Brand development is how you grow and nurture your brand after it’s been established. A brand “lives and evolves in the minds and hearts” of consumers, according to Purely Branded, so you will need to listen closely to what your customers are telling you and keep an eye on how the market is reacting as you continue your brand development over time.
There’s a lot that goes into making up your brand, and so many terms that get batted around, that it’s easy to get caught up in it all. So, before we dive into how to create the ultimate brand development strategies, let’s look at a few of the building blocks behind every great brand in a little more detail.
These are the core values that your brand really stands for and does its utmost to uphold and represent throughout everything you do. It could be something as broad as the term “trust” to indicate that you’re an open and transparent company that can be relied upon. This would affect everything from how you spoke to customers through your website, to the delivery company you chose to work alongside.
Alternatively, your brand values could be a little more fleshed out. Coca Cola take brand values a step further by giving a brief definition alongside each , such as: ‘Accountability: If it is to be, it’s up to me’. Or, maybe you’re a strong believer in customer experience and want your values to reflect your commitment to delivering time and again for your customers. Whatever path you take, try to define three to five brand values as a first step when bringing your brand development strategy to life.
This is the reason why the business exists in the first place. If you’re struggling, ask yourself, what are you trying to achieve? What is the driving force behind everything you do? Your brand development strategy should hinge on always attempting to achieve this mission.
Try to add a bit of colour to your brand mission – especially if you’re in a traditionally ‘drab’ industry. Your mission will often form a key part of your PR work and be quoted throughout your marketing material. Make it inspiring. Unique. And, most of all, achievable.
Every great superhero comes with an equally great origin story, and it’s the same for all the best-loved brands. Your brand’s story can end up being the most powerful weapon in your marketing arsenal and the thing that really strikes a chord with customers. If you’re struggling for inspiration, check out how brands like AirBnB and Nike use powerful brand stories to grow their business and connect with their customers.
Take it to the next level by letting your customers help shape your story. Encourage them to become part of your brand. Don’t be afraid to ask them what they think, then use their stories to further enhance your own. Making it personal builds connections like nothing else in marketing and will turn your customers into some of your biggest brand advocates.
This is where your brand sits against your competition. You can compare and benchmark yourself against competitors on a whole range of things to see how you’re faring. For many, price is the first place to start. But knowing you’re the cheapest or the most expensive isn’t enough when it comes to creating a thorough brand development strategy.
Tools like Net Promoter Score can help you to see how your customer service is ranking against the industry average, or measure across the entire customer experience to see where you’re excelling and where you might not be able to compete.
Once you know where you stand, you can start to use what you’ve learned to differentiate your brand from everyone else. Focus on what makes you special. If you have a killer USP make sure to shout it from the rooftops. If your customer service team is the best around, use your social channels to let the world know about it. Collecting and sharing customer feedback from real customers is a great source of user generated content that can help you achieve this.
How your brand looks to the outside world is made up of everything from your logo to the colours of the font on your marketing material. In fact, something as simple as colour raises brand recognition by as much as 80%. Having a strong brand identity, brimming with personality, can bring your brand to life and get it to stick in the minds of consumers forever. Take a minute to think about your favourite brands. What do you see? The logo, the website, an advert perhaps? It is these visual cues that will define your brand for a generation, so be bold and make sure you spend time on getting this right.
This is a key part of your brand development. Make sure to include key stakeholders throughout the process – and that includes your customers. Run focus groups or send out private surveys to get feedback on everything from logo design to that new, slick website you’ve just launched. And don’t be afraid of criticism, you can’t please all of the people, all of the time. Listen, learn and change to show that you’re taking what your customers say on board and value their opinion.
Now we know what goes into brand development, let’s talk about how to build a killer brand development strategy.
Your brand development strategy is not as scary as it sounds. It’s just a plan of action to help you create and grow everything we’ve already discussed above. Simple.
You’re going to need to think about what you sell, how you’re selling it and who you’re selling it to; then bring this all together to establish a strong and clear brand that can take the market by storm.
As we’ve seen, your brand is much more than just a catchy slogan or a nicely designed logo. It represents the entire experience your customers have with your business, and guides everything from your marketing to how your service team deal with complaints. On average, it takes five to seven impressions for people to remember your brand; so everything from how you look, to how you speak, is going to be crucial in helping cement your business in the minds of consumers.
A strong brand can:
Everything you do from this point on will help you to understand who you are as a business, where your brand sits in the market, what personality you convey in your marketing and, most importantly, what your customers really think about you.
These can all be pretty tough questions to answer, so to make it easier we recommend splitting your strategy into five key parts. In each part below we’ll pose several questions that, once answered, should give you a well-rounded brand development strategy that you can use to take your business to the next level.
The five parts we’re going to be focusing on are:
Before diving headfirst into your brand development strategy, try to answer the following questions. These will give you some grounding into where you’re starting your brand development from and where you’d like to get to.
Who are we now? How are we perceived by our customers?
Take a look at what your current brand looks like. Are you happy with what you see? Are your customers?
Take the opportunity to reach out and ask them how they feel about your brand. Do they understand your mission? Do they like the design of your website? Do they share your current brand values? Surveys are a fantastic way to collect insight-rich data from anyone who’s interacted with your brand; to try and uncover if your own perception is shared with your audience.
Who do we want to be? How do we want to be perceived by our customers?
Depending on the insight you gained from asking your customers, as well as your own self-reflective look at your brand, you may need to make a few changes. Use what you’ve learned to think about what you can do differently to connect more with your audience and develop a brand that people trust and want to be a part of in the future. Perhaps your customers are more concerned about the environmental impact your business is having than you thought, or, your customer service team isn’t living up to your expectations? Until you ask, you’re unlikely to ever find out!
And, just in case you were thinking why it’s so important to listen to what your customers are telling you? 43% of people will spend more money on brands they are loyal to!
Knowing exactly who your target audience is isn’t just crucial for your brand development, it’s the main driving force behind your entire business.
Having a clear picture of who you’re selling to and what motivates them is a sure-fire way to grow your business quickly and develop a strong brand that really hits the mark with consumers.
But sometimes knowing who you’re selling to can be tougher than it looks. A children’s toy store may think that parents would be their most likely customers, but dig a little deeper and they may find out that grandparents are the ones buying up all their toys. But, how can you tell? Customer reviews could hold the answers. Using a tool such as Feefo’s Performance Profiling uses the latest in AI and sentiment analysis to read through your review content and pick out key positive and negative trends your customers are speaking about. This helps you identify new audiences, popular products and even potential issues, without draining your time and resources trawling through all that feedback manually.
Who are we talking to?
Building accurate and detailed customer personas is the best way to help everyone in the wider business understand exactly who you’re targeting. It also gives you a clear focus going forward on some of the key challenges your customers are facing and how your brand can position itself to solve these.
For more on how to create customer personas, read more here.
How do we talk to them?
Where are your customers hanging out online? How are they communicating with each other and how do they want to communicate with you? You’re likely to have three or four different customer personas and you’re going to need to change how you communicate for each. Whether it’s being proactive through your social media channels or using tools like Feefo’s Review Enhanced Advertising to personalise the messaging on your paid ads.
This is where we start to think in a bit more detail about the brand values you want to stand for and the mission you ultimately hope to achieve as a business. We’ve already touched on these a little earlier on, but now you need to ask yourself a few keys questions to get to the heart of who you want to be as a brand.
What do we REALLY care about?
Is delivering an incredible customer experience the most important thing to your business? Do you pride yourself on fast delivery or are you passionate about sustainability and the environment? Whatever your “thing”, you want to reflect this clearly in your brand values. Try to move beyond buzzwords and clichés and create a list of four or five key values that really matter. The more you believe in them, the easier it will be for your customers to follow suit.
What makes our brand different?
It’s also important to understand what sets you apart from the rest of your competition. Your difference is your strength, and any major USP should be baked into your business. Understanding what makes you unique gives you something to shout about in your marketing and clearly show customers why they should choose you over the competition.
Why does our brand exist?
If you can answer this, you have your brand mission all sewn up. You should be able to boil everything about your brand down to a single purpose or problem you’re attempting to solve. This will keep your marketing focused and give everyone in your business a clear goal to strive for.
Knowing where your brand sits in relation to your competition is also a key party of your brand development. It’s important to know where you are now, but equally it’s crucial to keep an eye out for market opportunities to spot areas for growth. We’ve put together a few pointers for you, here.
In the meantime, let’s look at what you should be asking yourself when it comes to understanding your current market.
Who are our biggest competitors?
There are very few truly unexplored markets, so it’s likely you’re going to have some competition. Take a good look around and get to know your rivals. What they look like. How they speak. What they say they stand for. The more you know, the better!
What makes us different?
Once you understand who you’re up against, you can identity what makes your brand special. Your USP is your golden ticket to beating your competition when it comes to a customer deciding between two or three options, so put it front and centre of your branding. If you know you deliver exceptional service, make it part of your slogan. If you’re all about sustainability, perhaps green is the colour of choice for you. If your delivery company is the quickest around, show off your great customer reviews at the checkout page to give shoppers that final confidence boost they need to buy.
Are we competitively priced?
For many brands, their market positioning will be heavily determined by their price. As will the customers buying decision, with 70% of shoppers saying what they bought was based on getting the right price. If you’re particularly affordable, then you already have that advantage over much of your competition, but your brand development strategy needs to factor-in whether you want to make this part of your overall image. The same goes for if you’re selling a premium product or service. Consumers expect a certain degree of luxury from pricier brands and may be willing to forego some of those luxuries to get things a little cheaper.
The final piece of the brand development jigsaw is creating the visual identity for your brand and the messaging that will accompany it. It takes just ten seconds for someone to form an opinion of your brand from the logo, so first impressions really are everything!
The first contact most people have with your brand will be seeing your logo as they land on your home page or reading something you’ve written for a search or print ad, so you want it to be memorable and make an impact.
How you communicate with your customers and how your brand looks will define you. So, although you might want to jump straight into this process, it’s crucial to go back and take stock of everything else we’ve explored so far to help you paint a picture of how you should look and sound.
Just because two businesses are in the same industry, doesn’t mean that they’re going to have the same identities. German car giant BMW own and sell Mini Cooper’s, but the iconic British brand looks and sounds very different to the more luxury BMW. That’s because the audience for each are very different, so how you look and sound needs to be tailored to who you’re trying to target.
You want your consumers to have a seamless, consistent experience wherever they engage with your brand. That means that anywhere that your brand is visible will become part of your brand identity.
Here’s a few key things you’re going to want to consider, but the final list is going to be a lot bigger:
This is perhaps the most challenging part of any brand development strategy. Being able to summarise your values, mission and story into concise and compelling copy that will live long in the memory of consumers, and above all, convince them that you’re the brand for them.
Great brand messaging should be adaptable to your audience and easy for the rest of your business to get their heads around and communicate effectively. Think about what your customers want to hear, what your sales team say during the sales cycle, and also how your competitors are communicating.
The main things to think about when building out your brand messaging are:
Your customers should be your first stop when looking at brand development. Here at Feefo we’ve built a powerful customer review and insights platform, driven by genuine feedback from real customers. So, you can be sure the insights you’re using to help create your brand development strategy are detailed and above all reliable.
To learn about how customer feedback can start playing a big part in your brand development, get in touch with a member of our friendly team who will be happy to talk to you about how Feefo can help.