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Complete guide to Brand Development Strategy and Business Branding

Complete guide to Brand Development Strategy and Business Branding

1. What is Brand Development ?

Brand development process is all about the strategic decisions you take to differentiate yourself from your competitors. This includes how your Brand interacts with its audience, the logo, the typography used or even what your employees wear to work everyday. Brand development requires consistency across all the channels and audience touch points. Your Brand Development process should align with your business objectives. 

2. What is Business Branding ?

Branding as a concept is much older than you think. The word brand came from the old Norse word “BRANDR” which meant “to burn”. Somewhere around the 1500s Brand started meaning marks on cattle which were created using hot iron stamps. These marks were used to differentiate cattle from each other and each owner used one single type of mark on all its cattle. This concept of marking the cattle was soon implemented on commodities when the economy started growing and export started. The crates carrying export items were burnt to mark the source and over time this became an indication of perceived quality and trust. By the 1870s companies started registering Trademarks to differentiate itself from its competitors. Edward Bernays published a book called “ Propaganda” and argued that personification of companies can be used to create mass changes in public behavior. Business Branding can be summed up to the creation of your brand expressions and communicating it to the audience on a constant basis, so that the customer perceives your business in a way that you want them to see or feel.  

Business Branding

3. Introduction to Strategic Branding:

Branding and Marketing are two different things, period. People confuse both as the same because both have the same end result. Branding is all about creating relationships and building trust while marketing is about attracting the potential customers. Simple rule of Thumb is Branding Nurtures and Marketing attracts. 

Modern Branding is much more complex due to the presence of Social media and the internet. Now every customer is a brand ambassador and can create a negative or positive sentiment about your brand anytime they want just by posting on social media. Therefore brands need to be on their best behavior as any misappropriation can go viral and can impact a brand significantly. 

4. What is Internal Branding?

Internal Branding is the way in which a business explains its employee about the purpose and reason behind it’s existence. In simple terms Internal Branding is all about why a brand or business exists. It is important because it keeps the employee motivated and makes them understand the bigger reason why the business exists.

Internal Branding explained

4.1 What is Brand Purpose?

In simple terms brand purpose is all about Why the brand does what it does? It should be bigger than making money and should be able to drive employees to work every morning and compel the audience to trust in your brand. Brand purpose has two factors one is the inner belief and the other is aligned belief. Inner belief is what the leadership and the employees believe as a company while aligned belief is the projection of this on the audience and customers and how they perceive the brand.

The funny part is that most of the brands know what they do, they know how they do it but only very few brands know why they do it. Knowing the “why”  is the key difference between a business and a brand. 

A good way to start defining a brand purpose is ask yourself: 

  1. Does your brand change people’s lives?
  2. Who are these people whom you are trying to help?
  3. What value are you providing to these people whom you are trying to help?
  4. Do these people you are trying to impact feel the same about your brand? How do they perceive you?
  5. What is the common thing between how you perceive yourself vs how people perceive you?

4.2 What is Brand Vision?

Brand Vision is the ultimate aim that you are trying to achieve in future by implementing smaller strategic decisions in the present. Brand Vision is like a dream that a business chases. It should be inspiring enough to drive employees on a day to day basis and also big enough to impact the life of masses.

Brand Vision statement

4.3 What is a Brand Mission?

Brand mission is where does my brand aspire to go, what does it aspire to be and what impact it aspire to have. Brand mission is a smaller step that you need to take to reach the ultimate Brand vision. The difference between mission and vision is now and the future. 

It is important for a Business to first have an internal vision and mission. Brand Mission should have: 

  1. Substance and genuine ambition from the top leadership.
  2. Big bold and scary ambitions
  3. Reasons to motivate the employees
  4. Influencing power for the decisions

At the end of the day Brand Mission should be possible and consistent.

Brand Mission statement

4.4 What is Brand Value ?

Brand Value or Core Values are principles that humanize brands or define what they are. It defines the character of the brand. 95% of the buying decision is all in the subconscious mind. Brand Principle becomes part of the fabric of internal brand and defines the brand culture. Core Values define how the audience experiences your brand, so while developing them businesses should focus on what they want their customers to say about them.

5. What is Brand Positioning?

Goal of positioning is to separate yourself from others. Positioning is inside the mind of the audience, employees and business owner. Each brand has its own position in audience mind and market as a whole. Different people will have different understanding of a Brand. Global positioning is the key thing for which you want your brand to be known for. You also need to build a Positioning map this will define how you position your brand against your competitors.

Brand Positioning

5.1 Understanding your Audience:

To define your Business Branding Strategy, you need to define who exactly are your audience. The document which is used to understand your audience is called Audience persona. When starting out you can define your customers on the basis of at least Demographics (to find their situation) and Psychographics (how they behave).

Buyer persona

5.2 Understanding your Competitors:

Look at your competitor with reference to positioning. Try to find out what they are missing and then find that Gap and fill it from your side. 

You can also do a competitor audit. The main thighs to focus on while doing this audit is:

  1. Brand Positioning
  2. Market sector they are targeting
  3. Brand personality
  4. User experience 
  5. Reviews to find out what is going on and what are good or bad things about the brand 

5.3 Defining the Differentiator:

Your Brand differentiator is what you do different from our competitor which add value to the consumers or customers. 

This Differentiator can be: 

  1. Price of service or product
  2. Niche that your product or service target
  3. Make the life easier for customer or solve a problem 
  4. It inspire people to be a rebel or different from general public
  5. It has a specific country of origin
  6. It take a big name competitor and targets it ( claims themselves as second best)
  7. The brand support a purposeful cause
  8. The brand align well with a moment or feeling
  9. Serve an unmet need  

There could be thousands of ways to differentiate your Brand. It totally depends on you how you bring it in front of your audience. 

6. What is Brand Expression?

As the name suggests it’s how your brand expresses itself in front of your customers and audience. This can include all verbal and visual form expressions like logo, typography, stories etc. 

6.1 What is Brand Character?

Brand Character is Humanization of your Brand. This includes attributes and character like how we perceive other humans. You can see different brand character types in the below image. It’s important to be consistent with your Brand Character across all messaging, communication and steps.

6.1.1 What is Brand Personality?

Like humans, every brand has a personality. Similar to interacting with other humans, people generally prefer to interact with one brand personality more than other. Thus, it becomes important for a Brand to first find out which Brand personality is most acceptable among the audiences and then plan according to it. In the world of social media it becomes important for brands to have a Personality so that they can talk to customers. Hence its important to develop Characteristics, Attitudes, Opinions, Languages, Tone and Outlook and use these to communicate with people in open forums, social media etc. 

6.1.2 The concept of Brand Archetypes:

While all the businesses generally have very transactional relationships with their customers, good and popular brands connect with their customer and audience at a much deeper level. These connections at a much deeper level are related to our internal desires. One of the most notable psychologists Carl Jung came up with the concept of Archetypes. He created a framework in which every basic human desire is represented by an Archetype. Using this Archetype a company can target its audience in a much better way, as these archetypes define characters and personality. The idea of Archetypes is very very complex and should not be confused. As a confused Brand may make things worse instead of improving them. 

6.2 What is Brand Verbal expression?

Verbal Branding is the representation of your brand by the use of something written such as stories, language, message or Tag lines. Brand verbal expression is important because more than half of the Brand content is written. Be it websites, Brochures, EMails, Letters, Advertising, all of these require some kind of language or verbal expression to be displayed to the customer. Thus, your Brands verbal expression becomes important as you will use all this in creation of copy or content. 

6.2.1 Concept of Brand Psychology:

Due to Human evolution over the years, our brain is developed in such a manner that it tries to conserve energy. So complex and difficult to understand messages are generally filtered out by our subconscious brain. In fact about 80% of the messages are filtered out by our Brain. So it becomes more important for us to keep the messaging simple and easy to understand.  

Many studies have shown again and again that we have natural attraction towards things which we find simple and easy to understand. To design an attractive message we need to consider time, attention span and how uncomplicated the language. 

Emotions have a positive or negative effect on your body. Emotions also impact our behavior which are important for Brands. As a Brand you are supposed to have an audience persona and understand emotions of your audience so that you can form a connection. The emotional experience before a brand emotion is delivered can be positive or negative. As a brand strategist we should ensure that once the brand emotion is delivered the emotional experience should always be positive. 

Five key factors that you can apply from Neuromarketing while designing your messages are: 

  1. Emotional Focus
  2. Leverage Visuals
  3. Smart Pricing
  4. Social Proofs 
  5. Subtle differences. 

6.2.2 What is Brand Core Message?

Brand Core message is the underlying theme on which all other brand messaging or marketing messaging is created. Brand messaging consists of two parts: 

  1. Primary message: which defines your brand positioning 
  2. Secondary message: which defines your brand purpose. 

Factors to consider while designing the core message are Simplicity, Emotions and Personality.

6.2.3 What is Brand Storytelling?

Your Brand story is an adaptation of your core message. Brand stories need to resonate with the customers like any good story. Storytelling is important because people share their experiences with each other using it. Science and research has proven again and again that stories are one of the best ways in which people packet data and transfer to each other. Stories go much deeper in the brain and so impact significantly compared to simple facts. One of the most popular storytelling frameworks is the Hero’s Journey. This framework can be used to write your Brand Stories.

6.2.4 How important is Brand Name?

While most of the popular brands today were named without much consideration, your Brand name can be a good way to create brand positioning, share substance and message with your audience. Use your Brand verbal expressions to come up with the Brand name. This can include purpose, vision, mission, value, audience, competitors, difference, personality, brand voice, core message, storytelling etc. Use all these to find keywords which are relevant to you and use those keywords to finally come up with Brand name. It should be simple, catchy, meaningful, appealing, unique and enduring.

Brand name and logos

6.2.5 What is a Brand Tagline?

Once the Brand name is decided you need to have a very clear, concise, clever and appealing Tagline. People generally confuse Tagline and Slogans, but we need to remember that Slogans are generally limited to marketing campaigns while Taglines are in reference with the Brand. You need to take in consideration your Brand Name, core messaging, internal brand statements and Brand personality in order to define a good Brand Tagline.  

6.3 What is Brand Visual Expression?

Everything you can see about a brand is its Brand Visual Expression. Images and visuals are some of the most powerful forms of communication, as it reaches a much deeper level in the human brain. Generally a Brand to remain consistent across all the platforms compile a brand style guide which is then used as a reference in creation of any visual expression. 

6.3.1 How important is Brand Logo:

It’s a well known fact that humans understand and relate to visuals in a much better way compared to audio or written communication. So, Logo is one of the most important things to focus on when it comes to Brand Identity. A Brand Visual identity is what defines the look and feel of the brand to the audiences. 

Your logo is one of the main factors which help customers differentiate you with your competitors. Brand logo should be simple, different from others, easy to remember, and should reflect your brand. Logo is the most important symbol for any brand and it should be decided with at most care.

6.3.2 Importance of Brand Color Palette:

We relate different colours with different things in nature. Also, at subconscious level these colors have different meanings to us and make us feel differently. Just think about being in nature compared to being inside a room, you will be able to think of a colour in both cases. Generally you will need three to four colors at least to define your brand palette which then will be constantly used across the communication channels. At least a Brand should three colours: 

  1. Primary colour for foreground
  2. Secondary color for background 
  3. One color for highlight or contrast 

6.3.3 What is Brand Typography?

Brand Typography is not only having a consistent font across all written communication channels but also how your messaging is arranged for making it legible to your audiences. It is the style or presentation of the text in company communication. As reading a text or message is an experience for the audience therefore a persistent way of communicating your idea is very important for every brand.

Brand color palette

6.3.4 Concept of Brand Image style and Graphics for the company:

Every brand requires a collection of images, graphics, shapes etc. which can be used for representing the core messaging in the best way. This collection is generally used across all the brand communications. Think of it as a database of different stock images and vectors which are used while designing all your designs. 

Brand Typography

7. Conclusion: How to build your Branding Strategy?

Now you know the basics of Branding. To build your branding strategy you need to apply all the concepts explained above. Here are the steps or flow of your work to design the Branding strategy for your business. You know the concept from above now you just need to answer these questions and you will be ready with your brand strategy: 

Branding Strategy infographic

Harshit Singh

Harshit is the lead writer for Marketingsupp.com. He works as a marketing and strategic consultant and has worked for numerous brands.

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