Every business has a brand image attached to it, but the work that is done before a brand is launched is crucial to its success. A brand is much more than just a logo or an image, it's something that conveys the feelings and emotions of your business to your audience in a clean and concise manner. This is why you need someone to act as a brand manager during the process of developing a brand, their role is to determine a brand strategy that can make the brand a reality.
Using the steps below you'll be able to approach branding from a more strategic viewpoint. Please be aware that these aren't the only steps when it comes to building a brand but they are at the core of every brand strategy or branding process.
Before you can begin to even think about your brand you need to understand the state of the market that your business operates in. Until you understand the market that you're competing in you can't fully define where you want your brand to appear within that market. Take some time to analyse the market, your competitors, business threats and opportunities. Once you have this information decide where your business currently sits in that market (this is known as your business position) and where you would like it to sit in that market, you can then work on defining a brand message that accurately reflects your current position.
First you need to ask yourself "how do I want my brand to be perceived by my customers?", the answer to this question dictates the goal of your primary brand message. Next you need to map out clear and achievable steps to get to this goal. You need to consider how you'll present your business through marketing communications, employee communications, customer service etc. to gain the reputation that will lead to you achieving your branding goal. Outline what you need to do strategically to build that reputation and the messages that will help you develop that reputation your brand image will then grow organically in the eyes and mind of your consumers.
One dangerous and common mistake made in the early stages of defining a brand strategy relates to being too short sighted when outlining your goals. You need to take into account both short term and long term goals aswell as stretch goals when developing a branding strategy. For example don't limit your business or product by choosing a brand name that doesn't allow for growth to various target audiences. While a new company may only cater to female employees at the beginning, this may change dramatically as your business develops and grows. 'The womans business' may be an amazing name for your business now, but will it still stand strong in 10 years time?
Focus on developing a brand strategy that allows you to be consistent in all of your communications and touch points. Having an inconsistent message from one department to another or from one day to the next can cause issues and destroy all of the work that you have put in to developing a strong brand image. You should consider everything from the representation of your logo, colours of your print media, employee uniform, to communication with customers. If your brand image isn't coherent and solid across all of these areas you need to look at why this is and work it into your brand strategy to improve these areas to better fit your brand and it's views. Integrate the need for consistency in all of your brand development and make it a fundamental part of your overall brand strategy.
Creating a brand is difficult and takes time, it won't just happen overnight. You need to be focused and relentless in building your brand image and keeping track of your place within the market. This means that at every opportunity you need to be communicating your brand and it's message to the right people, staff members, customers, investors etc. Commit to developing your brand like it's an investment and be prepared to re-assess and tweak your brand strategy to meet the everchanging market.