Brand Development & The Art of Branding
Think of the most iconic brands you know. What stands out about them? Are their products highly effective? Does their customer service rule? Is their logo memorable?
You would probably answer all those questions with a resounding ‘yes.’ But, what do all of these characteristics equate to?
A strong brand identity.
Brand identity is not relegated just to mega corporations. Many small businesses have a robust brand identity too, and can employ a strategic brand development plan that’s highly effective. Think of your top local restaurants, or even that reliable plumber you refer to all your friends. No matter the business type, every organization needs a robust brand identity to make them more identifiable and prosperous.
Why is Brand Development Important?
The art of branding hits every facet of a business, from customer interactions to employee relationships. The way a brand is viewed amongst its employees is equally important to the way customers view them.
A healthy company starts from the inside with a positive culture. An organization’s overall brand tone of voice extends to everyday customers and encourages them to keep returning.
Instead of creating a series of marketing campaigns without any sense of identity, take the time to develop your brand.
By following simple brand guidelines, your brand development journey will help you reap these many rewards.
Customers are hassled with marketing pitches all day long. Most of those messages will be ignored. It’s only the select few that will drive an emotional connection to the customer and cause them to want to take action.
This connection between brand and customer is vital to encouraging repeat behaviors. When customers feel a strong connection to a brand, they are much likelier to follow them on social media, sign up to their email list, and purchase products from them again.
Prospective customers want to buy from companies that they know and trust. Whether it’s a large corporation or a local business, the same principle applies.
Brands need to prioritize content that’s geared towards answering important questions and improving trust. Of course, the level of trust you should exude is based on your business type.
Businesses in the healthcare field should place a massive emphasis on ‘knowledge base’ content. These serve as a repository of information aimed at answering FAQ-style queries. When users access a knowledge base, they can immediately see that the brand has a lot of “knowledge” in their field. If the information is really top notch, users will set it as a bookmark and continue to come back for more info.
Brand development doesn’t end with customers. It can give your employees a sense of direction and vision as they work for you.
This also makes the hiring process easier, since prospects have a much better idea of what to expect when they land the job.
Studies have shown that employees thrive when they feel engaged with their company. This translates into more productivity and an elevated desire to be successful.
Employees tend to get along better with co-workers and supervisors when they feel engaged. They will oftentimes feel compelled to assist others with heavy workloads and perform tasks that are otherwise out of their purview.
Brand development helps improve your employees’ passion for performance.
It’s no surprise that well-branded companies earn greater profits. Not only are more customers buying from them, but they are raising their valuation levels among investors. This is especially pivotal when a private company rolls out to an IPO.
With a more established brand profile, you can guarantee a more steady pipeline of referrals. When people find a brand they like, they want the world to hear it. They will be more likely to share your brand across social media and sing your praises.
Lowering of Price Sensitivity
Believe it or not, having a strong brand affords you the ability to raise prices. At this point, you’ve proven that you’re good at what you do and people will be more willing to ride or die with you. It will also make it easier to raise prices when you need to offset higher production costs.
Setting Yourself Apart
When it comes to thriving in a crowded market, brand identity is of the utmost importance. If there are a dozen competitors in your local area, you’ll need to differentiate your branding in an effort to stand out.
What is Brand Development
Now that we’ve established the ‘why’ of brand development, let’s define the process on an operational level. Brand development is about more than slapping on a logo or concocting a color scheme, it’s about establishing a persona or personality that customers can identify.
Brand development is a strategic process designed to position your organization as an authority over your competitors. The planning process involves developing a positioning statement, indicating how you aim to articulate your brand amongst the competitors, followed by an analysis of your audience to determine how to best articulate your message.
You will need to consider different segments of audiences as you develop branding around certain products and services.
Here are some of the steps you’ll need to take on the road to better brand development.
Content Marketing Strategy
Creating a content marketing strategy that resonates with your intended audience requires competitive research and building of a content roadmap. Brand strength is guided by establishing a reputation as an authority, and this is done by creating highly authoritative content.
The types of content you create will depend on your industry and competition. If you are an ecommerce brand, you would want to focus on product guides, tutorials, and how-to videos to show audiences how they can make the most of your product line.
You can also repurpose this content by featuring it in digital advertising campaigns. Let’s say you took the time to assemble a stats piece, i.e. “50+ stats from 2022 [on a certain topic].” You can leverage the viral potential of such a piece in your next ads campaign to help further extend your reach. People would be likely to share this type of content with friends and others.
When it comes to the digital realm, a website is undoubtedly the face of your brand. Developing a website that loads fast and is optimized with the user in mind (user experience) is a critical step towards brand legitimacy.
Your website should be the hub of your most valuable content so that you can accrue SEO rankings. This includes ranking for informational keywords on your blog as well as important purchase intent keywords to help would-be customers discover you.
Brands need to have a clear explanation of their products and services in the form of a brochure, or at the very least a well-organized services or products page. Customers need to know everything you offer to help them make the best purchasing decision.
Tracking and Monitoring
Once your brand development strategy is created and implemented, what’s next? Well, it’s time to track and monitor your progress using the key performance indicators (KPIs) that are most relevant for your brand’s success.
It’s important to start tracking immediately. As soon as you implement your strategy, make annotations on platforms like Google Analytics so you can go back and identify the start date.
Set a range of expectations during your planning stage so that you know when to expect results from your efforts.
Different brand development campaigns will have different metrics for success. Some companies will be looking to boost organic search traffic while others will be looking to increase partnering opportunities or bolster referral traffic from different web channels.
How to Develop a Brand
A brand is not just about the company’s founder or president, it’s about the quality of its products and services as well as its impact on the community.
Being a leader in your community
Leveraging your brand as an authority is about more than just ranking for keywords, it’s about showing your worth within your community. Organizations that perform charity and are active in their community will exude higher levels of trust. Potential consumers will feel a closer connection to the brand and be more likely to buy from them.
Use press releases, videos, and other content pieces to announce new partnerships and charity work. These are great sources of referral traffic and they can even help you generate more leads.
Engaging with your customers
Interacting with your customers is important, and it shouldn’t just happen when they call you with a problem.
Make your company open and available for anyone to reach you via chatbot, phone, email, or social media. Host ask me anything (AMA) sessions to provide an open forum for conversation.
Accessibility is key. When you make your brand open to more people, you will get more people interacting with your brand. Simple.
The Importance of Branding in a Company’s Successful Future
Brand development steps involve consistency across all departments. From leadership down to various levels of management, product specialists to service technicians, and quality assurance to third-party vendors, it’s vital that the organization has all layers on the same page.
Just as it’s important to relay a consistent message, it’s also important that brands remain flexible in a changing environment.
Flexibility affords brands the ability to adjust their strategy in the face of changing circumstances, i.e. new competition or the failure of old campaigns.
Brand development involves malleability. Making constant adjustments to ad campaigns, tweaking your audience targeting, and modernizing your brand to keep up with the changing landscape is crucial to sustained success.
From a content marketing standpoint, think “content refresh.” If you have older content that could use revitalization, don’t be afraid to update it accordingly.
Traits of Successful Brands
What do the most successful brands have in common? No matter if it’s a small, local business or a large international corporation, there are a few characteristics shared across all successful brands.
Every leader has an inherent level of innovation within them, and the most successful companies are usually at the forefront of innovation within their space.
This is obviously true for massive brands like Tesla, but it can also be true on the local level. A small town roofer who offers solar paneling might be at the forefront in his local market, providing value that most others don’t offer.
Excellent Product or Service
The proof is in the pudding. A company must offer top-notch products or services in order to increase referrals and keep customers returning.
Brand messaging is important, but creating products and services that are highly effective is another piece of the puzzle.
Every brand should aim to accrue positive reviews on their website and other top web channels to demonstrate the efficacy of products and services.
Unique Sales Proposition
What makes you stand out from others in your space? Why would customers choose your product line over the rest?
Adopting a unique sales proposition will help separate your brand from others. If you are a service-based business this could be a simple difference in technique that your competition isn’t doing.
Ways to Build Brand Awareness
Building brand awareness is possible for all brands, regardless of budget, history, and customer loyalty. Although a well-known brand will be a few steps ahead in this regard, it’s possible for a new or burgeoning brand to establish themselves if they put in the work.
Corporate brand development and small business brand development have a lot more in common than most people realize. Their brand development stages will be pretty similar, just on different budgetary levels.
Your personal brand development journey towards becoming an industry leader will permeate across your entire organization. As your brand accrues trust, you will make better hiring decisions, improve your product or service line, and have more loyal customers.