How To Create a Brand Identity: The Ultimate Guide for Course Creators
- Matthew Turner
How important is a logo for online course creators?
On its own, not important. A logo won’t help you sell more courses or build greater authority. However, when you combine your logo with the rest of your Brand Identity… it can redefine your success.
This is true for all businesses, not just course creators.
But it’s especially relevant for course creators because of the landscape we’re about to enter.
Let me explain…
It’s estimated the eLearning industry is set to reach $325 billion by 2025. This was reported before the recent pandemic that forced people to work and learn from home. In just a few weeks, the world got a glimpse at the future of learning (and working as a whole).
We do not yet know the impact this pandemic will have on the world. Yet one thing is clear, and it’s that we’ve seen a huge shift in how we work and learn. This shift happened before the pandemic. Yet it’s only in the last few months that we’ve seen how powerful online platforms like Zoom can be.
So what has this got to do with YOU and your logo?
Well, on its own your logo means little. Yet when you look at the bigger picture and bring your Brand Identity into the conversation, it may be one of the most important things you can focus on right now as a course creator.
At this moment in time, you’re ahead of the curve.
As a course creator, you’ve joined the party before the masses.
Right now, you have an opportunity to stand out, build authority, and lay successful foundations.
But you don’t have long. Soon, businesses, influencers, and celebrities with greater reach and resources than you will jump on the bandwagon. We’ve seen this happen in podcasting and YouTube channels in recent years. There’s a very good chance that online courses are next!
When you don’t have to compete with other people, branding isn’t important. But as soon as your competition intensifies, your Brand Identity can become the difference between success and failure.
What is a Brand Identity?
Your Brand Identity consists of all the visible elements of your brand, including color and design. It’s how you present yourself as a business to the public. It’s also how you distinguish yourself from your competitors. In short, it’s what you say you are and it’s what your customers see.
Many elements go into a Brand Identity, including:
- Data visualization
- Interactive elements
- Video and motion
- Web design
It’s everything your customer sees and what you choose to share with the world. Many people believe it begins and ends with a logo. This simply IS NOT the case. Your logo plays a role, and an important one at that. Yet the Brand Identity you need goes much deeper.
Why is Brand Identity Important?
One of the fiercest competitions on Earth takes place in plain sight each day.
Coca-Cola vs. Pepsi.
Despite Pepsi time and time again winning the taste test, they remain firmly in second place when it comes to sales and growth. You could write a book about the reasons why, but it mainly comes down to branding.
Coca-Cola’s Brand Identity is one of the strongest on the planet.
It’s memorable, recognizable, powerful, and speaks to you on a subconscious level. It’s become synonymous with ordering a drink at a restaurant or bar. This doesn’t just happen. It’s a very intentional strategy. It’s a Brand Identity Coca-Cola has developed over decades.
It defines who they are as a business. And that’s the point.
Your brand is so important because it helps define who YOU are. It helps create a new relationship with your potential customers and students. It allows you to communicate who you are, what you stand for, and why you do what you do.
Your Brand Identity is the “Face” of your business. As a course creator, that means it becomes an extension of… YOU! It helps build credibility and trust. It allows you to effectively and efficiently reach more people. It’s a visual representation of what you stand for and how you help those you serve.
The content you create and the courses you build may be what truly matters, yet it’s your brand that delivers this message. This is important today because you already face a lot of competition. Not just from your fellow course creators, but bloggers, vloggers, and influencers alike.
Yet as we move into tomorrow, as the eLearning industry booms and welcomes businesses with deeper pockets than you, and celebrities with famous faces… your Brand Identity becomes everything!
The sooner you focus on this the better.
How To Create a Brand Identity
In many ways, creating a brand identity is an art form. It’s difficult for one person to do it all on their own. There are agencies that work specifically to build brand identities like this. It isn’t easy to achieve, yet at the same time… it’s a simple process to follow.
The good news is that your Brand Identity WILL evolve over time.
What you create now is not set in stone. It’s fluid. It will change.
- As you build your audience and get to know them better…
- As you hone your own skills and master your niche…
- And as you create greater authority and reach more people…
In this guide, we focus on the foundations you need to set as a course creator so you can enjoy instant success as well as setting yourself up for long term evolution. We won’t get caught up in the minute details of branding, design, and typography. We’ll leave that for the branding experts…
This is what you need as a Course Creator to build the Brand Identity you NEED NOW!
Relate everything to you, your courses, and your students.
Bookmark this guide so you can revisit it later!!
This journey begins with the most important step of all, aligning two different people so they can walk the same path: You and Your Customer.
Step 1) Define Your Audience and What You Stand For
Before you do anything else you must define who your customer is and what you stand for.
This often starts with understanding who it is that you actually serve.
- Who are they?
- What motivates them?
- Where are they?
- What’s their pain and/or problem?
- What are they passionate about?
- What are their strengths and weaknesses?
If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to create a Customer Profile (or avatar). We walk you through this process in a separate guide, which you may like to bookmark for later.
To open our Customer Profile Guide in a new tab, click here .
It’s important you start with your customer because this is who your brand serves. To an extent, it doesn’t matter what you stand for if you don’t appreciate who you’re serving. You can have the greatest message in the world, but what does it matter if nobody cares about it?
Define your audience. We’ll get to know them better next, but now is the time to decide who they are.
Once you have, you must reflect on you and your own business:
- What’s your big goal, purpose, and vision for the future?
- What do you strive to achieve? What’s your BIG promise to your customers?
- What’s your mission?
- What are your values?
- What’s your unique voice?
This not only allows you to complete many of the steps that come later in this process but also hone in on your Unique Value Proposition (UVP). We’ve written a separate guide that dives into this, so you may also want to bookmark this one for later.
To open our Unique Value Proposition Guide in a new tab, click here .
This all-important first step defines WHO you are as a brand and WHO it is that you serve. Beginning with these two important people sets you up for success later. It acts as a compass to direct you on your way, helping you make the right decision at times when you’re unsure what to choose.
Step 2) Research Your Audience
This second step follows on from the first, ensuring you get to know your audience on a deeper level. Once you create your Customer Profile, don’t think that’s the end. In the beginning, all you do is define who you’re serving.
Your job now is to get to know them.
Make sure you study our Customer Profile Guide in detail.
Complete the steps and build out your avatar so you know:
- Who they are…
- What they do…
- Where they spend their time…
- When they make decisions and take action…
- Why they do what they do…
Unearth their pain. Find out what their biggest problem is. Uncover the solution they need, not the one they want. There are three levels of pain:
- Surface Level Pain: the pain you’re aware of and like to focus on (i.e. I don’t have enough people buying my courses)
- Intellectual Pain: the pain you’re aware of but don’t like to focus on (i.e. I don’t have the cash flow to confidently pay my team for the next two months)
- Emotional Pain: the pain you’re likely unaware of but keeps you up all night (i.e. the worry that you’re not good enough to do this, and the fear that life will be like this forever)
You need to hone in on their emotional pain. This is what truly drives them forward, whether they like it or not. This is what will help them, and this is the problem you need to solve for them. But finding what this is takes research.
You need to observe your existing audience.
Arrange one-on-one phone calls with them.
Ask them to complete a survey or questionnaire.
Observation often gives you the greatest insight. Not just observing your own audience, but your competitors, too (more on this next). Look at the Facebook comments people leave. Reflect on the questions they ask. Take another look at the emails people send you.
Get to know your audience. The better you know who you’re serving, the more impactful your brand identity will become.
Step 3) Analyze Your Competition
Once you’re clear on what you stand for and who you’re serving, you need to analyze your competitors. This not only generates new ideas for your own brand (i.e. what they’re doing well) but introduces you to gaps in the market and potential opportunities.
There’s a fine line to analyzing your competition. Too much can sway you from your own UVP, leaving you trying to replicate what other brands are doing. Yet if you do too little you risk doing what you think is best without stepping into your audience’s shoes.
Once you have your main competitors, research them. Dive into their world!
- What’s their messaging like?
- What colors, design, and unique features do they use?
- Which platforms are they on (how do they reach their audience?)
- What are their values and what do they stand for?
- Where do they seem to find the most success?
All this allows you to measure what they do against what you’re doing (or plan to do). It helps you compare your own UVP against theirs. It gives you an insight into what works best in your industry and hopefully presents a few gaps in the market.
The point here isn’t to copy your competition or try to replicate them. Your aim is to gain greater insight into your industry so you can effectively place yourself inside it. This is important whether you’re just starting out or already established.
Unless you know, you do not know.
Take the time to complete this step. It’s one many course creators skip, yet doing this makes what comes next easier to achieve.
Step 4) Develop Your Brand Design
There are certain creative elements that go into your Brand Identity.
- Business Name: your name or the name of your business.
- Tagline/Slogan: your message, delivered in a sentence or two.
- Typography: the type of font you use in your branding.
- Color Palette: the colors you use, and the different shades.
- Shape/Form/Voice/Style: the different types of shapes you use or forms (curvy, straight, angular, etc) and the style and voice of your messaging (the language you use, how you use it, etc).
These act as the building blocks to your brand identity. Some of this will directly come from the work you do in Step One (defining who you are and what you stand for). Your values, mission, and purpose often help you create your tagline, slogan, and even your voice and style.
Yet other elements need your attention right now. Whether you do this on your own or you work with a designer, it’s important to get clear on these building blocks. They direct everything that comes next, which is what brings your brand identity to life.
- Logo: the logo/badge that represents you in your designs.
- Website: your online home where you direct most of your audience.
- Packaging: how you package your different courses, products, and services (the actual look and feel of them).
- Messaging: the specific message you share, and how you use language, tone, voice, and copy to bring it all together.
If the previous elements act as your brand’s building blocks, these aspects form the foundation of your entire brand identity. This is what you share with the world. It’s the first impression your audience will have of you. It’s also how you differentiate yourself from your competitors.
At this stage, you’ll almost certainly have to work with other people: designers, copywriters, website developers, etc. These people help you get out of your own head and make all your hard work a reality. They bring your values to life and give your purpose a voice. They visualize everything that you’ve created, thought of, and generated up to this point.
Once you have these core aspects you have everything you need for future marketing campaigns, email, ads, promotions, social media, and product launches, as well as the feel and look of your actual online courses.
Your Brand Identity is now real. It’s alive and ready for you to share with the world.
Step 5) Create a Brand Style Guide
A Brand Style Guide is what helps you share your brand with the world. Right now, everything remains fresh in your mind. Yet as the weeks pass by, you may lose sight of the identity you’ve created.
This is why you need a guide. Not just for yourself, but as you grow your team and bring in new designers, writers, assistants, social media planners, and video editors. This guide directs them on what to use, how to use it, and what they must not use under any circumstances.
- Language: what words to use and which ones not to (as well as tone and style).
- Colors: the main colors to use, and the different shades to use under other circumstances.
- Typography/Fonts: what fonts to use and when.
- Images/Graphics: how to use headshots, logos, and other graphics.
Your brand guide ensures consistency. It makes sure you stick with the plan as well as anyone else who joins your team. Consistency is key if your brand identity is to last the test of time. Your audience needs you to show up with a consistent message. Not just with your marketing, but also with your courses, community, and other services.
Consistency is key.
Your brand guide keeps you committed to this.
Step 6) Integrate Your Brand Identity with Your Community
At this stage of the process, your Brand Identity is real. It’s no longer an idea, but it’s out of your head and a part of the world. It’s an extension of you and your business, and it’s ready for you to use in your marketing, sales, and product/service design.
But before you do any of that you must ensure it integrates with your existing community(s):
- Online Courses
- Facebook Groups
- Social Media Platforms
- Membership Sites
- Mastermind Groups
Assuming you already have an existing audience, now is the time to introduce them to your brand identity. Let them see it before anyone else. Gather their feedback. Share the story behind the journey. Involve them in the process!
Not only will they help you evolve your brand identity, but they’ll become a part of it. It’s an important step you should not forget. Many people do, excited to bring in new leads and reach new people. Yet doing so places those you’ve already built a relationship with at the bottom of the pile.
It should be the other way around.
Treat those who are already part of your community as your most important people.
This is how you create a loyal customer base.
Step 7) Monitor Your Brand Identity
Whatever you build now is not the end. It must evolve!
You can only do this by monitoring your brand identity so you can determine which parts are successful and which aspects aren’t. For many things in business, this is simple. You can measure data, the hard facts.
It’s not as easy to achieve with your brand identity. But still not impossible.
In part, you can measure some hard statistics through:
- Website traffic
- Social media followers
- Social media engagements (comments, shares, etc.)
- Landing pages (through A-B Testing of different colors, messaging, style, etc.)
Yet a lot of this needs to involve your audience. As already mentioned in Step Two of this process, you can achieve a lot by observing those you serve. What questions do they ask? What messages do they engage with the most? Which platforms do they use the most?
You can take this further through customer surveys, questionnaires, and feedback. In fact, you must take it further if you want to truly evolve your brand identity. Make this an important, consistent part of your marketing. Speak to those you serve. Ask them questions:
- How would you rate your experience with us?
- What makes us stand out from our competitors?
- What do you like the most about your brand?
- If you could change one thing about our brand, what would it be?
- How likely are you to recommend us to someone you know?
Monitoring and measuring your brand identity isn’t as easy to achieve as some other aspects of a business. Yet you cannot use this as an excuse. Your brand identity will evolve. It NEEDS to evolve. Some of this happens organically as you get to know yourself and your audience better.
Yet most of it falls on your shoulders, as you intentionally strive to improve your brand.
Brand Identity Mistakes to Avoid!
You now know how to create a Brand Identity as a course creator. There are many layers to each step, but as a course creator, you won’t need to know all of them in-depth. You’ll likely work with branding agencies, designers, copywriters, and other creatives to bring everything together.
You need to know the whole process, the bigger picture and how it all comes together.
That’s our aim with this article. If you’d like greater insight into the finer details, we recommend:
- What is Brand Identity and How To Create a Unique and Memorable One in 2020
- What is Brand Identity? And how to design and develop a great one
- The 7 key elements of brand identity design + 10 corporate identity examples
Your Brand Identity has the power to set you apart from your competitors. Implemented properly it can help you level up your success and build greater authority. However, there are some pitfalls you’ll need to avoid along the way.
Some of the biggest mistakes we see course creators make include:
1: Generic Logos
You need to stand out. Yes, you need to stay true to your style, values, and purpose. Yet you must also catch a person’s attention in an instant. Attention levels are at an all-time low. You have a fraction of a second to stop someone from scrolling past you, possibly gone forever.
Your logo plays a giant role in this. It has to be unique and stand out.
Beyond your logo, your entire design and messaging must follow suit.
Be different. Be unique. Don’t look like everyone else in your industry.
2: Inconsistent Branding
We’ve already talked about the importance of consistency. A lack of it can destroy everything you build.
Your marketing messaging must remain consistent, as well as color schemes, designs, images, and everything else. Not just as you meet people and bring them into your funnel, but inside your community when they become one of your students.
Having a consistent brand identity is key to success.
Not just today or tomorrow… but far into the future.
3: Trying to Speak to Too Many People
You need to speak to someone – your ideal customer.
You cannot keep pivoting and changing your brand so it appeals to a more diverse crowd. All you achieve with this is a diluted brand identity that speaks to nobody.
It’s hard to stand out this way.
More than likely you’ll get lost in the crowd.
Which, as we’ve already talked about, is set to get much more crowded.
4: NOT Evolving Over Time
Whatever you create isn’t set in stone. Your Brand Identity will evolve over time. It needs to.
This is why you need to monitor it. Times change. Your audience might. YOU will change!
Adapt as you need to. As you grow as a course creator… as a business… and as a person, evolve your brand identity so it remains relevant. This means you may have to go through this whole process again a year from now, or a few years down the road.
It never ends. Only those that evolve last the test of time.
Brand Identity Examples
Creating a Brand Identity is one of the most important things a course creator can do. It will only become more vital as more businesses, influencers, and celebrities join the bandwagon over the next few years.
The sooner you begin this process, the better.
This process will guide you along the way.
But right now, you may desire some inspiration to point you in the right direction.
AND to prove to you how powerful a brand identity can be.
Here are a couple of Brand Identity examples to get your inspirational juices flowing…
Amy Porterfield is a good example of a course creator with a clean, clear, and consistent brand identity. From her color palette to the use of typography, the types of images she shares, and the visual tone of her entire site, she offers a consistent message.
Brand Identity examples like this show you what’s possible when you craft a clear plan. This isn’t about trying to replicate Amy, but rather taking inspiration from her approach and execution.
James Wedmore is another course creator with a distinct brand identity. His use of images and a darker color palette stands out, as well as a simple yet clear logo.
It’s another brand identity example to take note of and to use as inspiration when building your own brand identity strategy.
Brand Identity Next Steps…
Right now, you have an opportunity. The eLearning space continues to grow month on month, but it’s likely to spike over the coming years. Standing out later will be harder. Building a brand identity NOW not only helps you in the short term but ensures you stick around the long term.
Start with your Customer.
Get to know WHO they are.
We walk you through this in our FREE Course Builder’s Bootcamp. As well as showing you how to create, sell, and profit from your online courses, we ensure you craft the perfect customer profile. Enrollment in this Bootcamp is free. We invite you to join now so you can lay the foundations for a long-lasting and successful future.
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