It doesn’t really matter how you got into the business world. If you’re a part of it, you’ve almost inevitably had some experience with brand development. Even if it was at a corporate or personal level, even if you weren’t actually aware of it, you must have done it. Brand development is how we communicate ideas and values about our businesses and ourselves. We can define it as a process that includes any and all activities that lead to forming a specific image in the eyes of the customers about a company or a person. Before we get into all the specifics of the “how”, let’s briefly consider the “why”.
WHY IS BRAND DEVELOPMENT ESSENTIAL?
Marketing is all about communicating with your audience, and brand development is a very important part of that. It is a consequence of your marketing endeavors. Besides, it is a process so complex that it goes deep into the core of any business, branching through every single aspect of it.
It is an ongoing process. You’ll never get to say that you have finished developing your brand development strategy. It doesn’t work that way. That’s why most business owners ponder a lot on how to develop a brand.
HOW DOES YOUR BRAND INFLUENCE YOUR BUSINESS?
Your brand exists in the mind of the people. How they think and feel about it will have a huge influence on a lot of things. Whether they’ll make the shift from audience to customer depends on your brand value in their minds. Will they keep coming back to your products or services? It depends on your brand’s reliability.
Whether they will share your story with their community depends on how happy they are with your product. Thus, we can further conclude that branding plays an important role in increasing your value. Furthermore, it expands your customer base and promotes loyalty within it.
Let’s assume that you’ve already completed step zero, which would be deciding on a product or service you’re going to sell. We’re going to explore the rest of the steps, one by one, each of them describing a key aspect of the process.
HERE IS A BRAND DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY: A QUICK GUIDE
01. Identify And Examine Your Target Audience
You know what you’re going to sell, and you have a good idea of what you’d like to say. However, you need to understand who exactly needs to hear it. The opinions of your target audience are the ones that are most relevant because they are going to affect both your business as well as brand development in the most relevant and direct way.
Try to think of as many characteristics of your potential customers as you can. This can include, for example, sociodemographic categories, behaviors, interests, values and so on. After that, try to validate your assumptions through research, both online and offline.
You can acquire data by exploring relevant forums, social media, conduct surveys. Obviously, you will do these all with the end result of creating a detailed customer persona which will guide your future marketing and branding strategies.
The idea is that once you have a detailed profile description of people who would be interested in buying what you’re selling, you’ll have a better understanding of how to approach them and how to build a positive image in their mind about what you’re doing.
02. Define Your Mission And Your Vision
In business, every activity has or should have a goal, and the common goal that all of your combined business dealings are supposed to achieve is defined as your mission statement. There has to be a clear reason for getting into a business, other than to simply “make money.”
However, the reason has to resonate with your target audience. Maybe you’re trying to solve a specific problem or improve the well-being of a specific group with what you have to offer.
What and how will things look like once you’ve achieved your goal is called a vision statement. While you’ll be using your mission to appeal to people’s values and beliefs, you will use your vision to make a connection with people’s hopes and dreams.
These short statements should be created to function like your subliminal message, which is embedded in people’s subconscious. With such a message, you can lay a strong foundation for your brand. Aside from telling you what you should do, they can also tell you what not to do.
If you’re, for instance, a company that is looking to fight against global warming, you can’t get involved or sponsor organizations. These types of discrepancies have the potential of degrading and, in some cases, ruining your reputation.
03. Identify And Analyze Your Competition
Competitive analysis is the process of evaluating the behavior of your competitors in order to get a better idea of their positioning on the market and activities which allowed them to do so.
You’ll be looking at their content which can be anything from their website descriptions to blog posts to PR statements and drawing conclusions about how that is helping them achieve their branding and business development goals.
In order to get the best results, try to always go one step further in your analysis. If you’ve spotted a specific action that has brought results, try to figure out what the underlying problem they were trying to resolve. What were the exact conditions which allowed for their activity to boost their brand status?
Once you see what’s behind the curtain, you might find inspiration to respond to similar topics of discussion in a way that fits best with your mission and your vision. Don’t neglect the information about your competitor’s mistakes. Sometimes analyzing failures and mishaps can be just as useful.
Lastly, make sure to avoid imitating or directly copying what your competitors are doing at all costs!
04. Define Your Identity: Name And Logo Design
Usually, when people think of the term brand, this is the step they have in mind. It’s easy to understand why some believe it’s the most important aspect of brand development strategy. However, not making the proper foundation for it would be the equivalent of throwing darts with a blindfold on. It doesn’t make sense and it is destined to end poorly.
Keeping in mind everything that you’ve discovered and determined in the previous steps, try to think of a name that’s memorable, concise and rationally connected to the product or the service you’re providing. Once you’ve firmly decided how people are going to call you, you can move on to logo design.
To create a logo is cheaper and more accessible throughout the years, but for the best results, you’ll definitely want to consult a professional. These are the kind of investments that are difficult to put a price on because you can never know what you could’ve done with a better logo, but you should never experience the downfall of having a bad one. You can read more about how to develop a logo design that will boost your sales, here!
05. Adapt Your Marketing Strategy And Find Your Voice
Now that you’ve completed all of the previous steps for the brand development strategy, it’s time to think of the bigger picture and act accordingly. The colors and the style of your logo will determine the overall look of your brand, meaning they should be reflected in all aspects of your business.
Your product, website design, social media page – everything will need to be aligned to match that initial intention, in order to achieve consistency and to build positive associations in the minds of your customers.
Consult a website development company to get these things taken care of.
Another important aspect of the brand development strategy is adjusting and planning your content so that it will align with your mission and vision statements. Finding your brand voice is an essential component of this step because it will guide all of your present and future marketing activities.
All of your content will need to be in line with what you’ve defined as your voice. That means things like your website design and copy, product descriptions, social media posts, even podcast interviews. Naturally, all these need to be produced with a specified set of ideas in mind. You can follow this handy guide to creating a brand identity.
Once you’ve understood each and every step of the brand development strategy, you need to consider their interconnected nature. These phases are an interwoven network, bound together in such a way that doing the work in one area will give you ideas about several others.
The main takeaway is that you should not be afraid to go back a step if you feel it’s necessary. You might have a great vision or a noble mission. However, if you can’t find a target audience for what you’re selling, you’ll have to make some changes to the previous step.
Sometimes, you can get the best results if you combine steps or work on a couple of them simultaneously. For example, analyzing the content and activities of your competition can tell you a lot about your target audience, and vice versa.