The Step-by-Step Guide to Branding

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 Branding Process Explained

Ten Branding Process Steps: From Research to Implementation

October 1, 2021
10 minutes


Branding is a long and complex process, so here’s a quick and easy guide into the key steps you need to create a successful brand.

Branding or brand development is the process of creating a positive perception of your company and its products through design and marketing.

It involves several stages of research, testing and implementation, and different stakeholders such as brand strategists, marketers and designers.

Here’s a quick and easy rundown of all the key steps in this complex process.


Research Phase

Maybe you’ve had a really great idea in the shower? But is there actually a market for your product?

Before you invest considerable time and money into building products that no one wants to buy, or perhaps already exist, you need to do due diligence and make sure your idea is viable.

Market research can consist of primary research (the research you do yourself including interviews, focus groups, etc.) and secondary research (using existing findings such as surveys, white papers, etc.).

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Define your target audience

The point of the research is to define your target market. A well-defined target market is a group of people with the same or similar problem that you can solve. This will help you come up with products and services that people have a need for. The rest of the branding process will help you create a brand that people remember and love.

If your idea is to create “a product for everyone”, you’re on the wrong track. Whatever industry you’re in, there’s always a lot of competition to beat and the only way you can succeed is to find exactly who your ideal customers are.

This part of the brand-building process is called creating a buyer persona, which is the personification of your ideal customer. Creating a profile with a name, occupation, interests and of course, a problem your brand can solve leads to a better understanding of why they might be interested in your company.

Know your competitors

Keep your enemies close, right? Well, in the world of branding knowing what your competitors are up to isn’t just a way to one-up them. It’s also an integral part of defining your own brand identity.

If you’re the same as someone else, you must assume they will eventually beat you, especially if they’ve been on the market for long. If you think you know what makes your brand unique, make sure that the differentiator is:

  1. True
  2. Relevant
  3. Provable

Again, use research to make sure you’ve checked all three boxes. To check if your assumptions are correct and relevant, gather focus groups and interview your audience whether they can make a distinction between your brand and the rest, and of course ask them if they find this distinction relevant or not.

Finally, make sure that your assumptions are provable in quantifiable data. For example, if people say they prefer a certain feature of a product, is there a way to find out whether this is really the reason they are buying your product?

Strategy phase

Once you have all the research out of the way it’s time to put it in writing and create your brand and marketing strategies. This is what they entail.

Devise your brand strategy

A brand strategy essentially states what your brand is and what it wants to achieve. Do you want to build a powerful global brand or are you focused on solving pertinent issues locally?

Some of the key elements of a brand strategy are:

  • mission statement: stating what your brand’s daily mission is (providing products that solve a particular problem);
  • vision statement: stating the big picture, or how your brand works towards a higher goal (eliminating the problem altogether);
  • positioning statement: slightly longer statement that defines what you do, your target audience, what makes you unique and how you do business.

Here’s an example of Apple’s brand positioning statement:

‘For individuals who want the best personal computer or mobile device, Apple leads the technology industry with the most innovative products. Apple emphasizes technological research and advancement and takes an innovative approach to business best practices — it considers the impact our products and processes have on its customers and the planet.’

In this statement you can see who their audience is (“individuals who want the best PC or mobile”); what they do (“create innovative products”), what makes them different (“emphasis on technological research and innovation”) and finally how they do it (“considering the impact on customers and planet”).

Develop your marketing strategy

Once you know what you want your brand to achieve (whether it’s to change the world through technology or provide affordable, healthy meals), you’ll need to create a roadmap that tells you how to spread that message.

In the first instance, this includes defining your communication style and tone of voice. These should reflect the key characteristics of your brand and help you build your brand image.

You’ll need to create a messaging architecture, which means determining how specific segments of your target audience are guided through your sales funnel. Determining how they come across your brand will also have an impact on the types of messages they need to hear in order to make a purchase.

Finally, you’ll need to determine what channels you want to use, which of course depends on the target audience research you’ve previously done. Here are some of the most common elements of a digital marketing strategy.


  1. Website: your website is often the first point of contact for many users, but it’s also the place where people find the most information about your brand. It has to tell visitors the story of your brand, your mission and vision as well as the practical information about your offer.
  2. SEO: optimizing your website to help it rank high in search engines means using the right keywords, but also several technical aspects such as loading speed, the optimal number of labeled pages, backlinks, etc.
  3. Content marketing: this type of marketing goes hand in hand with SEO, as blog posts are often a good way to improve your ranking in search engines by offering useful information and answering search queries. However it’s also a way to connect with your audience and generate sales leads by offering shareable or downloadable pieces of content.
  4. Email marketing: Despite the new and ever-evolving ways of marketing online, email still reigns supreme when it comes to ROI. Using new software for email marketing automation will allow you to have ongoing campaigns that nurture leads into customers.
  5. Social media marketing: Thanks to refined targeting options, social media allows you to show ads exactly to the right people. In addition to that, the power of organic social media marketing shouldn’t be underestimated. It allows you to build a community around your brand and connect with consumers directly.
  6. PPC: Pay per click or PPC marketing allows you to run digital ads and pay only when people actually click on your links. It’s a great way to attract an influx of new visitors to your website quickly.

Design phase

Now that you have a strategy in place it’s time to create some of the key brand elements as outlined below.

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Create a logo and brand guide

A logo is such an important part of a brand that many people confuse its creation with the branding process as a whole.

Logos are the most important part of your brand’s visual identity because they are a visual representation of your brand. The choices of color, typography and style should correspond to your brand strategy and reflect the kind of brand that you want to build.

A logo is the foundation of a brand style guide which defines the visual elements of a brand, such as:

  • Color palette
  • Typography
  • Symbols and images
  • Backgrounds

Creating brand guidelines will help the design process be much quicker and easier in the future, and also it will give external collaborators such as freelancers or a design agency a quick and easy insight into how to design for your brand.

Launch a website

Every business needs a website. Whether you’re a product or service brand, customers will look for you online. Even if you initially approach them through traditional means of marketing such as TV ads or flyers, chances are they will turn to the Internet for more information.

Web design is a complex process that requires knowledge in a specific area of design called user experience (UX) design. Aside from making your website look appealing and on brand, it’s perhaps even more important to provide a positive user experience, so that visitors always know what actions to take and what will be the results of these actions.

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Customize social media channels

Creating your social media profiles is an important step in establishing your online presence. Of course, a generic look for your channels won’t do. Having an artistic direction for your social media will help you in building brand recognition and ease the content creation process down the road.

Make sure that your channels look the part with customized photos, banners and of course appropriate content aligned with your content marketing strategy.

Implementation phase

You’ve made it! Your brand exists and now it’s time to share it with the rest of the world. But what comes next?

Internal brand launch

So, before you actually make your brand available to everyone, it’s important to introduce your closest collaborators and the team to the new brand. First of all, it will give them a head start over everybody else to really get to know what the new brand is all about and, consequently, they will be able to “sell” the idea better.

If your company is going to rebrand it’s important to highlight why this decision was made, how the new brand is better than the initial one, but also how they are connected. A series of meetings and training giving your employees an opportunity to ask any questions and provide some last-minute feedback is very important for creating a company culture, or a connection between your brand and the employees.

Finally, you should get people excited about this new brand, so organizing an event or party is usually a good idea. Experience marketing is a great way to create a strong connection between people and your brand, since they will start associating the brand with positive feelings and memories (such as of a great party). And you definitely want your employees to be emotionally invested in the success of your company!

External brand launch

Creating hype around a new brand online requires a bit more research and planning than a company meeting. You’ll need to create a whole launch campaign strategy and utilize all your channels to introduce your new brand to the world.

There are quite a few useful ways to create a buzz such as coming soon landing pages, or teaser campaigns on social media. At this stage, you also need to have built an email list so that you can inform your contacts of the brand launch. It’s also a good idea to offer special discounts or promotions that will incentivize people to take a chance on a new brand.

Brand building

You’ve created a brand, but the brand-building process doesn’t end here. In fact, this is a process that never ends. Why do huge brands like Coca Cola or Nike still put thousands if not millions of dollars into their marketing campaigns? Because they want their brands to stay relevant.

Keep building on the basis you’ve created. For example, it could hardly be believed that anything could top the iconic Coca Cola bottle with a distinct shape that tells you that “It’s the real thing”? And yet, the Share a Coke campaign took this beloved packaging a step with personalization that people loved.

Monitor your brand performance and conduct regular customer surveys. Don’t wait for the sales to drop. Always be on the lookout to make your brand better by meeting your clients’ needs.

And finally, stay true to your values. Like we said at the beginning, the purpose of a brand should never be solely monetary. Support causes and campaigns that are in line with your vision and that are important to your customers. Use your brand as a platform to make the changes you want to see in the world. It may sound cheesy but truthfully, that’s another characteristic of a strong and sustainable brand.

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Danica Popovic

October 1, 2021

Having lived and studied in London and Berlin, I'm back in native Serbia, working remotely and writing short stories and plays in my free time. With previous experience in the nonprofit sector, I'm currently writing about the universal language of good graphic design. I make mix CDs and my playlists are almost exclusively 1960s.