(Following up on STEP 1: Know why you need branding)

STEP 2: Plan your brand’s identity and future

In order to stay innovative, it is vital to allow your brand to evolve over time, in keeping with changing trends in your industry. Whether it is small changes or a complete brand refresh, over the years it will be inevitable that you will need to adapt to reflect either the changes to the company (e.g. expansion) or changes to the market place (e.g. audience expectations).

The Brand Identity should be treated almost like a person, with its own growing and evolving personality and character. This will most likely be lead through your experiences as a company and is more about aligning the brand with your customers.

Changes in the Market

In terms of audience changes, it may be a shift in their expectations or even their view of the industry as the whole. One consumer trend that had an impact on the Food & Drink industry was the increase in demand for gluten-free products. This saw manufacturers develop new variations of their product to meet the demand, creating different branding requirements as a result. It shows all companies need to be prepared to innovate.

Alongside this, are developments in communication channels. For instance, the rise of social media means companies have had to consider how their brand would be represented on these channels.

There may also be a disruptive entry into the market when a new competitor has identified a niche, exploited it and the consumers have now come to expect it. The difference Netflix has made in the entertainment industry would be an example of this.

How to plan for this:

  • Perform regular market research
  • Ensure your communications clearly differentiate you from your competition
  • Regularly analyse your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT)
  • Monitor any external changes to the industry (law changes etc. (PESTEL Analysis))

Changes in Your Brand

As the company grows, it is likely that things will start to change with it. There may be changes in your products/services (whether it is reductions or additions), expansion into new markets or even entering a new market.

How the brand is adapted will depend on how significant the change is. The amount of planning for releasing a new drink flavour is vastly different to creating a new line of drinks.

It may be necessary to create a ‘sub-brand’ if the shift is too great. This allows you to target two different audiences without creating confusion. Cadbury’s found this when they created Smash mashed potato. The brand association of Cadbury’s chocolate didn’t match their audience for Smash so it was necessary to make the connection between the two less obvious.

How to plan:

  • Identify what areas of your business are likely to grow
  • Determine your product range and its sub-networks
  • Plan out how each product range will grow and develop over coming years
  • Analyse which products are complimentary to the overarching brand messaging and which need to have some level of separation

Your Brand Values should remain the same whatever change you make though, as it defines who you are as a business and how you operate as a business both internally and externally. When in doubt always check how it fits with your brand identity and the research you performed on your target market.

Continue on your branding journey with our next blog “STEP 3: Employee Engagement”.

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