If you’re thinking about building a brand, particularly from scratch, you best be prepared to roll up your sleeves. The journey can be very tedious, time intensive and expensive. It can also be a very exciting one.
Remember, every decision you make is significant and effects the development process and final outcome of the brand. Before getting started, ask yourself a few pertinent questions.
– Why did we start all this? | Build a Purpose.
– Where would you like the brand to be in years to come? | Define long-term goals.
– Where would you like the brand to be in your customers eyes? | Positioning.
– What is it going to take to get there? | A brand Identity & communication plan.
Building a brand and branding, the difference
Before we proceed, it’s important to understand the difference between a ‘brand’ and ‘branding’. A brand is set of associations, perceptions or expectations, both tangible and intangible, that people consider when they come into contact with your offering.
Branding on the other hand is the art of managing that ‘consideration’ set over time. It deals with the consistent promotion of the brand’s promise and what it stands for. With that said, Let’s get started.
Step 1: Research the playing field
Research is the foundation of all good brands. You will want to spend a lot of time in introspection, fully appreciating what your intended brand is and more importantly what it isn’t. If your brand were a person, what sort of personality would it have? what would the guiding values be? what inspires it?
You also want to learn more about your competitors, direct and indirect, their offerings, the type of position they take, the type of customer they look for, their messaging, USPs etc. It’s worth using attribute models to draw comparisons.
Now that you have a better picture of the contested market space, it’s time to turn our attention to your ideal customer. Understanding who your customers are, how the brand fits into their lives and why they’d prefer to do business with you rather than the competition are just some of the important questions you want answers to.
Step 2: Find a position
There is no way to stand out as a brand if you don’t occupy a distinct position in the customers head. The brand needs to stand for something. Finding uncontested space is difficult but not impossible. It takes a bit of creative thinking. For more information on positioning, read “The Concept Of Positioning“.
Step 3: Constructing the brand
Equipped with market intelligence and your position, it’s time to begin building your brand. A brand identity is the face and voice we give to the brand. This is what the outside world will see. Brand identity must be in perfect sync with what the brand stands for. It must always communicate what the brand is, never off tangent. We use this brand identity together with all content creation consistently so that the message we convey is firmly established. Components of brand identity include visual and audible elements. Click the links below for more information on each.
1) Brand Name
2) Brand Logo
3) Brand Tagline
6) All Design material – Digital & otherwise
1) Brand Voice
2) Brand Sound/s
Step 4: Extensions, Descriptors, Sub-brands & Endorsements
It’s always a good idea to keep an eye on the future and hence prepare the brand today for possible extensions later. Will this brand be a solo offering or would a category be developed around it? Would several new brands be created to cover more of the market? Will there be a need for descriptors to classify and help the audience understand better? Will sub-brands or lending endorsements to other brands be part of the long-term goal? For more information on the subject, read – “Brand Portfolio Architecture“.
Step 5: Communication
While it’s fabulous to know what your brand is and what it looks like, no one else is going to find out unless you present it to them through some form of communication. Communication channels can be broken down into traditional (Television, Radio, Print, Outdoor Media, Indoor Media, Word-of-mouth and events) or digital (Internet Search, Online Advertising, Social Media, Content Marketing, Email Marketing, Podcasts, Webinars etc).
The key is deciding which channels help you connect with your desired audience efficiently and effectively.
Step 6: Remember the purpose
While the above steps are easily replicable by just about anyone, the one thing that allows a brand to stick out in the crowd is ‘meaning’, the substance behind the brand, the secret sauce, the stories, the purpose, the difference. What makes it unique? There is a huge gulf between a good brand and a great one. Great ones build remarkable ‘meaning’ into themselves.
Step 7: Offer an unparalleled experience
Establishing extraordinary ‘meaning’ isn’t enough to get by these days. Delivering exceptional experiences to customers has become gospel. That means every touchpoint and every interaction with a customer within the brand ecosystem is an opportunity to forge a connection and garner loyalty. Maintaining consistency is key. Let every aspect of your business tell the brand’s story.
Ultimately, what you create at the end of this process must leave you comfortable with your decisions. For a brand to flourish, internal buy-in is as important as external acceptance.