If you think of some of the most recognized and trusted brands, big names like Apple and Google probably come to mind. What do brands like these have in common? They carefully crafted their individual images and voices over time through highly unique and strategic branding efforts.

Smaller brands that want to build that kind of trust and loyalty might be tempted to emulate those efforts, but a copycat strategy won’t produce good results for any brand. What companies really need is to establish a unique brand identity that sets them apart from the competition. Discovering your brand’s true personality and highlighting it will get you further than the imitation game ever could.

A key element of building your brand’s unique identity is consistency. If you decide your brand wants to go for a new, cool, and edgy personality but you only update your logo to incorporate a sleek new design, you aren’t likely to convince anyone that it’s truly representative of your brand. You have to consider everything from social media presence to product packaging, website design, and more.

Consider the popular meditation and mindfulness app Headspace. It’s certainly earned a prominent place in the meditation app sphere, and this is due in large part to its distinct personality as a brand. In short, Headspace wants to bring people less stress and more joy. When users visit its homepage, a calm, smiling design brings them to a bit of a happier place — and everything from the app’s Instagram page to its in-app design reflects this feel-good intention.

Screenshot of Headspace home page and instagram grid.

How can you build that kind of distinct personality for your brand and use it to get your audience’s attention? Here are a few places to start:

1. Figure out whether you are who you want to be.

All companies form with an original vision and mission. As time goes on, however, the people and priorities within those companies tend to change. This is natural, and it’s the kind of evolution that’s necessary for growth and accommodating ever-changing consumers. The important thing for brands to remember, however, is that they must regularly evaluate whether the way they are presenting themselves is still in line with who they really are and want to be.

Evaluate what your company represented the last time you planned your branding strategy. If what defined you then isn’t exactly what defines you now, figure out what’s integral to your brand’s unique identity today and begin to shift around it.

2. Once you find your identity, write it down.

Companies need to figure out how to clearly define their brand identity to ensure all teams are aligned. Describing your own personality might seem awkward, but pay attention to the company mission, vision, and core identity you pinpointed during the evaluation stage.

Then try to summarize the above ideas in a few sentences. Once you can describe who you are internally, you’ll be able to turn this vision outward and convince other people of your unique brand identity as well.

3. Express yourself.

When you’ve defined your brand’s personality, it’s time to make all of your assets match. You might want to start with your logo because it’s usually the most common representation of your brand, but you should think beyond it as well.

For example, choose a standard color palette that matches your brand identity — like the consistent cheerful tones Headspace uses across its different channels — and make sure your social media channels, website, in-app design, and any other forward-facing channels incorporate that scheme. Let your newfound personality inspire the illustrations, graphics, photos, and anything else you use to present yourself to your customers.

4. Communicate your personality to the masses.

Now comes the part where you show off your unique personality to the world to capture customer attention. The consistency of your messaging is key here. Just like you need to make sure the creative elements of your brand’s representation align, you must ensure the tone of your messaging is the same, too. Write tone and voice guidelines for your marketing team to follow to ensure everything you share with your audience represents your integral identity as a brand.

Being generic or copying other successful brands won’t help you beat the competition in your corner of the market. What will make you stand out as a brand is individuality and a strong sense of personality. Start by painting a clear internal picture of who you are as a brand. Then make sure you can communicate that personality effectively to your audience.