One of the most common questions entrepreneurs have relates to brand development. What does it mean and how much work do you need to do to develop it? Some business owners feel like they just need to develop a product or a logo and it will all magically fall into place. In a perfect world, this would happen, but in reality, you need to do a lot more work than that.

What’s the big deal about developing a brand?

When brand development is skipped over or just briefly touched on rather than fully developed, it can create future problems for businesses. Your brand is the foundation that you should build your business on. If it is weak or non-existent, then how are you supposed to develop and execute a strategy that will sustain your growth over time?

Not only does a strong brand help you stand out from the crowd, especially if you have strong competitors, but it also allows your audience to connect with you on a more personal level. A stronger connection to your audience generally means a higher conversion rate and long-term loyalty – both things that you should strive for in business.

If you choose to ignore the brand development phase, you run the risk of no one knowing who you are and an inconsistent marketing and communications strategy that will confuse your target audience more than it will convert. If you can’t articulate who you are and what it means for your audience, then how are they supposed to figure it out?

Doing brand development the right way

First of all, your brand does NOT equal your logo. Your logo is just a visual representation of the brand you have developed.

Everyone has an approach that will differ slightly when it comes to brand development. Certain factors like industry, audience, and geography will affect your approach, however, there are things that you will always need to address if you want to get through the brand development process the right way.

  • Audience Segmentation: Figure out who they are, what they want, what they need, and how they want to get it.
  • Value proposition: Decide what value you bring to your target audience and how is it different than your competitors.
  • Brand messaging: These are the main points that you can use to talk about your brand. It will form the base for all marketing and communications content you put out there.
  • Brand identity/personality: Your messaging shows what you are about, and your brand identity showcases your values, ethics, and the characteristics that really make you you.
  • Brand story: Take your messaging and brand identity one step further by crafting your organizational story. Focus on the people and the things that are most important to you.

After you have gone through all of these things, you are well-equipped to create your logo and build your website and web content. These things will be the visual representation of your brand and the first introduction to who you are, so you should develop them both based on your brand story as well as what will appeal to your audience.

Establishing brand longevity

Now that you have this great brand developed, you need to think about how you can establish a long-term presence with it. Two things to consider are consistency and adaptability – which could seem contradictory in certain cases!

You need to maintain a consistent presence with your brand when it comes to colours, messaging, tone, and all of the things that help to define your brand. You can’t be all things to all people, so you need to develop your brand and stick to it. If you try to shift things for certain audiences but not others, you run the risk of alienating parts of your audience. Your target audience should know what to expect in terms of your brand and its personality.

While you need to maintain consistency, you also have to be adaptable to a certain extent. The idea that you can create a brand and never have it evolve just doesn’t make sense. Your audience and their needs will evolve over time, so you need to be able to identify when it’s time for a change in your brand, whether big or small. Brand development is not a one-time project that you can “set and forget.”

The last thing to remember when you are looking to create brand longevity is to weave storytelling through everything you do. You took the time to build your brand story based on what your audience might want, so use it. Storytelling will help you better connect over a long period of time because your audience will be invested in what you have to say.

Brand development, while often overlooked, is an important part of the process when you are starting a business or when you are going through organizational change. It will set you up for future successes.

A version of this article was originally posted to the SongBird Marketing Communications Blog.