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The branding process is a highly organized approach to bringing a brand to life.
It’s a long-term project that takes a wealth of resources and creative juices to execute. Its benefits are well-documented and they have a profound impact on the bottom line.
You could say a beloved brand is one of the most valuable assets any business can possess.
We all know champions that sit on top of the food chain in the business world. These industry leaders spend a copious amount of money to retain their distinguished positions in consumers’ eyes.
However, many people don’t know what’s actually going on under the polished hood. The purpose of this guide is to examine the often-overlooked nuts and bolts of branding.
From the Ground Up
The branding process refers to activities aimed at creating and communicating a brand to customers.
We should emphasize right away the brand itself is usually defined as consumers’ perception of a business. This definition, however, tells only one side of the story. A brand is an amalgam of several different components.
- Brand Strategy
- Brand Identity
- Brand Tools
- Brand Building
Businesses have to forge each one of these separately and then blend them together.
And it all begins with a brand strategy, which lays the foundations for everything that is to come. In other words, this document outlines the processes and gears them toward desired outcomes.
Every brand strategy is rooted in a sense of brand identity.
The early planning stage resembles a process of self-discovery, where executives consult overall business strategies, plans, and goals. They also take into account individual perspectives via interviews, surveys, or other means.
The next order of business is identifying a target audience.
This priority process requires organizations to carry out extensive market research. They gather vital data points, such as demographics and online habits, using them to support decision-making and enable precise targeting.
Once that is sorted out, companies create a positioning statement, which defines the tone of messages that brand emits. It’s a short (one-paragraph), accurate description of who company is and what it stands for.
There’s also an aspirational aspect to it— what kind of brand it wants to become. These two facets work in conjunction to inform internal and external parties, such as stakeholders and customers.
Tools of the Trade
Brand building can entail two things— the development of a completely new brand or rebranding of the old one.
In both cases, the main goal is to establish an emotional connection with the audience and provide an amazing user experience (UX). You may notice these goals belong to the realm of abstractions and you would be half-right.
For instance, reputation may precede businesses, but it actually consists of very concrete elements. Think in terms of customer testimonials displayed on the website or blog posts where business owners show off their expertise. The bottom line is reputation, just like brand identity, has to be visible on consumer-facing avenues in order to exist.
This is to say businesses realize brand identity via assets such as:
- Web design
- Business name
- Visuals (images, infographics, videos)
- Premises (offices, stores)
- Print material
- Business collateral
These assets help brands make a positive impression on customers. They correspond to various types of marketing tactics— blogging, SEO, social media, email marketing, advertising, and traditional marketing.
In reality, a brand picks a limited number of these channels according to their predicted effectiveness.
Enhancing the Competitive Edge
Years of industry practice have also shown modern brands rely on two brand tools to hit their goals.
These are business websites and business development toolkits. The latter refers to a set of instruments for presenting the business and incorporating strategies. The most common instruments are business/service descriptions, explainer videos, tradeshow booths, etc.
Moving on, effective branding always relies on differentiators as main weapons in a market battle.
These are the characteristics that set one organization from the competition. Most brands have a few differentiators they choose to highlight. The basic rule is they have to be true, specific, relevant, and provable.
Making empty promises or generic claims doesn’t cut it. Brands are better off doing in-depth competitor research and. This analysis is supposed to detect:
- Direct competitors
- Indirect competitors
- Future (potential) competitors
It’s common to perform a SWOT analysis as an integral part of this process. Chief objectives are to evaluate exactly what you’re up against and improve your strategic positioning.
A Work in Progress
After a brand launch, there’s still a long way to go.
In fact, that’s just the beginning of the journey. It’s necessary to infuse a distinct brand personality and voice into everything a company does from that point on.
To remain competitive, businesses have to master a few different kinds of storytelling. Visual modus is gaining more and more weight as time passes by. But, one shouldn’t overlook text-based assets either.
A combo of the two is what improves campaign outcomes across channels.
Another thing that accomplished brands strive to do is to remain consistent over time. Brand voice and usage guidelines, as well as creative briefs, enable everyone to dance to the same tunes.
Teams also follow detailed calendars, assignments, and time-framed goals. There are usually key performance indicators (KPIs) in place to measure the success of branding.
This kind of smart and systematic approach is the key to avoiding image-tarnishing mistakes and brand confusion. It maximizes the prospects of hitting it big in a competitive landscape.
Trust the Branding Process
Planning and executing a branding process can be daunting, as it involves a host of moving parts.
The good news is the order of steps and activities is charted. Having a clear-clear vision and detailed blueprint is absolutely imperative.
A brand strategy is the starting point, which marks the inception of the brand. It sets the stage for processes and tools businesses use to flesh out and then promote the brand identity.
One of the most challenging tasks though is distilling and refining the brand essence into something people can experience and feel. This process is vital to fostering strong and meaningful connections with the audience.
To make the magic happen, we ought to all draw lessons from the most cherished brands of today that belong to the divine pantheon. If you play your cards well, you have a chance to ascend too.
Get in touch with us in case you require assistance with particular aspects of your strategy.