Branding Part 1: Steps to Build a Strong Brand

Notepad with Core Value written in pen.

Most think that building a brand is the development of an Identity System – logo, colors and business materials. And branding is advertising that identity with collateral in various media. The word branding means everything and nothing to most businesses and advertising is looked at as a necessary evil that drains capital.

All that is true… if done wrong.

I am the Creative Director at The Marketing Formula in Dayton, Ohio and it is my job to be blunt and to the point. I’m not a sales rep or an account manager that is focused on sales and execution. I am the champion of our core, our purpose. We exist to enable our clients to be different, to stand out and to become stronger.

When it comes to creating or strengthening a “Brand” all the steps must be completed or at least addressed. This allows you to create a strong foundation that members of your organization and your customers believe in. Regardless of industry, confidence must be established to build loyalty.


Step 1 – Clear your head (get away from your day to day)
Step 2 – Establish “Core Value” – Why your organization, your product and service exist.
Step 3 – Define the brand characteristics: Position, Personality, Promise, Style

The first step is to stop thinking about what you have to do today or even this week and concentrate on this task.

Step two, write down your core value – why you(r)/product/service exist(s) and it’s not to make money. Money is a result of the successful deployment of your Core Value. Once you have that, do not move on until you know in your heart that this is right. This Core Value is your direction for developing every element of your brand.

Step three, define your vision. Write it down on something that you can look at every day. Every decision you make should be decided on “does this make sense for the business? Does it support the “Core Value” and fit in our brand characteristics?” It sounds complicated, but it’s not. You know when it’s wrong and does not fit and you know when it’s right.

Next are your brand characteristics. Start with your brand “Position.” Specifically – Who you are? What do you do? What are the characteristics that differentiate you in the marketplace? Why should someone do business with you?

Once you know who you are, what you do and what makes you special, define your brand “Personality.” The brand “Personality is what you want your brand to be known for (in terms of human qualities). What are the traits that describe your company? What is the behavior that anyone externally will recognize about your organization? This should not be a reflection of your customer-facing employees, but rather the experience with your company in general.

Live it! Define your brand “Promise.” The brand “Promise” is the commitment you make to provide consistent experience. A predictable way employees act every time – with clients, suppliers, customers and each other.

Once you have all this down and believe in every word you’ve written, you should develop what your brand “Style” will be. This is the part everyone wants to skip right to. But without the parameters of the Position, Personality and Promise, the Style is superficial and will not connect with the target audience. BELIEVE ME! I have done it both ways and the clients who demand to jump right to the “Style” are forever unsure if they are sending the vibe to the targets, have unending revisions and still are not sure at the end. The companies who commit to the development process are confident that their style connects with their target groups and represents a true representation of the organization/product/service.

Again, This Is Brand

Step 1 – Clear your head (get away from your day to day)
Step 2 – Establish “Core Value” – Why your organization, your product and service exist.
Step 3 – Define the brand characteristics: Position, Personality, Promise, Style

Now the fun part! Re-read and digest the starting steps for the development of brand. Work through the exercises and develop the foundation. Trust me it is worth doing, with us or even someone else. Just make sure you do it.

The next two parts of this series are:

Part 2 – Building a Branding System
Expected Date: As I get time

Part 3 – Living the Brand (Branding)
Expected Date: No Idea

I wish I could give you dates but I work these in as I get time and just like everyone else, client work always takes priority. If you like us on Facebook of opt-in for our RSS feed you will get notified.

Good luck! Send me an email or call me if you have any questions (937-228-8720 x 146).