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The Ultimate Guide to Brand Development

Brand development, planning, strategy

What Is Brand Development?

A brand is more than your website, logo, and taglines. It goes deeper than the visual assets people see that help them recognize your company – it’s about what they feel when they interact with you and the experience they expect to have.

The brand development process isn’t a destination but a strategic, ongoing effort of aligning your brand image with your mission, vision, and values. Your brand development is what differentiates you from the competition, persuading customers to choose you over other options.

Combining both the creative and the strategic, brand development taps into emotions and explores the principles you want to make standard in your business. This includes not only the messaging that resonates with your customers but the overall experience and the company culture.

Brand Terms to Know

Before we launch into the nuts and bolts of brand development, let’s get grounded with the brand-related buzzwords you should know:

Brand Awareness

Brand awareness is how familiar the public and your target audience are with your brand. High levels of brand awareness may be referred to as buzzworthy, trendy, or popular. This is mission-critical because if no one knows who you are, they can’t buy from you.

Brand Extension

A brand extension is when a company broadens its brand to develop new products in different industries or markets, such as Martha Stewart bedding or Honda lawn mowers. These extensions allow brands to leverage their existing brand awareness and equity to blast off into new revenue streams and diversify.

Brand Identity

Brand identity is the uniqueness of your business and your promise to customers. It’s what you want your customers to take away from the experience with your brand, and may include your values, communications, and the perception you want to achieve.

Brand Management

Brand management is the process of creating and maintaining your brand, from the visual elements like logo and colors to the intangible elements like perception. It’s a living asset that needs to be created, developed, and managed over time.

Brand Recognition

Brand recognition is how well a customer in your target audience can recognize and identify your brand without the business name. This is accomplished through your logo, tagline, jingle, packing, or advertising.

Brand recognition is closely connected to brand recall – the ability a customer has to think of a brand name without any visual or auditory identifiers. Some of the strongest brands in the world can be recognized from just a color scheme (Google®), a logo (Apple® and Nike®), or even a commercial jingle (Folger’s®).

Brand Valuation

Brand valuation is the commercial assessment of your brand that comes from customer perception, trust, and recognition. This ties into brand equity. A powerful brand makes your business highly valuable to shareholders, investors, and consumers.

Defining Your Brand

A strategic and thoughtful brand development process helps you define the key aspects of your brand including your goals, purpose, target audience personas, competition, positioning, differentiators, and personality.

Once these aspects have been honed, your brand begins to come to life.

Brand Development vs. Branding

A lot of language related to brands is used interchangeably. Brand development and branding are closely related but different.

Branding is the promotional aspect of your brand and how you advertise your business or products with visuals. It’s focused on the design (the look) – colors, logos, voice, and tone.

Brand development goes along with branding as a way of taking these brand assets and turning them into a reputation. It’s not only focused on promotion but the connection you forge with your customers – long-term and strategically. It’s conceptual and helps to distinguish your brand from your competitors (the feel).

Done well, branding contributes to brand development. Together, the two (the look and feel) make each other stronger, so one shouldn’t be prioritized over the other.

Why Does Brand Development Matter?

The best brands in the world stand the test of time, and that’s done through brand development. Think of legacy brands like Coca-Cola®, Disney®, Apple®, Microsoft®, Ferrari®, IBM®, Boeing®, Harley-Davidson®, Kraft Foods®, Kellogg’s®, and UPS®. Though they vary in products, services, and industry, they share a commonality – a strong, recognizable brand that’s attached to a good reputation.

Creating an aesthetically pleasing and visually distinctive brand can be a challenge, but it’s not the hard part. You may have all the details locked down, from your visual assets to your business strategy to your search engine optimization (SEO). You have an inspiring brand purpose, brand mission, and brand vision, all intended to communicate directly to your target audience. But bringing it all together into one cohesive unit is what makes the dream a reality.

Benefits of Brand Development

Brand development encompasses many areas of your business, as do the benefits.

Connecting Through Content

Understanding your audience – who they are and what their goals, needs, and pain points are, is mission-critical to reaching them with your content. Brand development gives you a strategy for communicating value to your customers, giving you virtually infinite ideas for relevant topics that will benefit them.

Building Authenticity

A brand is all about perception, and over time, perception becomes reality. This is the sum of a customer’s feelings, experiences, and thoughts about a product or service, and by extension, the company. It’s more about what the audience believes a brand represents than what it claims to represent.

The perception extends beyond the logo. It’s a mental association that builds emotional connections each time a customer interacts with the brand, whether that’s reading reviews, chatting with customer support, or signing up for a free trial.

All these touchpoints impact brand perception, and consequently, a business’s success. Authenticity happens when your actions match your words, every time.

Gaining a Competitive Edge

Even for the average person, distinguishing a wishy-washy brand from one that invested in cohesive brand building is simple and obvious. For most customers, the strong brands are the ones they reach for while shopping, the names they remember when searching for new products, and the companies they stay loyal to through multiple product lines.

Strong brand development keeps you top-of-mind with the customer, edging out the competition and building consumer loyalty.

Earning Trust

Part of brand development is aligning the brand image with the brand values and making them relatable. If customers connect with the values and you align with them time and time again, trust happens naturally.

The more trust you earn from customers, the more they’ll reach for your products – even when they’re new. Brand trust allows existing companies to expand product lines with a built-in audience and demand. Customers know that product A gives them a reliable and positive experience, so the natural assumption is that product B will give them that same experience.

Creating Business Value

It’s been said that you can’t love anyone else until you love yourself. At Rocket Launch, we believe the same goes for your business – a customer won’t value your business and brand if you don’t. Companies that focus more on product design and development than brand development end up with misaligned business values. Customers can tell when you’ve invested time and care into your brand, building value.

Resilience During Market Changes

Brand trust and promise boost brand loyalty. Businesses face numerous challenges – both internally and externally – that can cripple them if they’re not agile. Changes in leadership, dramatic shifts in consumer demand, public scandals, economic crises, and other circumstances can leave businesses behind, but strong brands have the resilience to weather the storm.

The brand is what stays consistent when things change. A strong brand can alter a product or service, experiment with new ideas, or expand into new markets. The initiative may fail, but if the quality and value stay the same, the brand will endure.

Nurturing Company Culture

Brand perception isn’t just external – it impacts your company culture and your employees. Your brand and your company culture are intimately intertwined because your employees are crucial to making brand development successful.

When employees believe in your brand, their belief is reflected in their everyday interactions – with your customers, vendors, the public, and each other – and in the bigger company strategies. Having a plan for your brand development keeps your full crew moving in the same direction.

Ready to Build a Strong Brand?

Developing your brand is hard work, but it more than pays off in a brand that grows and evolves in its market. At Rocket Launch, we offer a wide range of brand development services to help you build and maintain a future-proof brand that makes a positive impression on your customers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Still have questions? Here are some common questions about branding and brand development.

What are brand development services?

Working with a branding agency on brand development services encompasses a wide range of capabilities, including asset management, messaging, implementation, brand strategy, brand identity, market research, and competitive analysis. The team at Rocket Launch will work with you to define a clear mission in helping you achieve your goals.

What is needed for brand development?

Brand creation and development involve identifying your business purpose and strategy, target customers and their needs, your competition, and your brand positioning and messaging. These foundational steps are crucial to ensuring your branding and marketing strategy align before you can create any assets.

What are the 3 Cs of branding?

The 3 Cs of branding are consistency, clarity, and character. All these elements come together to create a positive impression and articulate your message of value to customers.

How long does brand development take?

A brand development timeline can vary significantly based on a variety of factors, but it can take anywhere from two to five years to build a brand right. Smaller businesses may be able to create a brand in under two years, while bigger businesses may need the better part of a decade. It’s important to allot appropriate time and avoid shortcuts – rushing the process early will likely only end up causing brand development mistakes and forcing you to relaunch your brand in the future. After all, just like launching a rocket, it’s the months of research, planning, crew training, and other critical pre-work that ultimately determines mission success.

Is branding worth it?

Yes! A recognizable brand offers virtually infinite benefits for your business, increasing its perceived and actual value, earning loyal customers, and offering opportunities to expand into new markets. It is always beneficial to invest time, money, and effort into creating a rock-solid brand from the start.

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