A company's brand development process goes beyond a logo, a tagline, or your brand colors. Identify target audience and value proposition to help your business create a strong, cohesive brand strategy.
Branding is a process of shaping feelings and expectations that customers associate with your company.
So how do you develop a brand that resonates with people, reflects who you are, and represents what you do?
Through a cohesive brand development process, your company can best showcase what sets you apart. Use the following 5 steps to strategically develop and market your brand.
- Determine your unique selling point (USP)
- Create a brand positioning statement
- Establish a brand story
- Develop collateral around your brand
- Center your marketing strategy around your brand
1. Find Your Company’s USP
The first step in branding is to find what differentiates you. Your unique selling point is the benefit that you offer that your competitors don’t.
Thus, your USP is the beginning of the brand development process.
Sometimes, this is something really big. When Uber launched in 2009, there wasn’t anything like it on the market. It disrupted the way we view travel in general and heavily impacted the taxi industry.
Likewise, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak brought forth the first personal computer—a gamechanger in the electronics industry.
Brand differentiation is easy to see in these high-profile examples. Most brands, however, don’t disrupt an entire industry.
More often, your USP is a simple distinguishing quality that makes you special, for example:
- Family-owned business
- Locally-sourced products
- Excellent customer support
If you aren’t sure exactly what your USP is, talk to your customers: Why do they choose you over your competitors?
2. Create a Brand Positioning Statement
Writing a brand positioning statement helps you figure out your branding goals before you start designing logos and writing taglines.
- Target audience
- Value proposition
Once you identfy elements in mind, craft it into a statement following this formula:
For example, Starbucks’ brand positioning statement: “Starbucks offers the best coffee and espresso drinks for consumers who want premium ingredients and perfection every time. Starbucks not only values every interaction, making each one unique, but the brand commits itself to the highest quality coffee in the world.”
In it, they identify the benefit (great coffee and espresso drinks), target audience (consumers with high standards who want premium ingredients and quality), and USP (unique interactions and the highest quality of coffee).
3. Establish Your Brand Story
Storytelling is trendy in branding these days for good reason. Stories connect people, build trust, engage people, and stick with customers.
A brand story is more than just an origin story. It should include:
- Events that formed your brand
- Conflicts you encountered and the lessons you learned along the way
- How you found your mission
- How you continue to work toward that mission today
With the rise of social media and more choices of brands than ever before, it’s easy to slip through the cracks. The last thing you want to be as a brand is forgettable.
That’s why creating a brand story is so important. When you create a strong brand story, you create staying power.
Consumers remember you because of the story. This leads to tangible benefits too: If people resonate with your brand story, they’re 55% more likely to purchase from you.
Your Brand Story Should Be Authentic
Your brand story needs to communicate the authenticity of your brand. Customers value brand authenticity. In fact, 90% of consumers prefer to buy from authentic brands.
But how do you show your brand authenticity? How do you prove to consumers that you are who you say you are?
The key is to be honest. Don’t try to brand yourself in a way that doesn’t resonate with you or your values. Your brand should align with your values: who you are and what matters to you.
Whatever values you hold close are the ones to showcase in your brand. This will help you stay authentic and consistent, and it will make sure you’re attracting the right people.
4. Use Your Brand to Inspire Collateral
Creating traditional brand elements, such as a tagline, a logo, and brand colors, is an important part of the branding process. But far too often, people do this backwards—they create a logo or choose their brand colors, then try to establish the brand around it.
In reality, it should be the other way around. The big ideas (your USP, your target audience and their pain points, the way you provide solutions, your brand story) need to come first. Once you’ve established those big ideas, you can start creating specific elements.
Use what you have already determined about your brand—who you are, who you serve, the story you’re trying to impart—to help give way to those elements.
Every element of your brand – logo, brand colors, tagline – also should reflect your target audience in mind.
Think about what your business is offering. What problems does it solve? And who will benefit the most?
Clarifying who you’re selling to saves you wasted time and money, and makes the rest of the branding process flow more smoothly.
For example, Starbucks uses this tagline in their social media, “To inspire and nurture the human spirit—one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.” You can see how that reflects their brand position statement and aligns with the vision they set out to achieve.
Your brand should be cohesive, consistent, and identifiable. Each element works together to showcase who you are, what you do, what makes you special, and who you serve.
5. Develop a Marketing Strategy Around Your Brand
Market with your brand strategy in mind. Use your positioning statement and brand story to create marketing elements, such as videos, pitch decks, or info sheets, that align your brand.
Marketing is how you test your brand strategy. Your brand doesn’t have to be set in stone. As you market, you might discover that a different audience resonates more with your product or service. Or you might find that consumers appreciate something different about you that becomes your new USP.
Stay committed to who you are as a brand, but stay flexible enough to change what isn’t working and go in a new direction if need be (or consider a rebranding exercise).
Develop a Brand That Explains Your Value
Your brand the process that shapes the way your customers view you. And it needs to be alive in every step of your business.
Great branding doesn’t happen by accident. You have to view your brand from a big-picture stance, making sure that every step aligns with your vision, and that every element works together.
Through a 5 step process – determining your company’s USP, creating a brand positioning statement, establishing an authentic story around your brand, creating consistent branding collateral, and developing a marketing strategy cohesive with your brand – you can experience differentiation and success.