A brand is much more than an eye-catching logo; it’s the bridge between your product or service and your customer. Customers buy from companies they like, know and trust. Successful brands are those that really understand their target audience, know what makes them tick and identify the best way to connect with them.
1. Define your brand strategy
Think about the product or service that you have, that you want to ‘develop’ into a brand. What is different about it? What are you great at? How could it be unique? Does this vision of your brand fit with your business strategy, and the goals for your future business? Does it excite you?
2. Protect your brand
If you have a truly unique idea, you need to protect your product as soon as possible to ensure no one copies or undermines you as your brand grows? Register the brand name and logo, and look for other opportunities to safeguard its Unique Selling Point (USP).
3. Get to know your customer
Really understanding your customer is just as crucial as understanding your own business. Be very clear about who your customer is. Think about them, and ask questions. Write down as much as you can about them. What is important to them? Why will they be interested in your brand? What benefits can you offer? Be specific and focused. Consider these questions in relation to competitors’ brands. Why will yours stand out? A specific and focused customer profile will help to create a successful brand plan.
4. Design your brand architecture
This is where you get to create your brand! Thinking about your brand strategy, and your core customer, start to develop your brand. Involve others in your business in this process, they will have different insights to you, and will be more committed to its success and better brand ambassadors if they have helped in its development. If you draw a blank, don’t panic. Leave a space and go back, just make a start and the ideas will flow.
What will your brand name be? And your logo? If your brand name is obscure, maybe you might consider a strapline under the brand logo that explains who you are. Come up with as many ideas as you can, and test them.
- Brand Promise
What is the brand in business to do? What is your guarantee to your customer? What evidence do you have to support your promise?
- Brand Values
What are the beliefs of the brand? What does it stand for?
- Brand Benefits
List all the benefits of your brand. Try and distinguish benefits as opposed to features, and think about the emotional benefits for the customer, not just functional ones.
- Brand Personality
If the brand was a person, what words would you use to describe them? How would they behave?
- Brand Opposite
With regards to brand values, benefits and personality, think about what your brand definitely isn’t. This can really help if you are struggling to define what it is.
5. Write your brand story
Write the story of your brand – what are its origins, how and when did it begin? What does it do? Why does your brand matter? Who used to be involved, what are their stories, who are involved now? A compelling and heartfelt story can connect to a customer and make them feel something for your brand that no other information can achieve. Tell your story and make it compelling. Make sure it is weaved throughout all your communication.
6. Design the brand essentials
Think about all the opportunities where your brand will come into contact with either your customer or key influencers. Each of these opportunities must present the brand in a way that is true to your vision above. This can be anything from how the phone is answered and a customer query dealt with, or the clothes that your team will wear, to promotional leaflets or social media pages. Design each and every opportunity so that the personality and promise of the brand is clear, evident and consistent.
7. Launch your brand
Write a list of everyone that you would like to know about your brand. Include your customers, potential customers, suppliers, local media (radio and newspaper), and local businesses. Then tell everyone! Tailor the communication to the audience. So, for a future customer, if it is a retailer or store owner, they deserve a face-to-face ‘launch’ including a special gift or ‘launch’ offer. If you need to target the general public, maybe the local paper can run an editorial/advertorial feature on the brand? Be excited about your brand, and your enthusiasm will rub off. If you need to attract brand new customers that may not be aware of your brand, what can you offer to get them to try the brand?
8. Promote your brand
Keeping in mind your customer, your goals, and any promotional budget you might have, build a basic plan of promotion. This can include anything that supports the brand, drives awareness and encourages sales, and doesn’t have to be costly. Ideas could be monthly specials, changing displays, coupon or offer in a local paper, creation of a loyalty club, displays at events, sponsorships, radio advertising, social media and more. Communicate this to your customers, and ask for their feedback. Do you feel confident that your ideas will drives sales and brand awareness? How will you be able to measure the success of every change?
9. Communicate, communicate, and communicate!
The circle of interest that you have started to develop as a result of the above steps will grow as the brand’s life cycle begins. Keep them informed, and make them feel part of the brand. Be honest about your challenges, share your successes with them, and they will become brand ambassadors for you.
10. Evaluate and improve
Make time to regularly consider your brand and its plan. Are the values still relevant, are they being displayed by every member of the brand team? Is your promise to your customer still unique or do you need to consider new challenges or threats? Be inquisitive and look for ways to constantly improve every aspect of what you do. Effective brand management is more important than ever before as companies compete for customer attention across a multitude of platforms. Those who take the time to do this right, from the outset, will develop a unique identity and value proposition which will give them a competitive edge. Maintaining a brand and ensuring it remains relevant as customer demands and behaviours change will also drive growth and profitability.
If you want to learn more about how to grow a brand, contact us.