The 5 Stages of The Branding Process in Business
How to develop and communicate your business framework
Developing a business brand involves a procedure known as The Branding Process. This is a series of activities that are carried out so as to develop and communicate what the framework for the business is, in order to create a brand identity that will resonate with the brand’s target audience.
When developing your business brand, the branding process is critical because it is what guides the operations, values, messaging style and visual communication of your business and it also influences how your business will be projected to your customers.
If you are just starting a business, the branding process will be a means by which you come up with strategies to create a brand that will speak to the needs of your audience in the right way. If you are applying the branding process to an existing business, it’s known as rebranding.
Rebranding is the process of changing the corporate image of a company. The idea behind rebranding is to create a different identity for a brand, from its competitors and so on. But that topic is for another day.
Before you continue, I want you to watch a video on 5 things you need to do in your business in 2021
Let’s look at the 5 stages of the branding process of brand identity development.
1. Research/Discovery Stages
The first stage of brand identity development is the research stage. This is where you gather information about your business industry. In the research stage, information gathered is analysed so that you know the ins and outs of that industry and its audience.
During this stage, you’ll also carry out in-depth research about the competitors in the industry. You want to know who the major players are, who their customers are and why their customers patronize them on a regular basis.
You are coming to take your own share of the market, this means that you will be cutting down their profits and the number of their customers. So you need to know what makes your competitors the ‘super stars’ they are in that industry.
First start by checking their social media platforms and looking through their content. Figure out what their messaging style is and how they engage with their audience. Go on to their website and look at how it is set up.
Once you’ve figured it out, all you need to do is to tweak it to suit your own style as well. Also, you need to have a strong reason that compels the customers of your competitors to come and buy from you. Many businesses do this by identifying their purpose and then creating a marketing strategy around it.
2. Planning/Strategy Stages
After you have conducted extensive desk and field research, the next stage is to interpret your research and come up with strategic plans to gain the market share. Everything that you do in this stage is based on the findings you acquire in the first stage.
The planning stage involves a long-term plan for the development of your brand in order to achieve specific goals. While doing this, it is very important that you come up with a content strategy that will act as a marketing process for your new business.
A content strategy is the process by which you plan, create, distribute and measure your content on every platform that your brand is using. To get started with this, you have to first define your goals, identify your target audience so that you’ll know the content type, format and platform that suits them best so as to ultimately drive profitable customer action.
Part of your brand strategy is also determining how you will set your business apart from the competition in a process known as market positioning. That is, whether you want to serve on the lowest or cheapest level or on the premium level. Your audience needs to be able to place your brand on a certain level.
How is your business different from others and why should potential clients within your target audience choose to work with you? You can gather this information by figuring out your competitive advantage.
3. Design/Creative Thinking Stages
I see many people make the mistakes of jumping to design first when developing their branding process. They pay hefty sums of money to developers and designers to create their logos, websites and apps.
Often times, these people always have to eventually shut down their business because they have not created something that have been proven acceptable by the market. All they have is colourful fonts and logos with beautiful websites.
Design alone is not a branding process, it’s simply a visual design process which must come third place in the branding process. Focusing on design alone will lead to a lack of substance.
Don’t get me wrong, design is important. Because without design, you will not be able to deliver the brand strategy. The role of design is to turn the strategies formulated by extensive research into a memorable and recognizable visual substance.
Take for instance, you want to enter into the market, you will need to create awareness around your brand so that your target audience may know that a brand such as yours exists. In this case, you will need an identifying feature, which is your logo.
And to ensure that you stand out from the competition, you will need to have specific colours and fonts. Then express them into your business cards, flyers, merchandise and a website and you have a distinguishing feature already.
Don’t forget that your business is not about you but about your target audience, that’s why when designing your visuals, you must take into consideration what your target audience resonates with that you have gotten from your brand research.
For example, if you produce and sell accessories for men such as wristwatches, bracelets, sunglasses and so on, your target audience are mostly male, therefore you would need to choose a masculine colour and design a logo that speaks to the male audience.
4. Implementation/Activation Stages
This is the stage where you launch your brand into the market after making good of every information that you’ve gotten on the research desk and carefully planning your strategies and backing them up with good design.
Launching your brand can take many different forms. Some hire PR agents to help create publicity by handling messaging to the press, creating the buzz around the business working with the marketing team through owned, earned and paid media, etc.
A less elaborate method of launching your brand to the world is by creating and handing out flyers and business cards or launching your website and running a few social media ads. You can also start by rolling our many product videos on social media.
For some businesses, the implementation phase goes on for a long time while some make it as short as possible, but all depends on your budget, the kind of business you are running and other circumstances surrounding the business.
But no matter what method you choose and how long it goes on for, you would need to start with a brand launch plan. This plan will cover all the steps you intend to take and how it will benefit your business short and long-term.
Launching your brand must be done strategically, and communicated effectively to your customers and prospects so that they understand what it is your brand is all about and how you are positioned in the market.
And whatever touchpoints your target customers meet you, make sure that you create a a brand experience that is in line with the overall brand strategy.
5. Management/Measurement Stage
Since your brand is not static, you have to make sure that it is evolving per time. This means that you must manage it from time to time so that you cannot only influence but maintain the perception that you want your audience to have in their minds.
The management phase involves constantly updating yourself about the new trends in your industry, changes in the market and changes in consumer wants. You would also need to understand how the presence of a new competitor will affect your brand position.
You will need to stay up to date about your old competitors as well. Also, keep track of shifting desires because customers evolve. Their wants and needs evolve per time and brand management helps you to achieve this.
As you do this, you will need to measure your progress so that you may know what works and what doesn’t. For instance, if you think that customers enjoy video demos more than photos, you will start using videos on your platforms. Then measure how it is progressing.
What you don’t measure, you cannot improve on, it is in measuring that you will understand what works and what doesn’t. So make sure that you are measuring feedback.
Remember, all of these steps are necessary in the branding process and they go in that order. Don’t jump to number 3 without first working on numbers 1 and 2. Give equal attention to all these steps so that you can create tangible success.
Don’t over indulge in one because it happens to be your area of expertise, if you cannot do it yourself, give it to a professional. Trying to rush through everything will not produce the desired result, so take your time.
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