How to Build a Lighthouse Brand Identity

How to Build a Lighthouse Brand Identity

I had a client a couple of years ago who was spending a lot of time marketing herself – writing blog posts, sending emails, advertising, posting on multiple social networks, but nothing seemed to be landing well or gaining traction.

When I looked under the hood, it was obvious to me that she hadn’t taken the time to do much brand foundation work – creating a clear, resonant brand identity that would enable her target customers to really see her, connect with her and buy from her.

She was falling prey to what I see a lot of these days – bright, shiny marketing objects and promises of (overnight) business success, if only you use this one specific strategy.

In other words, she was all over the place. Throwing spaghetti at the wall.

She had a lot of pasta, but not many clients. 💁🏼‍♀️

We are bombarded by information and people telling us what we “should” do, with magic pills and one-hit wonders (remember Chumbawamba and Big Country?? Maybe not, lol.)

Many well-meaning entrepreneurs dive headfirst into social media and marketing tactics before taking the time to do the crucial brand foundation work to create a compelling brand identity that will resonate with their target customers.

It’s the difference between being in the sea of sameness or being the lighthouse for your clients.

When you lack a clear brand identity, your target customers can’t latch on to who you are and what you stand for.

A strong brand identity repels your detractors and magnetizes your ideal clients.

It clearly defines who you are for – and who you are not.

It builds awareness and recognition and over time, establishes trust and authentic connection.

It’s the most important work you will do for your brand.

Let’s look at the foundational pieces for building a solid brand identity:

Get clear on who you are and what you stand for.

A brand is a promise you make to your target audience, and ultimately, how your audience perceives you.

Apple promises beautiful design.

Red Bull promises energy.

Oprah promises growth, spirituality, and a pathway to your best life.

Taylor Swift promises feminist power, fierce community, and meaningful lyrics.

What do you promise?

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos once said, “your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”

Imagine that you are the invisible woman at a party, and you walk up to a group of friends, colleagues, and acquaintances and you overhear them describing you. What are three words you would most want them to use?

These are your brand attributes. The way you want to be known in the world.

When you are clear on how you want to be perceived then you can build a strategy on all the touchpoints where people interact with your brand to help create this experience.

What is your WHY for being in business?

What do you value most about the work you do? Chances are that your target customers value some – or all – of the same things you do.

When you can clearly define WHY you do what you do and why it’s important, you have a much better chance of building a clear, compelling brand identity and attracting a like-minded community of fans, followers, and clients.

After more than a decade of working in public relations and brand development, I founded SheBrand 15 years ago to specifically focus on the impact and influence of women.

My WHY is making sure more women free themselves from patriarchal conditioning, stop playing small and step into the spotlight.

Women making moves, using their voice, and claiming their power is my jam. I write and speak about this a lot and share on my social channels and in the media.

How to Build a Lighthouse Brand Identity - Liz wearing we should all be feminists shirt

I believe we should all be feminists. I tend to attract women who believe this, too.

Simon Sinek, the author of the best-selling book and Ted talk of the same name, Start with Why, explains, “We’re inspired by your dream, not your plan. The goal is to surround yourself with people who believe what you believe.”

Connect to your WHY and make it the heartbeat of your brand.

Define your unique value proposition (your TRUE benefits.)

When you speak to your clients’ values – what they really want out of life – and you give it to them through your products and services, you’ll be well on your way to creating a magnetic brand identity.

When you get crystal clear on the outcomes you provide that get your clients to the place of how they want to feel and you communicate this effectively, you’ll be attracting more ideal clients, consistently.

Focus on benefits, not the features.

For example, if you are a financial advisor, some of the obvious features clients get from working with you might be:

  • An understanding of certain financial products
  • An organized spending plan/budget
  • Clarity around their money and how they want to allocate it
  • Sound investment advice

Some of the true benefits might be:

  • Peace of mind
  • Financial independence/security
  • Wealth/abundance
  • Feeling smart and sound with money

The true benefits are how your client really wants to FEEL – it’s the real thing(s) they value.

It’s your job to incorporate these true benefits (as opposed to just product and service features) into your messaging and brand story.

When you do this well, you’ll become unstoppable.

Develop your visual identity.

The first thing that comes to mind when people think of the word “brand” is often a logo and color palette.

And this is for good reason.

It is often the first interaction we have with a brand and it’s an important touchpoint.

Colors, fonts, and images all evoke a certain response and feeling.

Once you have identified who you are, what you stand for, and the value you provide, you’ll be ready to use visual cues to create a certain vibe.

For example, color theory assigns a personality and meaning to different colors:

Red: Passion, Love, Anger
Blue: Calm, Responsible, Sadness
Orange: Energy, Vitality
Yellow: Happiness, Hope
Green: New beginnings, Abundance, Nature
Purple: Creativity, Royalty, Wealth
Black: Mystery, Elegance, Evil
White: Purity, Cleanliness, Virtue

DryBar chose a sunny shade of yellow for their brand color because “happy” was one of their top brand attributes.

They have a “happiness mission” of making the world a happier place, one blowout at a time. They do a great job of weaving this into everything they do, from their color and image selection to their product names and social media feeds.

They know exactly what type of emotion they want people to experience, and they are using their visual brand touchpoints to consistently create that emotion.

Think about how you want your customer to feel when they interact with your brand and choose your colors, typography, and images accordingly.

Identify your brand collaborators.

Just because you build it doesn’t mean they will come. To grow your brand reach, it’s imperative to connect with other like-minded individuals and brands.

Additionally, people will often perceive your brand based on the people and brands you surround yourself with.

Who shares your principles and values?

Who aligns with your mission and creates offerings that your audience would value?

Who could you connect with to provide tremendous value to their community?

Identify people in complementary spaces and industries that you could collaborate with and double your impact. By cross-promoting you will be providing value with a greater collective reach.

Remember, a strong brand identity starts with knowing who you are, what you stand for and what you most want to be known for.

Brands that have this clarity and communicate it effectively are more likely to attract their ideal customers consistently.

When you’re willing to be seen, authentic and vulnerable, you open yourself up to being known and even adored, by the people “who believe what you believe.”

Authenticity is the gateway to a powerful brand identity.

If you’re ready to build your confidence, your brand, and your bank account, then get on the waitlist for The SheBrand Masterclass launching soon!

This list will get first dibs on class spots and the first 10 people to sign up for the class will also receive a 1:1 brand strategy session with Liz.