Brand Development: Developing your Brand for Maximal Growth
Do your consumers exhibit a low repeat purchase rate? Are you finding it challenging to grow your company's social media following? Do you experience frequent unfollows on your social media profiles? Do you experience low engagement and conversation on your content? Do you find it hard to compete with more well-known brands in your category? If your answer is yes to some of these questions, your company may need a better brand development strategy.
In the following article, we will delve into what brand development is and how it can drive your company's brand loyalty and long-term growth.
What is Brand Development
There are many terms related to branding, and it can get quite confusing. You may hear phrases such as 'brand identity,' 'brand strategy,' 'brand positioning,' and 'brand loyalty,' and we have articles that dive into these concepts in more comprehensive depth. Simply put, brand development is the umbrella term that encompasses all of these concepts. It is the process of building, strategizing, implementing, and maintaining your brand so that your consumers convert from one-time purchasers to repeat customers who use and advocate for your company and its products in the long run.
With that, we must first understand what your 'brand' is. Contrary to popular belief, your brand is not your logo, your product, your website, your company, your voice, or your visuals. If your company were a person, your brand would be the person's personality. It's how your company looks, what it represents, and how it makes your consumers feel. It is the intangible, emotional connection formed between you and your consumers that makes you distinctive from and more memorable than your competitors. It relays what you do, why you do what you do, and why consumers should identify with you and purchase from you. With efficient and effective brand development, your company can utilize your brand's power to sell more products at a higher value.
Benefits of Brand Development
Marketers often know that brand development is a crucial foundation for a company's long term success, but what benefits can it bring? Here, we've listed just how it can change your company:
Increases awareness and recognition
Your brand development strategy is a reflection of why your company does what it does and what it stands for. Therefore, its impact does not start with your consumers; it starts with your internal stakeholders – particularly your employees. Your credibility is built as your company makes decisions to act, behave and communicate in alignment with the clear values set in your strategy and set by fully understanding your consumers and their expectations.
In recent years, Nike has taken its brand message “anyone with a body is an athlete” and translated it to an identifiable purpose that dares to push diversity, community and inclusion into the public consciousness. While controversial at times, Nike ads like “Dream Crazy” have shown customers that, whether they agree or not, Nike supports social change – a decision differentiating it from the competition and appealing to its customers.
Influences internal and external credibility
Your brand development strategy is a reflection of why your company does what it does and what it stands for. Therefore, the impact of it does not start with your consumers, its starts with your internal stakeholders – particularly your employees. Your credibility is built as your company makes decisions to act, behave, and communicate in alignment with the clear values set in your strategy and set by fully understanding your consumers and their expectations.
When your purpose is clear through brand messaging and activation, a cycle of internal and external brand credibility and advocacy begins. When employees believe in what they are promoting, customers register that as a point of brand credibility. When a brand is consistent over many touchpoints, customers advocate for the brand themselves. They thereby encourage employees that their actions are credible – attracting more likeminded people to your company internally and externally.
For example, Atlanta-based chicken sandwich restaurant chain Chick-fil-A has developed its brand by sticking to its value of a culture of care. Known as one of the most courteous fast-food purveyors and one of the best workplace environments in the U.S., Chick-fil-A’s brand is completely aligned with its customers and employee’s values and lifestyles – and it pays off. According to Forbes, the chain has a 32.9% market share, tripled its annual sales since 2007, and, according to The Axios Harris Poll, has the lead spot over all restaurants in the country for Corporate Reputation – including more global fast-food chains like McDonald’s.
Deepens consumer loyalty
Similar to the point above, brand development allows your company to go beyond offering functional products; its primary value is creating emotional connections with your consumers. When consumers remember, connect with, and trust your brand, consumer loyalty is built. Measure consumer loyalty with indicators such as social media following, repeat purchase rates, or membership registrations. It creates more organic buzz, security for your future products, and ultimately drives sales and growth for your company.
One company that has garnered extreme success in customer loyalty through masterful branding is Apple. Apple's minimalist, sleek design, coupled with its "Think Different" campaign, catapulted this brand product to paramount success.
The "Think Different" Campaign":
"Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do."
This iconic campaign painted Apple as a brand for those who dared to be different, the ones who are innovative, bold, and rebellious. People wanted to identify with this persona, and Apple products became their status symbol in doing so. More than two decades later, Apple has grown to be one of the world's most profitable companies. Although outperformed in many features and specs, Apple's loyal consumers have been remained unwavering as Apple has evolved beyond its products to the identity it offers.
Converts purchasers into advocates
Once consumer loyalty is earned, you may then see the fundamental change in your consumers from one-time purchasers to 'users' and 'advocates' of your brand. People like to disperse information that makes them seem informed, in the know, or represent a value respectable to others. When your company can offer a functional product with considered and altruistic values, your brand will be more likely to become contagious through word-of-mouth and user-generated content.
A great example of this is the LA-based fashion brand, Reformation. For those unfamiliar with the brand, Reformation makes high quality, sustainable dresses for all women. Their unique value proposition is, "Being naked is the #1 most sustainable option. We're #2." With sustainability and ethical practices at the centre of the brand and gorgeous products, Reformation has risen to popularity quickly since its conception in 2009. Projected to rake in over USD 150 million in sales in 2019 and garner over 290K likes on Facebook, 12.9K followers on Twitter, and a 1.6m Instagram audience, Reformation's success is thanks to it becoming the poster fashion brand for eco-friendly, sustainable fashion.
As you may understand, an effective brand development strategy can bring a multitude of benefits to your company. In the following, we will explore the process in which we help our clients create the most effective and tailored brand for their companies.
The process of developing your brand
As we have also detailed in our brand strategy, we have devised the following systematic branding process for our respective clients to ensure maximal growth and success.
Define your Business and Marketing Objectives as these objectives should inform the goals your brand strategy aims to achieve and how it will achieve them.
Conduct Desktop Research into ongoing market trends to understand what upward trends you can ride to position your brand for success in the long run.
Conduct Research into Competitors to know your competitors' position and what niche they own, so you may determine if you want to compete directly or find an area of uncontested market space.
Conduct Consumer Research - There are myriad ways to better understand your target consumers, especially with the amount of data collected through social media. Using tools such as Facebook Analytics and ethnographic research, you can easily delve deeper into your target consumers' needs, wants, and desires to inform your brand strategy.
Conduct a Brand Audit of your company to understand your internal strengths, vision, employee motivations, values, and promises you will be able to uphold credibly.
Extract Insights and make sense of all the information you have gathered, weighing each factor in your brand strategy.
Creatively Conceptualize your brand strategy and condense your brand position into a brand positioning statement with some preliminary visuals and texts for further validation.
Use Perceptual Mapping, a powerful tool recommended by the Harvard Business Review, to connect your brand positioning with your business outcomes such as sales and price, and compare them to your competitors to understand where you stand in the market.
Test, Test, and Test your brand strategy images, visuals, and concepts, because what better way to know what your audience wants than to directly hear from them? There are a variety of testing methods, such as focus groups, surveys, and social media polls.
Devise Marketing Tactics and strategies that best suit your company and product and create a strategic plan and timeline to be implemented.
Integrate your brand strategy into all of your visuals, texts, and consumer-facing touchpoints, ensuring high quality and consistency throughout. Commonly, create a brand book to advise and guide all your current and future visuals, texts, and marketing activities.
Launch your social media profiles, websites, and marketing campaigns to start building relationships with your consumers.
Analyze your marketing campaigns using tools such as Google Analytics, Hubspot, or SimilarWeb, to name a few, and extract insights on where your campaigns are succeeding and where you may need further revisions.
Improve your brand strategy according to your analytics insights and maintain an agile and flexible mindset to change the market accordingly.
Brand development is often a long and meticulous process that can take over a year. However, with advertising spaces being more saturated than ever, companies may find it harder year by year to stand out with functional products. Brand development allows you to take your company beyond the benefits of your product, creating an identity that resonates with your target audience. With a distinctive, authentic, and memorable brand identity, you will then be able to unite your company, differentiate your brand, and drive growth for your company with more efficiency.
What did you think about this? We would love to hear your feedback! Please drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to learn more, please also see our other articles on branding and how we have helped our clients grow their brand effectively!