4 min read
Nothing good in life comes overnight. As much as we crave short-term success, the reality is that it sure does not come easy. It requires planning, devising strategies, implementing them, sometimes failing, and trying again until we get the results we want. In short, a good amount of blood, sweat, and tears.
The same can be applied to branding. Many businesses have a vague idea of how their branding image should look like. But getting to work and actually seeing that image come to life involves dealing with an extensive set of challenges and setbacks. And sometimes they might find that things did not pan out as they’d expect. That’s when they pivot and adjust.
Considering the uncertainty surrounding your branding initiative, it would be good to start with a plan. A step-by-step branding approach can do wonders for your business and keep you on track to reach your milestones and objectives. Wondering what should go into your plan? Read on to discover the steps you can take to inform your branding strategy and make sure you get the results you want.
Branding Strategy: A Step-by-Step Approach
Step 1: Define Your Brand
Defining your brand means setting up the foundation on which all other elements are built. Once you have a definition, it will be so much easier to measure and evaluate your branding and marketing efforts. Moreover, the defining traits should also inform other aspects of your brand — the way your office looks, what you include in your ads, and the branding elements you choose to represent your brand image.
The aspects you should consider as you define your brand are the following:
- Your unique value proposition.
Also known as the unique selling point, this aspect should clearly define what you offer to consumers and what sets you apart from the competition.
- Your target market.
At this point, you should determine what would convince a consumer to make a purchase from you, then segment your overall market, and finally research it to identify insights that can help you inform your branding strategy.
- Your employer brand.
Employees are a reflection of your brand. That’s why it’s important to define what kind of employer you want to be. To this end, establish your core values and how they are reflected in your unique value proposition. The goal here is to attract the best people and make sure they stay with your company as you grow.
Step 2: Zero In on Your Brand Objectives
Think about what you want to achieve through your branding endeavors. How are these results going to influence the way others perceive your products or services? Maybe you want to focus on brand awareness with a certain campaign. Or perhaps you want to be more sales-oriented during a certain quarter.
Setting rational and clear objectives is key to help you leverage your branding strategy to actually make your goals come true. But setting out objectives should be followed by a concise action-plan that will help you track and evaluate your progress.
Step 3: Identify Your Target Audience
Maybe you have a rough idea of your target market after you defined your brand in step 1. Now it’s time to get more granular and establish your target audience in more detail. Ask yourself the following questions as you get started:
- How old are they?
- How much do they earn?
- What do they do for a living?
- What are their interests?
- Where do they live?
- What other brand has their attention?
Zooming in on these answers can help you refine your branding efforts in order to genuinely appeal to your target customers. If you have the possibility to interact with your audience in-person, do it. It’s always a great idea to engage with your prospects and get a good grip on their needs and expectations. You can use surveys, networking groups, or forums to get in front of your audience and get noticed.
Step 4: Single Out Your Obstacles and Overcome Them
As you consider your goals and objectives, it’s also important to narrow down the obstacles that prevent you from scaling. The barriers are also known as market conditions and could put a dent in your success. That’s why a thorough analysis is in order — to help you understand what you’re up against. To get started in this direction, you could do the following:
- Observe influencers and publications
- Stay up-to-date with industry research and trend reports
- Evaluate industry behaviors using digital tools and analytics
- Keep a close eye on your competitors
- Establish a close connection with your audience
After all, these obstacles could also inspire you to develop new groundbreaking solutions that will ultimately help you carve your name in the space and stay top-of-mind with your audience.
Step 5: Design Your Brand Packaging and Visual Identity
As much as you invest in good planning and strategy, nothing will guarantee that the efforts will pay off without an eye-catching brand image. This is how consumers recognize you in the marketplace, so you have to make sure that you stand out. And of course, you have to start with the product itself.
A strong brand packaging will actually elevate your brand from a commodity to a lifestyle asset. To this end, make sure that the packaging is consistent with your brand and reflects what you want to communicate to your audience.
Once you have settled on the brand packaging, make sure you extend the same visual elements to the other consumer touchpoints as well. Include them on your website, your social media platforms, and brick and mortar stores. This will help conjure up a consistent visual identity in front of your audience.
Small Steps, Big Changes
Following these steps to branding your business will put your strategy into perspective and help you understand what else needs to be done and what you can change to maximize your efforts. And most importantly, feel free to expand your brand planning as you see fit — as long as it’s consistent with your brand strategy.
If you don’t keep your strategy top-of-mind in all branding endeavors, you risk doing everything and nothing at the same time. Combining different tactics without a center strategy means that your brand lacks an identified purpose. This will only make it more difficult for you to stand out from the crowd and leave a mark on your audience
Whether you want to grasp the basics of branding for your new business, want to work on your brand strategy, are stuck with your brand visuals or want to find branding tips on how to grow your business, check out:
- Foundations — Learn the basics of branding
- Strategy — Plan your brand strategy
- Build Story — Build a brand 1: Your brand story
- Build Visuals — Build a brand 2: Your brand visuals
- Management — Control your brand: Brand management
- Growth — Grow your brand: Brand marketing
- Improvement — Improve your brand: The rebrand
- Measurement — Measure your brand: Brand analytics and KPIs