When you look up the definition of brand development, here’s what you’ll find:
“A metric of marketing success that measures the number of sales within a specific market. The calculation is expressed as the number of unit sales per thousand people within a geographic area.”
Pretty straightforward, right? Yes and no. While this definition covers the all-important factor of sales, there are other aspects of brand development that are less straightforward and more intangible. Elements such as brand perception, image, messaging, and culture all contribute to the development of a brand. These elements, combined with sales, marketing, advertising, and every other facet of your business, are included in brand development.
Brand Development Starts With Strategy
Every brand activity needs to start with a strategy. In order for your brand to develop you need to know where the brand is headed, how it’s going to arrive at its destination, and what resources are needed to achieve goals. You can accomplish all this by following four basic principles:
1. Conduct brand research
The research you use sets the tone for your brand goals. Using surveys, focus groups, quizzes, competitive analysis, and more, you can discover messaging, perceptions, and responses that resonate with your target audience.
2. Set brand goals
Goals must be based the results of your brand development research and should allow you to measure brand growth, success, and areas of opportunity.
3. Determine resources
Ask a series of discovery questions to decide what resources will be needed to reach brand goals. Key areas to focus on include, how long it will take to attain goals, how many people are needed, the cost of each goal, and expertise or training that is needed to succeed.
4. Organize your strategy
Once you have all the pieces in place, it’s time to begin laying out a plan of action. Start by developing the steps that must be taken to reach each goal, taking into account your allocated resources.
Nurture Brand Development
It’s always best not to force the development of your brand. If you’re trying to build a brand with messaging that doesn’t match the delivery of products and services, there’s a disconnect between leadership and the development of the brand. The development process should be organic. Allow your brand to grow without forcing it to become something it’s not. Some of the most successful businesses evolved from an idea that was very different from concept to execution. What’s the key? Listening to your audience. The technology sector is especially prone to brand evolution, with changes in communication and audience needs taking place rapidly.
Guide Brand Development
There are two kinds of business owners; (1) those who force brand development and (2) those who nurture it. Those who nurture development will find that they can still guide the direction of their brand’s evolution.
Don’t change your goals. Remember that your brand development strategy will always play a pivotal role in your business. This allows you to manage the major decisions that come with growth and opportunity. Goals that have already been set don’t need to be changed unless the purpose of your business has been altered. Instead, focus on following the path you laid out during the strategy phase and make small course adjustments when needed.
The best way to guide your brand consistently and accurately is by following brand guidelines. Brand guidelines (aka your brand bible) operate much like a SOP for acceptable brand behavior. Establishing guidelines will allow your team to conduct themselves in a way that enhances the brand’s image and builds positive rapport with your target audience. As an extension of brand development, the guidelines should not be so rigid that they cannot be adjusted to compensate for industry shifts. The key to successful brand development is allowing changes to take place naturally.