Branding is perhaps one of the most important aspects of any business nowadays. Your branding strategy can sometimes be the difference between the success or failure of your company. So how to make sure your branding is up to your standards and if it isn’t, how can you create a powerful brand development strategy?
What is a “Brand”?
Before talking about developing a strategy for your brand, we first have to define what a brand is, just in case you don’t know.
Putting it in very simple terms, your brand can be defined as your visibility plus your reputation.
Visibility is how much people know you. Reputation is what people know you for.
Many people confuse brands with logos or slogans, but that’s a simplistic and wrong idea. These are mere marketing tools, things you use to promote your brand. Your actual brand is much more than simply our marketing tools.
Your brand is your very core. The concept you want your customers to identify you for. It is not something you can see or touch. It’s an intangible asset, an idea that you tie to your products and services.
Sometimes a brand can become so powerful that it surpasses the importance of the product it provides. Take Apple, for example. They are simply a technology company that sells smartphones, computers, tablets. But their smartphones, for example, are not just smartphones, they are iPhones.
An iPhone is the exact same product as any other smartphone in the market, but, at the same time, it is something completely different. Apple is so successful because they understand the power of branding and they understand that they are not selling smartphones, they are selling ideas.
So your brand is the core of your business. Good branding makes all the difference and can lead your company all the way to the top.
How to Create a Brand?
Here are a few questions to help you start thinking about your brand, in case you don’t have one already.
● Who is your target audience?
What do they like, eat, and watch? What places do they go to? How do they dress? What are their priorities, ideals, and values?
It is impossible to start thinking about your brand without first asking yourself what type of customer you want to attract. Your customer dictates how you shape your brand.
● What problem are you trying to solve?
This is closely related to your target audience. Your product or service needs to solve a specific problem they have, it’s as simple as that. Albeit, it doesn’t have to be a real problem. Let’s be honest here, a good part of any marketing strategy is convincing your customer that they have a problem.
Whatever the problem is, your brand needs to provide the answer. If you understand that from the start, it will guide you along the way and help you develop a strong and targeted brand.
● What are your Visions, Missions, and Values?
These aspects dictate the direction of what happens in an organization. Basically, they are your “intern brand”. They relate to how the work is done and the behavior and mentality in the workplace.
Vision is what you hope to achieve. Is your hope for the future. Is your dream. It relates to how you want to be known in the future.
Mission is your purpose at the moment. What you have to do in the present to reach your Vision in the future. It relates to how different you are from your competitors.
Your Values dictate how people in your organization relate to each other, to customers, to suppliers. They are basically an ethics code that summarizes what the organization believes.
Answering these questions is not that simple. You can’t do it without the involvement of every person at the beginning of a company, or without every leadership later on. It is extremely important because it proves the direction in which the company desires to follow and, therefore, a good basis to develop a brand.
So How to Develop a Brand Strategy?
Now that we’ve talked a little bit about the creation of a brand, let’s discuss how to grow one.
To make things easier, we are going to divide this information into “steps” that you need to take one after another.
Step 01 – Identify Your Customer
Again, and that only states the importance of the question, who is your target client?
You can’t sell your product to everyone. You can’t aim in all directions and hope to hit something. Identifying your customer is trading a machine gun for a sniper rifle. It’s making every shot count, it’s having a plan, and sticking to that plan.
That is your first step. What do you want to sell, and who do you want to sell it to? The customer is, and always will be, more important than the product itself. So your first steps should be taken considering the customer, not the product.
Step 02 – Market Research
The importance of researching the market during the branding process cannot be overstated. The better the research, the better your brand. Don’t simply try to guess the preferences of your target audience. If possible, try to get real data with surveys, researches, experiments. Successful companies literally pay millions to develop tests to better understand a specific audience, so the more you can invest in research the better.
Previous research can even alter the initial idea of your product entirely. Don’t create something that people need to adapt to. Try to create something that people already need. Adapt your product to fulfill the needs of your customer. Research allows you to know those needs beforehand and launch a successful product from the start.
Step 03 – Outline Your Overall Strategy
That is, perhaps, the most complicated part of the process. The general outline of your business strategy consists in studying the environment in which your company is inserted. This environment is basically created by your customers, your competition, and what you have to offer.
The question you have to ask yourself in this step is “What is the context?” And that goes for everything! The context of your customers, your competition, your product. How can a specific competitor offer the same product as you for a much lower cost and still have profit? What is their secret? Why do people pay more for a product that does exactly the same things as yours?
How can you be competitive, reach your customers and sell your product spending as little as possible and in the most efficient way? What is your profit margin?
Again, this part is complicated. This is where you think of your company in practical terms, all the while making sure your processes are in check with your Mission, Vision, and Values. This is why some people choose to dedicate their lives to study business. It’s not easy at all, there’s a lot of variables involved, and it will be hard work.
Step 04 – Positioning
Ok. So now you understand your customer, your product, and your environment. You have a plan on how to tackle everything from a business and practical point of view. Now is time to
step up and finally start thinking about how you are going to get the brand of your company done.
Starting with your positioning. Think of this positioning as a form of promise. It is a promise you make to yourself and to your customer that states “This is what you can expect from us.” This positioning relates to everything in your environment, so, nowadays, that literally means everything. Some studies show that having a position on social-political matters is beneficial for companies.
The time to “play both sides”, be safe and focus on sales is over. Customers want to relate to the products they consume. They want to create an environment composed of products and companies that carry their views and beliefs and will stay by their side when the time comes.
It might sound polemic but think about it for a second. Let’s say some controversial topic is going around, but your brand chooses to shy away from it. You’re not positioning yourself at any side of the conversation, so people are not talking about you and you are left with, at best, harmful indifference.
Now let’s say you do position yourself strongly at one side or the other of this made-up controversy. As people from one side will hate you for it and stop using your services, people from the other side will start loving you and buying what you have to offer just because they like you so much.
You inserted yourself in the conversation and now, for better or worse, people are talking about your brand and are going to remember you next time they go to the supermarket.
This needs to be done as genuine and authentically as possible. You never want to position yourself to satisfy a certain customer base without really meaning it. All your positions must be in accord with your Mission, Vision, and Values. As the genius, digital marketing specialist Gary Vaynerchuk says: “The brands that can connect with clients in a real way will win.”
Step 05 – Messaging Strategy
How would you like to communicate with your audience? And that audience is not just your customers. They are your potential business partners, employees, ambassadors, referral sources. Everyone that you will need to make your business grow.
You will have to communicate a lot of different things to a lot of different audiences. Your customers want to know a specific piece of information, while your potential business partners will have completely different needs. How are you going to compartmentalize your information, in what format will you deliver that information?
This is a good time to think of your marketing channels. Will you use advertisements on TV? Will your brand have a profile on a social network? All those answers are answered easily when you have your customer in mind. Simply go where they are and take part in their interactions. Speak their language and have some fun with them. Netflix is an excellent
example of a company that knows very well what they are doing with their communication strategy, especially on Twitter.
Step 06 – Name, Logo, and Visual Identity
Remember. Your brand is much more than your logo and your visual identity, but those things are part of it. Your brand is even bigger than your name. The brand is something more. It is the sum of everything.
That doesn’t mean those things don’t need to be very well crafted and designed. They must convey the feeling of everything your products have to offer and everything they stand for. From the choice of your color palette to the shapes included in your logo, everything adds up to your brand.
And speaking of colors, they cannot be chosen at random. Just because they look cool or because you like it. There’s an entire psychology involving colors and the message behind each one of them. This psychology is especially important for marketing, as you want to choose colors that represent the values your branding is trying to promote.
Step 07 – Content Marketing Strategy
Currently, this is the second most important part of your branding.
Digital content is marketing. A company that does not create digital content is trying to fight with its hands tied behind its back. Can you think of a world without social networks? They came to stay and have already become the main source of creation and sharing of information.
And there’s something very important to understand about social networks. More important than understanding one specific network, like Instagram, Twitter, or TikTok, modern marketing professionals work to understand the language that permeates all of them. The flow of information, the trends, the dynamics of interactions, social networks are complex beasts that, when properly studied, can work wonders for a marketing and brand strategy.
Step 08 – Website
Websites are still a thing, yes. An important thing, in fact. They can work as a hub for your online presence or a showcase for your products and services. Depending on what your product is, if it involves e-commerce, for example, your website is even more important, as it is the place where your customers are actually going to acquire it.
Websites should be intuitive and user-friendly. There are two areas of study dedicated to that called User Design Experience (UX Design), and User Interface Design (UI Design). They work together to provide the best possible experience for your customer on your website.
We highly recommend investing in professionals in these areas during the development of your website, as they can help you create the best possible design and experience for your target customer.
But, as a rule of thumb, less is more on a website design. Don’t clump a lot of information into one area. Work with a copywriter to use precise, “to the point”, and compelling text to better sell your products and services. Create “sections” within your website to help your customer have a bird’s eye view of what you have to offer. And never forget to add your contact information and share your social media.
Another option is to create a webpage instead of a website. This is what we call a Landing Page. Think of it as a single page of the book, as a website can be an entire book, with many pages that your customers can flip through.
Landing pages have a very specific purpose though. Maybe they won’t work for you, it depends on exactly what you are trying to offer. But from a design perspective, they work almost the same as a website.
Step 09 – Marketing Toolkit
A toolkit is basically a presentation of your brand. Think of it as something you can send to someone through an email and use it in an actual presentation for potential customers or partners.
These toolkits are nothing more than a fancy PowerPoint presentation. They include pages about your Mission, Vision, and Values, a portfolio of your products and services, videos with overviews of your product, case studies, interviews.
Creativity is the key when developing these. And they are not only a very good marketing tool, a good toolkit can also be a very powerful brand developer.
Step 10 – Implementation
Time to put everything you planned into action.
Create social media accounts, schedule meetings, create the content. Put your brand out there and see how the world responds to it. You will never know if you never try.
This step is easy if you’re working with a marketing agency. It is of extreme importance that you have a team of qualified people dedicated to this implementation step. Managing social media, business contacts, and customer communication is hard work and a big part of a successful branding strategy.
So there are no cutting corners here. Your strategy is only as good as the people who are actively working on it. Is an area where you always want to invest.
Step 11 – Results and Adjustments
This is the last step, but it is also the first one. Surprise! Branding strategy is actually a circle, not a straight line.
The reason for that is very simple, you want to constantly check your brand’s performance and adjust it whenever necessary. Sometimes, especially at the beginning, those adjustments might take you back to the very first steps.
That will depend on what kinds of problems you will find along the way. Maybe you identify a problem with your target audience, or with the design of your product, then you want to go back and revisit those steps.
Sometimes not even something that drastic, but simply a renovation of your logo and visual identity, which is a very common practice nowadays.
The fact is that you are going to constantly come back to previous steps to make some adjustments and make sure your brand is communicating well and selling as best as possible.
A Powerful Brand Development Strategy Goes a Long Way
And there you go. Now you have a simple guideline to follow and help you develop your brand.
Be mindful, some of these steps can reach an incredible degree of complexity. As we mentioned before, a good job in this area will require investment in qualified professionals.
These professionals will be specialized in specific areas. Some of these areas we already discussed, like UX Design and Copywriting, but you’re also going to need social media experts, software developers, programmers. Is a whole team of people dedicated to the job.
If you want to be absolutely sure your brand development strategy is airtight, maybe your best bet is to ask for the help of a professional marketing agency.
This help can be provided by the very qualified professionals here at Grow Business Solutions. Our services in digital marketing and systems solutions are always developed with only the best tools the market has to offer in terms of innovation and technology.
Schedule right now a FREE STRATEGY SESSION with one of our specialists or reach us through our email firstname.lastname@example.org.