What is brand development?

I get this question regularly.

My answer is it’s like building a home. Your brand development is the framework and foundation of your home.

If you don’t create a floorplan for your home—defining its foundation and how all the internal elements work together—your home will fall apart. The same can be said about brand development. If your business doesn’t dedicate time to defining your brand, it too will fall apart.

So, what exactly is brand development? It is the process of maintaining the quality, distinctive marketing assets, and consumer trust of a brand. It’s a continuous process that is never finished. Great brands recognize this, and revisit their development on a regular basis.

Your brand is your business’ most important asset. This is partially why brand development is a never-ending process of establishing and strengthening your brand.

The three phases of brand development

  1. Define your brand strategy the right way and align it with your business objectives.
  2. Create the tools you need to communicate your brand, e.g. your logo, tagline, and website.
  3. Strengthen your new or updated brand.

Your brand development strategy

  • What is your business strategy?
    First, ask yourself the following questions: What kind of business are you looking to create? How will you grow it? Organically?

    Why? Because your business strategy provides the context for the development of your brand strategy. Defining where you want to take your business will allow your brand to get you there.

  • Who is your target audience?
    Please don’t say everyone…that’s the biggest mistakes most companies make. The narrower and more focused your audience, the faster your business will grow. If you decide upon a broader target audience, your messaging and marketing efforts will become diluted. You will probably not reach them the right way. How do you know you’ve picked the right target audience? This is where step three comes into play.

  • Make certain to research your target audience.
    When you spend the time to research your target audience you will begin to understand their priorities and perspective. You will recognize their needs and your marketing message will be relayed in a language that resonates with them. The research will help you clarify your current brand and its strength.

  • Determine your brand position.
    How is your company different from the competition? What benefit do you provide your target audience? Defining this key benefit will increase the value of your brand position.

    Your brand statement should consist of three to five sentences that clarify the essence of your brand position. It must be true, applicable, and aspirational in a manner that still allows your company to deliver on what is promised.

  • What is your messaging strategy?
    What messages will you use to translate your brand positioning to your target audience? Your target audience can range from potential clients, employees, and influencers to any type of referral source. Keep in mind each of these audiences will be interested in different parts of your business and therefore the message should be adjusted to each accordingly. Your message will need to address your audience’s concerns, and each will require different evidence to support what you are trying to convey.

  • What is your name, logo, and tagline?
    When you hear these three words, bear in mind these are not your brand, but rather part of your brand identity. These are used to communicate your brand to your audience.

    A lot of companies make the mistake of sharing their logo with their team to get consensus. This is a mistake. Your name, logo, and tagline are not meant for them, but rather your marketplace. What’s important is how well these communicate to your market and not whether your employees like them.

  • What is your content marketing strategy?
    Have you heard the phrase, “Content is king?” Your brand’s strength is dependent upon its reputation and visibility. Content marketing increases both at the same time by using valuable educational information that enables your company to attract, nurture and qualify potential clients.

  • Develop your website.
    Your website is the key to how successful your brand will be. It is where everyone will go to gain an understanding of what you do, how you do it, and who your clients are. It is where your most valuable content will be housed—that which will become the focus of your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) efforts. This SEO will enable your potential clients, employees, and referral sources to better find you and gain an understanding of what your business does.

  • Create your marketing toolkit.
    You might ask, what exactly is a marketing toolkit? It could be a one-page PDF that describes your core services or what markets you offer your services to. There might be a “pitch deck” showcasing your company’s key offerings or a PDF brochure. It could also include a video, which might feature an overview, an interview with the owner of the company, key services you offer, and perhaps case studies. Keep in mind these tools will function for both business development and brand development.

  • Implement, track, and adjust.
    All of this effort will not be worth much if you don’t implement, track, and adjust it. By tracking I mean both the implementation and the results. You’ll need to consider things like:

    • What’s happening with your search traffic?
    • Has the volume of your web visitors increased?
    • Are people sharing your brand on social media?
    • How many new leads were generated?

All ten of these steps help define strong brand development. The entire process takes time. Create your plan, promote your brand, track your progress, and adjust as needed.

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