Marketing often talks about brand development as a critical step in moving a company beyond a specific product or service and making it a solution to a need in consumers’ minds. However, the actual process of brand development itself isn’t always clear. Many small businesses learn it the hard way, stumbling through advertising, then creating their first marketing campaign, and finally realizing brand development involves a number of activities and assets working towards creating a memorable business identity for consumers.
While the above may sound very technical, it’s not. In fact, brand development can be performed in four clear, distinct steps for a business.
First, a business needs to identify what the brand will be about. So whether your brand is associated with fixing computers, managing information, or sharing coffee grounds, a clear topic needs to be identified. The consumer should be able to see the message of a few words and know instantly the brand development activity is connecting a service or good to a problem as a solution for that issue.
Second, along with a topic there needs to be a story. Too often business just throw out their service or product and expect people to figure out the rest. Providing a story solves the mental gap for the consumer and connects their need to a presented solution. Many companies use the format of a story, since consumers like to be entertained. A great example was a series of TV commercials by a coffee company showing a blossoming romance between two apartment neighbors. It turned into a long-running commercial series and the coffee brand became synonymous with romantic connections. So taking the time to think about how a story resonates can make it a success during the marketing and advertising phase.
Third, stories work best with memorable characters. Remember the old lady in the hamburger commercials who kept asking, “Where’s the beef?” Most people over time forget the company involved, but they instantly remember the characters if developed well, even with short, 30-second stories. Spending time to make the characters fit the story helps connect a brand with a face, believe it or not, and when the character is likeable the product or service sells.
Finally, the platform for communicating matters greatly. Traditional methods include print, radio and television, but the Internet has brought the benefits of television to small businesses without the cost. Through video and social media complete movielines can be developed for very little cost, making creativity far more affordable. With a good camera person and scriptwriter, a company can create all of the above steps and an exponential following very easily.
If you’re getting the feeling that brand development seems more like creating a movie than a business program, your perspective is closer to the right track. Brand development involves idea creation and a sense of relationship. Those two concepts don’t happen through formulas; ideas and relationships happen through experience, including visual and audial communication. When people connect mentally, and through characters, that a given problem can be solved regularly by a specific brand, the development has succeeded.