The Ultimate Brand Development Guide
Updated: Apr 14
Possessing a powerful worldwide brand is essential for sustained success. – Warren Buffett
Your company’s brand is an intangible asset that can be the difference between running a successful, profitable business versus running a business that struggles to retain its market share.
Warren Buffett once said, “In business, I look for economic castles protected by unbreachable moats.” The castle is a metaphor for the company, and the moat is a metaphor for a strong competitive advantage.
Think of this guide to brand development as the first step in building your unbreachable moat.
Nothing can separate your company from the competition like brand value. If brand development is focused on as a priority & implemented correctly, you’ll experience true staying power.
Customers spread the message of strong brands while prioritizing the use of your goods and services above all others.
The question many businesses have is “how do I establish a strong brand? And what steps do I need to take in brand development to ensure my efforts result in success?”
Below we’ve outlined the six keys to maximizing brand value for your business.
This brand development guide has been compiled through extensive research on top Fortune 500 Companies.
This strategic framework is also used for JaxonLabs clients to deliver results while maximizing their brand development efforts.
THE ULTIMATE BRAND DEVELOPMENT GUIDE 1. BUSINESS STRATEGY / ACTION PLAN
The cornerstone of our Ultimate Brand Development Guide is building a strong business strategy.
Every great brand has a defined business strategy, and in creating a defined business strategy, your company develops the context to implement your brand development process.
1. What is your business’s core aspiration? 2. What are your key sources of revenue going to be? 3. What is your business’s value proposition? 4. How do you plan on acquiring new clients & maintain your existing clients? 5. What kind of costs are you going to incur? 6. What are the keys for execution? 7. Who is going to be responsible for decision-making & delivering results? 8. What is your basis for developing your business plan? 9. How will you sense change and adapt your strategy? 10. If you could describe the perfect interaction between you and a customer, how does it look?
By answering these questions about your organization’s business strategy, you should have a solid foundation, your key insights, how your business operates, and the goals your company is working towards.
All successful brands are built on the product so develop a branding, development & marketing action plan. Not just strategic plans. You need action steps – a to-do list – as opposed to strategies, goals and objectives.
For each Action Item provide the following:
1. A description of the action item 2. Who would be charged with implementation? It takes a village to win. 3. When it would be implemented. 4. Cost of implementation. 5. Where the money would or could come from. 6. The rationale for making the recommendation.
Now we can understand where the different aspects of brand development work within your organization. If you need help building a sound business strategy, see if one of JaxonLabs' services is right for your company.
THE ULTIMATE BRAND DEVELOPMENT GUIDE 2. WRITE YOUR BRAND PROMISE
This is the paragraph that describes what you will be ten, 15 years down the road.
This is the goal that you are aiming for. It should inspire action every step of the way from here on out.
Make sure it’s not generic. Read it, rewrite it, and keep fine-tuning it until it is very specific and would make you want to go there or move there when it’s in place.
Business prospects should read this and think “Gee, there’s a business opportunity for me here.” You can develop a long version (three paragraphs or so) and a short version, which would be just one paragraph of no more than five lines.
Short, to the point, very specific, and well-defined.
THE ULTIMATE BRAND DEVELOPMENT GUIDE 3. CULTURE
A strong brand starts with the people in the organization, and even the businesses you hire/partner with to bring your vision to life. You’ll want to make it a high priority to establish a standard of how people are expected to engage with one another and your partners.
1. Is your Human Resources department aligned with the core mission, vision, and values of the rest of your organization?
Ex. Is your HR department hiring for fit or hiring based on qualifications? Employees are trainable and will achieve your organization’s goals if they believe in your company’s values. No matter what level of education and experience employees have prior, if they don’t buy into your company’s long-term goals, they won’t be effective employees.
2. Does your design and marketing team know what makes your prospective clients tick and what is important to them when they come in contact with your brand?
Ex. Is your business doing a good job collecting data on existing clients and prospective clients to understand better what their needs are and how your business conveys the message that they can satisfy them?
3. Does your staff engage with one another in a way that is consistent with the overall essence you are trying to convey?
Ex. If you want to create a business based on customer satisfaction, you should have employees who prioritize each other’s satisfaction in their dealings too. It is hard to turn off the switch if they are resentful of one another when a customer walks in the door.
Since products can be more easily defined in the way they engage with consumers, it is important to focus resources on the aspects of how your people engage with one another and the customers they come in contact with.
THE ULTIMATE BRAND DEVELOPMENT GUIDE 4. CREATE THE LOOK AND FEEL OF YOUR BRAND
We’re finally to the look and feel of the brand: the logo or brand identity, color schemes, taglines and all the marketing elements that will be used as you develop the brand and claim ownership of it.
You could hire us to do this for you and remember that you are selling a feeling more than the physical attributes that support the brand.
Develop a Brand Style Guide and include all your local marketing organizations. Continuity is critical at this point. Remember that the logo and tagline makeup 2% of a brand, but will get virtually all of the attention.
Do NOT make this a public process. It can kill your entire effort by creating doubt, without having the whole picture in mind.
This can be something as simple as a new sign in the office, new business cards or the redevelopment of an existing website.
People are impatient, so having something physical they can see will help sell the brand, and will tell the community you’re serious and this won’t be another plan sitting on a shelf gathering dust.
The best way to develop a brand is to slide it in slowly. All of a sudden a new sign goes up with a new identity and tagline on it. Then another, and over time, it becomes pervasive throughout the community.
A really good resource for identity would be to look at the Brand Development Guide for other companies. Government of Alberta has a insightful page on this:
THE ULTIMATE BRAND DEVELOPMENT GUIDE 5. TELL THE WORLD
Once you have the product – and people – in place, it’s time to tell the world about who you are, what separates you from everyone else and makes you THE destination of choice. Now it’s time to drive your stake in the ground that you “own” your brand.
After all, brands are about owning your niche in the marketplace. You build your brand through public relations. Advertising is used to maintain your ownership position.
Remember that brands are a perception – what people think of you when your name is mentioned. And perceptions are created from first impressions, visual things we see once in your community, what we see on the news or read in print publications, and now what we “hear” in social media.
This is where you put together a detailed Marketing Action Plan – with all of your local organizations at the table (branding requires continuity) and craft a plan on how you are going to tell the world what you’re about – specifically.
When it comes to marketing budgets, here’s a guideline to use:
45% – Website | Pay per Click | SEO | online advertising | social media | apps | anything that is Internet-related.
20% – Public relations – getting articles written about you, creating video contents, professional photography reinforcing the brand, creating brand-specific itineraries – getting the word out there.
20% – Advertising. And this is to drive people to your website, which must be good enough to close the sale.
10% – Printed collateral materials. With the advent of the Internet, apps, and PDF docs available on smartphones, tablets and laptop computers, the need for printed materials is declining fast. They are still important but should not be the priority.
5% – Trade shows, billboards, and other forms of marketing
THE ULTIMATE BRAND DEVELOPMENT GUIDE 6. CONTENT
This process should be considered as part of establishing which marketing channels you are going to utilize because some channels require different types of content.
Here are the keys to focus on when developing value-based content:
1. Real Value 2. Clear Value Proposition 3. Compelling Story 4. Customer reviews [Social Proof] 5. Incentives to Learn More 6. Call-To-Action
Work with your Social Media Consultant to design an efficient process for transferring information to create content. This can be done through cloud storage, internal networks or an effective email system.
THE ULTIMATE BRAND DEVELOPMENT GUIDE 7. KEEP YOUR ENERGY HIGH
The first year is ALWAYS the toughest year when implementing a branding program.
Because you are narrowing your focus, you will undoubtedly run into opposition who want your community to be all things to all people – that you do have “something for everyone.”
Even though that marketing approach no longer works, the blogs will light up with dissent, and so your brand champions must just let it go and MUST work to keep the energy high.
Once the branding effort starts taking hold, people will come on board – slowly at first – and as they “get used” to the new direction, and businesses begin to invest in it, it will garner strength over time.
Nobody in Napa Valley complains about it being the world’s “wine capital.” Nor do they complain about Nashville owning the country music brand. Over time it became organic to the community – who they are.
Just remember that there are only three killers of any branding effort. Period:
1. Local politics – and it’s far worse with membership organizations than it is with elected officials.
2. Lack of champions – No branding effort can succeed without tireless pioneers who champion the cause – especially in the face of criticism – but push the agenda forward and never take no for an answer.
3. Lack of money – both public and private.
Almost every well-branded city, town, county, or destination in the world was founded on private sector investment and marketing. Consider these:
Orlando, Florida and Anaheim, California (Disney- kids & family)
Napa Valley, California (wine)
Nashville, Tennessee (country music)
Memphis, Tennessee (home of Graceland)
Hershey, Pennsylvania (chocolate)
Lancaster, Pennsylvania (Amish)
Hollywood, California (movies and stars)
Silicon Valley, California (high-tech)
Finally, every community is full of CAVERS – people who don’t want change and will fight it. What’s a CAVER? Citizens Against Virtually Everything.
Keeping the energy high is the make or break it for any branding effort.
THE ULTIMATE BRAND DEVELOPMENT GUIDE 8. REINVENT YOUR BRAND
One of our business advisors (yes, even JaxonLabs hires a business advisor) once taught us the value of reinventing our own company. As your business grows and develops into a recognizable brand, you’ll inevitably start collecting company data often referred to as Business Intelligence (BI).
Analyzing this data and making informed decisions about the direction to take your brand will be critical factors for establishing a strong brand value. Which results in higher profit margins and increased sales.
BI is often overlooked by other businesses and is necessary for building long-term success in today’s competitive business landscape.
THE ULTIMATE BRAND DEVELOPMENT GUIDE CONCLUSION
Revisit this brand development guide once every six months for a startup, and once a year to three years for more established businesses.
If you look at the largest companies in the world, they will prove the value of reinventing their brand.
Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
We are here to do everything to help you succeed in your business; our services include the following;
Strategic planning consulting Project management consulting IT management and system consulting Advertising consulting Brand identity consulting Web development consulting Content creation and social media consulting Email marketing consulting
We also have some resources that you can utilize to develop further the different aspects of brand development that will be coming soon.
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