Below are parts of an article that I found informative by David Miles. He is president of Miles Strategic DNA, a real estate branding company based in Denver.

Get Ready for the Turnaround: Revise Your Branding Now

Leading brands understand that trust is the key to ongoing success. They make brand promises that directly connect with their target markets and cultivate relationships by identifying what is most important and relevant to those groups of people.
Once this is established, the brand focuses all of its energy on fulfilling those promises.
Weak brands are unsure of what to promise. Because they are confused, they confuse the marketplace and their target audience. Brands that do not have a clearly defined promise are forced to live in a world of reaction instead of leadership.
What does your brand promise?
If you want to be ready when the market turns, answering this question would be a good place to start.
The Brand Promise — Seek Unique
As you prepare for a more vibrant market, now is the ideal time to concentrate on developing a brand promise based on differentiation.
Take advantage of a slow market to revisit what you are all about. What do you stand for? What is it that lives deep in your gut that continually motivates you?
Begin by answering three essential questions:
Who are you?
What do you do?
Why does it matter?
The answers to these three simple questions are very important for your business. Once you have a clearly defined response to each of these questions, you’ll be well on your way to articulating a differentiating brand promise. To help you, here are a few of my favorites:
“Think Different” (Apple)
“Expect More. Pay Less” (Target)
“Just Do It” (Nike)
The Power of Design — Design Creates Desire
Differentiation doesn’t stop with a brand promise — it begins there.
Once you have a strong brand promise, it’s time to give it creative life. That’s where the power of design comes in. Design is the key to leveraging the brand promise into unique experiences and associations.
Design creates desire. Consumers may not know what they want, but they know it when they see it. That’s the power of design. It produces an immediate, emotional reaction to visual imagery — and it motivates action.
Design is the ultimate tool that a company has to have in order to be competitive in today’s marketplace.
At the end of the day, design is about creating better experiences for people.
Preparing Branding for 2010 and Beyond
Halfway through 2009, it is worth going back to branding basics now in preparation for the eventual market turnaround that is now coming into focus.