Building a brand should be both an exciting and involved process. You create a concept, bootstrap or raise funds, decide on a name for your company, determine your values, develop a logo, craft brand guidelines, and get your name out there. Voila! You have a brand. Right? Well, not exactly. Those steps are critical, but the staying power of your brand isn’t a sure thing. You then need to monitor trends. This includes determining how your key audiences are responding to your brand. Companies with strong brand development strategies are much more likely to succeed. In fact, brand consistency is linked to a 33% boost in revenue. So what is brand development, and how do you know if you’re doing it right?
What Is a Brand Development Strategy?
Brand development is about harnessing the quality, value, and trust that your company has built or is capable of building, and taking steps to maintain consistency or improve in those areas. Also part of that process is assessing how you compare to your competitors.
Brand development doesn’t just happen when you’re first founding a company. Rather, it’s an ongoing process of adjustment and improvement based on customer interactions and data, as well as observations about the changing landscape of your industry. That’s why successful organizations have solid brand development strategies in place.
Beyond your product or service, one of the most important components of your brand is your core customers’ perception of it. That perception can change over time, whether or not your brand’s appearance does. (In fact, failing to visually update your brand can directly impact perception! Hence, rebranding.)
Brand development is essential to ensuring that your brand remains relevant. Here are 4 ways to keep it alive in your organization.
1. Establish a Robust Brand Strategy
What audiences do you reach, and why? Who do you want to reach? And how do you reach them?
What types of content do you rely on? What platforms do you use? How do you introduce your brand into the market? What brand equity do you hold already?
All of these questions are designed to help you dial in on the most effective methods for your brand to communicate.
Your brand strategy is a long-term plan to achieve specific goals. A well-defined and executed brand strategy affects all aspects of a business and is directly connected to consumer needs, emotions, and competitive environments. Once you know who you’re targeting, why, and how, you can make all future decisions based on those details.
Visual strategy is a key component of any brand strategy. It’s the part of your brand strategy that audiences can actually see. Visual strategy involves making goal-oriented, results-driven decisions that inform any and all visual expressions of your brand. From your logo to your social-media posts, from your home page design to your ebooks and conference presentations, visual strategy creates a recognizable identity for your brand. And that identity will be strategically crafted to achieve the goals you’ve outlined for your organization.
2. Develop Your Brand Identity & Guidelines
Brand identity will be a key element of your visual strategy. Brand identity conveys a company’s vision and mission — its reason for being, and its goals and aspirations. It often encompasses both visual and verbal communication. It’s typically expressed most concisely in brand guidelines (sometimes known as a brand book), and referenced throughout the life of a brand to ensure clear and consistent expression of your organization.
Brand guidelines book developed by Killer Visual Strategies for Seattle Children’s Hospital
Your brand identity both speaks to and visually shows the world what you’re about. Building it is an exercise worth a considerable amount of your time and energy. If you work with a creative agency to develop your brand identity, ensure you form a solid foundation and strong working relationship with that agency. The reason? This will help establish trust and allow you to most effectively communicate with one another about what you want your brand identity to look like and to achieve.
Brand identity is a key component of brand development for any company. Once you’ve got it right, you can begin to create assets that share your brand with the world.
3. Craft a Visual Workbench
Once your company has established a brand identity, you can use the guidelines on colors, fonts, and styles for icons, illustrations, and data visualization to drive the development of a visual workbench of reusable assets. A workbench empowers your creative team to move quickly while ensuring consistency. Did you know it’s okay to feature a single icon across numerous pieces of content? It is! That’s because the icon should represent the same concept each time, and will match the rest of your visual brand.
When choosing assets to design for your workbench, think about your most common communication needs. You probably discuss your key differentiators and the subject or purpose of your work. Consider which concepts you continually find a need to visualize in presentations, brochures, site design, and more. You want each asset in your workbench to be something you’ll get a lot of use out of. That way, it works as hard as possible to reduce your strain on time, resources, and QA associated with creating new visuals for every piece of content.
4. Create a System for Brand Management
Managing a brand is a bit like managing an investment portfolio. When you make the right choices up front, you can watch your decisions do the heavy lifting for you over time!
However, now and then you may notice something isn’t working optimally anymore. Or maybe there’s a crucial component missing. In times like that, you might reevaluate a few of your investments. The same is true for considering an update to your brand font or accent color.
Your goal in each scenario? Evaluate the planning already invested, let those decisions continue to work for you, and only jump in when there’s a compelling reason to adjust. In this way, brand management helps ensure that your brand continues to drive the success and development of your company.
The Lasting Importance of Brand Development for Your Company
The best of ideas can go unnoticed and undiscovered if they aren’t presented in the right light. That’s why strategic decisions about your brand’s mission, vision, values, voice and tone, and visual expression can mean the difference between standing out and blending in. The evidence of this truth over time — and the need for long-term brand management — is clear in the myriad success stories and failures that often surround rebranding. So develop a strong brand from the get-go — and an equally strong brand development strategy — to set yourself up for lasting success.