The Branding Process Explained
What is the branding process?
The branding process is a series of well-defined activities designed to develop a value system and communication framework for a business, resulting in a coherent brand identity.
A complete branding process should consist of research, strategy and design stages, usually followed by the implementation or execution phase.
Stages of brand identity development
The research phase of the branding project is about collecting information and analysing the findings to get to know your business, industry, competitors, target audience and all of your existing branding and design. It typically consists of extensive desk and field research including interviews where your branding partner listens to you to understand your business challenges, and then aligns themselves with your vision.
The brand strategy is based on the findings of the brand research. While the research phase is about exploration, this step is for focusing and consolidating your values, business aspirations and vision for the future. The strategy stage sets the tone of your communication, and provides a rallying point for your team in terms of brand values and business direction.
Without design, you wouldn’t be able to deliver the strategy. The design phase is what translates brand values into practical solutions such as a memorable and meaningful visual brand identity. As part of the branding process, design’s main role is to formulate the visual identity but it often goes beyond that. Design thinking can be applied to many areas of your business to improve services, products and workflows.
The implementation stage is when your new brand identity is revealed to the world. It starts with the careful planning of the roll-out i.e. how and when certain aspects of your brand will be launched on various channels. Implementation can take many forms, from a few business cards to a website or series of product videos. This phase can happen very quickly, but it can also last several months depending on your business’ circumstances.
Why is the branding process important?
The process combines rigorous research, expert strategy and cutting-edge design to create effective, memorable brands. Only by having these essential stages built upon each other and working together can a comprehensive brand be delivered. Focusing on the design only will lead to lack of substance. Overindulging in research and strategy will result in a highly logical brand lacking innovation.
The purpose of the process is to strike the right balance between information and intuition.
How long does it take?
In the world of business everything tends to happen quickly and there is an expectation for branding to be the same and deliver quick fixes. Branding takes time. A dream project will flow smoothly and, create the brand positioning and visual identity within weeks, but this is a very rare occurrence. It typically takes a couple of months to do the necessary research and define the strategy, and that is only the foundation. From there, you need to agree on design solutions and an implementation plan, then continue to nurture your brand and invest into its growth for years to come. Trying to rush through everything will not produce the outcomes you are looking for, so if you are serious about wanting to improve your business’ performance through branding, be prepared to give this endeavour the time and commitment it needs to succeed.
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