Brand Development in 9-Steps
1. Consider your overall business strategy.
If you have a well-differentiated brand, growing your firm will be much easier. In this environment, many are coming into existing markets with plenty of competition. But what type of firm do YOU want? How are you planning to grow or function? Your overall business strategy is the context for your brand development strategy, so start there. If you are clear about where you want to take your firm, your brand (the unspoken promise to the customer) will help you get there.
2. Identify your target clients.
Who are your target clients? Don’t say “everybody” – that’s a big mistake. Research shows that high-growth, high-profit firms focus on clearly defined target clients. The narrower the focus, the faster the growth. The more diverse the target audience, the more watered down your marketing efforts will be. So how do you focus on the right target client group? See the next step.
3. Research your target client group.
Spend some time and check them out. Firms that systematically research their target clients grow faster and are more profitable. Those that do research more frequently (at least once per quarter) grow faster still.
Research helps you see the world from the clients’ perspective, prioritize, and anticipate their needs and align your brand (your promise) to resonate with them. Research also tells you how they view your firm’s strengths and your current brand. As such, it dramatically lowers the marketing risk associated with brand development.
4. Develop your brand positioning.
You are now ready to position your brand (unspoken promise to the customer) within the marketplace (also called market positioning). How is your firm going to “zig” when others “zag” and why should potential clients within your target audience choose to work with you?
A positioning statement is typically up to 3 to 5 sentences in length and captures the essence of your brand positioning. It must be grounded in reality, since you will have to deliver on what you promise. It also needs to be a “stretch” so you have something to strive for.
Pizza Hut mission: To be the first-choice provider for every pizza occasion.
5. Develop your messaging strategy.
Your next step is a messaging strategy that translates your brand positioning into messages to your various target audiences. Your target audiences typically include potential clients, potential employees, referral sources or other influencers and potential partnering opportunities.
While your core brand positioning must be consistent for all audiences, each audience will be interested in different aspects of it (also known as segmentation). The messages to each audience will emphasize the most relevant points. Your messaging strategy should address all specific concerns and needs. This is key to making your brand relevant to your target audiences.
6. Develop your name, logo and tagline.
For some firms, a name change is not required. But if you are a new business, are undergoing a merger or have a name that no longer fits your positioning, a name change may be in order. Even if you don’t change your firm name, a refreshed or new logo and tagline may better reflect your brand positioning.
Reminder: Your business name, logo and tagline are not your brand. They are elements of your brand’s identity, the methods used to communicate, convey, represent, reinforce or symbolize your brand.
Avoid the mistake of showing the new logo around internally to get a consensus. The name, logo and tagline are for your marketplace and should be evaluated on how well they communicate and function, not how much they are liked internally.
7. Develop a content marketing strategy.
Content marketing is particularly well suited to professional services firms in the information age. It does all things traditional marketing does, but it does them more efficiently. It uses valuable educational or informational content to attract, nurture, benefit and qualify prospects.
Remember that your brand strength is driven by relevance, reputation and visibility. Increasing visibility alone, without strengthening your reputation and being relevant, is rarely successful. That’s why traditional “awareness-building” advertising or sponsorships so often yield disappointing results for the expense. Content marketing increases visibility and reputation at the same time and is also the best way to make your brand relevant to your target audiences.
8. Build a marketing toolkit.
The next step in the process is to develop the balance of your marketing toolkit. This might include one-page sales sheets or “One-sheets” that describe core services offerings, NAICS codes or key markets served. In addition, there may be a brief “pitch deck” that overviews the firm or key offerings and an e-brochure about the firm. These are rarely printed pieces anymore.
Increasingly, this marketing toolkit also includes videos whose topics include firm overviews, case studies or “meet the executive” videos. Key services offerings are also very useful. If prepared appropriately, these tools serve not only a business development function but also reinforce the expression of the brand.
9. Implement, track, and revise.
This final step in the brand development and management process may be the most important. Obviously, a winning brand development strategy is no good if it isn’t implemented. It happens more often than you think. A solid strategy is developed and started with all the good intentions the firm can muster. Then reality happens. The project champions get busy with client work and brand development tasks get put aside… then forgotten.
That’s why tracking is so important. We strongly recommend tracking both the implementation of the plan as well as results. What happened with the objective measures, such as search traffic and web visitors? Did the strategy get implemented as planned? How many new leads, employee or intern applications and partnering opportunities were generated? Only by tracking the everything can you ensure you are drawing the best conclusions and making the right adjustments.
Source: A 10 Step Brand Development Strategy for Your Professional Services Firm | Hinge Marketing