10 Steps To Brand Development What Is Brand Development? Brand development is the process of creating and strengthening your business’s brand. As we help companies, organizations, and personal brands develop their brands, we divide the process into three phases: The first phase is getting your brand strategy right and aligned with your business objectives. Second is developing all the tools you will need to communicate the brand, such as your logo, tagline, color scheme, and website. Lastly, the phase of strengthening your newly developed or updated brand. Your brand development strategy is how you will go about accomplishing these tasks. If you’re wondering what even is a brand and why your business needs it, check out our blog post for more information here. If you’re ready to take your business to the next level, here’s 10 steps to brand development! 1. Consider your overall business strategy. A strong, well differentiated brand will make growing your business much easier. But what type of business do you want? Are you planning to grow organically? Your overall business strategy is the context for your brand development strategy, so that’s the place to start. If you are clear about where you want to take your business, your brand will help you get there. 2. Identify your target clients. Who are your target clients? If you say “everybody” you are making a very big mistake. Our research clearly shows that high growth, high profit businesses are focused on having clearly defined target clients. The narrower the focus, the faster the growth. The more diverse the target audience, the more diluted your marketing efforts will be. So how do you know if you have chosen the right target client group? That’s where Step 3 comes in. 3. Research your target client group. Companies that do systematic research on their target clients grow faster and are more profitable (see figure below). Further, those that do research more frequently (at least once per quarter) grow faster still. Research helps you understand your target client’s perspective, anticipate their needs, and put your message in a language that resonates with them. You could have a great product or service, but if it is not said in such a way that resonates with them, you will lose your audience, you will just become part of the “noise.” 4. Develop your brand positioning. You are now ready to determine your business’s brand positioning within the marketplace. How is your business different from others and why should potential clients within your target audience choose to invest and buy from you? A “positioning statement” is typically three to five sentences in length and captures the essence of your brand positioning. Remember to stay grounded in reality, you will have to deliver on what you promise and propose to customers. It would be wise to also be a bit aspirational, this way you have something to strive for. 5. Develop your messaging strategy. The fifth step is a messaging strategy that translates your brand positioning into messages to your different target audiences. This is an important step in making your brand relevant to your target audiences. Your target audiences typically include potential clients, potential employees, referral sources or other influencers, as well as potential partnering opportunities. While the core of your brand positioning is the same for all, each audience will be interested in different aspects of it. The messages to each audience will emphasize the most relevant points that are important to them. Each audience will also have specific concerns that must be addressed, and each will need different types of evidence to support your messages. Your messaging strategy should address all of these needs. 6. Develop your name, logo and tagline. For many businesses, a name change is not required. But if you are a new business, are undergoing a merger, or are burdened with a name that no longer suits your positioning, a name change may be in order. Even if you don’t change your name, a new logo or tagline may make sense to better support your brand positioning. Here’s a secret, before we were Elevance Marketing, we started out as Black Paw Marketing. We went through a major re-branding when we came to the realization that Black Paw meant absolutely nothing and was not resonating with anyone. Now, we go by Elevance because we truly believe that just like in life, in marketing you need balance to grow. With balance is how we elevate brands, hence the name “Elevance.” (Elevate + Balance) Remember, your name, logo and tagline are not your brand. They are ways to communicate or symbolize your brand. You must live it to make it real. And don’t make the mistake of showing the new logo around internally to get a consensus. The name, logo and tagline are not for you. They are for your marketplace and should be judged on how well they communicate, not how much the partners like them. 7. Develop your content marketing strategy. Content marketing is particularly well suited to professional services in the Internet age. It does all things traditional marketing does but it does them more efficiently. It uses valuable educational content to attract, nurture, and qualify prospects. Remember that your brand strength is driven by not only visibility, but reputation as well. Increasing visibility alone, without strengthening your reputation, is rarely ever successful. That’s why traditional “awareness-building” advertising so often leave clients with disappointing results. On the other hand, content marketing increases both visibility and reputation at the same time and is also the perfect way to make your brand relevant to your target audiences. Case closed! 8. Develop your website. Your website is your single most important brand development tool. It is almost always the first impression your business will make on new prospecting clients, so having a well put together, responsive, website is a pretty big deal. It is the place where all your audiences turn to learn what you do, how you do it and who you’ve worked with. Prospecting clients are not likely to choose your company solely based on your website. but they may well rule you out if your site sends the wrong message. Further, your website will be home to all your valuable content. That content becomes the focus of your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts so that your prospects, potential employees, and referral sources will find and learn about your business. Online content is central to any modern brand development strategy. 9. Build your marketing toolkit. The next step in the process is to build out the remainder of your marketing toolkit. This might include one-page “sales sheets” that describe core services, offerings, or key markets served. In addition, there may be a brief “pitch deck” that overviews the company or key offerings and a brochure. These are rarely printed pieces anymore. Increasingly this marketing toolkit also includes videos. Popular video topics include overviews, case studies or “meet the partner” videos. Key services offerings are also very useful. If prepared appropriately, these tools serve not only a business development function but also are important for brand development. 10. Implement, be consistent, and track. This final step in the brand development process may be one of the most important, obviously a winning brand development strategy doesn’t do much good if it is never implemented! We believe in the speed of implementation and consistency, that is when you see results and change really starts to take place in your business. You might be surprised at how often a winning strategy is developed and started with all the good intentions, then reality intervenes. People get busy with client work and brand development tasks get put off… then forgotten. That’s why tracking is so important! We strongly recommend tracking both the implementation of the plan as well as results and consistency. Did the strategy get implemented as planned? What happened with the objective measures, such as search traffic and web visitors? How many new leads, employee applications and partnering opportunities were generated? By tracking the entire process you make sure you’re making the right adjustments and are heading in the right direction. There you have it — 10 steps to brand development process to drive more growth and opportunities!