Branding can be a powerful tool in the development of a successful business. Used properly, a brand can increase your recognition and successfully differentiate you from your competitors. The good news is that building a successful brand is a relatively simple process.

A brand is the image that is formed in people’s minds when they hear your name. Most significantly, it consists of the words used to describe that image. For example, if I say Rolls Royce, you probably think of words like “expensive”, “luxury” and “upper-class”. Conversely, Honda evokes a different set of words such as “affordable” and “family oriented”. Both automobiles have a positive reputation and fundamentally, they perform the same function. But they have very different images. What people see when they hear Rolls Royce is very different from what they see when they hear Honda, and that’s essential when it comes to brand development.

Brand development is the process of creating your desired image and taking proactive steps to cultivate that image. There are two important considerations when it comes to brand development. First, if you are not actively working to develop and package your brand, you don’t have a brand. In other words, branding is a proactive process. Second, the brand development process is enduring. You are never finished developing your brand. Facilitating the brand development process involves three steps:

1. Clarify your branding benefits. There are four major benefits to the brand development process. First, branding helps you clarify your value proposition, which is what your customers are able to do because of you. Second, it clarifies your market niche, which is the segment of customers you want to serve. Third, it augments your business recognition with potential clients. And finally, branding increases the prices you can charge because effective brand development is about positioning yourself as an expert and leader in a particular market niche.

2. Answer the four key questions for your business. The brand development process begins with your answers to the following questions:

– Who do I serve (who are my customers, who are the people I want to have as customers)?

– What value do I provide (what are my customers able to do because of me = your value proposition)?

– How do I help my customers achieve this value (how do I fulfill my value proposition)?

– How does this differ from my competitors (what’s my competitive advantage)?

3. Develop a brand package. Once you are clear about the benefits you can gain from branding and have effectively addressed the four key questions for your business, you can develop your brand package, which consists of the tools and resources you use to communicate your brand. This includes your image package (business name, tagline and logo), elevator presentation (a 20-second statement about you, your company and the benefits of your products and services), stationary, business cards, brochures, website, blog, publications (e.g., books, newsletters, booklets and articles), social media and presentations (e.g., seminars, webinars and training programs). I’ll discuss how to use these tools to create an effective brand package in an upcoming article.

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