Developing Your Brand Identity Statement

Lesson 7: Developing Your Brand Identity Statement

by Bob Baker

You’ve probably heard the phrase “unique selling proposition,” also known simply as USP. It’s been around since the 1950s, when advertising agencies started using the phrase to describe how their clients should present the benefits they offer to potential customers.

Well, it’s a new millennium, so I’ve taken it upon myself to coin a fresh phrase for a new generation. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the Brand Identity Statement (BIS).

A BIS is a concise phrase or motto that sums up what you do, why you are different, and how you provide a benefit — in other words, it lets potential fans know why they should care to know more about you.

Developing your BIS allows you to take all the ideas we’ve discussed thus far in this workshop, mix them in a blender, and compress them into a short, snappy statement of no more than 10 or 15 words that describes who you are and what you stand for. That’s a lot to ask of a dozen or so words, but it can be done.

Your BIS should be crafted to include not only a description of what you do, but also a benefit to your fans. M&M;’s classic “Melts in your mouth, not in your hands” (only eight words) is a great example. The BIS I use to promote my Web site is “Inspiration and low-cost marketing ideas for songwriters, musicians and bands on a budget.”

The ideal BIS tightly focuses on exactly who you are, what you do, and how it benefits potential customers and fans. It should leave no doubt in the prospect’s mind as to what he or she gets from you. You can use your BIS in two ways; one is internal, the other external.

Internal — A good BIS keeps you focused on your marketing message. Every time you send an e-mail, write a press release, post to a discussion group, or update your Web site, refer to your BIS. Doing so ensures that your brand image is crystal clear.

You don’t want your home page to convey humor while your e-mail newsletter is grim and serious. By constantly keeping your BIS in mind, you make sure the messages you send out over the Internet stay focused on what’s going to establish your brand identity in the shortest amount of time.

External — You can also use your BIS as a personal slogan that appears on all of your Web pages, banner ads, newsletters, press releases, e-mail messages, and more. That way, whenever someone hears or sees your name, he or she will be reminded of your core identity.

Remember, your goal is to make mental connections that merge your name with what you stand for. Having your BIS appear every time your name appears online is one of the best ways to help people make that brand-identity connection.

Here are some real-life examples of Brand Identity Statements in action:

  • Canada’s Helios Design and Communications uses “Hard-hitting design, done right the first time.”
  • H&B; catalog of Jazz CDs claims to be “A mail order service for people who know jazz.”
  • Copywriter Luther Brock, who calls himself “The Letter Doctor,” uses the phrase “High-response sales letters for firms on a limited budget.”
  • Chicago’s Smart Studios promotes itself with the BIS “Great sounds. Cool people. Killer studio.”

To make your online branding endeavors easier, keep your BIS message simple. Most people feel they need to fully explain themselves; that potential customers (fans) won’t understand them and what they offer unless it’s laid out in great detail.

The reality is that people don’t have time to absorb your whole story at first glance. Give them a simple message that quickly cuts through the clutter and leaves no doubt.

In Lesson 8, we get into the nitty gritty of choosing a brand name.


This workshop is based on Bob’s book “Poor Richard’s Branding Yourself Online: How to Use the Internet to Become a Celebrity or Expert in Your Field” (Top Floor Publishing). Download two chapters free and find out more about the book at