Picture this. Your whole life, you’ve dreamed of building your dream home. You’ve thought about paint colors, finishes, and flooring options. Dreamed of game nights with friends in the open-concept Great Room. A walk-in closet in the main suite. Side-by-side bathroom sinks and an elaborate tile backsplash in the kitchen. You’ve bought the plot and ordered the building supplies. But when the first building day finally arrives, you realize you missed one incredibly important little detail: drawing up the actual blueprints.
How far do you think you’ll get into building your dream home without a plan? And, even more important, how sturdy do you think it’ll be when you’re done?
We know we need forethought and planning for all of life’s most important events and investments. As small business owners, the odds are good you’ve even spent hours crafting your business plan. Still, it’s easy to think we can slap a logo on something and call it a brand. In reality, you need a brand development plan in this hypercompetitive marketing era. Here’s why.
First, what is a brand development plan?
If you’ve been following our blog for a bit, you know that a brand is a product or a business with a distinct identity. It’s what gives you the edge and sets you apart from competitors. Your brand development plan or brand strategy helps you keep that edge. It establishes how and when your brand will evolve to stay relevant for decades.
But your brand development plan isn’t a one-and-done deal. It’s a continuous process that helps brands maintain quality, consistency, and value. It requires small business owners to be aware of competitors and how they’re navigating the market and continuously act from a place that prioritizes your brand’s unique purpose and values.
Top benefits of having a strong brand development plan
If brand development is at the bottom of your to-do list, consider the following benefits:
#1: Brand development sets your brand’s “True North” for growth
As a business owner, you know the daily grind can be all-consuming. Especially for small business owners who tend to be the CEO, marketing manager, bookkeeper, and sales rep (sometimes even filling all those roles on the same day). Building a solid brand development plan is like plugging your destination into GPS before you leave the driveway. While you might have to adjust your route along the way, you’ll always know where you’re trying to go. It establishes a strong vision for the future so that, even if you get bogged down in the daily grind, you can pull out your map to make sure you’re staying on track.
#2: Creates a long-term roadmap for success
Did we mention that your brand development plan is a long-term and ongoing thing? We’ll say it again just to be safe: your brand strategy is a constantly evolving document that keeps an eye on the future while meeting the present demands. Typically, when developing a brand strategy, you’ll want to consider your six-month, one-year, five-year, and ten-year goals. This empowers you to work proactively, not reactively. You can adjust your branding strategy by continuously monitoring your company’s performance.
#3: Keeps your messaging consistent
We’ve said it before, and we’ll definitely say it again: consistency is key when it comes to building brand equity. That goes for everything from the particular shade of blue used in your marketing materials to how you communicate value to your customers.
Why does consistency matter? For the long answer, check out our blog on the ROI of professional branding. But in short, consistency helps build recognition while also establishing trust by striving to meet customer expectations. Your brand development plan outlines the promise you make to your audience, customers, or clients. It tells them what to expect every time they interact with your products or services.
#4: Puts your audience (and their needs) first
The number one problem we see with most brands? They want to be everything to everybody. As a result, it’s hard for them to connect with their absolutely ideal consumer audience. One of the top benefits of a brand development plan is that it asks you to reflect on who you’re actually interested in working with. And we’re not talking about the same old “32-year-old mother of two” customer demographics. We’re talking about identifying your ideal customers’ values, the problems they need solved, and what will help them connect emotionally with your brand.
#5: Gives you a way to measure success
Unfortunately, measuring brand success isn’t always as straightforward as measuring business success. In business, you have tangible things to track. You can see how fast you’re moving inventory, how many appointments you book, and whether your income outweighs your expenses. But how do you measure brand awareness? What’s the metric for brand sentiment and loyalty? By taking time to come up with a brand strategy, you can decide what matters most to YOUR brand.
Example time. If you offer a service that people need frequently, you can measure customer loyalty by how often they return to you. For example, a salon that offers eyebrow waxing can measure success by how many folks come back every month. But a company that offers one-time, big investment products (like wedding florals) won’t be able to gauge loyalty based on return business. Instead, they might consider word-of-mouth referrals the strongest indicator of customer loyalty.
Part of your brand development plan includes taking the time to consider what success actually means for your business. This helps tailor your efforts to more specific outcomes rather than taking wild shots in the dark.
Stronger brands start with stronger brand development
Once you know yourself (mission, values, goals), your audience (values, needs), and your competitors (messaging, values, differentiators), you’re able to act from a strong, informed foundation.
Without this brand development groundwork, you’re building a house with no blueprint. And while you might be able to hammer something together, odds are good it won’t be sturdy enough to stand for the next five, ten, or even fifty years.
Want to start the year with a strong foundation? Get in touch to learn more about our brand strategy services and how Lunar Creative can support your brand development.