Your brand is, whether you think so or not, your most valuable asset. It doesn’t matter if you’re a large or small company, an established player or new entrant, you need to differentiate your brand in order to standout in a competitive marketplace – to attract and retain customers. Finding that point of difference – the edge that sets you apart – is what will give your brand it’s competitive advantage.

It’s important to understand that branding is so much more than just a logo, it encompasses every single touchpoint your customers have with your business; from initial enquiry and the way in which your staff answer the phone or greet customers through to the appearance of your physical space (ie your shop, office or factory), how your staff interact, their tone of voice and attitude, the sales delivery process, the quality and presentation of printed materials, messaging, advertising and so on.

So, how do you build a strong, credible brand that your customers will love? Here’s our 4-Step guide to get you started.

This is the process of understanding the landscape in which your business operates – your competitors, your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. During this first phase it’s also good to understand brand perception both from an internal (employees, stakeholders) and an external (your customers) perspective. Stage one includes:

Market analysis
Secondary research of sector shifts, industry trends, influences and activity; market outlook and overview, industry overview, comparison of relevant business models and customer centric insights.

Competitor landscape
SWOT analysis, desk research to benchmark current brand positioning; research competitors and assess their strengths and weaknesses.

Internal and external perspectives, customer psychographics

Includes the specific progression of four perceptions: Differentiation, Relevance, Esteem and Knowledge. Identification of customer drivers, motivations and fears; opportunity scoping and segmentation. Defining where emphasis should be placed for any sales and marketing activity; this includes primary research and customer interviews.

The second stage in the journey looks more closely at your brand – specifically your ‘core purpose’ or reason for being. Stage two includes:

Brand alignment

Reflection of, and aligning the differences between internal understanding and external perception; we call this mapping and gapping the differences.

Brand portfolio and architecture

Establishing a solid foundation to scale and build the future brand. If an organisation’s brand has credibility, new product offerings are easier to launch.

Core purpose

Define your reason for being and purpose, this includes an assessment of your values and beliefs. Your ‘why, how and what’ of your value proposition – why do you do what you do and why should it matter to your customers? There are two parts, functional and emotional, both of which combine to form one succinct definition.

Building the brand personality

Define your brand personality and how your brand character will be conveyed in communications. Establish your brand character for consistency and tone for all communications. Create a brand narrative and form a communications strategy to reach your key audiences.

Bringing the brand to life through visual language, design and tone of voice. Stage three includes:

Brand naming and nomenclature

If relevant, consideration and collaborative creation of meaningful brand name(s) or sub systems. Aligning the new brand strategy often leads to reviewing name systems to appeal to key audiences.

Visual identity

Brand concepts and rationale for the visual identity, to create the correct tone, look and feel. Based on the design and brand strategy, embed the values and personality within the brand’s expression.

Design development

Development of the chosen design route and refi nement of all essential communications. Create continuity and consistency across all brand communications.

Brand guidelines

Create a comprehensive reference tool documenting the brand standards across all media channels. Reference documents for building a strong brand to enable consistent perceived quality, message and value.

The final stage looks at delivery and implementation – so you have a new brand, what next? We look at internal engagement, touchpoints and brand guardianship – ensuring your brand remains consistent across application. Stage four includes:

Internal engagement

Present the brand strategy, messages and identity to all internal stakeholders. Work group exercises to realise responsibilities and to take ownership of the brand.

Touchpoint strategy

Consider and define the customer journey from knowing you, to like, trust and buy stages. Decide on the most effective forms of marketing material to delivery consistency at every brand touchpoint.

Implementation strategy

Plan activity and collateral into a timeline and assign responsibilities for execution. Implementation and content strategy for on and offline delivery.

Brand guardianship and management

Ensure all brand assets and elements are executed faithfully to keep the brand strong and distinctive. Measure the effectiveness based on key metrics. Analyse, refine and review collateral and implementation to maximise effectiveness.