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Brand development – the basics

10 March 2020

Richard Holmes, Account Director at Horizon Works explores what a brand really means – and how to put the building blocks in place for successful brand development.

There are multiple reasons why you may wish to launch a new brand or take your brand one step further.

You may want to:

    • Launch a new business
    • Stand out more against your competitors
    • Launch a new product or service
    • Bring disparate parts of your business under one brand
    • Split out your organization into divisions or service areas, making a clear distinction between them
    • Export products or sell services overseas
    • Focus on a different target market
    • Distance your company from negative perceptions
    • Forge a new identity following a merger or takeover.

A new or refreshed brand identity can have a huge impact and underline growth.

But what does a ‘brand’ mean to you?

Is it a logo? A strapline? A symbol? A company name?

When people say you are ‘on brand’, what does that imply?

In truth, brand covers multiple aspects of how your company is perceived. It represents the very essence of your business.

Brand is represented in every touch point between your business and its customers, prospects, staff, stakeholders and partners.

Your logo and strapline are integral parts of your brand.

But a brand is much more than a logo…

Your company ethos, values, USP, work culture and behaviour (for instance how your staff interact with customers) all form part of your brand. Then consider how your brand is represented, through your company’s logo and visual style, its tone of voice and both the internal and external messages you disseminate.

So how do you go about building a brand?

It’s vital to start your brand journey by putting the right building blocks in place.

A useful way of understanding what your customers, prospects, employees, suppliers, stakeholders and partners think about your business is to conduct a brand audit. This gathers information from a sample of contacts and provides feedback on their perceptions of your business.

An audit can reveal what they believe your business stands for and how your company is positioned within its sector. It will help you understand what differentiates it from its competitors. It will help you define what makes your business what it is.

Analysis of your customers – their demographics, job roles and preferences – is another important step. It will help you understand what messaging and what brand characteristics will resonate with them.

It’s also vital to research your competitors and their brands, and to gain a full understanding of your target markets. If, for instance, you wish to export to overseas markets, you need to have a firm grasp of any cultural nuances that may be relevant.

Horizon Works can support you by undertaking a brand and communications audit from an independent perspective. We can also help you analyze the competition and map customer personas. More info is here.

Your brand story

The research stage will help you to create your brand story – the definition of your brand which represents the heart of your business.

Your heritage, USP, values, ethos, vision and culture are all key elements which combine to create a compelling brand story.

Your brand strategy

Putting in place a brand strategy – outlining when, how and where your brand will be conveyed, customer and staff touch points, which print and digital media will carry your brand messaging and who you wish to engage with – is essential. Your brand strategy should be in line with your overall marketing strategy and business objectives.

Brand implementation – consistency is key

When you are ready to roll-out your brand, consistency is key. Avoid a piecemeal application of a new or refreshed brand. Wherever your brand is conveyed – from signage and staff uniforms, to websites and advertisements – there needs to be a unified approach.

A set of brand guidelines – a master document detailing how your brand should be used – can be an invaluable tool in achieving brand consistency.

You’ll also need to consider your budget: the roll-out won’t just involve the design work which will bring your brand to life, you will also need to allocate budget to new signage, ordering new uniforms, print of brochures and stationery, the application of new vehicle liveries, etc.

Measurement and evaluation

It’s vital to keep your brand under constant review and measure its impact on your business.

If you have launched a new brand, look at the effect that this has had on customer engagement, sales, social media engagement, productivity etc. This will help you to ensure that your brand is working for your business.

 

Want to know how brand development can work in practice?

Check out how we have helped numerous regional, national, international business below.

Broadening market appeal

Learn about how we created a refreshed brand identity for Middlesbrough-based hydraulic engineering specialist Industrial & Marine Hydraulics here.

Strengthening global profile

Check out how we re-energised a brand for metal decorating equipment manufacturer Crabtree, in order to reaffirm its global presence, here.

Conveying expertise and a full service offering

Read about how we built a new brand for US-based water purification specialists Ameriwater here.

Re-launching a product

Explore how we re-launched a biometric insole range for Podfo here.

Achieving brand clarity

Read about how we simplified the visual and verbal architecture of music development agency Generator here.

IMH, Crabtree, AmeriWater, Podfo, Generator branding projects

Branding project by Horizon Works L-R: IMH, Crabtree, AmeriWater, Podfo, Generator

Horizon Works can support you in building a new brand – or refreshing your current brand. Get in touch today by calling +44 (0) 345 075 5955 or you can email us at hello@horizonworks.co.uk

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