Effective brand development is far more complicated than most people assume. Creating a logo and picking colors are only two parts of an ongoing process that will continue as long as you’re in business. But where do you start? With a world of possibilities, what’s the best way to approach branding and brand development? (Yes, they’re different!)
Fortunately, you’ve got the experts here at Connective to offer you an inside look at all the elements that need to go into your brand development process to create a strong brand message. At Connective, we help companies define their vision in a way that best serves their business objectives.
First, we perform in-depth research on each client’s unique strengths, vulnerabilities, pain points, and goals. Then, we tailor a brand-building strategy to help showcase their business in the best possible light.
This guide will serve as your roadmap to brand development and help you define a strong brand identity to be the essence of your business. We’ll discuss brand guidelines, market research, defining your brand vision, advertising, messaging and tone, logo and tagline, colors, imagery, long-term growth strategies, and more. Let’s get started!
Branding vs. Brand Development
Before we delve into our process, let’s distinguish branding from brand development. While they may sound interchangeable, they’re two different things, even though they’re connected.
Brand development, or brand building, is the process of establishing your company’s reputation. It’s a long-term strategy for connecting with your target audience rather than simply promoting your products or services. Essentially, it’s how you separate your brand from another, even if you have identical prices and products.
Brand development is far more conceptual than branding. It involves aligning your brand with your business objectives and then using those objectives to communicate with your target customers. The ultimate goal is to speak to your customers’ emotions. Consider these statistics about consumer-brand loyalty and emotional connection from a Capgemini study.
- 81% of consumers who have an emotional connection with a brand will spend more money and promote the brand to their family and friends.
- 70% of consumers who feel a high level of emotional engagement will spend up to twice as much with those brands compared to those they don’t feel emotionally connected with.
Branding is more visual than conceptual. It’s the process of advertising your business with images, advertisements, a website, social media, logo, tag lines, etc. It can consist of a marketing campaign, choosing the company logo, and other similar processes. In essence, branding is just one part of brand development.
Brand Development Strategy: The Ultimate Guide to Defining Your Brand’s Core Identity
At Connective, we use a specific process to help our customers create, execute, and maintain an effective brand development strategy that will inspire consumer loyalty and success. We’ll give you the game plan we use to help our clients build brand equity that resonates with their target audience.
Exceptional branding can help you achieve an authentic emotional connection, turning occasional shoppers into loyal customers.
Step 1: Evaluate Your Current Position
The first step for any company that wants to build a brand is to evaluate its current position. Take a long, hard look at where you are and where you want to go.
Are you a new brand starting from scratch? Are you already established but want to continue maintaining and improving what you’ve already built? What is your current brand identity, and where do you want it to go in the future?
Answering these questions with an in-depth analysis of where you currently stand will help significantly.
Step 2: Perform Market Research
The next component of successful brand development is performing extensive market research. At Connective, we sit down with our clients and ask them, well, everything. In the competitive landscape you must break into, where does your new brand fit?
You can start your market research by doing a SWOT analysis. A SWOT analysis involves evaluating your brand’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Here are a few examples of the questions that you should be answering:
- Why does your business exist? What type of products or services do you offer?
- How would you describe your brand’s personality?
- What’s your brand’s goal or core values?
- What’s your brand’s mission statement?
- What brand promise do you make to your customers?
- What is your brand positioning? What sets your brand apart?
- Who are your current competitors, and what are their strengths?
- What brands do you wish you could compete with?
- What are your brand’s current and aspirational marketing strategies? (print, digital, etc.)
You can gain this information through critical thinking, surveys, research, or any other method possible. The more, the better. You want to go as deep as possible to gain a 100% genuine picture of your brand and where it’s headed. For more information, read this guide from Qualtrics about brand perception surveys.
Step 3: Determine: Who Is Your Target Audience?
Defining a target audience is one step in the brand development process that will considerably impact your overall success. Getting this step even slightly wrong can skew your brand identity and future performance.
Instead of just determining a customer persona, you should take the time to consider your actual customers. It’s also important to create the “ideal” customer persona, but are those people actually buying your products or services?
Focus on traditional marketing mixed with a profile of your customers’ needs, interests, goals, demographics, family life, etc. Finally, make a list of business objectives that express your desire to connect with your target market or potential customers.
For example, how does your company solve the daily challenges or pain points your customers face? The answer will form your value proposition: what motivates your customer base to choose your specific product over another competitor.
Determining why people don’t buy your service or product is also essential. First, write down any perceptions or misconceptions the public may have about your industry. Then, dig deep into the consumer’s mind and consider what customer experience you want them to have when choosing your brand.
Step 4: Choose a Name
If you haven’t already, it’s time to choose a name for your business that will communicate your brand message and give customers insight into your unique brand identity. Remember, your brand name will be the primary way people identify your business. Here are some practical tips on how to name a business:
- Don’t use a name that is hard to say or spell.
- Avoid names that could limit your brand growth or product offerings in the future (e.g., choose Mike’s Home Improvement rather than Mike’s Roofing).
- Pick a name that conveys your brand message or meaning, and avoid trendy or meaningless names.
- Check that your chosen name is available and doesn’t already have a trademark or service mark. You can head togov to check.
- Come up with five or ten names, then run them by your family, friends, and target audiences for some feedback.
New brands having trouble developing a name should look for inspiration anywhere they can. For example, the Visual Thesaurus is an excellent resource for brainstorming names during brand development.
Step 5: Define a Brand Vision
Defining a powerful brand vision is essential to every brand development strategy. This part of the process consists of three major elements: core focus, core values, and marketing strategy, although marketing is the next step.
First, we begin with a simple equation: brand purpose + brand niche = brand focus (what you do as a company). Next, you’ll need to brainstorm core values, or who you are as a company. Those core values will guide your business objectives and describe what your brand will not compromise on—ever.
For example, are you client-focused? Service-oriented? Kind? Fair? Inclusive? These are not words you should rattle off. Instead, these descriptive words and phrases should form your brand’s core message and what it stands for in your customers’ minds and hearts.
In addition, you should come up with three unique selling points of your particular brand: What sets you apart from your competitors? You may also hear this phrased as brand positioning, market positioning, or a value proposition.
Your positioning statement should be about three to five sentences and clearly explain the distinguishing characteristics of your business within your specific industry and niche.
Next, determine the ultimate benefit customers experience by choosing your brand. That benefit is the value of brand positioning, and it sets you apart from others in the eyes of your target market.
Step 6: Develop a Marketing Strategy
Developing a marketing strategy is technically part of your brand vision, but it’s so important that it deserves a separate step. Essentially, your marketing and brand strategy is your plan of action.
Your target market + what makes your brand unique + your process + brand guarantee = your brand’s marketing strategy.
Developing a strong, solid strategy is crucial to reaching your target audience. Failing to reach the people who will buy their products or services is a primary reason many businesses collapse.
Target Market – You should already have a clear picture of who will purchase your products at this point in your brand development process.
Unique Selling Points – Come up with at least three reasons why your brand is better than your chief competitors. You may want to reference your brand promise or ask loyal customers how they feel.
Brand Development Process – How do you give customers the expected product or services? This component relates directly to your business objectives. You may also want to use your brand positioning statement to guide your answer.
Brand Guarantee – What promises will you deliver to new customers and those loyal to your brand? Your brand guarantee should always be customer-centric.
Consider this statistic from the 2022 Qualtrics Global Consumer Trends Report: 60% of consumers would spend more money with a business that cares about them. That percentage should illustrate the importance of putting your customer first and why your brand development process should remain customer-centric.
Step 7: Create a Brand Identity Logo and Tagline
Now, here comes the fun part: creating your brand’s logo and tagline. First, consider the brands you identify with and why you feel that way. Remember, brand development is all about connecting with the customer’s emotions.
The most successful businesses know how to reach the heart of a customer, whether they do that subversively or directly. However, there’s a fine line here. A successful tagline builds brand equity and makes your business more memorable and attractive to customers, whereas a confusing, weak, or ambiguous tagline can scare off new customers.
A great place to source your slogan is within your brand promise and core values. For example, think of the Dunkin’ Donuts slogan: America Runs on Dunkin’. That tagline speaks to the working-class Americans who want a cup o’ joe during their morning commute, not a venti half-caff frappuccino with extra foam and a pretty mermaid on the cup. (Hey, we’re not knocking Starbucks—just illustrating a point!)
As for your logo, your starting place should be your brand personality and brand identity. These two elements will give you direction and style. You can try experimenting with sizing, placement, with and without taglines, and colors.
Your logo will be your brand’s visual identity. It should read clearly to your customers, whether you’re reaching them via social media, a blog, a print ad, or any other marketing channels. Here’s a great article from Adobe about famous brand slogans; check it out for some inspiration.
Step 8: Choose Colors
Once again, we’re going to touch on the E-word: emotion. Your logo and tagline colors should resonate deeply with your target customers and communicate emotions relating to your brand’s visual identity. For many companies, the answer lies within color psychology, or the mental and emotional effects that colors have on people. Here are a few colors and the feelings they arouse:
- Red: Passionate, dominant, aggressive
- Green: Natural, balanced, stable
- Blue: Calm, trustworthy, inviting
- Purple: Decadence, romance, mystery
- Black: Edgy, sophisticated, powerful
- White: Effortless, minimalist, clean
- Grey: Neutral, formal, conservative
Granted, these are nowhere near the entire spectrum of colors and the emotions they evoke. An excellent example of using color unexpectedly is the Demo Diva, a woman-owned demolition company. Be sure to check out the website. Most people wouldn’t associate pink with a demolition company, but it works perfectly for the Demo Diva—and she’s rich because of it.
Step 9: Decide: What’s Your Imagery Style?
Imagery style is the eighth step in our brand development process and an integral piece of creating your logo and tagline. In general, brands use four types of imagery to portray their personalities and identities:
Abstract Symbol – A conceptual symbol represents your business. Think Pepsi or Nike.
Logotype – A stylized typeface to communicate your company’s name or initials. Think Disney or Google.
Emblem – An emblem that uses the name or initials of your company woven into a shape or pictorial. Think Starbucks or the NFL.
Pictorial Symbol – A pictorial that uses an image or icon to symbolize your brand. Think McDonald’s or Twitter.
Successful brand imagery goes beyond purchasing a product just because it’s necessary or fits a price point. The perfect brand imagery can inspire consumer loyalty because your target audience will connect with the values it stands for and the emotions it creates.
Step 10: Settle on Your Brand Messaging and Tone
Defining the correct messaging and tone is fundamental to any brand strategy. It describes the how of your brand’s communication with its target audience and, therefore, influences how your consumers will perceive your brand messaging. However, there is a difference between your brand voice and your brand tone of voice.
Brand Tone of Voice is how your business will communicate with your target customers, such as emotional tone, communication style, marketing channels, and choice of words.
Brand Voice represents the values your company stands for as well as its unique perspective. It relates to brand identity and how your customers will perceive that.
Step 11: Develop a Content Marketing Strategy
Once you have established a general direction of where you want to go, use it to develop a content marketing strategy. The primary goal and central focus of your marketing efforts should be creating and posting informative, compelling, and relevant content that adds value to your customers’ lives.
Publishing relevant content is paramount for online consumers, who have a frighteningly short attention span—about eight seconds. Content is king in our world, and your brand growth depends on it.
Step 12: Establish Your Brand Assets
Establishing brand assets is one of the last steps in your brand development and business strategy. For example, common assets that help build brand loyalty and equity include social media, your business website, a YouTube channel, etc. Brand guidelines include PDFs, brochures, print documents, videos, etc.
These assets should create a touchpoint and relate a core message that your consumers can recognize immediately. Your brand’s assets can also include:
- Brand name
- Slogans or taglines
- Sounds or songs (think McDonald’s)
- Design elements
- Typography (think Disney)
By establishing these assets, you begin to build brand equity. It may be a nebulous quality, but it’s essential nonetheless.
Step 13: Engage in Brand Positioning and Promotion
Promotion goes hand in hand with marketing. At Connective, we know the power of creating and executing an omnichannel strategy using both traditional marketing and digital platforms. Additionally, this will include your content marketing strategy, as we previously discussed.
Here’s the primary element of brand promotion: How can you get your brand in front of your target audience? One of the most common methods that marketing agencies use is search engine optimization or SEO. It bears repeating: SEO is partly about creating relevant content that will add value to your customers’ lives.
Proper, white-hat SEO tactics (like the skyscraper technique) can improve search traffic and organic web visitors, boost conversions, and help build a loyal customer base. Here are additional marketing strategies you can use to increase your brand’s visibility:
- Social media
- Paid search methods: PPC ads, or pay-per-click
- Print ads
- Reputation management
- Company blog
- Company website
The greater the visibility, the more customers you’ll gain. It’s the final step of our brand development process, although that doesn’t mean we’ve finished yet.
Next, we’ll discuss tracking and growth: how you maintain strong brand development and expand your business within your target markets.
Step 14: Analyze Tracking and Growth Strategy
Now that you’ve created an identity, brand positioning statement, and marketing strategy, it’s time to analyze what’s working and what’s not. Evaluating your brand development strategy and how it impacts your target audience is perhaps the most critical component of the entire process.
How will you improve if you can’t identify your brand’s strengths and weaknesses? Although there are many different ways to do this, here are three fundamental components:
Consumer and Market Research – Performing market research is essential to brand development, which you already know. Your research should focus on customers and include brand awareness, consideration, perception, and performance.
Brand Association – What characteristics or values come to your customers’ minds when they think of your brand? Focus on creating positive associations via brand promotion, such as social media or print marketing.
Competitor Analysis – How are your competitors performing within the market and your niche? If it’s after your brand launch, compare your initial analysis of current and aspirational competitors to your recent performance.
As you can see, performance tracking provides a critical benchmark to measure progress, pinpoint strengths, and identify the best way to move forward within your market.
Final Thoughts on the Brand Development Process
If we can sum this article up in one way, it’s this: Brand development is much more than just creating a logo. In fact, brand development is a process that never ends. However, when you do it correctly, it will ensure the long-term success of your brand.
At Connective, we’re a top-rated agency with expertise in branding, marketing, and website design. No matter where you are across the United States (or beyond!), our team has the skill and talent to handle every aspect of your brand development process, from defining your target market and brand positioning statement to logo creation and performance tracking.