6 Crucial Stages of Branding Process
The branding process includes six crucial phases that need to be undertaken to boost a business. Dive into our guide to get an utter understanding of them.
A lot has been said about the importance of a well-maintained brand identity. Companies worldwide, regardless of niche, scale, and target market, consider it a number one priority these days. Not only does it help them to stand out from the crowd and produce a powerful first impression, but most importantly, it forges intense relationships between companies and customers, which turn the latter into loyal fans, the lifeblood of all successful businesses.
However, building a brand is not that simple. The excellent company branding lies above the average designing of a beautiful logo, fancy typeface, and clever catchphrase. In fact, it is not just a thing or two. It is an ever-evolving and complicated process that connects with individuals in a target group through various distribution channels, nurtures them, and brings them back if they decide to leave.
It requires obediently following a well-established branding methodology with several crucial branding stages to be undertaken and constantly adjusting your brand to meet the clients' needs, requirements, and expectations caused by fluctuations in the market.
So, how to create a brand identity? The process requires going through 6 crucial stages. Each one is tricky. Therefore, it is highly recommended to delegate this task to the specialists who provide the best branding agency services and have already set dozens of companies on a successful trajectory.
However, before doing this, it is vital to grasp the essentials since a clear understanding of the process makes this collaboration productive resulting in the best strategy for your company in the context of your particular niche, target market, budget, and deadline.
What is a Brand and Brand Identity?
Before defining the brand process, it is vital to understand what is brand and brand identity. Although they are often treated interchangeably, however, they are not the same thing. So, what is what?
The brand is a marketing term that identifies the company, distinguishes it in consumers' minds, shapes people's perceptions, and provides a competitive edge. Brand identity is a collection of visible elements that a company creates to establish the right image of the brand and increase its recognition. It can be a logotype, typeface, mascot, slogan, website design, digital newsletter, flyer, brochure, and all other things, including advertising and stationery.
Why Is It Important To Create A Brand Identity?
Consider these recent statistics:
- Consistency in brand presentation and delivery increases the company's revenue by 25%.
- Color and design raise brand recognition by a staggering 80%.
- Customers form their opinion about the new brand within 10 seconds.
Brand identity with an excellent design and strategy, which consistently promotes its values in various distribution channels, helps the business overcome all obstacles on its path to success. And the recent studies back up this.
That is not all. Brand identity with a will-thought-out brand identity guide model benefits the company in various spheres and aspects. For instance,
- It amplifies the company's recognition.
- It improves the brand's awareness.
- It builds loyalty.
- It establishes trust.
- It drives engagement.
- It creates a visual impact.
- It leaves a long-lasting impression.
- It provides a competitive advantage over others.
- It influences the decision-making process.
- It extends the market.
- It generates traffic.
- It retains customers.
- It ensures the constant growth of leads and revenue.
- It increases the worth of the company.
Therefore, it is no surprise that a deliberate brand identity is considered a central pillar of business success in today's World.
Branding Process Definition
Brand identity comes with numerous benefits that may literally change your company's destiny and set you into a successful trajectory regardless of age, niche, scale and, market. However, to unlock its potential, it is essential to see through the entire branding process.
What Is The Branding Process?
The process of branding is a continuous routine of building and improving the brand to meet the demands of the current market, creating a strong perception and prolonging the company’s lifecycle. It is a systematic approach that adopts the methodology and defines the brand strategy template to realize marketing goals.
The branding design process implies a series of actions and activities for creating a framework on which the brand identity would be built during the entire lifecycle. Its mission is to
- prolong the life of the company,
- give it a competitive advantage over others,
- unlock potential,
- advance the overall progress and make the world a better place with quality services, products, and brand image.
That is not all. Let’s dive into the purpose of the brand process a bit deeper.
The Purpose of Brand Process
The purpose of building a brand is to define the best strategy for your company in a market-oriented context. It should successfully navigate the company through fluctuations and trends to meet clients' needs, demands and expectations. It does such essential things as:
- It creates a clear vision of what your company is.
- It figures out what makes your company stand out.
- It envisions and shapes your ideology.
- It ensures products or services are in response to your goals, objectives, and ideology.
- It defines the company's core values.
- It identifies the weaknesses of your company.
- It sets a vector for growth and overall brand development.
- It helps the designers and developers communicate better, creating a strong company-related and market-tailored visual identity.
- It aligns the different people on your team and turns them into the company's evangelists who preach the vision and values of your brand.
- It helps to attract high-caliber talent that may increase the company’s potential in the long run.
- It defines ways of how to communicate your brand to the target market.
- It defines ways of how to meet the expectations of your target market.
- It filters out poorly-executed solutions or ill-advised ideas that may hurt your company's reputation and progress.
- It gets you back on track in case you fall for some rash decisions or succumb to the shiny-object syndrome.
- It helps to make prudent decisions.
- It identifies campaigns and models that will contribute to the brand image and strengthen the strategy.
- It keeps the team accountable and makes the company less risk-averse.
- It effectively narrows the scope of marketing efforts to define the best options saving you lots of time and money.
- It helps to maximize the return on investment.
- It increases the valuation of your company that may attract investors or raises capital in fundraising events.
Why Is It Important To Stick To The Process of Branding?
With a plethora of quick solutions on the web that allow entrepreneurs to do brand-related stuff on their own, like creating a logotype with the help of a logo maker or choosing the color palette using the color scheme generator, the temptation to skip the whole routine of branding process becomes strong.
Many reasons can push companies on DIY approaches. It can be a shoestring budget, lack of time, or overconfidence; however, as practice shows, the do-it-yourself approach and skipping phases of the branding process result in drastic outcomes that cost a company not only a fortune but also a reputation.
While losing money has a short recovery period, when it comes to the destroyed reputation, it is here where the healing may take years of elaborate work. According to statistics, re-branding caused by the tarnished reputation is one of the most costly and timely things in the business world. Therefore, sticking to the branding process from the outset and delegating it to the professionals is highly recommended.
There is more. Let's consider some other strong reasons why you should go through the whole brand process, even though it may take lots of time and some of its results will not be evident right away:
- It gives an understanding of what a brand is and why you need to invest in it constantly.
- It creates a solid foundation to build your brand identity and brand image.
- It provides you with a robust framework to scale your business.
- It helps the company successfully face market fluctuations.
- It shows the direction of how to prolong the lifecycle of the company.
- It creates a cohesive brand identity.
- It makes the brand recognizable and consistent.
- It helps to build trust and credibility of the company in the early stage so that even startups may benefit from it.
- It saves you lots of money and time in the long run.
The branding design process may and certainly will take time because it includes lots of phases, starting with rigorous research and market and niche analysis to develop an expert strategy and ending with running email campaigns to retain lost clients. However, every detail matters here.
Some of these stages should be built upon each other; some will correlate to produce a more significant impact, while others will be purely independent. Skipping one of such stages may lead to loopholes in the foundation on which you build your company. These tiny loopholes lead to drastic outcomes that may cost you a fortune later.
When Do You Need The Full Brand Process?
As we have already pointed out, building branding is a continuous and ever-evolving process. However, it does not mean that you should constantly revisit the foundational strategy when brand-related marketing efforts are involved.
Although the branding process has numerous phases, but they were designed to support the company during various life stages. Therefore, if you need to adjust your logo design to look stylish and up-to-date, you should not get back to phase number 2, formulating your brand strategy.
So, when do you need the entire brand process? Consider these common scenarios:
- The launch of the company.
- The merge of two companies.
- The launch of a brand-new product or line.
- After decades of avoiding updates or adjustments.
Note, some brand agencies offer so-called brand equity analysis that helps both sides realize whether the company needs to go through the whole brand process or not.
How Long Does The Branding Process Take?
Creating the brand positioning and visual identity takes between 2 and 8 months, to say nothing about the roll-outs and after-launch stages. It is quite a range because the duration required for branding is often affected by such factors as:
- the size of the company;
- the niche;
- the market;
- what deliverables are needed;
- how many brand elements and tools are required;
- future goals;
- the people involved, whether you work with an agency that has lots of clients to serve currently or is ready to get to you right away;
- launch and roll-out fixes.
The progress of brand building largely depends on your commitment to the deal. If you constantly miss meetings or delay the feedbacks, this process may drag on for years.
Why Should You Not Rush Things?
Although the market's preferences and requirements change pretty fast, you should not rush things. The initial phases are crucial to get right because they underlie everything. On top of that, each one requires your undivided attention and feedbacks to eliminate all flaws so that you can safely move from one stage to another.
Therefore, be ready to spend some extra time and effort collaborating with the agency to create a profitable brand that will help your company get the right image, face the competition and earn your place in the customers' hearts.
Stages of Branding Process
The branding process is a complex, multi-faceted marketing term that implies investigation, brainstorming, analysis, strategic thinking, project management, creativity, designing, development, testing, launching, and maintenance.
What Are The Stages Of The Branding Process?
Branding process can be broken into six fundamental stages:
- Brand Research
- Brand Strategy
- Brand Identity
- Brand Tools
- Brand Launch
- Brand Building.
Let's consider each one closely.
Stage 1 – Brand Research
Everything begins with conducting in-depth research of the company. At this point, the brand strategists do a series of actions that include:
- Examining the current position of the company in the market.
- Diving deeply into the target audience.
- Analyzing competitors.
- Investigating which direction the brand wants to go in to see whether it can maximize its potential.
- Researching stakeholders' needs and perceptions to build a much broader overview of the brand.
- Conducting a brand audit.
The result of this set of actions should help the team to do such things:
- Clarify the vision, goals, and values of the company.
- Write the correct positioning statement.
- Understand the company's mission, brand values, personality, and USP.
- Define strengths and weaknesses.
- Identify opportunities.
Only when the research is conducted and the comprehensive wide-ranging report is compiled, the brand agency can move to another stage – developing brand strategy.
Stage 2 - Brand Strategy
Developing a brand strategy is the most crucial phase that no one can afford to miss. It sets the direction and underlies the solid foundation building the first bricks of your brand framework. It is also highly advisable to revisit this stage for companies that do rebranding.
The purpose of this phase is to define and show the company which direction it should take to grow, scale, realize its potential, and accomplish the prime mission.
At this stage, the team looks at the company from customers' and company's perspectives, trying to find the perfect balance between these two parties. The agency builds a design brief for the project that clarifies critical aspects of the brand framework, such as:
- Target audience;
- Brand value, promise, and proposition;
- Brand personality;
- Brand emotion range;
- Brand positioning;
- It also identifies ultimate, short-term, and long-term goals and outlines specific rules and guidelines. Finally, it declares the reasons why the company wants to build the brand or do re-branding to ensure that everyone is on the same page.
Stage 3 - Brand Identity
Visual identity is the primary tool to put your brand strategy to work. It translates the company's value, vision, and distinctive personality into objects that customers interact with. This tangible thing evokes a necessary gamut of emotions and lays the solid base for building strong relationships with the clients.
As a rule, at this stage, the digital agency develops such elements:
- Patterns and icons;
- Color scheme;
- Tagline or catchphrase;
- Personality and style;
- Brand voice;
- Business collateral;
- Stationery suite including business cards, flyers, brochures, notebooks, and even mugs and pencils with the company's emblem.
This phase implies collaboration from both sides. The agency will come up with a design that reflects the company's personality, goals, and visions and at the same time resonates with the target audience; whereas, the company should provide feedbacks to achieve the best result.
Stage 4 - Brand Tools
Visual identity package is not the only tangible thing that you can get from your brand process. There are some other deliverables that you may get as well. These precious assets are the ones that drive engagement, generate traffic, convert visitors into warm leads, and rake in cash. On top of that, they are instruments to increase your brand's visibility and obtain marketing goals.
Depending on your goal and strategy, you may need to develop such components as:
- Video or YouTube channel;
- Accounts in social media platforms like the Facebook page, Twitter Page, Instagram, Pinterest;
- Digital newsletter;
- Industry-related conferences and events;
- Awards program;
- Research project;
- Business development toolkit that, at a minimum, includes such elements as a description of your company and services, video overview, and signage.
Stage 5 - Brand Launch
Finally, the brand launch – the most anticipated event in the company's history. Though, this is not the last phase. But first things first.
Implementation of new brand identity may take different forms and last from one day to several months. Everything starts with the planning of roll-out. Depending on the scope and strategy, you may need to split it into internal and external launches.
Note that professional branding firms recommend starting with an internal launch that implies brand announcement and a series of training inside the company. This approach will give your business a head start because your staff will be on the same page with you. Your employees will be well-educated and versed in the company's ideology, which helps them preach your ways and communicate them through their interactions with customers to maximize the overall effect.
After that, you may proceed to the external launch.
External launch implies exposing your new brand identity to the market. It can be one event with a wow factor or a series of events that reveals the brand in an unobtrusive organic way. It may take one day or last several months. Depending on your strategy, goals, and market preferences, you need to choose the proper model.
However, the vital thing to note. When it comes to external launch, it is here where customers are in focus. The company should prioritize the target audience and deliver them the right message at the right time. Also, it is your chance to make the first impression count because external launch always commands attention.
Stage 6 - Brand Building
Like it or not, brand-building never ends, and the brand launch is just the beginning of the journey.
The market does not stay still; the target audience's preferences and demands change and evolve. You have to keep up with the World and adjust your brand according to new standards and requirements.
Sometimes you need to add a new asset because the market requires it, like TikTok videos or Instagram promotions. Sometimes, you need to ditch old ways like Tumblr posts. Other times, you need to refresh your strategy by adding some new tweaks to the time-proven but still beloved approaches.
This phase requires collaboration with a digital marketing agency to do various important activities like
- Develop SEO strategy;
- Create Social Media campaigns;
- Run email campaigns;
- Launch Paid Advertising (PPC).
The core objective of this stage is to help your company navigate through all the obstacles that appear on its way and, at the same time, cement a solid brand framework of your company.
Even if you are a small company that is forced to compete against famous brands with devoted customers and unlimited marketing budgets, you still have a fighting chance to see through all obstacles and get your place under the Sun, acquiring a base of loyal fans who will generate revenue and keep your business afloat.
The deal is, brand first design always gives its owner a solid foundation for realizing their marketing goals and fulfilling their potential even at the beginning of the journey. When well-done, it makes the bold statement, separates the company from the crowd, creates the proper perception in customers' minds, and most importantly, leaves an undeniable imprint in their memory that compels them to return and work with the company regardless of the fluctuations and competition in the market.
However, achieving such results is a true challenge. You need a strong brand identity and strategy that will lead you through all obstacles. For this, follow the branding process with six fundamental stages obediently and give your total devotion and commitment. Do not skip phases even though they seem redundant or unnecessary - they are crucial to success, and always choose professional teams instead of DIY approaches.