How to become a black belt in brand development

In our previous branding blog, we explored the good ol’ Kapferer Brand Identity Prism. If you’ve had a read of that, you’ll no doubt agree it’s crucial in crafting a strong brand identity. And if you don’t agree, read it again.

So, now you know how crucial a killer brand identity is to your success, the next question is: how do we develop yours? This may seem like a daunting task – and that’s because it can be. Successful brand development strategy requires deep reflection, an honest appraisal of your current situation versus where you want to be, and even a little bit of predatory thinking.

Oh, and as you’ll discover as we take you through our 5-step brand development process, it also requires the patience of renowned marketing expert, Mr Miyagi.

Image of Mr Miyagi symbolising how to be a brand development black belt.

Step 1: Vision statement

Put simply, your vision statement declares where your business is heading and what it will look like when it’s arrived. Ask yourself this: “What impact do you see your business having on the world once you’ve achieved your vision?”

Woven’s advice: Make it compelling and aspirational and don’t worry about explaining how the vision will be met.

Mr Miyagi’s advice: If come from inside you, always right one.

Here’s an example of a great vision statement – written by Kodak founder, George Eastman, way back in 1880 (when Kapferer wasn’t even a twinkle in his parents’ eyes):

To make photography as simple as using a pencil.

And here’s an example of a not-so-great vision statement – written by Dell, a modern-day giant with all the modern-day marketing tools at their fingertips:

To be the most successful computer company in the world at delivering the best customer experience in markets we serve.

Wordy, generic, and not exactly inspiring. Dell: must try harder!

Step 2: Mission statement

Your mission statement is the purpose of your existence. Determine what specific market needs you seek to address, how you will do it, and why your customers should buy from you and not your competition.

Woven’s advice: Your mission statement doesn’t have to be clever or catchy. Instead, focus on it being bold, memorable, and accurate.

Here’s a great vision statement, courtesy of Nike:

To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.

And now a not-so-great example:

McDonald’s brand mission is to be our customers’ favorite place and way to eat and drink. Our worldwide operations are aligned around a global strategy called the Plan to Win, which center on an exceptional customer experience – People, Products, Place, Price and Promotion.

Everything in that second sentence is corporate claptrap. Hey, McDonald’s, if you’re reading this, ditch it.

So, don’t be like McDonald’s, craft a pithy mission statement that connects not just with your customers but also with your employees. After all, they’re the ones who will be ensuring its success.

Image of McDonald's unhappy meal to symbolise their company mission statement and how they could improve their brand development strategy

Step 3: Essence

Brand essence is the “heart and soul” of your brand. Branding expert, Kirk Phillips, eloquently describes it as “the single intangible attribute that differentiates your brand from competitive brands as perceived by the audience.”

Woven’s advice: Brevity matters. Be as succinct as possible when trying to capture the soul of your brand.

Mr Miyagi’s advice: Man who catch fly with chopstick accomplish anything.

HubSpot have put together a useful blog on establishing your brand’s essence, which you can read here.

Step 4: Personality

Brand personality is the set of human traits and characteristics assigned to a brand and expressed through its tone of voice, its design and its copywriting.  Refer back to the Kapferer Brand Identity Prism to understand how brand personality interacts with other elements of your brand.

Woven’s advice: Although written in 1997, Jennifer Aaker’s paper Dimensions of Brand Personality will help you understand the five key dimensions of brand personality.

Step 5: Value proposition and positioning

An entire blog could be dedicated to understanding these two terms (and how they are not interchangeable, definitely not interchangeable). But, let’s leave that for another day. For now, let’s just say:

A value proposition is a promise of value to be delivered. It’s the main reason why someone should do business with you (and not your competitor).

In their bestseller, Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind, Reis and Trout describe the objective of positioning as “an organised system for finding a window in [a consumer’s] mind.”

Both value proposition and positioning statements need to be directed towards a specific target market, be customer-focused, identify unique points of differentiation, and declare key benefits.

As Mr Miyagi would say: Wax on, wax off. Wax on, wax off.

Woven’s advice: Value propositions should focus on marketing strategies whilst positioning statements should focus on product strategies. And we also have no idea why Mr Miyagi is going on about wax.

Mr Miyagi, wax on wax off

Last words of wisdom

Well, that’s our 5-step guide to getting your brand development process off to a flying kick-start. Let us know what you think. And if you need a hand with your brand development and strategy, drop us a line and we’ll be all too happy to help.

In the meantime, we’re off to practice our roundhouse kick tekkers – but we’ll leave you with a final piece of Woven Wisdom, courtesy of Mr Miyagi.

“We make sacred pact. I promise teach marketing to you, you promise learn. I say, you do, no questions.”