How to Craft a Brand Identity that Influences Behavior
Aftab Ahmad, Creative Director | September 29 2023
A brand’s identity is no longer just about logos and slogans – it’s a potent force that influences behavior at every touchpoint of the funnel. At this point, a strong brand identity isn’t just a competitive advantage – it's a necessity.
Direct-to-consumer companies are multiplying at an unprecedented pace and standing out from the crowd has become a significant challenge. Brands are operating in an interesting time where consumers are inundated with choices, and their decisions are increasingly driven by emotional connections and psychological cues. In a fiercely competitive marketplace, it’s now, more than ever, imperative for brands to craft a strong brand identity that influences consumers to take action.
Leveraging insights from behavioral science can help direct-to-consumer brands not only survive but thrive. In this article, we provide actionable steps to apply behavioral science to craft a strong brand identity that helps brands win more customers and outpace competitors.
Understanding Brand Identity and Its Impact on Consumer Behavior
Whether you realize it or not, understanding behavioral science is key to improving marketing strategy, crafting a strong brand identity, and unlocking extraordinary growth.
In layman’s terms, behavioral science can help companies understand the psychological and emotional aspects of consumer decision making. It can provide incredible, and very necessary, insights into what motivates people, their attitudes toward certain products or marketing messages, and why they ultimately make decisions. It influences everything from how a product is designed to how a product becomes a brand, and how a brand is experienced, promoted, and eventually sold.
The days when a brand is defined by its catchy tagline and color scheme are long gone. Today, it’s the sum of all tangible and intangible elements that make up your brand’s image – its personality, mission, and the emotional connections it forges with consumers.
A brand identity is the unique set of brand associations that represent a brand in its entirety. Everything from its values and promises to product offerings and organizational processes.
Brand identity is organized around four perspectives:
- Brand as product: Encompassing product attributes, value proposition, uses, and quality.
- Brand as organization: Reflecting the positioning and attributes of the organization.
- Brand as person: Defining the brand’s personality and its relationship with customers.
- Brand as symbol: Incorporating visual identity, imagery, and brand heritage.
With four perspectives and multiple attributes, creating a strong brand identity can feel overwhelming. There is no shortage of considerations! Fortunately, by leveraging behavioral science, it can help us make smarter decisions.
In the context of branding, behavioral science can give us insights into why consumers prefer certain brands over others. Remember, humans are driven by emotions, cognitive biases, and mental shortcuts. Tapping into these insights is incredibly important to crafting a well-rounded branding strategy that is customized to connect and resonate with the consumer.
Businesses of all sizes, both small and large, can benefit considerably from creating a compelling brand image that’s tightly knit to the intended audience. It can lead to increased brand loyalty, higher sales, and stronger overall brand identity.
The RACE Framework for Customer-Centricity
Now that we understand behavioral science and its useful connection to brand identity, how can we begin to create a strong brand identity that leverages behavioral science?
Enter the RACE Framework.
The RACE Framework is a strategic approach that empowers direct-to-consumer marketers to align their efforts with the customer journey. It’s a step-by-step process to help marketers optimize every step of the funnel: reach, act, convert, and engage.
We can apply behavioral science to each step of the RACE Framework to help craft a solid brand identity and improve every step of the journey.
The Reach stage is all about expanding brand awareness and attracting potential customers. Behavioral science plays a crucial role in helping brands to gain traction. It can help brands understand where their target audience spends time online, what types of content they engage with, and their interests. This data will help brands identify the appropriate marketing channels for their audience and craft compelling messages to drive awareness.
The Act stage encourages website visitors and social media followers to take a specific and desired action. For example, it could be signing up for a newsletter, downloading a whitepaper, or engaging with content. Behavioral science principles, such as the psychology of motivation and decision-making, can help brands understand what motivates users to take action. From here, brands can use behavioral triggers to design compelling calls to action, drive people down the funnel, and ultimately take action.
This is where the magic starts to happen, and we unlock growth. At the Convert stage, we turn engaged prospects into paying customers. Cha-ching!
This stage is where visitors make their first purchase or commit to a significant desired action, like signing up for a premium subscription.
There are several important behavioral science concepts that can be applied to the Convert phase like reducing friction in the conversion process and exploring price relativity in your industry. By using strategies like conversion rate optimization techniques on landing pages, A/B testing, and personalized recommendations, brands can uncover what drives conversions.
Engagement doesn’t end after a purchase; it’s important to maintain meaningful, ongoing connections with customers to nurture the relationship and encourage repeat business, loyalty, and advocacy.
One of the most popular behavioral science tactics at this stage is rewards. Several retail brands like Sephora, DSW, and Kohls have robust loyalty programs to encourage repeat purchases. Some brands, like Starbucks, have figured out how to incorporate elements of gamification into their nurture strategy. For example, in Starbucks “My Rewards” app, customers can collect and redeem stars for every purchase made. Taking it a step further, they create fun seasoned-themed games to encourage users to interact with the app and test their luck at collecting stars.
Applying It: A Real Life Example
We applied these strategies to Function Growth’s owned and operated direct-to-consumer brand, Wellow, a compression sock company. Here are some of the aspects we took into consideration when creating Wellow.
- Strong, consistent visual brand identity: Wellow utilizes a consistent use of colors, logos, and design elements across all marketing materials and product packaging. This helps our customers recognize and recall the brand, which is especially important for retargeting. Having a strong, consistent visual brand identity is important at every stage of the REACH funnel.
- Clear brand messaging: We crafted a clear and compelling brand story, explaining what Wellow stands for and what it offers.
- Unique value proposition: To stand out in the compression sock market, we created socks that are one-of-a-kind. Wellow is the only sock with 18-25 mmHg compression, designed to boost circulation without feeling too tight. Instead of dull and drab colors and designs, Wellow’s socks are fun and offered in a variety of patterns and prints – a first of its kind for the compression sock industry. Finally, Wellow is proud to be the first line of bamboo compression socks in the US.
The proof of concept is shown in the results: Wellow was profitable three months after launch and did $5M revenue in the first year of business.
Brand Identity Processes for Direct-To-Consumer Brands
It’s clear that consumer behavior lies at the heart of how all great brands grow. Every day, consumers are making the choice between one brand and another. This makes improving brand identity a worthwhile discussion.
Understanding the principles of behavioral science and how it applies to the RACE Framework can provide a strategic advantage to direct-to-consumer brands looking to thrive in this landscape.
Real life examples, like Wellow, demonstrate how a strong, consistent visual identity, clear messaging and a unique value proposition can set a brand apart and make it memorable to consumers. Remember, the path to creating an influential brand identity lies in understanding the minds of your consumers and leveraging behavioral science to guide your decisions.
If you’re a direct-to-consumer brand looking to stand out and succeed, Function Growth can help. Function Growth helps brands overcome challenges at every stage of growth – from launching to gaining traction and scaling. We give brands access to their own team of growth experts that operate as an extension of the company. Get in touch with us today to start crafting your brand i