If you think developing a brand identity is simply a matter of assembling the right pictures and words, think again. Not only does your identity need to reflect your brand promise, it also needs to connect with your audience, strike an emotional chord, whenever possible, and distinguish you from your competitors. Furthermore, capturing all of that in a name, tagline, logo and message requires a vigorous process of dialogue, understanding and research even before the pencil first touches paper. (Yes, we still use pencils.)

For example, our own brand was the result of pages and pages of preconceived notions that eventually coalesced into a vision. But, uncovering our purpose was only the first part. We still had to set the right tone and find our voice. We then had to connect it to our audience and develop a name, tagline and message that meant something to them.

Yet, the process is rarely a smooth one. While developing our business name, we ran into obstacles that pushed us in creative directions we never anticipated. For example, in light of ever-expanding trademark registrations and a shrinking pool of available URLs, we found that many of our best ideas were already taken. While that brought with it some validation of concept, our final result ended up looking differently than what we had first envisioned. But, we got exactly where we needed to be and could only have arrived there through that long and sometimes daunting process of introspection, exploration and affirmation.

And, even then, that’s only the identity. The real brand building still follows: concisely articulating the brand promise, promoting its value, becoming the trusted resource and, above all, delivering the goods. It all takes commitment, diligence, persistence and time.

When we work with our clients to create or retool their brands, it’s crucial that, whatever the end result, it’s something in which they feel genuine ownership. (After all, it’s their brand, not ours.) That can only be attained through inclusion in the process and their own flexibility and willingness to be challenged along the way.

So, if you’re interested in creating a new brand identity or enhancing your current one, expect to be involved, challenged and perhaps even a bit frustrated. And, it surely won’t happen overnight. But, patience does pay off.

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