It can take as many as seven impressions for people to remember your brand. And with 59% of shoppers preferring to buy from brands they trust, forming those connections and maintaining your brand on the minds of your target audience can be an integral part of success.
But while most companies understand that having a strong brand is essential, few have a reliable brand development strategy they can fall back on. There are countless branding strategies to choose from, and not all of them have the same level of impact.
So, where should you get started?
Let’s look at what brand development is, the importance of brand development, and some of the key strategies you can use to stand out from the competition.
What is Brand Development?
Brand development is a process designed to make your company more visible and appealing to your target audience. It’s also a way to distinguish your business from the competition, often used to highlight your USP and the types of core ideas you want to represent.
Since visuals are more immediate and more impactful than messaging, brand development plays a vital role in the initial impressions that people form around a company. It’s also what helps keep your company on people’s minds when they want or need what you offer, helping improve customer retention and repeat business.
But brand development isn’t just a set of branding elements that you use to promote your business. It’s actually a set of strategies that, when used together effectively, create an overall brand strategy that can make all of your messaging, marketing, and sales efforts more consistent.
And at a time when you need every tool possible for standing out from a crowd of similar offers, having a solid brand development strategy can be the difference-maker in how many people your company can appeal to.
Because it is so vital, a good brand development strategy is not a one-and-done task. Instead, it’s a continuous process, during which you are always looking for ways to strengthen and refine your brand according to your audience’s needs and preferences.
Brand Development vs. Branding
Even though branding is the more popular term used when describing ways to make a company more memorable, it’s actually not the same as a brand development strategy.
Branding encompasses all the elements that make your company unique. That can include visuals, messaging, even the general feel around your brand that makes people think of you whenever they need your products.
And while branding is very important, it’s actually a part of a brand development strategy instead of its synonym. Brand development is more about finding the right opportunities for using the right brand identity elements based on knowledge about the target audience, business goals, positioning, used channels, and various other factors.
So, in essence, brand development is the all-around strategy defining and prioritizing your branding efforts, which makes it easier to achieve consistent results and improve based on the insights you gain throughout the process.
Steps in the Brand Development Process
Just as any development process, brand development has a set of steps (or stages) you’ll need to go through if you want to achieve the best results and ensure that you’re making actual improvements month after month.
First, you’ll need to perform thorough research into your market, your audience, and the competition, to understand the landscape which you will operate in. No brand exists in a vacuum, so the brand development strategies you use will need to reflect what your customers want, what your competitors are already doing, and what trends are developing in your industry.
In the How We Solve Podcast ep. 56, Catharine Arnston from ENERGYbits talks about how to start a business in a brand new market and build a strong brand by zeroing in on your “why” and building your brand around it.
Then, you need to create the building blocks that will be the foundation of your brand. Things like your logo and other brand visuals, your messaging, the core ideas and values you represent, and everything else that makes your company unique and appealing to your target audience.
Finally, as you roll out your brand and start seeing results, you will need to have a process for continually refining and improving your brand. That will help you develop it further and ensure that you are keeping up with the changing dynamics of your audience and market.
Best Brand Development Strategies for Your Business
Even though brand development is a complicated process that can take a long time, it can be broken down into actionable strategies you can start applying as soon as today. Let’s look at some of the most crucial tactics you’ll need to go through below.
Define Your Overall Business Strategy
Your brand is a reflection of your business. So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that your brand development strategy should reflect your overall business goals as well. That’s why looking at your overall business strategy is a good place to start when thinking about how to develop or strengthen your brand.
For instance, if you have marketing channels that are already generating results, you are focusing on a specific segment of your audience that uses those channels. And that could play a significant role in the direction that you want to take your brand in.
A big part of success in brand development is matching audience expectations, but it can be just as crucial to factor in your business strategies, as they could provide you insights about what type of brand could help you maximize the results you’re trying to achieve.
Be Clear About the Target Audience
Your brand’s main objective is to appeal to the very best customers you could attract. And in a crowded market, standing out and getting noticed by anyone, let alone your ideal buyers, can be a big challenge.
The only way to achieve better results than the dozens of companies competing for the same audience’s attention, you must take extra steps when figuring out precisely who you want to attract and get noticed by.
And that’s why it’s crucial to spend as much time as necessary developing your audience profile, digging deep into who they are, what’s important to them, where they like to hang out, and what they look for in companies they choose to buy from.
While it may be appealing to cast a wide net, it usually makes more sense to narrow down your focus as much as possible and try to be the best choice for a specific group of people you want to cater to. That way, even though your pool of clients might get smaller, the percentage of people who choose your brand over the others will be much higher.
Brand positioning can be a complicated process. There are many options you could go with, and you need to balance finding your unique offer while remaining relevant to your audience. You also need to define a USP that’s not just unique but also relevant enough for your audience to put you ahead of the competition.
Because of that, brand positioning should be something you should be thinking about from the very first day you start your business. The core idea of what your company can provide (that others can’t) can quickly become the driving force behind growth and answer many questions about brand development in the process.
The key things to remember when developing brand positioning is that it needs to be:
- Short and memorable.
- Appealing enough to your audience.
- Something you can actually follow through on.
A successful brand is more than a set of visuals that are displayed in your marketing. It’s also the messages themselves that need to have a distinct and purposeful voice designed to appeal to the needs of your audience.
Therefore, it’s crucial to develop a brand voice and an overall communications strategy that considers how your brand could be best represented through the messages you’re going to use.
Whether it’s marketing, sales, or even direct communication with your customers, having a consistent communication strategy and guidelines your employees follow is crucial for building lasting relationships with your audience.
Finalize Your Brand Identity Elements
We talked about how the brand identity elements such as the logo are not the only part that makes a brand development strategy successful. But they are still integral to the overall process since these visuals form the instant connection and help recognize your brand in less than a second on future interactions.
Without a memorable name, logo, and (sometimes) a tagline, any company would be just a faceless seller of products, which would make growing an audience virtually impossible.
In fact, companies like Apple have based their entire business model on creating a unique brand experience through their products. You can buy a smartphone from dozens of developers, but only Apple has a special appeal and a die-hard following that keeps buying every new product that’s released.
Consistency Across All Channels
A brand development strategy can only be successful if it’s consistently implemented across multiple channels. After all, if you keep switching your visual elements and messaging, it will be much harder to get people to remember your company and think of it when they are ready to buy.
Therefore, once you develop the key brand elements discussed above, you need to make sure that you set up processes for staying consistent across all channels. Sure, sometimes you will need to adjust a little based on the channel, but the main principles should remain the same, all the way to details such as the words that you use.
Implement and Adjust
No brand development strategy is complete without a process for improving and refining what you build initially. As you learn more about your audience, market, and competition, it’s only natural that you’ll discover ways to build on what you created initially and improve.
Only by continually reevaluating your brand choices can you grow your business and keep up with the changing trends and the evolution in your marketplace.
Developing Brand Loyalty
A brand’s main purpose is to attract customers and get them to remember you. But the customer retention aspect can be just as powerful, especially if you can tap into the core desires of your audience and make them stay with your brand for the experience and not just the products.
But to take your brand loyalty efforts to the next level, merely having a strong brand is not enough; you also need to implement the right branding strategies that will help you stand out.
Here are just a few strategies you could consider:
- Engage Your Audience. Since you spend so much time developing your brand visuals and voice that matches your audience, it only makes sense that you should use the brand development strategies you implement to engage your audience through conversations online, where you can highlight the unique qualities that make your brand different.
- Prioritize Customer Service. Another crucial part of keeping your customers engaged is ensuring that you can resolve any issues they might face quickly and effectively. If you want to maintain a good brand image, meeting customer expectations and ensuring they are happy should be at the top of your priority list. In the How We Solve Podcast ep. 88, Philippe Roireau talks about developing exceptional customer service by establishing and tracking the right KPIs.
- Create a Unique Experience. Finally, you need to make sure that your brand and products create an experience beyond the primary purpose of the products you sell. By building a community of like-minded people, you will add a social element that will keep people loyal to your brand for reasons beyond the products you offer.
Brand development is a crucial part of building a successful business in 2021 and beyond. It’s what can help you distinguish your company from the competition and build a loyal following that buys from you for many years.
By following the strategies listed above, you will cover most of the essential aspects of building a brand your audience will notice and respond to. And if you reaffirm your brand values through excellent customer service and an excellent overall experience, you should be able to build a following even in the most competitive markets today.