As Brand Strategists. we often get asked how to build a brand.
To be honest, there isn’t a universally accepted way to build a brand. There isn’t a brand-building instruction manual or guidebook. However, at BRANDING FOR THE PEOPLE, we have a clear and structured process for building brands. It’s a 5 phase approach we hope proves valuable to you as you think about branding or rebranding.
Phase 1 – Discovery
The first step in any branding process is to gather the information necessary for optimal brand positioning. This requires defining the business problem that branding will help solve, because if branding won’t solve a business problem then chances are branding isn’t necessary or valuable for your current business.
Discovery involves evaluating your current brand materials, and auditing your brand along the seven components of branding.
An audit serves to assess what is currently working and what is not within your brand. This is an important step as you want to leverage what is already working, and identify what is not so that it can be fixed.
Phase 2 – Positioning
It’s hard to say any one phase is more important than the others as they are all critical in the development of an industry leading brand, but positioning is where your opportunity lies to build a brand of substance.
Phase 2 is about exploring, defining and crystallizing your brand’s position, so that your brand is unique in its space. This work is what guides the development of the following phases, providing the focus necessary to build visuals, messaging, and other brand elements that are created with vision and purpose.
During phase 2 is where you will work developing your brand’s purpose and vision, messaging matrix, brand platform and brand architecture amongst other key components.
Phase 3 – Creative
After positioning is creative, which is what most people think branding is in a nutshell. However, without phase 1 and 2, creative work will be all style with little substance.
Great creative work is always done with positioning in mind. A logo is made to highlight your brand idea or purpose, sub-brands are created in accordance with the brand architecture, and messaging is created to communicate how your brand is different than your competitors.
In Phase 3 you develop the visual and verbal brand identity expressions. Things like:
- Visual Identity
- Visual Guidelines
- Verbal Identity
- Verbal Guidelines
- Brand Assets + Files
All of which are created strategically, with a constant coherence to the brand’s positioning.
Phase 4 – Activation
In Phase 4, it’s time to “activate” your brand, meaning it is time to create the brand touchpoints that your customers and prospects will see and interact with.
The first step of phase 4 is the development of a brand launch plan. This is a crucial step as the introduction of a new brand, or the transition to a rebrand must be done strategically, and communicated effectively to your customers and prospects so that they understand why a rebranding is happening, what is different, and what this change means for them.
The brand is then implemented across high priority touchpoints such as your website, marketing, social media and tangible brand touchpoints. If customers and prospects interact with your brand in a physical space (like a shop or office), creating a brand experience that is in line with the overall brand strategy is also a critical touchpoint to address.
Phase 5 – Management
A brand is not a static thing. It is a desired perception, and as such it lives in the minds of your customers. You don’t really own it. This means that in order to maintain the desired perception you want customers and prospects to have of you, you must constantly evaluate, foster, and manage the brand over time.
This requires market research to understand how the presence of new competitors affects your position in the market as well as research to understand your target markets shifting desires, wants, needs, and perception of your brand.
These 5 phases are used to guide the building of a great brand, and we hope by sharing our process you now hopefully understand the importance of branding thoughtfully and thoroughly, but also branding in the right order, and with the right people guiding you.