand. Even if you are a brand that does not sell anything to customers but only to other businesses, you can still create a brand identity that would make you the envy of your competitors. IBM, Microsoft, GE, Google, etc, are all B2B businesses with a brand identity that is unmatched.

No matter what you sell and who you sell to, it is imperative that you have a brand identity worth emulating. Your brand identity is essentially the face of your business. If you do not have a brand identity, your potential customers might not know who you are, which means that they will not search for you organically if they were to ever buy a product that you sell. They will go for your competitor which has a better brand identity.

Elements of Brand Identity:

  • Visual elements of the brand
  • Voice of the brand
  • Core Values
  • Personality traits

Why do you need a brand identity?

The reputation and personality of a brand are what makes a customer choose them over someone else. Even something as important as the budget is not necessarily the biggest deciding factor in terms of customers’ propensity to make a buying decision. More often than not, it is the company with the bigger brand value that wins. By seriously focusing on your brand identity with a strategy, you can differentiate yourself from your competitors and create a community of customers who will become brand advocates.

Working on your brand identity can be done best when you take the help of your customers. This is where asking questions to your customers in the form of surveys can help you. A tool that offers free online surveys like that of SurveySparrow can do the job well. Asking your customers is the right thing to do since knowing what they have in mind when it comes to your brand speaks a lot about your marketing efforts, content efforts, branding, value adds and so on.

Finding your brand identity can be the singular exercise in creating a strategy for brand loyalty, customer retention and lead generation.

16 questions that you can ask your customers to build your brand identity

#1 Understand their buyer persona:

If you don’t have a customer buyer persona for your product/service, you are shooting in the dark. Heck, you might as well sit and watch while everyone else goes ahead. Your brand identity revolves around understanding your customer persona. What do your clients want from you? Are you a cheaper option than your competitor’s? Do they work with you because of the number of features that you offer? Is it because of the different tiers of pricing? Understand their motivations behind working with you and you will soon be able to formulate a brand identity.

#2 What is your brand personality?

Do your customers think of you as bland? Are you a fun brand? Are you a bold brand? Brands like Virgin Galactic and Burberry are considered bold brands because their purpose is considered ‘heroic’ or at least they keep telling the customers that’s what they are and take actions corresponding to it.

Successful brands have a strong personality and it is a reflection of the hopes and aspirations of their customers. Finding your voice is difficult, especially if you are a startup, but identifying which brand archetype you belong to helps you connect with your audience instantly. Here are some of the brand archetypes: The Innocent, The Hero, The Regular Guy, The Nurturer, The Explorer, The Creator and so on. Where do you belong?

More importantly, where do you want to belong?

#3 What do we solve for you?

There is a reason why your customers pay their hard-earned money to you. Because you solve a pain point of theirs. Your brand identity should capture the pain point that you solve and communicate the same in a way that your customers can relate to. Your solution could be as simple as ‘a product that saves time’ even if you sell complex software that does data reconfiguration and statistical factoring. As complex as this sounds, your customers might be paying you monies because you save their time or organize their day-to-day activities.

#4 Competitive analysis:

Take a list of companies that are your direct competitors. Even if you are only a growing company, take at least 3-4 companies that are much ahead of you. See their business trajectory, did they rebrand, make any pivots, change their logos, etc. Find out the reasons behind all of these business decisions. While a change in the logo might just look like a few thousand dollars spent on a designer, there is much more to it.

If you notice that there are competitors who have poor brand identities of their own, look for ways they should have worked on their identity. This will open your minds to a lot of new ideas. In the survey that you send to your customers, ask them the difference they see between your brand and the competitors.

#5 What do your customers feel about you?

What do your newest customers feel about you? How has it been for them working with your business so far? What do your old customers feel about you? Did they get newfound energy thanks to conversations with you or when reading your posts on social media? As long as they are able to imbibe a positive vibe from you, note it down as it is critical for building a brand identity. If you are not sure how to transmute a vibe into a physical form that can be shown in your brand identity, let us explain. The emotions you select can be given visual identity with the help of colors, fonts and so on.

#6 Unique Selling Proposition:

You don’t have to be the best in the world to make roaring business. You don’t even have to sell a product that has no competition. It is impossible to find something that no one else has done. But you can always do just one aspect of your business in a unique way. It could be a weekly coaching call, a mastermind group for your customers, building a strong community of users, providing unlimited support, a product made of the best quality raw materials, and so on. You get the drift, right?

Carving out a niche for yourself isn’t good enough these days. “What more can you offer?” is the question on every potential customer’s lips. When you are exceptionally good at what you do, competing on price isn’t something you have to bother about anymore. Look at Apple.

Your brand identity is essentially the face of your business without which your brand will be unheard of amongst your potential customers.

#7 What’s your story?

People love stories. The fascination for them will never die. We consume some form of stories or the other every day. What’s your brand story? It is a pivotal aspect of your brand identity. The story could be about how the business was formed, your struggles, how you help your customers, etc.

Your brand story should make your customers feel aspirational or as if they are the hero. Maybe your product makes them multitask and the customer’s employers praise him/her for it, this could be the main attraction of your brand story. Aspects like this are an important part of your brand identity. Talk to your customers as to where you could fit in.

#8 Use 5 adjectives to describe your brand:

While this exercise can be done with your employees, management and other stakeholders too, you can ask this question to your customers too. Give them a variety of options for this as they need to choose at least 3 to 5 adjectives to describe your brand.

Here are some of the brand adjectives:

  • Active
  • Adventurous
  • Innovative
  • Revolutionary
  • Secure
  • Relaxing
  • Elegant
  • Inviting

You can refer to this list for more – here.

#9 What would you like to change in your brand identity?

If you do not have a brand identity, use the survey to ask customers how they think you can shape them by asking the questions we have outlined here for you in the article. If you already have a brand identity in place, use the survey to understand where you are wrong.

It is important for the business to understand why they want to rebrand. Is it poor or does it need refinement in a particular direction? The more clarity the business has, it is easier for the exercise to be taken forward.

#10 Is there a brand that you look up to?

This could be a question that you ask your employees as well as customers. In fact, it doesn’t even have to be your direct competitors. You could be a SaaS-based technology business and still yearn to build a brand identity like that of the eCommerce behemoth Amazon. Why? Maybe because you admire their unwavering focus on customer satisfaction. You could admire Apple for its innovation, Zappos for its culture and so on. It is totally all right to model your brand identity similar to the companies that you admire.

#11 Aspects of brands that you admire- ask your customers:

Let’s say you like the way Gillette has shaped its brand. Ask your customers what they like about Gillette. It might create confusion for them as to why you would randomly ask questions about a completely unrelated brand. Apprise them of your intention, there is nothing wrong in aspiring to be like a business you admire. If the characteristics of the brand that your customers like are in sync with the points that you jotted down based on the 10th point, it becomes much easier to draft an initial strategy to create your brand identity.

#12  Refining your brand identity:

The online survey that you send out should also ask questions to your customers about the things that they want you to change. It could even be about customer service issue that has nothing related to your brand identity. Use it as a medium to improve your standards. Keep working on the feedback received. In your enthusiasm, you might have added a lot of elements to your branding that it looks jarred and disheveled right now. Get the help of an agency that is familiar with brand elements to improve your brand identity.

Use your brand identity, voice, values and principles to be a brand that people love universally.

#13 Test brand perception:

After creating a brand identity, it works to show it to a group of beta testers who might be able to give you reviews, recommendations ,and feedback. Not only your customers and employees, but this can also be shown to your prospective clients as well. It will help you to refine the brand identity that you have created.

A basic brand identity includes the following:

  • Logo
  • Colors
  • Typography
  • Photography
  • Illustration
  • Iconography
  • Data Visualization
  • Interactive Elements
  • Video and Motion
  • Web Design

Your brand identity should be distinct, attractive, flexible, and easily recalled. Using psychology research will help you to carve an extremely fluent brand identity.

#14 How do your prospective customers search for the solution you provide?

A lot of businesses miss this important point, your customers do not like jargon. Your customer’s search history would consider the simplest of terms to describe a solution that they want to buy. Steer clear of jargon when building your brand identity. Use keyword research tools in refining your language.

#15 What do your brand elements convey?

Logo:

A logo is the starting element in your brand. Only after creating this would you be able to carve your brand identity. You can use pencils to sketch or use software tools available to create a logo using core shapes and images.

Colors:

Colors play a huge role in conveying emotions. Using the right color based on your business can help create trust. Studies say that the color of a product influences 60 to 80% of a customer’s buying decision. Colors are also a good way to differentiate your product from your competitors.

Below are some of the meanings behind colors for brands:

  • Orange: Courage, Originality, Success, Fun, Playful.
  • Green: Wealth, Health, Prestige, Serenity.
  • Purple: Royalty, Mystery, Spirituality, Nostalgia.
  • Black: Timelessness, Value, Sophistication.

For more information on the impact of colors on branding, check out this resource here.

Typography:

Typography communicates the brand persona effectively. It depends on the shape of your logo. Here is a resource to find the right typography for your brand’s visual identity.

Illustration & Photography:

The type of images that you use for your branding is important, it includes the filters, treatments, sizing, clarity, etc. Keep your illustrations minimal and make sure that it is in conjunction with the other visual elements.

Additional elements:

Additional elements depend on your industry and the type of content that you need to showcase for your brand, motion graphics, video, and web design.

#16: What is your brand voice?

Your brand’s voice has a lot to do with the kind of customers you have. If your customers are business executives from the age of 35-55, then you cannot use a jolly tune in the way you speak. Your customers are serious folks who occupy important positions in their work-life. The voice of your brand should be serious, highly professional and authoritative. Even if you are only in your first year of business, your voice should be as if you are an expert in the field. If not, your potential customers who are business executives will not take you seriously.

Asking questions to your customers in the form of surveys can help you work on your brand identity.

Conclusion:

While these may seem like a lot of questions to ask in a survey, it will save you a lot of time in the future. There are a lot of benefits associated with getting your brand identity fixed. In terms of leads, you will attract the right kind while the ones who don’t fit will move away without wasting your time. The ones who have given you detailed answers for the survey will be much easier to close as they know what they want.

If you can find out your most accurate brand identity that resonates with your customers, you have struck gold. When your brand is in tune with what your customers want, you can expect them to buy your products and go out of their way to recommend your brand to their friends and family. Give the opportunity for your customers to remember you, use your brand identity, voice, values and principles to be a brand that people love universally.

Now that you know the importance of brand identity and how it affects your business, it is high time you get on the bandwagon and evaluate the same using online surveys. Whenever you plan to rejig your brand identity, and are looking forward to picking your customers’ brains, do use SurveySparrow’s free online survey tool to send out questions.

Mathew Maniyamkott
Mathew Maniyamkott

Guest Blogger at SurveySparrow

Regular contributor to various magazines. Passionate about entrepreneurship, startups, marketing, and productivity.

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