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Writing a Business Plan
While it may be tempting to put off, creating a business plan is an essential part of starting your own business. Plans and proposals should be put in a clear format making it easy for potential investors to understand. Because every company has a different goal and product or service to offer, there are business plan templates readily available to help you get on the right track. Many of these templates can be adapted for any company. In general, a business plan writing guide will recommend that the following sections be incorporated into your plan.
The executive summary is the first section that business plans open with, but is often the last section to actually be written as it’s the most difficult to write. The executive summary is a summary of the overall plan that highlights the key points and gives the reader an idea of what lies ahead in the document. It should include areas such as the business opportunity, target market, marketing and sales strategy, competition, the summary of the financial plan, staff members and a summary of how the plan will be implemented. This section needs to be extremely clear, concise and engaging as you don’t want the reader to push your hard work aside.
The company description follows the executive summary and should cover all the details about the company itself. For example, if you are writing a business plan for an internet café, you would want to include the name of the company, where the café would be located, who the main team members involved are and why, how large the company is, who the target market for the internet cafe is, what type of business structure the café is, such as LLC, sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation, what the internet café business mission and vision statements are, and what the business’s short-term objectives are.
Services and Products
This is the exciting part of the plan where you get to explain what new and improved services or products you are offering. On top of describing the product or service itself, include in the plan what is currently in the market in this area, what problems there are in this area and how your product is the solution. For example, in a business plan for a food truck, perhaps there are numerous other food trucks in the area, but they are all fast –food style and unhealthy so, you want to introduce fast food that serves only organic and fresh ingredients every day. This is where you can also list your price points and future products or services you anticipate.
The market analysis section will take time to write and research as a lot of effort and research need to go into it. Here is where you have the opportunity to describe what trends are showing up, what the growth rate in this sector looks like, what the current size of this industry is and who your target audience is. A cleaning business plan, for example, may include how this sector has been growing by 10% every year due to an increase in large businesses being built in the city.
Organization and Management
Marketing and sales are the part of the business plan where you explain how you will attract and retain clients. How are you reaching your target customers and what incentives do you offer that will keep them coming back? For a dry cleaner business plan, perhaps if they refer customers, they will get 10% off their next visit. In addition, you may want to explain what needs to be done in order for the business to be profitable. This is a great way of showing that you are conscious about what clear steps need to be taken to make a business successful.
Financial Projections & Appendix
The financial business plan section can be a tricky one to write as it is based on projections. Usually what is included is the short-term projection, which is a year broken down by month and should include start-up permits, equipment, and licenses that are required. This is followed by a three-year projection broken down by year and many often write a five-year projection, but this does not need to be included in the business plan.
The appendix is the last section and contains all the supporting documents and/or required material. This often includes resumes of those involved in the company, letters of reference, product pictures and credit histories. Keep in mind that your business plan is always in development and should be adjusted regularly as your business grows and changes.
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- A 10 Step Brand Development Strategy for Your Professional Services Firm
Your brand is perhaps your professional services firm’s most valuable asset. If this is true, then developing a stronger brand is your most important task (that’s why we developed our Brand Building Guide ). Not convinced? Consider what a professional services brand is.
What is Brand Development?
Brand development is the process of creating and strengthening your professional services brand . As we help firms develop their brands, we divide the process into three phases.
- The first phase is getting your brand strategy right and aligned with your business objectives.
- Second is developing all the tools you will need to communicate the brand, such as your logo, tagline and website.
- Finally, there is the phase of strengthening your newly developed or updated brand.
Your brand development strategy is how you go about accomplishing these tasks. To make the task a bit easier, we’ve broken the brand development strategy into 10 steps.
Your Brand Defined
A professional services brand is best understood as your firm’s reputation and it’s visibility in the marketplace. The strength of your brand can be measured as Reputation X Visibility.
There is another important dimension of your brand as well: how relevant it is to your target client audience. More about that later.
Download the Free Brand Building Guide for Professional Services Firms
A 10-Step Brand Development Strategy
1. consider your overall business strategy..
A strong, well differentiated brand will make growing your firm much easier. But what type of firm do you want? Are you planning to grow organically? Your overall business strategy is the context for your brand development strategy, so that’s the place to start. If you are clear about where you want to take your firm, your brand will help you get there.
See case story: The AIM Institute
2. Identify your target clients.
Who are your target clients? If you say “everybody” you are making a very big mistake. Our research clearly shows that high growth, high profit firms are focused on having clearly defined target clients. The narrower the focus, the faster the growth. The more diverse the target audience, the more diluted your marketing efforts will be. So how do you know if you have chosen the right target client group? That’s where the next step comes in.
3. Research your target client group.
Firms that do systematic research on their target client group grow faster and are more profitable (see figure below). Further, those that do research more frequently (at least once per quarter) grow faster still.
Research helps you understand your target client’s perspective and priorities, anticipate their needs and put your message in language that resonates with them. It also tells you how they view your firm’s strengths and your current brand. As such, it dramatically lowers the marketing risk associated with brand development.
4. Develop your brand positioning.
You are now ready to determine your firm’s brand positioning within the professional services marketplace (also called market positioning). How is your firm different from others and why should potential clients within your target audience choose to work with you?
A positioning statement is typically three to five sentences in length and captures the essence of your brand positioning. It must be grounded in reality, as you will have to deliver on what you promise. It must also be a bit aspirational so you have something to strive for.
5. Develop your messaging strategy.
Your next step is a messaging strategy that translates your brand positioning into messages to your various target audiences. Your target audiences typically include potential clients, potential employees, referral sources or other influencers and potential partnering opportunities, to name a few of the usual suspects.
While your core brand positioning must be the same for all audiences, each audience will be interested in different aspects of it. The messages to each audience will emphasize the most relevant points. Each audience will also have specific concerns that must be addressed, and each will need different types of evidence to support your messages. Your messaging strategy should address all of these needs. This is an important step in making your brand relevant to your target audiences.
Download the Differentiation Guide for Professional Services Firms Here
6. Develop your name, logo and tagline.
For many firms, a name change is not required. But if you are a new firm, are undergoing a merger or are burdened with a name that no longer suits your positioning, a name change may be in order. Even if you don’t change your firm name, a new logo and tagline may make sense to better support your brand positioning.
Remember, your name, logo and tagline are not your brand. They are a part of your brand identity , the ways to communicate or symbolize your brand. You must live it to make it real.
And don’t make the mistake of showing the new logo around internally to get a consensus. The name, logo and tagline are not for you. They are for your marketplace and should be judged on how well they communicate, not how much the partners like them.
See also: Branding services for professional services firms
7. Develop your content marketing strategy.
We could have called this step “develop your marketing strategy.” But we didn’t. Instead we call for a content marketing strategy .
Why? Content marketing is particularly well suited to professional services firms in the Internet age. It does all things traditional marketing does but it does them more efficiently. It uses valuable educational content to attract, nurture and qualify prospects.
Remember that your brand strength is driven by both reputation and visibility. Increasing visibility alone, without strengthening your reputation, is rarely successful. That’s why traditional “awareness-building” advertising or sponsorships so often yield disappointing results. On the other hand, content marketing increases both visibility and reputation at the same time. It is also the perfect way to make your brand relevant to your target audiences. Case closed.
8. Develop your website.
Your website is your single most important brand development tool. It is the place where all your audiences turn to learn what you do, how you do it and who your clients are. Prospective clients are not likely to choose your firm solely based on your website. But they may well rule you out if your site sends the wrong message.
See case story: LBMC Website
Further, your website will be home to your valuable content. That content will become the focus of your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts so that your prospects, potential employees, and referral sources will find you and learn about your firm. Online content is central to any modern brand development strategy.
These days, professional services websites come in two varieties. The first is a branding site. Such a site tells your story and conveys who you are, who you serve, and what you do. In short it conveys your brand message . The other variety does the above and also generates and nurtures potential new clients. We call these High Performance Websites.
9. Build your marketing toolkit.
The next step in the process is to build out the remainder of your marketing toolkit. This might include one-page “sales sheets” that describe core services offerings or key markets served. In addition, there may be a brief “pitch deck” that overviews the firm or key offerings and an e-brochure about the firm. These are rarely printed pieces anymore.
Increasingly this marketing toolkit also includes videos. Popular video topics include firm overviews, case studies or “meet the partner” videos. Key services offerings are also very useful. If prepared appropriately, these tools serve not only a business development function but also are important for brand development.
10. Implement, track, and adjust.
This final step in the brand development process may be one of the most important. Obviously a winning brand development strategy doesn’t do much good if it is never implemented. You might be surprised at how often that happens. A solid strategy is developed and started with all the good intentions the firm can muster. Then reality intervenes. People get busy with client work and brand development tasks get put off… then forgotten.
That’s why tracking is so important. We strongly recommend tracking both the implementation of the plan as well as results. Did the strategy get implemented as planned? What happened with the objective measures, such as search traffic and web visitors? How many new leads, employee applications and partnering opportunities were generated? Only by tracking the entire process can you make sure you are drawing the right conclusions and making the right adjustments.
There you have it — a 10 step brand development process to drive the growth and profitability of your firm.
The Brand Building Guide for Professional Services Firms
A Brand Development Example
Let’s consider the following real-world example of brand development. Heller Consulting is a technology consulting firm for nonprofits that approached Hinge when their marketing program was not delivering the results they desired. As a brand, they struggled to define themselves in the marketplace.
We began our engagement with research to understand how Heller was perceived by their prospects and clients. One discovery from this research was that their brand had unintentionally developed a narrow reputation as fundraising technology experts. They wanted to be known for more. With this brand research in hand, we were ready to proceed to the next phase of the brand development process.
We used what we learned about their firm’s strengths and how they compared to the competitive landscape to develop a set of key differentiators. This exercise led to the development of a compact positioning statement and persuasive messaging they could use in all their marketing materials.
One of the key areas where this new marketing language needed to be reflected was on the Heller website. Hinge helped Heller redevelop their website for an improved user experience and to incorporate they new positioning and messaging. We also made it easier to find and consume their thought leadership—gating the most valuable content to help turn web visitors into leads. It was now easier than ever for Heller to be identified and known as a thought leader in their space.
The results? Heller experienced a 400% increase in website conversions and a 50% increase in organic search traffic after a two year period. “Hinge gave us the foundation for a powerful, long-term marketing program,” said Heller COO Smita Vadakekalam.
See also: Heller Case Story
How Hinge Can Help
An effective brand development strategy needs to connect with the new professional services buyer. Hinge’s Branding Program can help your firm stand out from the competition and build a brand that drives sustained growth.
- Get strategies, tips, and tools for developing your firm’s brand with Hinge’s Brand Building Guide for Professional Services Firms .
- Download a free copy of the Inside the Buyer’s Brain, Fourth Edition research report to learn how to build a powerful brand to help your firm close more sales.
- Uncover your firm’s true differentiators and give buyers a reason to pick you out of the crowd in Differentiation, Positioning & Messaging through Hinge University .
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Brand Strategy 101: 7 Important Elements of a Company Branding Plan
Updated: April 11, 2022
Published: April 08, 2022
Just as an architect draws out a building plan before they start building, you need to develop a brand strategy for your business.
Strategic branding helps you set yourself apart from your competition and build customer loyalty.
In this article, you’ll learn all about the branding methods and essential elements of a branding strategy you need to grow a brand that’ll stand the test of time.
What is Brand Strategy?
Brand strategy is part of a business plan that outlines how the company will build rapport and favorability within the market. The goal of a brand strategy is to become memorable in the eyes of the consumer so that they decide to patronize your business over the competition.
(We'll get into that more in a bit.)
A well-defined and executed brand strategy affects all aspects of a business and is directly connected to consumer needs, emotions, and competitive environments.
First, let's clear up the biggest misconception about brand strategy: Your brand is not solely your product, your logo, your website, or your name.
Your brand is all of that and more — it's the stuff that feels intangible. Your brand is that hard-to-pin-down feeling that separates powerhouse brands from forgettable brands.
To objectively understand a subjective matter that many marketers consider more of an art and less of a science, we've broken down seven essential components of a comprehensive brand strategy that will help keep your company relevant for decades.
Elements of a Brand Strategy
- Employee Involvement
- Competitive Awareness
The elements of a brand strategy include:
When defining your business' purpose, keep this example in mind. While making money is a priority, operating under that notion alone does little to set your brand apart from others in your industry.
Our advice? Dig a little deeper. If you need inspiration, check out the brands you admire, and see how they frame their mission and vision statements.
The key to consistency is to avoid talking about things that don’t relate to or enhance your brand.
Added a new photo to your business’s Facebook Page ? What does it mean for your company? Does it align with your message, or was it just something funny that would, quite frankly, confuse your audience?
To give your brand a platform to stand on, you need to ensure your messaging is cohesive. Ultimately, consistency contributes to brand recognition, which fuels customer loyalty. (No pressure, right?)
To see a great example of consistency, let's look at Coca-Cola . As a result of its commitment to consistency, every element of the brand's marketing works harmoniously together. This has helped it become one of the most recognizable brands in the world .
Even on the surface of its social media accounts, for example, the seamlessness of its brand is very apparent across Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn:
Not to mention, belongingness—the need for love, affection, and being part of groups—falls directly in the middle of Maslow's hierarchy of needs, which aims to categorize different human needs.
The lesson to be learned? Find a way to connect with your customers on a deeper, more emotional level. Do you give them peace of mind? Make them feel like part of the family? Do you make life easier? Use emotional triggers like these to strengthen your relationship and foster loyalty.
In this fast-changing world, marketers must remain flexible to stay relevant. On the plus side, this frees you to be creative with your campaigns.
You may be thinking, "Wait a minute, how am I supposed to remain consistent while also being flexible?"
Good question. While consistency aims to set the standard for your brand, flexibility enables you to make adjustments that build interest and distinguish your approach from your competition.
A great example of this type of strategic balance comes from Old Spice . These days, Old Spice is one of the best examples of successful marketing across the board. However, up until recently, wearing Old Spice was pretty much an unspoken requirement for dads everywhere. Today, it's one of the most popular brands for men of all ages.
The secret? Flexibility.
Aware that it needed to do something to secure its place in the market, Old Spice teamed up with Wieden+Kennedy to position its brand for a new customer base.
And while it may have seemed a little out of the ordinary to some folks, the gesture made perfect sense for those who know our brand.
Loyalty is a critical part of every brand strategy, especially to support your sales organization. Highlighting a positive relationship between you and your existing customers sets the tone for what potential customers can expect if they choose to do business with you.
7. Competitive Awareness
Take the competition as a challenge to improve your own strategy and create greater value in your overall brand. You are in the same business and going after the same customers, right? So watch what they do.
Do some of their tactics succeed? Do some fail? Tailor your brand positioning based on their experience to better your company.
Keeping tabs on your competitor's social mentions for HubSpot customers is easy using the Social Monitoring App . Check out this article to learn more about setting up custom social streams.
While staying in tune with your competitor's strategies is essential if you want to enhance your brand, don't let them dictate every move you make.
Sure, you probably sell a similar product or service as many other companies, but you're in business because your brand is unique. By harping on every move your competitor makes, you lose that differentiation.
- Attitude Branding
- Individual Branding
- Product Branding
- Minimalist Branding
- Brand Extension Branding
Let’s discuss each branding method.
1. Attitude Branding
This form of branding refers to a feeling or attitude that customers associate with your brand.
Nike is a brand that has perfected this type of branding. With the ‘Just Do It’ slogan, Nike promotes a lifestyle that customers can enjoy by wearing this brand of products. With such a slogan, Nike promotes the idea that all customers are athletes when they're wearing Nike products.
2. Individual Branding
This type of branding is when a product or service gets a unique identity, perhaps in a different brand name to attract new customers in the market.
Unilever is an excellent example of a brand that uses individual branding. The company has three divisions, each creating some of the best-known brands in its niche.
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How To Create A Brand Strategy
[14-step roadmap], how to create a brand strategy[14-step roadmap].
If you want to know how to create a brand strategy & build strong brands that go beyond aesthetics then you’ve come to the right place.
Now don’t worry.
I’m not about to unleash “A brand is not a logo” speech on you. (You don’t deserve that monotony).
You want actionable steps you can take to build brands through strategy , am I right?
Well, that’s what you’re getting in this article so let’s not flaff about and get stuck in.
How To Create A Brand Strategy [The Video Breakdown]
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What Is Brand Strategy?
So, let’s clear up the basics before we go on.
When you build a brand , for yourself or a client, you’re building an entity to connect a business with an audience.
Try as you might, no shiny brand identity or logo will get the job done.
In order to make that connection, you need to first understand what that audience wants.
Then you need to devise a plan to not just tell them you have what they want, but show them why its different and the value it will bring them in a way that makes them feel connected.
This plan is the brand strategy and every business needs one.
Why Is Brand Strategy So Important?
Well, this is straight forward given the previous section.
If you have plans to promote your products or services in order to grow your business, then you’re going to want to give yourself the best possible chance to be successful.
Every professional sports team on the planet takes the time to work on their techniques, understand their opponents, look for weaknesses and then devise a strategy to beat the competition.
Why do all professional teams do this? Because it’s a proven formula for success.
Does it mean that every team with a strategy wins?
No. But every successful team has a strategy.
If you want your brand to be successful , it needs one too.
PRO Brand Strategy BluePrint
Build brands like a pro brand strategist.
The exact step-by-step process 7-Figure agencies use to bag big clients through brand strategy
How to build brands that command premium fees and stop competing for cheap clients
How to avoid the expensive amateur mistakes that 95% of brand builders make to fast-track profit growth
Get The FREE Framework Template PDF Now!
PRO Brand Strategy BluePrint Build Brands Like A Pro Brand Strategist
How To Create A Brand Strategy[In 14 Easy Steps]
Now that you know your brand needs a strategy, you just need to whip one up and head out on the success train, right?
You see, strategy is an art form. And just like any other art form, it takes some time to learn and more time to master .
But there is a roadmap for success which has been laid bare by the most successful and most loved brands in the world.
If you follow this formula , you’ll know the path and you’ll simply need to work on mastering it.
Explore Brand Strategy Programs & Tools
Step #1 develop your internal brand.
The very first step sets in place solid foundations for the rest of the brand.
Even those who believe in the idea of strategy, often skim past this section or overlook it completely.
But you can’t build a house on sand. And if you don’t take the time to build a solid foundation for your brand, it won’t take long for cracks to appear.
Your internal brand comes before your visual identity. It starts with “Why” and defines the internal “Who” of the brand.
These elements must be defined with direct contribution from the brand leaders as they represent the beliefs, commitments and behaviours of the brand — all of which are driven by the leaders.
Step #2 Define Your Target Audience
In order for your business to survive and then thrive, it must have something of value that a certain group of people want.
This group of people is the brand’s target audience.
The more vividly this group of people is defined, the better you can understand them and ultimately connect with them.
Emotions are the key to successful branding and understanding their challenges and pain-points are the key to unlocking those emotions.
Starting with their psychographics and demographics, you can carve out a silhouette of their circumstances and behaviours though you need to take the time to dig deeper in order to truly understand them. This is called a buyer persona — a fictional representation of the individual you’re targetting.
Step #3 Map The Competitive Landscape
A critical task in any strategy is to understand the hurdles to success.
One of the most obvious hurdles for any brand are the other brands that exist in the market that are competing for the same audience. If you’re launching a new product in the sportswear space, for example, you’ll conduct market research and quickly find a successful brand like Nike as your top competitor.
Your brand needs to stand apart from these competitors as the brand of choice.
To be successful in standing out, you must first understand what your competitors are doing — then do things differently to them.
If you simply replicate what’s already in the market, you’re not giving your audience anything new. Therefore, you’re simply contributing to market noise.
Step #4 Uncover Your Positioning Strategy
When you know your audience and what they want and you know your competitors and what they offer, you have a clear map of your market landscape.
This map is a tool you can use to identify gaps and opportunities for your brand to take advantage of.
What does your audience want that they’re not getting from your competitors?
What do they want more of?
What do they want less of?
Where do they want an alternative or a better way of doing things?
How can you do things better?
Can you save them time?
Can you save them money?
Can you save them stress?
This is where brand differentiation starts. Answering these questions opens up possibilities for you to position your brand as an alternative or better version of the competition, ultimately giving your audience a justifiable reason to pick your brand over theirs.
Step #5 Shape Your Brand Personality
Once you’ve defined the position you want to take in the market, you need to devise a strategy to convince them that you provide more value, a better experience, or a more convenient solution than your competitors.
How you define your difference will be key in developing your communication. But “How” you communicate will play a vital role in whether or not that message is well received.
As humans, we all connect with other humans through personality and the characteristics we display.
As we’re all different, we all display a variation of characteristics and we decide subconsciously whether or not we like them based on their characteristics.
We connect with brands in exactly the same way.
If you can identify the characteristics that your audience are most attracted to and develop a brand personality to connect through those characteristics, your brand messages are far more potent.
As an exercise, consider some of the world’s biggest brands and dissect their personality. Think about Coca-Cola (or choose a brand you connect with personally) and consider aspects like how it communicates, its tone of voice, how its values and messaging impact its audience, and how its visual identity reflects all these factors.
Step #6 Identify Your Tone Of Voice
Much like the uniqueness of your personality, how you speak is also unique to you.
And like your personality, your brand voice sends out signals, which carry the characteristics you display.
When we hear a tone of voice that displays characteristics we’re more attracted to, we’re far more likely to listen to what they have to say.
Once you’ve identified a personality which is most aligned to attracting your market audience , you must then enhance the believability of that personality with a tone of voice to match. This is all about brand alignment .
This doesn’t mean you need to record audio to capture that tone (though this is a technique you can use). But identifying the characteristics you specifically want your brand voice to carry is a fundamental part of an effective brand strategy because it will deliver your brand message as it’s intended.
Step #7 Develop Your Messaging Strategy
Through your personality and tone of voice, you’ve defined “How” you’re going to deliver your brand message.
Now, you need to define exactly “what” message you want your audience to receive.
It’s critical that you quickly satisfy the burning subconscious decision we all have when we’re confronted with something new . That is:
“What’s in it for me?”
This will tie in directly to the position you defined in an earlier step.
Your message’s end goal is to shape the perceptions of your brand in your audience’s mind.
Defining what you want your audience to understand about your brand will go a long way to deciding whether or not your brand will be successful in earning that position in their mind.
Step #8 Craft Your Brand Story
We’re all fascinated by story, but why is this?
It’s because we’re pre-programmed to listen to stories as it want to primary source of knowledge transformation from one generation to the next for millions of years.
Throughout these years, our DNA has evolved to raise our attention levels when we hear a story as traditionally, stories have been a vital source of information to assist in survival.
This instinct within us is more alive than ever before as our brains work overtime to filter out unnecessary information.
If you can wrap your messaging up in a story or a series of stories to help your audience to understand why your brand is valuable to them, their biological makeup means they’ll instinctively be more attentive to what you have to say.
Step #9 Develop Your Name & Tagline
This step might seem out of place so far along in the brand development process.
But both the name and the tagline are simply forms of brand communication.
Yes, they play a vital role in your audience remembering your brand and recalling why it’s important, which is precisely why the brand name and tagline are developed so late in the game.
At this stage you’re clear on what your audience wants, why you’re different, the value you offer, the characteristics you want to display and the message you want to deliver.
It’s obvious then that a name and tagline developed with this information are far more likely to act as a strategic branding tool than if they were developed before.
Want Actionable Brand Strategy Tips & Techniques?
Step #10 Design Your Identity
This is where the term “a brand is not a logo” really has some context.
At the point you design your visual brand, you have already developed 90% of the entire brand .
This doesn’t mean that the brand identity and the logo design is not important.
On the contrary;
a brand identity and logo that can be developed with such strategic insights is far more likely to appeal to who the audience is and the characteristics they’re attracted to.
Your brand identity includes:
Whether you’re designing this identify yourself or simply managing the process, it’s imperative that your design team is armed with this strategic knowledge for design direction.
Step #11 Craft Your Brand Collateral
The brand identity, laced with its strategic insights, should pave the way for a consistent suite of brand collateral which may cross digital and physical products.
This collateral is the first blank canvas for both your strategy and identity.
Typography (aka fonts)
They all make their debut in the brand collateral development, which can include
Social Media Pages
Point of Sale
The brand collateral development is the dressing room for the brand’s opening performance. Your collateral is a way of guaranteeing that your potential customers perceive your brand cohesively in all touchpoints of your marketing efforts. Marketers keep brand identity cohesive across all channels by using a strict style guide and, oftentimes, creating templates for everything from social media to newsletters and packaging.
Step #12 Define Your Brand Awareness Strategy
Your target audience development sets the groundwork for your marketing strategy. And the brand awareness strategy is the first campaign.
At this stage, you already have a crystal clear picture of who your audience is, including what they like and where they congregate (eg forums, magazine sites, meetups, social platforms and groups etc).
These congregations are key in developing your brand awareness strategy.
However, identifying where your audience congregates is only half of the battle.
A great strategist also identifies the potential effectiveness of each of these congregations, prioritises your efforts based on this potential and then develops the messages for each direction.
In other words, you need to know where they’ll be most open to your branding messages and develop the most appropriate messages for that environment.
Content marketing is a great tool for brand awareness. Once you’ve identified where your audience spends their time and where they’re more likely to be receptive to you, you’ll be able to create content that attracts and engages potential customers. You can use a mix of social media and other digital marketing channels to increase exposure and generate interest.
Either way, it’s important to set expectations and define what success looks like before launch.
Step #13 Launch Your Brand
Once you have all of your collateral, a plan of attack and branded messages at the ready, it’s time to launch.
Depending on whether or not you have a budget (and the size of that budget) will determine how quickly you make an impact and raise your level of brand awareness.
Keep in mind that a comprehensive brand strategy doesn’t necessarily equate to a massive budget. If you don’t have much of a budget at all, then much of your work will be through guerrilla tactics and hard work (such as visiting forums and groups to answer questions and contribute to conversations).
If you do have a budget, you need to quickly keep control of spend and ensure your initiatives are moving the needle.
Step #14 Analyse, Optimise & Evolve
Whether this is you or someone you’ve brought in to help you, you need to have a firm grasp on your metrics t o understand what’s working and what’s not so you can pivot, optimise and improve your brand and business strategy.
Before the digital revolution, advertising was reserved for big brands with big budgets and even then, there were no analytics to make strategic decisions if something wasn’t working.
Today, even a small business owner with five dollars can get their message in front of a highly targeted audience .
The key is in understanding the tools and knowing how to leverage them.
Luckily, they’re available to everyone and it’s your job to understand how to use them effectively.
If you’re building a brand and you’ve made it to the end of this article, then you’ll know that a logo on its own is no longer an option. Instead, starting with a solid foundation requires you to define the core of the brand. Aspects like brand values, brand promise, value proposition, mission statement, target market, and long-term goals are fundamental before you even think about the visual components like brand colors.
Brand building is a strategic process with many moving parts you need to understand.
Luckily for you, 90% of your competitors don’t understand them.
So make that advantage count, follow this roadmap and build a strategic brand.
Are you building a brand and if so, which of these steps will you implement first?
Let me know in the comments below.
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Excellent summary of the journey to a well-built brand strategy. The only clarification that I might add is that Steps 1 & 2 are somewhat simultaneous steps, where finding the authentic intersection between the internal brand and target audience desires is critical. Great work Stephen!
For sure, target audience definition and internal brand building are certainly intertwined. We want the internal brand to be true to the leadership though it should be relevant to the audience.
Everything you write & create (videos) is brilliant in a real sense of a word. The best information with the greatest value provided to all of us. Will share the information with the virtual and physical world.
Glad you’re enjoying it and more than happy for you to share it with others that will too.
More to come :)
This is the first thing I read that made logical, serial sense to me about this topic. I am beyond impressed and thank you very very much
Plenty more good stuff to come
Finally, an article that makes perfect and logical sense. The clearest and most concise I have read in some time.
Cheers. You weave a most effective story which elucidates exactly what Brand Strategy is, and is not.
Well done and thanks.
Most welcome Dan,
Glad you enjoyed it.
Plenty more like this on the way
Great post. Branding is the most important part of every business. After reading your blog now I know how to create perfect branding. So thanks for sharing this.
After wading through so many samey yet somehow also conflicting articles attempting to define terms they’ve clearly only half understood themselves, it’s such a relief to find a resource laying it all out in a user-friendly but rigorous, way: thank you so much! I now actually feel excited to start developing my brand!
Great to hear Sian
Very nice post on branding. I appreciate your hard work on this important topic
Very informative post indeed packed with great advice. I love the tips – so apt and useful in building your brand on Facebook. I love the idea f branding and being able to bring good quality material to our readers news feed.
This is great. Thank you so much.
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How to Create a Brand Strategy (Free Guide & Toolkit)
by Katy French
Originally published in 2018, this post has been updated to reflect our current thinking related to brand strategy. Here, we’ve created an even simpler, more streamlined process, as well as our free Brand Strategy Toolkit to guide you through. We hope you find it helpful.
If there’s one thing we’ve learned from over a decade of helping brands tell their story, it’s that a successful business can’t survive if it doesn’t have a strong brand strategy. Without a unified identity, everything from your content, to your culture, to your core business can suffer. But there’s a reason why this problem is so pervasive: Building a strong brand strategy takes time, effort, and commitment. And that’s where many people (including ourselves) can get stuck.
The Beginning of Our Brand Strategy
We started doing brand strategy work a few years back after encountering various clients who came to us for content strategy work but couldn’t articulate who they were or what they were really trying to achieve. We soon realized they needed more than content help; they needed a total brand realignment. We were eager to help guide them, but we also had two big realizations:
- Brand strategy work seems really complicated—and it shouldn’t be. Once we started learning more about brand strategy, we ran into so many schools of thought, conflicting perspectives, and outdated exercises. If we wanted to give our partners a simple framework, we’d have to create it ourselves.
- We didn’t know our own brand as well as we thought we did. The more we explored our clients’ brand problems, the more we realized we were struggling with many of the same issues. If we wanted to confidently guide our clients through the brand strategy framework we created, we’d have to be the guinea pig and test it on ourselves first.
So we dug in, got dirty, and did the work. Thankfully, after an entire year of tweaking and testing (first on ourselves, then with a few brave clients), we emerged with a tried-and-true brand strategy process that was simple, intuitive, and adaptable for any brand of any size. Was it easy? Absolutely not. Was it worth it? Oh yeah.
We think it’ll be worth it for you, too. In this guide, we’ve taken everything we’ve learned about brand strategy—the books, podcasts, articles, and personal experience—and distilled it down into a simple step-by-step process to create an effective, flexible brand strategy that will help you…
- Understand who you truly are and use your beliefs and values to guide your decisions in ways that are better for your people, your business, and the future.
- Communicate your brand consistently and effectively through every piece of content you make.
- Attract the right customers to build a strong, lasting brand.
- Position your brand in a way that helps you compete now—and tomorrow.
To make it easy, we’ve included the tools, resources, and real-life examples you need to get through the brand strategy process, from finding your Brand Heart to creating the brand guidelines to express it.
You’ll want to start by downloading our free Brand Strategy Toolkit (below), which includes handy templates, questionnaires, and checklists to help you throughout the process.
As you work through this guide, follow the steps sequentially (as each builds on the previous), and you’ll finish with a basic brand strategy that can grow with you as your brand evolves.
Table of Contents
What is a brand, what is a brand strategy.
- Why Do You Need a Brand Strategy?
What Team Do You Need to Build Your Brand Strategy?
What to know before you start your brand strategy.
- Brand Essence (Personality, Voice, Tone)
- Messaging Pillars
Photography, how to bring your brand strategy to life.
There are a million definitions of a “brand.” Often, when people talk about a “brand,” they’re referring to the physical mark (or logo) imprinted on something to identify the business that manufactured it. But a brand is more than a physical mark. It’s an emotional mark—more specifically, an emotional experience, strengthened or weakened through every interaction with that business.
We define brand as what people think, feel, and say about your business. (This differs from marketing, which is what you say about your business.)
As branding guru Marty Neumeier says, a brand strategy is “a plan for the systematic development of brand in alignment with a business strategy.” A brand strategy helps you understand who you are and acts as a blueprint to help you communicate it.
Our brand strategy process is broken into three distinct parts. We guide you from your Brand Heart (the core of your brand), to the articulation of your Brand Messaging (how you talk about who you are), to your Visual Identity (the visual expression of your brand). By the end, you’ll have a full brand strategy, summed up in fresh brand guidelines to help you bring your brand to life.
Why Do You Need a Brand Strategy?
When you don’t know who you are, why you exist, what you believe in, or what you’re trying to achieve, your business suffers. From customer communication issues to employee retention, a lack of brand strategy causes problems at every level of an organization.
Having worked with hundreds of clients over the last decade, we’ve learned to spot the telltale signs of a brand in crisis, often caused by a lack of strategy. (Some of these issues might sound familiar to you. Before we documented our brand strategy, we suffered from them too.)
When you have no brand strategy…
- You don’t understand your purpose, vision, mission, or values, so you make marketing and business decisions that don’t reflect them.
- You don’t have a documented marketing plan, but you hope that whatever you’re doing will work.
- Your team is fractured by disunity, confusion, and conflict, making it hard for employees to feel engaged and interested.
- You don’t have cohesive brand messaging, so your content tends to be inconsistent at best, and contradictory at worst. As a result, it’s difficult to attract people who share your values (customers, employees, etc.).
- You can’t clearly articulate your brand, and as a result, you can’t carve out a discernible place in the market.
In short, without a brand strategy, you lose.
You can’t build a brand strategy alone. You need a brand team to craft, revise, and bring it to life at every level of your organization. Without this designated team, the work you do here will likely get sidetracked or steamrolled.
Luckily, you don’t have to hire a ton of people to form your brand team. You can even have a two-person team, so long as both people can cover these essential roles.
If you’re starting your brand strategy from scratch (or trying to do things the “right” way this time), there are two key pieces of information you need to know beforehand. (If you’ve done your business strategy, you know these already.) They are:
1) Who You’re For
Who are you trying to sell to? What do they need/want? How are their needs not being met? To build a brand strategy that helps you genuinely connect with people, you need to know exactly who you’re selling to. Knowing who they are and how you’re trying to serve them can actually bring clarity to who you are (e.g., your Brand Heart) and how you communicate with them.
HOW TO DO IT
If you don’t know who you’re for, use the Personas Template in the Brand Toolkit , and follow our Guide to Create Personas .
2) Who You’re Against
Use the Competitive Analysis Template in the Brand Toolkit , and follow our Guide to Complete Your Competitive Analysis .
Once you have this information, you’re ready to dive into your brand strategy.
How to Build Your Brand Strategy
Follow these steps sequentially (as each builds on the prior), and you’ll end up with a comprehensive brand strategy that helps you share your story impactfully and effectively at every touchpoint.
Part 1: Find Your Brand Heart
Every brand holds a basic set of beliefs that influence everything they do. We call these beliefs your Brand Heart. Knowing what these principles are and why they matter is imperative, as they are a powerful, potent force that can actively support or sabotage your business. When your brand’s beliefs and business are aligned, you can successfully bring people together, cultivate community, and create the future you want. When you have no beliefs (or those beliefs are toxic), you can easily alienate both employees and customers, cripple your culture, and make decisions that derail your long-term goals.
Your Brand Heart is comprised of four elements that help you clarify who you are, what you do, and why it matters.
- Purpose: Why do we exist?
- Vision: What future do we want to help create? What does the future look like?
- Mission: What are we here to do? How do we create that future?
- Values: What principles guide our behavior?
Use the Brand Heart Workbook in the Brand Toolkit , and follow our Guide to Complete Your Brand Heart .
Note: While your Brand Heart is often an internal document, it can be translated into external-facing messaging everywhere from your website to your packaging, which is why it’s so important to have it nailed down from the beginning.
Part 2 : Articulate Your Messaging
Now that you have your Brand Heart documented, you know who you are. Next you need to figure out your Brand Essence (how to express who you are) and your Brand Messaging (how to talk about who you are). When you distill and document these elements effectively, you can ensure your brand will communicate honestly, authentically, and consistently.
Note: Some brands are tempted to skip straight to designing their visual identity (logo, colors, etc.) once they have their Brand Heart, but we would argue that there are a few crucial steps to complete before that. Things like your logo, colors, and typography are vital to your brand, but they’re ultimately a visual translation of your brand’s essence and messaging. If you don’t know what you’re trying to communicate, it’s difficult to create a visual identity to embody it.
That said, you may already have created your visual identity before you solidified these elements. (Full disclosure, that’s what we did too—many years ago.) But if you’re doing this work now, it’s important that your heart, messaging, and visual identity align—no matter the order in which you tackle them.
PSST! DO YOU HAVE A BRAND NAME?
We’re assuming you do. But if you don’t, find out How to Choose the Perfect Brand Name .
Create Your Brand Essence
Your Brand Essence consists of your:
Identifying these elements can seem intimidating, but it’s not a chore. It’s not even a hunt. Your essence is inherent. It doesn’t need to be manufactured; it simply needs to be unearthed and documented with some intention.
1) Identify your personality. Your personality is basically your brand’s human characteristics and attributes. Are you curious and enthusiastic? Elite and sophisticated? Wild and crazy? Your personality is a reflection of your Brand Heart, influenced by your beliefs and demonstrated in your behavior. When you have an intimate understanding of your personality, you can infuse it into every aspect of your brand, from your customer service process to your product descriptions. This is a powerful way to differentiate yourself and cultivate relationships.
Follow our Guide to Find Your Brand Personality.
2) Identify your brand voice. This is the way your brand sounds and speaks. Remember that every brand voice is unique . A yogurt brand doesn’t speak the way a car brand speaks, and one car brand sounds different than another. Your personality already influences your brand voice; you just need to articulate it so that you can communicate consistently in your content.
Use the Brand Voice Template in the Brand Toolkit , and follow our Guide to Find Your Brand Voice .
Remember: The words, phrases, slang, and jokes you use communicate your identity in both direct and indirect ways. Think about how you want to speak—and how your customers want to be spoken to.
3) Identify your tone. You brand’s tone is basically y our general attitude. Your voice may be authoritative, but the tone is respectful. Think of your brand’s voice as how you talk, and your tone as how you talk in different contexts. You always use the same voice, but you may shift your tone depending on who you’re talking to.
If you’re not sure exactly what your tone is, think of how you want to make people feel. Should you talk to them like you’re a helpful and kind neighbor, or a mysterious and aloof lover? To start, choose at least 3 words to describe your tone. (For example, Uber describes their tone as “Optimistic, inviting, bold.”)
With your Brand Essence articulated, you have formed a basis for communicating who you really are at every touchpoint, from the pop-ups on your site to your Twitter feed. (The brands that do this best are the ones we love the most—no matter what they’re selling.)
Create Your Brand Messaging
There are many ways to talk about who you are, what you do, and why people should choose your brand over your competition. For the purposes of this brand strategy, we’re starting with the most basic messaging: your value prop , tagline, and messaging pillars .
1) Articulate your value prop. Your value prop is a succinct explanation of both the functional and emotional benefits your product or service provides to customers. It’s not just who you are and what you do differently (your positioning); it’s also how you solve their problem and why they should choose you over the competition.
You can also think of it as the promise of what your customer will receive if they buy from you. If you want your brand to succeed, you need to have the answer to this question before anyone asks. Going forward, it’s what all your messaging will ultimately support and reinforce.
Use the Brand Messaging Template in the Brand Toolkit , and follow our Guide to Write a Great Value Proposition .
2) Distill your tagline. Your tagline is a sentence, phrase, or word used to summarize a market position. Coming up with a great tagline isn’t like the movies. Most companies don’t have a Don Draper to simply feed you the perfect line. It’s usually a long slog through brainstorms and iterations. Luckily, researchers are discovering the keys to a great tagline, offering interesting insights that can help you choose the perfect one.
Use the Brand Messaging Template in the Brand Toolkit . Follow our Guide to Write a Great Tagline , and check out these 13 Unique Tagline Examples for inspiration.
2) Identify your messaging pillars. Your messaging pillars are the key stories you want to tell about your brand—what makes you unique and different. Every piece of content you create should reinforce these core messages across all touchpoints.
Use the Brand Messaging Template in the Brand Toolkit , and follow our Guide to Create Your B rand Messaging .
Depending on your brand’s needs, you may want to articulate additional messaging elements, including:
- Brand promise
- Brand story
- Origin or founder story
- Elevator pitch
Part 3: Design Your Visual Identity
When most people think of branding, they think of a brand’s visual identity: the logo, colors, typography, and other elements that act as the “face” of the brand. Now that you’ve crystallized your heart and messaging, it’s time to visualize it with the basics:
A strong visual identity is meant to be purposeful, first and foremost. You aren’t just designing for today. You’re designing for your brand’s future. Thus, a good visual identity is:
- Flexible: It should be able to grow with your brand, whether you’re branching out into new products, services, or even new industries.
- Comprehensive: It should provide brand designers and content creators with the tools they need to properly do their job.
- Intuitive: It should be intuitively designed and well constructed so that each element complements the other.
Note: Depending on your brand, you may need to expand your visual identity over time. If so, you might consider adding guidelines for additional visual elements.
A good logo is a memorable logo, and research shows that the most memorable logos are the simplest logos. You want it to reflect your brand, yes, but keep it simple if you want it to make an impact. You also need to consider how people visually process and assign meaning to images, as research has found that people assign different attributes to different shapes.
To start, use the Visual Identity Checklist in our Brand Toolkit to ensure you design a comprehensive visual identity. Follow our Guide to Design a Logo You Love , and make sure to avoid the 7 Most Common Logo Design Mistakes.
Typography is an extension of your logo; hence, we start with logo design first. However, typography is more important than ever, as people are consuming words in multiple mediums. That said, something that works on your packaging may not work well on your website, so it’s important to consider not only how your typography aligns to your brand but the many applications it will be used for.
Follow our Guide to Find the Right Typography for Your Brand.
Color is one of the most powerful yet mystifying elements of branding. Research suggests it can affect everything from brand perception to purchasing intent, yet it is a bit of a tricky science. Not all colors evoke the same things in everyone because our associations with color are very subjective.
Follow our Guide to Choose the Right Brand Colors .
Imagery is more important than ever, now that so much of your brand is communicated through visual media. Whether you choose photography, illustration, or a combination of both, everything should align to your brand.
Developing a unique illustration style is a smart way to visually brand your content, but don’t go overboard. You want a style that is clear, distinct, and on-brand. Also, don’t mix styles or clutter illustrations with visual junk.
Photography is an effective, versatile tool that is less time-intensive to design. However, you need a clear aesthetic to keep it consistent with your brand. You should also consider the resources available to you. Luckily, there are plenty of sources to choose from.
- Stock sites (free): There is a ton of free, high-quality stock photography online, and you can easily create unique design treatments that turn a bland stock image into a photograph that communicates your brand. ( Pexels , Unsplash , and StockSnap.io are great places to start.) Just make sure you clearly lay out the dos and don’t for things like filters, design treatments, resolution, etc.
- Image licenses (paid): There are a variety of photo services that let you license photos individually or as a subscription. They’re less likely to show up on your competitors’ site, but it can still happen as anyone can purchase them. Check out Shutterstock, Adobe Stock, and Alamy if you want to go this route.
- Custom (free or paid): We are living in a golden age of creation, thanks to the amount of creative tools available to everyone. You can commission photography or let your team handle it, so long as they have the skills and tools to create high-res images.
MORE VISUAL IDENTITY RESOURCES
For more tips and resources to create each element of your visual identity:
- Follow our Guide to Create a Powerful Brand Identity .
- Bookmark these 75+ Tools, Resources, and Tips to Build a Brand Identity .
- Get inspired by these 15 Brands with a Strong Visual Identity .
Part 4 : Create Your Brand Guidelines
Your brand guidelines serve as a playbook for how to use your brand, specifically in the content and communication you create. Maintaining quality and consistency can be a challenge, especially if you work with freelancers or outside agencies. Thus, your brand guidelines should include enough direction to empower any creator to produce work that strengthens the brand instead of weakens it.
To ensure your brand guidelines are comprehensive, include direction for both your visual and verbal identity.
- Brand essence (personality, voice, tone)
- Messaging pillars
- Anything else helpful or relevant
- Imagery (photography, illustration)
- Data visualization
- Interactive elements
- Video and motion
Remember: A brand’s strength is determined by its consistency or lack thereof.
Follow our Guide to Create a Brand Style Guide , and take a look at Column Five’s interactive brand guidelines to see how we brought ours to life.
Once you’ve completed your guidelines, make sure you have a designated point person who can answer questions about applying the brand guidelines correctly, and make sure your guidelines are accessible to your team.
Now that you’ve completed the full brand strategy process, you can take a damn nap. Thanks to all your hard work, you officially have all the tools you need to communicate your brand story, align your brand and your business, and build the lasting relationships you need for long-term success. Of course, that work is never done.
To implement your brand strategy effectively going forward…
- Keep up on best practices. Check out our 9 Favorite Books on Branding for more tips on effective branding.
- Create content that’s aligned to your brand. Start with our Guide to Document Your Content Strategy.
- Master your content creation. Find out How to Improve Your Content Production at every stage.
- Tell your brand story at every touchpoint. Learn How to Tell Your Brand Story through every piece of content.
- Maximize your content reach. Follow our Guide to Craft a Content Distribution Strategy to make sure your content gets in front of the right eyes.
Of course, we know this can all be a lot for any brand team, especially if you’re short on time or resources. If so, consider bringing in help. Follow our tips to find a creative agency , and find out what it’s like to work with us on your brand strategy . Or just holler at us . We’d love to help you tell your brand story.
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In today’s crazy competitive world, it’s crucial for businesses to concentrate on their brand with an eagle eye to gain more attention and solidify a customer base. Brand strategy is an extremely important aspect of business marketing because it helps build a positive image for your company and establishes public interest.
These resources are so underrated! I have been using Column Five’s brand strategy template to help my clients tell their stories, and the results have been phenomenal. Thanks, Y’all!
Wow. This is our favorite kind of comment. Thanks so much for those kind words. We’re so happy to hear it works for you.
Looking forward to growing my expertise in branding
Awesome. We have plenty of resources for ya!
Thank you SO much for all this valuable information!
Happy to help!
Hi Katy, Thank you for your article. It lays down such a systematic guideline to formulate branding. It is so overwhelming, yet gives steps to “eat-the-elephant-piece-by-peice”.
So glad to help!
This is a fantastic resource, thank you for putting it together. The overall organization and thoroughness is impressive. Very helpful.
Thanks again, Jacob
PS – caught a quick typo toward the end of this page…
Under Part 4: Create Your Brand Guidelines the following sentence needs a “with”. See sentence with correction in parenthesis below.
Maintaining quality and consistency can be a challenge, especially if you work [with] freelancers or outside agencies.
Argh! Updated. Thanks for flagging that for us, Jacob.
Great framework. Thank you for sharing. I would strip the word “visual” from the title of the last section, changing it to, “Design your identity.” Then, I’d also suggest adding motion, audio, and video to your list of design areas to consider. Thanks again.
Thanks for the feedback, Gino.
I’m trying to locate the segment on Rebranding. Can you please guide me to it?
Hi Peter, you can see our guide to rebranding here: https://www.columnfivemedia.com/how-to-do-a-rebrand/
Hi, This is brilliant stuff here, the step by step process is second to none, I enjoyed every piece of it.
That means a lot. Thanks so much.
Great informative article. This is such a comprehensive guide on the fundamentals. I’m a professional graphic designer and brand logo designer who creates brand identity design & strategy. Thank You ! Keep going!!
So happy to hear it! Thanks so much.
“People do not buy goods and services. they buy relations, stories, and magic”. Please do a simple google search to see whose quote is it actually from.
Thanks for flagging that. We’ve corrected it.
Thank you sharing such a useful information.
Very helpful and systematic.
Happy to help.
Great Job Guys <3 Thank you for your efforts
Thank you so much for your guide. It is very helpful. I am planning to start a brand and came across this article. At first I was very confused about different terms like brand strategy , identity etc. But this article was very helpful. Now I am confident to start working on my own brand.
Thank you so much once again ?
Wonderful to hear. Best of luck!
This is an excellent article! I’m studying for my Masters in Media Design and this article helped me grasp the concept of brand strategy. I would love to know more about the background of Katy French to add this to my annotated bibliography!
Hi Tyandrah, so happy to hear you found this helpful. I am the Managing Editor of Column Five (a B2B-focused creative agency that helps you outshine your competition, win people’s hearts and minds, and get measurable results). I turn everything we learn from working with clients into content that people can actually understand 😉 What you’ve read here are the combined insights from our amazing agency team, filtered through me——a journalism major turned writer with an expertise in content marketing.
Thank you so much for your guide, it has helped me briefly understand the reasons behind the different elements of a bran image. A fantastic bonus would be a guide of question to ask to define my brand. Simple questions that can lead to a better understanding of my brand and enable me to better populate my brand identity elements.
eg. Why have you created this service or product. What is the purpose behind the sale of your services/product for both you and the customer. (speaking to brand purpose)
Again thank you so much!
Thanks for the recommendation, Jana! We’re currently working on a Brand Identity toolkit that will include this type of content. Make sure you’re subscribed to our newsletter to find out when it launches.
This really is the most amazing thing I have come across. Thank you for making this possible. I’m about to graduate and needed some extra help in figuring some stuff out. This was worth the read!!! Plus all of the additional sources 😉
Love to hear it! Happy graduation 😉
This is an amazing guide!! Thank you for putting this article together along with the resources!! There is a ton of value here that is worth $$$ and the best part is that it is all for free. Can’t thank you enough!
Glad to help, Gerald!
Wow! Thank you for this incredible resource! Y’all did that!
I’m a graphic designer transitioning into brand identity design & strategy- and this is such a comprehensive guide on the fundamentals. Then you also provide guides to download?! I’m in love!
Thank you, thank you- because of what I’ve already implemented from this site, I was able to land my first BIG client for a re-branding project!
Thanks, Addis! Best of luck.
This is already so helpful!!
A brilliant piece. Thank you for sharing!
Now THIS is comprehensive and ACTUALLY helpful. Not some vague, general thing. Thank you for this!
That means so much, Anton. That’s exactly what we’re here for 🙂
Thanks a million for this guide, it has helped our business to build a better foundation.
That’s wonderful to hear! Best of luck.
This is the first time in my life to comment on a website/blog post, I’ve wasted too much time on other website who create an article with similar information over and over again it’s like they copied it from different websites and differ it by using different style of writing but yours are to the point, brief yet explains the detail thoroughly, very helpful guideline, it’s not all over the place, it is indeed a helpful start for a beginner like me! Thanks A LOT !
This is one of the most elaborate articles I’ve come across on Brand Identity and the thought process behind it ! Thank you ! Brilliant stuff !!
Thanks, Taanvii! We try to make it easier for everyone to understand.
This will be the first time I ever leave a comment on a website outside social media. This is simply a lifesaver treasure that helped me realise I’m moving in the right direction. I can’t stress enough how great this information is. Endless thank you to your team. You got yourself a committed reader.
Wow, that’s major praise. Thank you so much, Irina! We’re so happy to help.
Thank you for your great research and guidance. Very helpful, I recommend these all blogs for all marketing and research team. Thank you so much.
We sure do appreciate it!!!
Thank you, i really needed to read this.
Thanks, Timothy. We do our best to make things easier for everyone to understand.
First of all thanks for this treasure,and of course you are the choosen one in the future business <3
Well, that is the nicest thing we’ve ever heard 🙂 Thanks so much.
Thank you for this in depth guide! It helps me alot to graduate, thank you!
That’s great news! Best of luck in your future career.
Fabulous! So much more to go though… Thank you for the great guidance given. I’m most appreciated. Thank you so much! ______Christine__
Oooh you have no Idea how much ypu habe helped Me. I am building two brands at the same time.
That’s great to hear. Best of luck!
You are the best , it is the first time i read something that is so easy to understand and has so much power and knowledge in it .
thank you so much i am looking for your updating
This is exceptionally useful content, thanks for being so generous.
Glad to help!
This is by far the best breakdown of brand strategy I have come across! Thank you for sharing.
So glad to hear, and happy to help!
Such a great post. Thanks for sharing great tips to create and brand strategy.
Thanks much! Hope the tips help.
Thank you so much for all the information!!! All the good content helps to understand every step you have to take to delevelop a great brand strategy. I´m happy to have been know a little about you guys!
Thanks, Roxana! Best of luck with your strategy.
This helps me so much in developing the brand of my new company! The (free) value you provide is absolutely amazing. Though I will not seek payed help now (because of the limited budget in the startup) you are the number one partner on my list for helping me to build the brand of the company in the future!
Thanks a LOTT!!
Thanks a lot, Paul. We try to help people until they’re ready for us to help ’em 🙂
Yo thanks guys this is gonna help lots!!!!
Glad to help out! Thanks.
After looking around in many places to get a proper understanding and flow of brand strategy, I found your website.
This is by far the most meaningful and in-depth presentation. Many thanks.
Thank you, Alvin. We were trying to create the resource we couldn’t find ourselves 🙂
Katy, thank you much. This is an eye-opener for me. I have been into identity design for a while and I believe its about time I transit to strategy. I have been thinking about how to transition from a brand identity designer into a brand strategist. Your article is gold!
That’s wonderful to hear, Marvin! Best of luck.
Thank you so much for all your fabulous FREE content that you give away. This is the best explanation I’ve found so far despite many hours online and trawling though books on Amazon I am now off to work through the tool kit for my new brand Hello Dame London.
That’s wonderful, Zoe. Best of luck with it!
What a great effort. I am so impressed. Thank you so much for building such great content & sharing. With very best wishes for you all.
Thanks for your great efforts to share a practical method of branding. Unfortunately, many companies tent to skip this important step without thinking much about what their brand should do in the future. This great share seems to be another way to convince clients effectively.
Keep great works
Thx again – Hiko
Hi, thanks for all the effort of structuring and making an incredible brand strategy guide. So clear, precise, well explained and inviting to get hands on!!!
Hugs from Venezuela 🙂
Gracias, Rubik! We hope it helps in your branding endeavors.
Truly amazing piece of content! Thanks for sharing, can’t wait to work with the toolkit for our brand. Keep up the good work
That makes us so happy to hear, Merle. Best of luck with it!
This is a fabulous easy to follow guide. I have been immersing myself in brand strategy content for the past few months and this is by far the best guide I have found online. It stands up proudly against some well-known books on the subject This should definitely be made into a print book. Well done C5 and thank you.
So detailed. So helpful. So FREE! Itll take me a while but I plan to disect every part of this and learn. Thank you.
This is an incredible guide and distills everything concisely in an easy to follow style. I’ve been educating myself in brand strategy for the past 6 months and this post stands up against some of the books I’ve been reading on the subject. And ditto what other comments have suggested – this content could become a great print book. Thanks a lot, Nick, from the UK
This is so very helpful! If expanded, it would be an amazing print book. The information stands tall right up next to new classics like Branding in Five and a Half Steps and Designing Brand Identity. Actually, this seems even more practical, I love it. Kudos for pushing this out to the community, what a great way to show your expertise and sophistication.
Thanks so much, Adrian! Maybe we’ll go full print someday 🙂
This. Is. Amazing. I am so lucky to have stumbled across this when my business is in its very early stages. This will help me launch on the right foot—and keep walking forward!
Thanks so much! Best of luck for your venture.
I have read almost every article there is on brand strategy on the internet, no kidding, I have been at it for the past 4 years. Never have I ever stumbled across an article which is so clean and informative, a job well done indeed.
This is so wonderful to hear! FYI, stay tuned, as we’ll be updating this later this month with an even more simplified framework and toolkit.
Thank-you so much for this content, it has actually provided me with value. I love the way that it has been laid out, very clean and informative.
Excellent content and so much to value to take from this. Thank you for sharing!
Thank you so much for this!! This is exactly what I’ve been looking for! Greetings from Bangkok.
So happy to help!
Thank you so much for providing this brand strategy information. For someone who is in a graduate program taking a marketing class for the very first time, my stress level has been at an all time high. Your explanation and step by step breakdown helped to relieve my stress and give me a better understanding of what I have to do. You explained better than my professor and I am grateful.
That makes us SO happy to hear, Pauline. We felt the same frustration, which is why we set out to simplify it for ourselves and our clients. Best of luck (and less stress) in your graduate program.
Hi, thanks for this amazing content. I have one question though: How do you close the gap between your B2B and B2C messaging when your are selling to dealers only. The value proposition and benefits for a dealer of working with a company differ from those of the end consumer. Would you make have multiple value propositions for B2B and B2C or would you always focus on the end consumers benefits? Any help is greatly appreciated. Thanks
Hi Stephan, good question. Your main value prop should be geared to your direct customers (e.g., dealers). However, depending on your target segments, you can have one tailored to the end consumer as well.
The most helpful addition to my swipe file in many a moon. Thanks for sharing such valuable insight, Katy.
That’s awesome to hear, Greg. Hope it helps 🙂
I cannot put it in words how helpful and insightful was this article for me to easily navigate through the complex brand strategy steps. Thank you for writing this Katy. I’ll always look forward to read more from you. 🙂
That’s so nice to hear, Shamini! We’re always trying to make things easier to understand. Good luck on your strategy!
Thank you very much for these few pointers! I will definately do up my Strategy.
Glad to hear it, George!
Very clear and straightfoward approach to crafting brand strategy for an entrepreneur.
Thank you for this. May all you do in the future be successful. I was stranded as I am embarking on this new journey of offering brand strategy in my agency. I am grateful, eternally so for giving me the guide.
Happy to help! Best of luck with it.
This is a fantastic article and step-by-step guide to building a brand strategy. Thank you so much for 1) putting it together and 2) sharing it. It’s absolute gold! You weren’t on my radar before, but for any future agency needs I will definitely reach out.
That’s so nice to hear, Jess. We’d love to help you out.
Wow. This is a fantastic resource, thank you so much for putting it together like this. A step-by-step guide to help any business be better.
Happy to help, Jen!
Hi Katy, great article. Are you available for hire to help with a tagline? We have a two to three day timeframe in which to come up with something. Thanks.
Hi Michele, Sounds like you have a very tight turnaround, which may be a little tough to complete. Not sure if that deadline is final, but we’d be happy to chat more about your brand identity needs. https://www.columnfivemedia.com/contact
Absolutely informative and helpful! Thank-you!
Thanks, Che. Best of luck with your brand.
Hello! First of all thanks for the effort, the guide is awesome! I’m using it to develop the desired brand strategy for a brand that does not yet exist. In this context, how to tackle 10) Brand Guidelines ? I see that part applying more to an existing brand. Checked the link to https://brand.columnfivemedia.com/ as suggested, and that is more an example of brand guidelines for an estabilished brand. If 10) as it is is not applicable, what to do instead? I’m thinking to a series of guidelines to be given to a creative agency for the brand creation. Thanks 🙂
Hi Nicola, Good question. Even if the product/service hasn’t gone to market, you would still follow the same steps. Your brand guidelines are simply the final output of your branding work–a succinct way to describe who you are, how you talk about yourself, and how you present yourself visually. If you are working with an agency to design your visual identity, the elements you’ve outlined will influence the execution of your visual identity (things like your core identity, etc.). Ultimately, you want guidelines that are comprehensive enough to give content creators, designers, etc. the direction they need to communicate your brand through all touchpoints. You can see our visual identity checklist to make sure you have the elements needed to do so: https://www.columnfivemedia.com/everything-to-include-visual-identity . Hope that helps!
Very nice and helpful article. Thank you!
This is so helpful! Thanks for the efforts 🙂
Thanks, Lojain. We hope you make good use of it.
This is the best article about brand strategy I have ever read. Amazing work!
That’s so great to hear, Pedro! We hope it helps you in your endeavors.
really helpful! Thank you!!
Glad to hear it, Berta!
Very practical and helpful. Thank you
Glad to hear!
Love your blogs, these are really helpful
Thanks so much! Glad to hear it.
Thank you for this helpful article. I learnt so much
So happy to hear it!
Thank you for this. I love how Brand Guideline is not until #10 on the list. I cannot agree more!! The actual assets are a by-product of brand strategy. Great info.
Thanks, Nikolay! Glad it helps.
I have often Struggled with the right process. This is very clear cut, precise and objective.
Happy to hear it!
This is a gem!
Glad it helps!
Really great stuff here. Thanks for the read and powerful ideas.
Hope you can put it to good use!
Thanks so much for this great article.
Thanks for reading!
Super helpful post on a really important topic. Thanks for putting this together!
We know it can be a confusing subject. Hope it helps.
This is incredibly well articulated, and something that has been top-of-mind lately. Thanks for distilling this down and making it easy to understand.
Thank you for including the templates Katy. It really helps get started 🙂
Most articles I’ve read focus on one of the many facets that go into developing a brand. This article is all-encompassing and had me taking many screenshot reminders as I read through it. Thanks for the helpful exercises.
Thank you for the templates! These are really helpful.
This is awesome, thanks for sharing. That Marty Neumeier book is great!
I have been round and round trying to find something I can wrap my head around. This is super useful. Thanks!
Glad it helps, Jennifer!
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MarTech » Marketing management » Building a brand strategy: Essentials for long-term success
Building a brand strategy: Essentials for long-term success
Slapping together a couple ideas and a logo is not a brand strategy. here's a detailed guide to help you create and execute a well thought out strategy to promote your brand..
Brand strategy is built on a platform of differentiation, where a company can use its value prop to create competitive advantages and satisfy customer needs. The key to long-term success is using brand strategy to define your market position in order to create market share and revenue growth.
A brand marketing strategy is a set of guidelines that help businesses determine their core values and what they want to achieve with the business. More importantly, it also helps outline how those values can be applied to the marketplace. For one brand strategy to be successful, it’s not enough to simply have a few bullet points of what you want to do.
To develop a great brand strategy today, you need both a thorough understanding of why you choose certain types of brand strategies and a detailed outline of what your strategies will be.
Because the more detailed your brand strategy framework is, the easier it will be to succeed when you execute those strategies.
Knowing the detailed answers to each question will help determine what your goals should be, how you should approach your customers, and how you’ll measure your success in meeting your goals.
Why is branding important?
- Consumers who connect with a brand emotionally have a 306% higher lifetime value (LTV).
- Companies with poor branding end up having to pay 10% higher salaries .
- 90% of customers expect to have a similar brand experience across multiple channels, so make sure your branding spans all of the channels and platforms you have a presence on.
- 84% of marketers say brand awareness is the most important goal.
- Branded content is 22 times more engaging than your standard display ad.
“Emotionally connected customers have a 306% higher lifetime value (LTV) for your brand.”
How to develop a brand strategy?
A brand development strategy can be hard to define but encompasses:
- What your brand stands for.
- What promises your brand makes to customers.
- What personality your brand conveys through its marketing.
As you can see, many of these things are intangible. How do you measure how successful you are at conveying a certain personality? How do you measure if you’ve successfully stood for what your brand represents, or if you could be doing it better?
The one main metric for successful new brand development is brand sentiment. And just because it’s hard to measure, it doesn’t mean that you should dismiss it. It may not be as easy to quantify, but it’s too easy for analytical CEOs to dismiss the qualitative work involved in branding.
As Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky made so clear: “The designing of experience is a different part of your brain than the scaling [of] your experience. It’s a different skill set. The scaling of an experience is a highly analytical, operations-oriented, and technology-oriented problem. The designing of experience is a more intuition-based human, empathetic, end-to-end experience.”
It seems almost trivial, but in a larger company, these two different skill sets would be handled by two entirely different teams that probably don’t often commingle, let alone agree on everything. That’s how you waste time, money, and energy. In a smaller company, you’re often missing a “creative” team altogether. Brian knows how to build a brand because he understands the real levers at play here.
For example, when my agency helped the Shark Tank company, Plated, scale to $100M in revenue in just 18 months, and then exit, you have to understand they had a team of 15 marketers who were struggling with customer acquisition(!), despite having a beautiful brand and a perfectly functioning website and funnels. So, I really appreciated the founders Nick and Josh saying something along the lines of, “We are the least creative guys in the room … so if you guys say this is what we should do, then let’s do it.” Great! That’s why you hire experts on the matter, and it’s ok to take a back seat, to a degree, if you don’t have a strong understanding or opinion on the direction.
It’s amazing how many funded startups are in a rush to build their marketing team. The story above should help you realize that there is much to resolve before doing that — otherwise you’ll be burning cash at a higher rate than needed.
Does this resonate? Some see branding as fluffy, touchy-feely emotional stuff and that’s why they often fail with branding. First, that’s a superficial way to approach it. Branding is critical to your brand’s existence! It also feeds your entire team’s culture.
Let’s dive into this skill set.
Branding strategy definitely involves the intuition side of your mind. But you can also use data to guide your direction and long-term goals. One way to understand if your brand is on the right track in its branding strategy is to think of your brand strategy as a story you are telling.
A good story is not just something to read on a page — it’s an experience. And for something to be an experience, it needs to have a beginning, a middle, and an end. At the end of the experience, there must be some kind of change from the beginning.
What causes a change in a story? Tension. There must be tension between your antithesis and your thesis.
In marketing terms, your “antithesis” is your customer’s pain point. Your “thesis” is your solution to that problem. The tension, therefore, is the customer’s problem itself. This is the core of your entire product-market fit, viewed at a subatomic level. If you don’t have any tension there (problems to solve), then you don’t have a business, period! There also needs to be tension in your customer insights to help inform the most relevant positioning possible.
So, at the end of the day, brand strategy boils down to one thing: storytelling . Your brand’s strategy is its story, its vision, its heart, and soul.
For example, every cinematic film basically has a core thesis inside the protagonist, typically starting with a “vision” of how things could be, or should be — but they are not able to reach it. The antithesis is the harsh reality that’s pulling the character away from that vision of how things could or should be.
This push and pull escalates while the character finally makes a change, internally, externally, or ideally, both. In the climactic ending, the hero’s previous reality is replaced by his vision, which now becomes his new reality.
In the case of “Don’t Look Up,” Leo Decaprio’s character has to transform from his quiet, inside voice, to one of rage and frustration upon learning how hard it is to get an entire planet prepared to deal with a major catastrophe, all while combating multiple saboteurs with alternative and selfish agendas. The reality at the top of the film stays exactly on course. So, where is the change, you ask? It comes from within himself and his associate Kate, as they each lose their families and a bit of their sanity over the truth of their discovery, which drives the narrative, until they finally find themselves again, while the impending doom lives in the background through the final reveal.
That narrative is the same as classic B2B customer journey mapping . Nailing who your supporters and advocates are, as well as potential saboteurs to a purchase, is critical to building a pathway through the phases of brand awareness and consideration.
Looking at AirBnB’s recent campaign, one can only assume that the business problem was lack of new hosts signing up due to the pandemic, while consumer insight would have been something like: “potential hosts are afraid to host strangers.” Their response to address this crippling objection head-on is the campaign: “Strangers aren’t that strange. Try hosting.”
Now look at the creative response to that simple but powerful six-word statement:
Is your brand messaging and campaigning this sharp?
Notice, they’re not saying everything to everyone? They have one clear message and a story that builds up to make just that one point and nothing else.
If you’re thinking, “Well Allen, that’s great for them but we’re a B2B SaaS platform, but what does that have to do with me?” It has everything to do with you too. In fact, the more complex and techy your brand is, the more you need storytelling! No one wants to see marketing and advertising all about your “features,” I promise you. Get your audience out of their head and into their emotions and you’ll see your sales go up and your sales cycle reduced. It’s that simple and complex.
“The more complex and techy your brand is, the more you need storytelling!”
Tension has been the basic building block of storytelling since the first Greek plays were performed in the Theater of Dionysus, at the beginning of the fifth century. The plays and storytelling were engineered around the logical flow of crisis and emotional journeys, and this process has carried over to modern times — mostly because human nature has hardly changed since that time.
This is exactly what good branding does as well — it inspires action, change, aspiration, or in some cases, gets your customers to fix something that ails them or change their minds. When your brand is an awesome experience, it transforms your users!
If you don’t believe story matters, then you’re going to have a hard time creating the kind of message that evokes emotion and action. At the end of the day, all your brand has is one amazing story, broken into snackable bits and pieces, told over time, across various touchpoints and pain points. That’s it!
Beyond brand strategy: Brand position and building a strong brand identity
Today, most businesses cannot count on being the only organization offering a particular service or product. Chances are good that your niche is heavy with competitors. The challenge is making your offerings stand out from others. Sure, you can pack in feature after feature, but what comes next?
For instance, if your SaaS platform space is already maxed to the gills in features? What do you do? Cramming more features in does you no good, so how do you make yourself stand out in an ever-more competitive market?
In a sea of competition, you have to compete either on innovation or brand, which means storytelling and effective brand positioning, or, if tapping into a well-funded and robust R&D department that can base new features on actual user problems. If not, that’s ok. For most companies an easier entry point is to become a leader in the pack and to stand out, you have to go all-in on brand positioning and you need to be consistent, memorable, and distinct, all while doing this creatively.
Of course, that’s easier said than done.
Before starting my agency Noble Digital in 2012, I was a TV commercial director. My role was to lead a team and execute national campaigns for the largest brands on the planet. In one case, Budweiser hired me to produce six commercials with $600 million in media spend alone over a one-year campaign. So, I have been fortunate enough to work with some of the biggest brand managers out there. In total, I have $25 billion in media spending behind my life’s work, so I want to share what I’ve learned from my “traditional” days of branding as well as now in the current age of branding.
Where did branding start? Many point to Mesopotamia where trading and selling took place at a very high rate. It was a time when the seller could not always be present, so the branding acted as a marker of quality.
The quality of a brand is measured at a high level with attributes like: culture, values, reflection, personality, archetypes, promise, reward, benefit, reasons to believe, advantages, discriminators, and differentiators.
However, there are also attributes about the space that your brand operates in, such as category, competition, source of business, target groups, relevance, and insights.
As we zoom in on the business model canvas, we start to see where the impact of branding falls. In fact, the value canvas has a “value proposition” at the dead center of the business model canvas.
That’s because no matter how amazing your product is, if it doesn’t resonate with your audience, you’ll be dead in the water. Your product-market fit and value proposition form the engine that makes everything flow.
What your customers value is just as important (if not more important) as what your brand values. It informs what you make and how your entire company operates, down to how you speak to individual customers.
Branding is not a superficial exercise in making things “look pretty”. Great branding means customer acquisition performance, hitting sales goals, and scaling revenue streams. Modern branding is about architecting success through both storytelling and engineering to achieve a strong brand experience while meeting fiduciary goals.
“Modern branding is about architecting success through both storytelling and engineering.”
Here’s the key: the brand story should always come first. The first step in comprehensive brand strategy development is to define who you want to be and what you’re trying to say. Engineering should follow that organizational direction as it’s way easier than trying to take the bigger, emotional factors and retrofit that onto what was already engineered. (This is how website initiatives easily steal a year of your life away.)
Characteristics of a strong company brand
What makes a good company brand? It’s more than having the right visual elements or a solid brand story. Below, we’ll break down the components required to ensure you have the right brand architecture in place to support your marketing plan.
- Physical characteristics : At the base level, we have the physicality of your company brand – its visuals, including your brand logo, typography, company colors, and other visual cues that help consumers identify your brand amidst a sea of competitors.
- Personality : What is your brand’s personality in your customers’ eyes? Is it playful and witty? Straightforward and dependable? Innovative and creative? Picture your brand as a living thing – how does it act in the world?
- Culture : Brand culture and company culture are related but different. Here, we’re talking about how the set of values you espouse come together to create the foundation of a company brand.
- Relationship : How does your company intersect with your customers? What’s the relationship between your products/services and those who buy them?
- Self-image : How do your customers see themselves with your brand? Do they feel more capable? More innovative? Better prepared? Use this to flesh things out and create a strong visual identity that helps your customers see themselves differently.
- Reflection : How do you view your customers? How do you portray them in your ads and other marketing collateral?
Developing a strong brand identity
Using the information in the previous section, you can now begin building a strong brand identity. The goal here is simple – connect what matters to your business with what matters to your customers. For instance, how do your goals connect with the goals of your customers? How does your mission address your customers’ pain points? Effective brand positioning requires that you move the needle from how your customers see your brand now to how you want them to see it.
One brand positioning tool at your disposal is, to begin with, a benefits ladder that takes you from the base customer problem through the various benefits that help solve that issue.
To do that, create a mission statement that encapsulates your organization’s purpose. Once you’ve done that, it’s time to create a single guiding statement (brand positioning statement) that connects with every aspect of your brand, while supporting the emotional benefit that you offer customers. Doing so ensures brand consistency across all touchpoints.
Finally, it’s also important to remember that no brand is built overnight. It requires time. How long did it take for Apple to become what it is today? What about Reebok or Nike? In point of fact, it took almost 20 years for Nike to even arrive at the brand strategy the organization follows today, with much trial and error along the way. For instance, they began by targeting top athletes but realized they would have to broaden their scope to include anyone who valued health and fitness if they were ever going to see success.
Digging deeper into effective brand positioning
Dual Process Theory explores how our brains go looking for shortcuts to process things. It helps people make fast decisions on an intuitive level. It can also hijack other memories we have and attach themselves to them. This is why getting into emotions and qualitative research is important as emotional decisions can override our mental decisions. Translation: This helps us cut a 120-day sales cycle down to 45 days. What would that mean to your bottom line? Go ahead, pull out a calculator and do that math. Whatever that number is, you could easily spend roughly 10% of that total amount (rev + growth) on rebranding — and more if you want to be aggressive.
Your digital brand strategy is a long-term plan that documents specific principles to help keep your brand consistent, memorable, and distinct with time which keeps you at top of mind with your audience. It can also help align employees to the core beliefs and aims of the brand – something I had noticed the power of during my time while working with and consulting the brand Subway, on a campaign.
At the tip of the spear is the business strategy, which leads into brand strategy . What is included in a brand strategy? It covers things like purpose, vision, mission, beliefs, values, attitudes, audience, proposition, and positioning. Once set, the goal is to use that documentation as a guide for every decision you make, whether it be a TV commercial, website build or a search ad sentence.
As you move from purpose to impact, you’ll find your brand system, which is the visualization of your brand persona: brand logo, tone of voice, colors, composition, photography, typography, and motion.
We’ve seen business strategies. They tend to be about growing, with charts that go up into the top right quadrant. Yes, you want to make more revenue. We get it. But how will we actually accomplish that?
Moving into modern brand positioning is really about customer-centric messaging and then making that actionable. But how do you make branding actionable while ensuring brand consistency? It’s all about your brand activations.
Telesign CPaaS platform
As a B2B brand strategy example, Telesign a CpaaS (and IT security) was a C-series funded platform with 500 employees that I was consulting. Telesign pioneered text verification notifications and the company serves large, multinational clients like Microsoft, and has since been acquired by BICS. However, the complexity of their offerings made it challenging for potential clients to understand their services and they were in a loaded space.
The result? Long sales cycles. Basically, sales was doing most of the work and the marketing was missing the mark on how to warm up prospects into warm leads, ready to purchase.
To overcome the disconnect here, we updated Telesign’s brand message house, brand pillars and overall brand messaging, working from data first. From awareness all the way through the handoff to sales. The end result was an update to their content marketing funnel that decreased the time it took for qualified leads to become clients, by half. That literally means millions more in revenue per year! This is how branding and marketing strategy intersect into: digital media branding strategy and social media branding strategy. A critical messaging change at the top of their messaging pyramid helped optimize all the content builds that came after, which then gave marketing a better alignment and hand off to sales and assisted them in revenue growth year after year from that point on. Branding can be tethered to sales and if you start your branding strategy off on the right foot, you’ll see a change in all departments. Including your data being segmented is better for future optimization.
LEGO’s history dates back nearly a century. Throughout that time, the company’s mission has been “to inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow”. By defining that mission early on and then baking it into the company’s very DNA, LEGO has been able to create a thriving brand. You can see this in everything the company does, from the design and creation of new sets to their communications.
For LEGO, it’s not (just) about selling toys. It’s about helping its customers develop. By focusing on developing people, the brand has been able to evolve and grow over time and continually elevate its brand position.
A brand architecture framework
Creating a brand architecture framework can get very involved and could be an entire article on its own. Just use the outline below and it becomes easier to account for your existing products or services, as well as build out future product branding or services.
- Make it easy for people to navigate what you offer.
- Reinforce individual products or services that are your biggest draws/hottest sellers.
- Make sure that you’re able to build a strong company brand and brand equity without damaging the brand of your assets.
- Focus on creating economies of scale by tying asset brands to the parent brand.
The secret to growth
As a strategist, I find that one of the most important ingredients for success is talent, and in many cases, that talent may come from outside your organization. Some of the strongest brands in the world were built by advertising agencies, not internally.
The culture of a successful brand is often repeating the same thing over and over for success. One important goal for any corporation is to be somewhat predictable with their fiduciary responsibilities. Oddly enough, to get to that place, they often need outside help, since they are not wired for this. Why would a company that relies on predictable results for growth know anything about creativity and breaking molds? If they’re any good at their business, they often won’t even have that kind of talent and thinking internally.
The question of brand management versus brand building
There are two types of people – procedural workers and creative/inventive people. In fact, Netflix CEO, Reed Hastings’ famous culture deck , (now with 20 million views) made it clear that there is a much lower ceiling for procedural work vs. creative/inventive work , where the more you invest in creative talent, the greater the rewards you reap.
What this means is that you shouldn’t expect an individual who has outstanding organizational task management and soft skills to be amazing with creative builds. These are two very different types of people and it’s very rare to find both quality management talent and creative skills within the same individual.
“You shouldn’t expect an individual who has outstanding organizational task management and soft skills to be amazing with creative builds.”
This is why the strongest, most recognized brands on the planet rely on creative advertising agencies to help them refine their brand story for outward-facing initiatives and create a comprehensive brand strategy. Rarely has our own agency seen a corporation do better internally. Internal teams often fail flat-out to deliver effective brand strategies.
“Companies with poor branding end up having to pay 10% higher salaries.”
Creating the right message
Story matters, so to be successful in motivating consumers, you need to create the kind of message that evokes emotion and action.
Why do we do this? Because a well-told story is unforgettable, it translates to people caring about your brand, which inspires loyalty and helps with recall. These are things no amount of tech or media can or will ever do.
Tech and media merely amplify those sentiments. If you don’t have this level of depth to your story, it will just be garbage in, garbage out.
The Importance of Creative Messaging
As CEO of BBDO, Andrew Robertson mentioned at an AT&T Shape event that media leaders like Sheryl Sandberg at Facebook made one thing clear to him:
“80% of available return is a function of the creative and the content.”
Let’s unpack that. A brand’s success is attributed to having the right creative message and not just being in the “right time” or “right place.” It’s about more than meeting your potential customers where they are. You must be able to effectively communicate with them when you do, and that requires creative messaging that ties in with your brand positioning and brand identity.
What does Robertson’s comment mean? It means that your focus shouldn’t be solely on the tech involved; instead, concentrate primarily on story and positioning.
What does focusing 80% of your energy on messaging look like? Well, for one thing, it doesn’t look like this:
Instead, it should look more like this:
Everyone is mostly focused on finite/numerical data, so I find the opposite to be true. Companies are spending thousands to millions on media (blank “billboard” placements) with next to no thought on the story part. So, it’s more like 99% media/tech/stacks and only 1% on creative — and they wonder why they seldom hit performance goals.
The issue here is that marketing is seldom a “math problem”— it’s always a story problem. The real math happens later, at $50M+ in revenue, when you’re milking a cash cow. Until then? You need emotional stories to engage new customers, regardless of how big or small you are (to create the math problems you’re hoping for). So it is important to understand your strategy first before you focus on the execution of the strategy.
Translation: Don’t worry about media until you have a creative strategy that translates your brand into an outward-facing campaign for your marketplace.
Define your brand and its objective
Your brand’s objective is simply its purpose. Knowing why your brand exists, what purpose it has in the world, and what it stands for is what defines it from the very start.
When you want to define your brand, you’ll need to ask yourself some questions:
- What problem does my brand solve?
- Who is my ideal customer?
- Who is my competition?
- What does my brand make my customers feel?
- Why do my customers trust me?
- What is the story behind why my brand was created?
- If my brand was a person, what would their personality be like?
- What are my customers wanting/needing or struggling with?
Want some real-world examples? Consider Uber , Webflow , and Airbnb , all three of which have mastered the art of brand positioning.
Once you answer these questions, you can begin to worry about things like brand logo colors and font, your motto or tagline, and other marketing elements to communicate your brand’s overall story.
Let’s look at an example and put this into action.
Let’s say you have determined your brand’s ideal customers are young women getting ready to get married. Your competition includes high-end bridal companies with very elegant looks, but you are presenting yourself as more youthful.
You are trustworthy because you don’t sugarcoat the reality of expensive weddings. Instead, you help brides have their special day without going into debt. You have your story of why you created this brand, and if your brand was a person, she would be a young, thrifty bride who wants a beautiful day but has a practical head on her shoulders.
With all that in mind and knowing you are targeting younger brides, you can stay away from elegant and mature logo colors. Go with fresh, trendy bridal colors that are feminine and pretty. That’s how you translate your brand story into your marketing.
Target market research
Once you understand your brand strategy, you may be ready to jump right into executing your marketing. But before you get started, there is another important step you need to do first: target market research.
So taking the previous wedding example even further, instead of shying away from the fact that your brand is for affordable weddings, you lean hard and with no apology! Like the Airbnb “Strangers” example, use insights to help people reframe and reconsider their stance on just about anything! A perfect example is Jim Gaffigan, a master of shining a new light on things we rarely question and digs in deep on the whole institution of weddings:
Looking at obvious things in a new light helps unlock humor and ah-ha moments for people who are barely paying attention to your marketing or more importantly, their situation… Can you make your audience laugh at themselves? You have to do some work to get their attention. You have to be this sharp.
Researching your market — and understanding who your audience really is and what will grab them emotionally — is a big part of executing your brand strategy correctly. There are some things you’ll need to do in your target market research, including creating a customer persona.
A customer persona is a detailed description of the ideal buyer who would not be able to resist buying your product or service. This persona helps you understand what type of person you are targeting with your marketing. You can’t have an emotional impact if you don’t know who it is you are trying to connect to.
The key to a creative team’s output is to give them sharp insights. Insights unlock the problem at hand and shine a new light on it. Since your marketing is working against the common enemy of attention, you don’t have time to explain it. The insight should be shocking or disruptive. It should have a truth that makes you laugh or cry. Quite often, it’s not even something brand new. Rather, an insight, framed the right way, makes you look at something you already know in a new way.
Understand the consumer journey
The next thing to understand about your ideal customer is where they are in the consumer journey. The consumer journey is a map that shows how a consumer is connecting with your brand at any given moment. It can range from “not connected at all” to “loyal brand advocate and repeat customer.”
Along the way are points like “interested in your product,” “interacting with you on social media,” or “first-time buyer.” Understanding the consumer journey as it relates to your business will help you come up with a roadmap to move consumers along to the ultimate goal.
For example, if you find many of your consumers are dropping off the journey map after their first purchase and never returning to your store, you may need to consider creating a loyalty rewards program or optimizing for a higher quality audience.
Invest in creative brand guidelines
Too often a brand wants to start a branding engagement with us ‘developing brand guidelines’. I don’t recommend this. This is like walking into a restaurant and letting the chef decide what you want to eat. It’s all fine if they happen to match your expectations. Realistically, you need to get involved and communicate. You need your creative partners to start with conceptual ideas of what your brand could be, first. Explore concepts and even design rough, ad-like objects and manifesto scripts to help envision what your brand could look and feel like before locking things down that haven’t even been considered or tested.
Once you understand your brand and your audience on a very deep level, it’s time to think about how you will deliver your message. This is where you’ll start to get creative with things like the logo design, the fonts you use on your website , the colors you choose to represent your brand, the general tone of your advertisements, and the imagery you use so that you can make that execution repeatable.
These elements are very important for creating a long-term recognizable brand. Once people have connected to your brand, they’re no longer considering your values because they know them. Now they are just recognizing your brand’s colors, brand logo, and font and instantly adding you to their basket. So you need to ensure that these elements are chosen carefully and that they truly relate to your message.
Brands do evolve, but it’s important to set the creative guidelines before additional marketing executions. This allows you to ensure that even in the future, your branding will match your story.
Another thing that brands need to research before executing a marketing strategy is the competition.
Competitive analysis is extremely important because it helps you understand what specifically differentiates you from the competition, and that is something you’ll want to focus on in your marketing message. Even if you’re a new product in a new space, you still need to understand your neighboring spaces. When we helped Biohm probiotics, they were essentially a new product but they didn’t have the capital to go out in a naked market where no customers were looking, so we piggy-backed by entering them in the probiotic space and then doing education campaigns to help them understand the critical differentiators. This is why they launched selling out of inventory three times in opening months — because we did our homework right.
If you attempt to execute your marketing first, you may end up saying the same thing as every other company out there, which doesn’t inspire the customer to shop from you over them.
Overall, branding has not changed dramatically in the last decade or two. What has changed is the explosion of placements and applications for expressing your brand across new and upcoming outlets, platforms, and opportunities.
The most important takeaways about brand strategy in 2022 are:
- You need to research and understand your customer, including insights.
- You must know what your brand stands for, and what your brand story is.
- Craft your brand story and know how it intersects with your audience.
- You must build your marketing techniques on an understanding of your customer and what your brand stands for before you ever begin executing marketing campaigns.
- You need people with both good organizational/management skills and great creative skills. They are usually not the same people and quite often not in the same building.
- Don’t be afraid to look outside your organization for help when it comes to creativity and strategic branding/brand positioning. The biggest brands in the world work with ad/creative agencies for that very reason.
It’s that easy and that complex. Take the time to do this right from the beginning, and you will have a much more successful marketing strategy.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here .
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About the author
10 Simple Steps to a Winning Brand Strategy
Many mistakenly think that a brand strategy is limited to designing a nice logo or creating a catchy tagline. That couldn’t be further from the truth!
In reality, your brand encompasses all the things that make you stand out from competitors as different. Everything from your visual identity to your messaging to customer experience. Not to mention the way people perceive your business, including all of the thoughts and emotions they associate with your brand.
Because branding is so extensive, developing a strategy that works takes both time and careful planning. To help with that planning, consider some guidelines for creating an effective brand strategy for your business.
How to develop your brand strategy
Developing a long-term plan for building your brand can seem like an overwhelming task. Where do you start? There are 10 steps that can give you a solid foundation on which to build.
1. Pick your niche(s)
Catering to a niche market may involve offering specialized services, serving specific audiences, or limiting your focus to certain products that best serve the needs of your customers. Why can “niching down” be a smart strategic move?
- More time and energy to focus on creating the best possible products, services , and experiences for your customers.
- Reduced waste of resources (including money).
- The ability to charge a premium for your specialized expertise.
- Differentiation from competitors who appeal to different or more general audiences (perhaps with different or more general offerings also).
Rather than spreading your resources thin trying to be all things to everyone, you can allocate them where they’ll do the most good.
That’s not to say that you must focus on one narrow audience, service or product, though. Businesses can successfully cater to several different niches.
To lay the foundation for your brand strategy, determine where it would be most worthwhile for you to focus. Considering what you enjoy most and excel at will give you a good start and put you on the path to a dialed-in brand image that supports your marketing strategy .
2. Define your business and marketing goals
The whole point of a strategy is to reach a goal (or goals). So, in developing your brand strategy, you can’t forget to consider your short and long-term goals .
Think of where you want your business to be next month, next year, and in a few years from now. Would you like to increase your customer base by a certain percentage? Is establishing a customer loyalty program in the cards for you? Do you eventually want to open another location ?
In any case, keep your core objectives front and center as you decide what brand strategy will harmonize with your marketing efforts and get you to your goal.
3. Conduct brand research
Building a brand strategy in a bubble is a bad idea. It’s important to understand how your competitors and other businesses your audience engages with are branding themselves.
Of course, you don’t want to be a copycat. However, you can learn a ton from what’s working for them, how your audience responds to certain tactics, and even what your competitors aren’t doing in their branding. Looking at existing brands can give you both creative inspiration and strategic insights to help you set yourself apart from the crowd.
4. Spotlight what makes you different
Even if what you offer isn’t truly unique or one-of-a-kind, you can still stand out as different. How? Your brand messaging is one key.
Take, for example, the commercial coffee chains Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts. Both sell similar products, but their brand strategies convey different messages to very distinct audiences. And both brands are successful. The same can be true in your case.
You can customize your brand strategy and differentiate your business with:
- Mission and vision statements that are personal to you
- Core values that are at the heart of what you do and that are shared by your customers
- A crystal clear description of the unique way you solve a common problem
- A crystal clear description of the way you solve an uncommon but notable problem
- A focus on an uncommon or unique characteristic of your target audience
- The unique customer experience you create for your customers
Let’s say you own a pizzeria. Yes, there are lots of other pizzerias out there. However, yours is unique in that you serve authentic Italian brick-oven pizza in a setting that takes your customers straight into the heart of Sicily. Your purpose isn’t just to make tasty pizzas; it’s to deliver an authentic Italian experience that locals can’t find elsewhere in the area.
Now substitute your actual business type in place of the pizzeria. The main question remains the same. What can you offer customers that they can’t get from your competitors ?
5. Think of your business as a person
Every person has a unique personality. So does every business. In both cases, though, not every personality is memorable. To prevent having a forgettable brand, it can help to envision your business as a person (real or imagined).
Ask yourself: If my business were a person, what kind of person would it be? What traits and characteristics would make it appealing, influential, or memorable? How would others describe their voice, tone, and style?
This exercise can help you visualize the attributes of your business you want to highlight in your brand strategy and the best way to go about doing that.
6. Craft an exceptional customer experience
Customer experience is the great equalizer of businesses. Sure, a competitor might offer the same products or services at a cheaper price, but if they treat their customers poorly or fail to address small but significant details, it won’t matter. People are willing to spend a little more money or time for a better experience.
Plus, satisfied customers can become mini-marketers for your business, spreading the word about their positive experience, writing customer reviews , and recommending you to others like them.
So think beyond how you can deliver a decent experience or even just a slightly better one than your competitors do. Deliver the ideal experience for your customers.
What additional bases can you cover to show your customers that you truly stand for what you say you do? What aspects of your brand can you translate into action when it comes to communicating with, serving, and supporting your customers? Additionally, how can you make it easy for your customers to share their positive experiences with you , especially online?
7. Get involved with your community
Embracing your local community can do wonders for your business. People love to support local businesses and often make the conscious choice to frequent them over large chains. Plus, in contrast to larger companies, you make it possible for people to put a face to your brand , making it more appealing and human.
Personally connecting with customers has a twofold advantage. One, it’s an excellent way to build relationships, establish a great reputation, and turn loyal customers into brand advocates who willingly share their positive experiences with your business. Two, the more you engage with your customers, the better you’ll understand their needs. The insights you gather will allow you to provide more tailored solutions, which means happier customers!
What are some ways you can get involved in your community? You could connect with other small business owners, attend local events, feature your best customers on your social media pages , or even sponsor children’s sports teams from nearby schools. All of these strategies will bring you closer to your customers while incentivizing them to support your business.
8. Create and maintain a high-quality blog
A well-maintained business blog can bring many benefits including increased online visibility and an increase in sales. Yet, it can also be a surefire way to develop your brand.
As mentioned, branding is all about making your business easily identifiable in a crowd and blogging happens to be an excellent way to communicate the unique personality and intent of your company.
Just be sure to choose topics that are relevant to your audience and make your posts easy to read, adding images to hold attention and improve user experience. And don’t be afraid to add some personality to the information you’re relaying. Think about how you would personally converse with a customer about your business or a specific piece of advice, and try to maintain that conversational style when writing your posts.
9. Develop your visual identity strategically
Strategy is just as key when deciding on visual branding as it is when crafting your messaging . For example, choosing brand colors is not solely a matter of personal preference. Color psychology should be a guiding factor. After all, research has shown that between 62% and 90% of snap judgments made by customers are based on color . Why?
Different colors elicit different emotions and responses, which you can use to influence the way people view and interact with your brand.
For example, consider the “vibes” associated with some colors:
- Blue can convey dependability and trust, among many other things, making it the most popular and meaningful color by far.
- Purple is another favorite and it’s associated with royalty, creativity, and optimism.
- Red brings to mind passion, excitement, and boldness, along with several opposites including danger (so be careful with this one!)
- Green often represents concepts such as growth , health, and safety.
- Yellow is associated with warmth, brightness, and optimism.
- Black and white can both be used to convey class, confidence, and simplicity.
And this is just a taste of the many positive and not-so-positive connotations associated with various colors and shades. There are many nuances to keep in mind so, from your logo to your website design and beyond, be sure to choose your brand colors wisely. Only if you do will your visual branding support your larger brand strategy and bring you more business.
10. Unify your social media accounts
Besides your website, your social media accounts are among the most easily accessible representatives of your business online. In other words, your accounts provide a prime opportunity to distinguish your brand from the start of a potential customer’s engagement with you.
Whether you use Twitter, Facebook , Instagram, or other platforms, maintain a cohesive voice and visuals. This will ensure that your followers and potential customers are being met with the same consistency and reliability they’d expect if they were to do business with you.
Why put the work into your brand strategy?
Your brand starts with you but, ultimately, it ends with the perception people have of your business and the actions they do or don’t take as a result. (Actions like filling out a form—which is a first-party data collection tool that will become increasingly important in a cookieless world.)
By shaping every aspect of your brand purposefully, you can have a positive impact on the perception and response of your audience, not to mention supercharge your advertising .
Whether your business is large or small, old or new, prioritizing your brand strategy will pay off in more ways than one. Do you want stronger relationships with your audience, a better reputation, more exposure, and increased revenue? If so, put the work into this invaluable part of your small business plan.
Ten steps to an effective brand strategy [recap]
We covered a lot in this post, so here is a list of the ten tactics we provided to help you develop a winning brand strategy:
- Pick your niche(s)
- Define your business and marketing goals
- Conduct brand research
- Spotlight what makes you different
- Think of your business as a person
- Craft an exceptional customer experience
- Get involved with your community
- Create and maintain a high-quality blog
- Develop your visual identity strategically
- Unify your social media accounts
Meet The Author
Nia Gyant is a freelance writer and brand messaging strategist with a background in online marketing. She supports marketing agencies and small to mid-sized businesses in need of strategically-crafted, goal-oriented content and copy.
See other posts by Nia Gyant
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Digital PR Strategist Freelance Hire Kevin Payne
How to develop a brand strategy: a step-by-step guide.
By Kevin Payne 24 Comments
When it comes to developing a branding strategy, business owners equate this to choosing the logo design, font families, and color palette for their website and package.
And since these tasks are usually outsourced to freelance graphic designers or media companies, not many business owners take the time to develop and document a branding strategy.
In reality, there’s so much more that goes into developing and implementing creative branding ideas so that you can build an online presence that’ll grab the attention of your audience.
Today, I’ll be guiding you through the steps on how to develop a branding strategy for your business.
As well I’m happy to hop on a 15-minute coffee chat to help you with developing your marketing strategy.
First, what is branding?
Table of Contents
Your company’s brand communicates what your company stands for, what you aim to do, and what you can offer to your audience.
Your logo, all your graphics, and the colors associated with your company comprise the visual aspect of your branding.
The words your company puts out and the causes you stand for make up your company’s voice. Even the products you sell tell a lot about your company. All these combine to make up your hop on a 15-minute coffee chat
Presenting these things and creating a strong image of your brand in your audience’s mind can convert them into customers
Why does your business need to develop a brand strategy?
Creating a clear, compelling, and memorable image in the minds of your company’s audience is not something quickly done. It requires a clear-cut plan and thoughtful execution.
With a brand strategy, you can create the image you want in your audience’s heads when they think of your company. It’ll also convey actions and words to reflect what your company stands for. You want your customers to know why your company exists.
In short, developing your brand strategy is about telling your brand’s story.
Brand storytelling shares why you started your business, the journey to get where you are now, and the values and principles your company holds dear. That way, your customers can connect with you at a deeper level.
This doesn’t only send vital information about your company to your audience but helps them remember your brand. It also keeps your customers loyal to your brand because they feel good about supporting a brand they identify with.
More importantly, your brand impacts your business’s bottom line. That’s because customers are more likely to support brands that they remember, and identify with.
Nike’s ad campaign featuring Colin Caprnick , the former NFL player who made headlines for kneeling during the US national anthem, is a perfect example.
Even though the ad didn’t show any products or the name of the company, Nike’s done such a great job with their brand strategy that the logo and tagline are enough to tell you whose ad is this.
Steps to develop a brand strategy
1. audit your current branding and marketing strategy.
Before planning your strategy, you have to know where you stand now.
From the moment your company was made, you’ve already been building your brand. The first step to finding out what your company branding is to ask yourself: “What is the point of my business?”
Your company exists for a reason. It could be as simple as: “There was nobody providing products like mine in my area.”
The fact that you sell those products to people in your area already equates your brand with the message that you want to contribute positively to your community.
Take note of how you’ve been communicating with customers on social media and through your other support channels. Find out how your logo would make others feel. Find out what your customers feel and think when they do business with your company.
These are all things that your customers already identify you with, and these are the building blocks upon which you can build upon or pivot your marketing strategy so that you can continue growing.
2. Develop your buyer persona
A hop on a 15-minute coffee chat is a profile of an ideal target customer.
Beyond demographics, it represents a real person: what they go through in a day, what they like and dislike, and which social media channels they use.
Using a buyer persona makes it easier for you to make a brand strategy that would successfully connect with your real customers since your buyer persona should represent your actual customers.
Here is a brief list of the essential data your buyer personas should have:
- How old is your customer?
- Is your customer a man or a woman?
- Where does your customer live?
- What’s your customer’s household income?
- How does a typical day for your customer look like?
- Are there any causes your customer supports?
- Why is your customer buying your product?
- How does your customer use your product?
- How often does your character buy your product?
- Why wouldn’t your customer buy your product?
- How does your customer like to communicate? (Social media, emails, texts)
Developing your buyer persona involves studying your customer data, as well as the data of your competitors and data from market research.
Use all this data to target your customers successfully, and then make sure you’re the best company that they could come to for their needs.
A more convenient way of creating your buyer persona is by using Leadhackrs free buyer persona template .
This tool takes you through the steps to generate your buyer persona.
3. Determine your business’ mission and vision
Your mission and vision state what your company is now, and what it aims to be. They guide your company to make sure your actions and goals are all aligned and going in the right direction.
These two statements are part of your brand’s unique value proposition .
Your vision statement shows your customers your goals and helps them decide if they want to help you achieve them. It should be a bold statement about what your company can be in the future.
A vision statement describes what your company hopes to be. This statement provides the direction for your company. It provides the long-term goals your company wants to achieve through what it’s doing now.
Take IKEA’s vision statement , for example:
Your mission statement explains what you offer to them, and what you’re doing to achieve the goals in your mission.
A mission statement describes what your company currently is. It explains what your company does, how it does its business, whom it helps, and why they do it all. This statement is short term, as it only outlines the steps your company is taking to achieve your long term goals.
Tom’s mission statement is a perfect example:
The mission and vision statement work hand-in-hand to condense your brand in a few words. They should be clear and comprehensive enough that your customers can read them and know what your brand is.
4. Be clear about your “why.”
Before promoting your products to your customers, you have to think about why you set up your business in the first place.
The “why” of your company is the purpose of every action you take in your company.
61% of consumers want brands to take a stand for causes they believe in.
This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to change the world. But your company’s purpose needs to reflect who you are and what you contribute.
For example, Johnson and Johnson’s company credo doesn’t state that their products will change the world. They just say that they have the responsibility as a company to produce quality products at reasonable prices for the people that need their products the most.
Johnson & Johnson’s credo showcases their purpose and responsibility to the people that depend on them: their customers, employees, and stakeholders. This purpose drives them to continue their company’s work, and roots all their work moving forward.
When making your company’s purpose, find out what causes and beliefs you will promise to uphold every step of the way — not just for your customers, but for the company itself. Every time you decide for your company, it should always go back to your “why.”
5. Identify and analyze your competitors
Your competitors are the other companies who can satisfy the needs of your target customers. The most obvious competitors are grouped into three categories: primary, secondary and tertiary competitors.
Primary competitors are those companies who sell the same product as you. These are also called direct competitors because when you both sell the same product, the majority of your customers will only choose one or the other to satisfy what they would need from your companies.
Secondary competitors are also called indirect competitors. These companies do not sell the same product, but they sell a similar product that can also satisfy the needs of your product.
Pizza Hut, for example, is in direct competition with Domino’s as they both sell fast-food pizza. At the same time, it’s also an indirect competitor of McDonald’s and Taco Bell.
That’s because all these restaurants serve fast food to their customers and food delivery.
Tertiary competitors are the least of your concern because they only sell products vaguely related to your brand.
In the Pizza Hut example, a tertiary competitor would be DiGiorno frozen pizza, who serve pizza but do not satisfy the same needs that Pizza Hut does for its customers.
After identifying these competitors, it’s essential to analyze them. In developing a brand strategy, what’s important to take note of in competitive analysis is how they present themselves to customers, and how customers perceive them.
Take note of your biggest competitors and see what they’re doing right, and what they still aren’t doing. Some industries have best practices already in place, so following those best practices can be an excellent foundation for a long-lasting, effective brand strategy.
Always be comprehensive when scoping out your competition. Check out their advertisements, social media, and customer service. This will lead you to some ideas for your brand, and maybe inspire you to create unique strategies of your own.
After seeing what your competitors do, check out how their customers respond to them.
Check out the news surrounding that company, their sales performance, and how much they are being talked about.
Awario is a tool that checks the internet for you so you can keep track of how customers are currently feeling about your competitor’s brands.
6. Audit your current branding and media campaigns
It’s best to be aware of where your company currently lies with your customers and potential customers. Brand positioning is how your company stacks up to your competitors in the minds of your customers.
When it comes to brand positioning, it’s all about how your customers think you can solve their problems better than the other brands out there.
Before they find out if your products can solve their problems, they have to be interested in your first, and that’s where brand strategy comes in.
One of the first things to audit in your current brand strategy is your brand’s consistency . Your brand’s message might be clear to you, but if you don’t relay that message to your customers consistently, your brand won’t stay in their minds at all.
The best way to improve brand consistency is to pick a simple message for your company’s mission and vision and center all your branding efforts around it.
This message should and will be the core of all your branding efforts. Your brand’s aesthetics and your brand’s voice should be set to support this message.
It’s also important to know what the public thinks of your brand.
Using social listening, your company can find out what people on social media say about your brand. And with 49.5% of the world’s population on social media, there’s a lot of data to sift through. So you won’t miss any relevant conversations about your brand.
Mention is a tool that can help your social listening by compiling all the mentions of your brand from over a billion sources and allowing you to sift through them and analyze them.
Using a social media listening tool like this can help give your company insight into the brand strategies that work and that don’t work for your brand.
This can also help you up to your brand’s social media marketing . With social media becoming one of the best places to advertise your brand, keeping up with your competitors and your customers on all the different platforms can help boost your sales and your loyal customers.
7. Develop your brand identity
When customers think of your brand, a clear, distinct, and unique message should pop up in their head instantly. Your brand identity is that message. It’s a message formed by your brand’s name, logo, tone, tagline, and everything else you’ve put out for your audience.
This identity sets the tone for your brand, and a consistent effort to reinforce this identity just makes your brand more influential in the minds of your audience.
You have to make your brand identity strong enough to your audience so that when they see your brand’s logo — or even just something related to your brand — they instantly think of your brand.
Develop your brand centered around what you want your audience to think your brand is.
To make sure your brand stays on point with your identity, consider using Leadhckrs free brand identity template .
Sometimes called a brand style playbook, this details all the dimensions and specifications of your logo and other visual branding elements.
It should be prevalent enough that when a customer of yours sees it, they instantly know that it’s your brand, a brand that they love and trust.
8. Set-up your website
Business owners have to make their website attractive and usable for their customers now more than ever. That’s because it increases the direct sales you get from consumers researching your product.
Having a complete website that informs your audiences of everything you want them to know about your brand is an advertisement in itself.
Keep in mind to follow the best website practices to make a great branded website. This includes using great photos, keeping a clean and straightforward site, and making your website accessible on mobile.
Of course, to build a website, you have to have a website host that keeps your website up on the internet for your customers to see.
Kinsta is a great WordPress host that allows businesses, big and small, to create and manage a website. They handle all of a businesses’ needs using cutting-edge technology and excellent customer support.
Once you have a host, you have to hire a developer to cater to all your website’s support needs.
RiddlePop is a team of WordPress developers that can build and optimize your WordPress sites. With their services, you can pick a flexible plan that works well with the needs of your websites.
9. Develop your content marketing strategy
Content marketing is creating content for your brand that your audience would consider helpful and valuable.
Each piece of content you produce should ask your audience to take action — usually, that action is to buy your product.
The reason for putting out content works is because 88% of consumers research a product or service online before they make a purchase.
Other reasons to do content marketing include its low cost, the increased visits to your company’s website, and better search engine results.
Of course, the type of content your company produces should depend on your company’s content marketing strategy.
For example, case studies are useful for content marketing agencies because they creatively showcase their work. They get to tell their audience a story, but also advertise their services while they’re at it.
Develop your content strategy so that you can always regularly update the content you put out. This ties in with the consistency your brand needs to establish a strong brand identity.
10. Track and monitor your brand strategy
Once you have a brand strategy up and running, and you see it influencing your customers’ buying decisions, it’s essential to keep track and monitor the performance of your brand.
You need to measure how aware audiences are about your brand and the value and accessibility they have with your brand.
You also need to see how emotionally connected they are to your brand and how they differentiate your brand from your competitors. These factors make it easy for you to see if your brand strategy is working, and if you need to make any adjustments.
Make sure your marketing strategy has a good ROI , so that you know if the branding strategy you’re implementing is working. Gather as much data about your customers as you can, so that you can further hone your branding strategy to get the perfect fit for them.
Databox is a tool that measures and analyzes these critical statistics for you so that you can track your brand’s performance at all times. This tool can calculate and deliver your businesses’ most important KPIs for your brand’s continued improvement.
What’s great about using Databox is that it seamlessly integrates with many of the popular analytics tools businesses use. So you can view all your metrics in one place.
An effective brand strategy can help you build a solid presence online
Having a concrete, well-researched, and adequately managed brand strategy can bring your company more customers and ensure your company’s growth. The strategy serves as a blueprint of your company’s success, and investing in your brand strategy will pay off once your company gets closer and closer to achieving its vision.
Your brand strategy can also affect other decisions in your brand. Whether it’s in purchasing, distribution, or the making of a new product, your brand strategy makes your brand run more efficiently and increases the likelihood of success.
Make sure your brand is the first and foremost name amongst the other companies offering the same products as you. Take these steps to create a good brand strategy and watch your company leave your competition in the dust.
As well I’m always happy to hop on a 15-minute coffee chat to help you with developing your marketing strategy.
October 6, 2020 at 12:39 PM
Hi. Thanks for posting. Very useful information. I know this is a very important time for us all. However, this is a perfect time for me to help a lot of small businesses with their Local SEO and Digital Marketing. Working during this time will get them set up and ready to face the nation and consumers when everything is lifted and gets back to normal. However, trying to convince some of these small business owners is not as easy as it sounds.
October 14, 2020 at 12:40 PM
Nice guide!! The main thing to develop a brand strategy is its awareness among your target customers. Once you aware them, start with different strategies to gain their trust for your products and services.
January 7, 2021 at 3:03 AM
I love your blog. Great job
January 13, 2021 at 2:30 AM
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March 9, 2021 at 10:45 AM
thank you for sharing your blog
March 13, 2021 at 10:59 AM
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April 3, 2021 at 4:39 AM
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July 3, 2021 at 7:12 AM
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October 15, 2021 at 7:25 AM
I remember reading that a logo is the visual representation of your brand in one of your other blogs and that explains it all. It simply justifies how the logo can define a company’s personality so it surely holds a lot of value. Thanks for sharing such informative blogs Kevin!
November 16, 2021 at 3:40 AM
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November 22, 2021 at 10:05 AM
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December 14, 2021 at 7:02 AM
I’m trying to locate the segment on Rebranding. Can you please guide me to it?
February 11, 2022 at 7:23 PM
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August 2, 2022 at 10:19 AM
How to create your Brand Strategy?
Your brand can be the most important asset in the portfolio of your professional services firm. Developing a stronger brand should be your first focus if this is the case (which is why we created our Brand Building Guide). Consider it again?
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August 26, 2022 at 6:56 AM
Thank you for sharing this guide! I just started a business and this would be really helpful. One question, do you think it would be best for me to hire a digital marketing consultant or should I study everything on my own? Which would be better for a small scale business?
August 26, 2022 at 9:03 AM
Fantastic Information In This Blog
November 30, 2022 at 7:18 AM
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February 23, 2023 at 3:52 AM
In one of your past posts, I believe I read that a logo is the visual depiction of a brand, and I believe that this statement adequately defines everything. It only explains how the logo may define the personality of a firm, which ensures that it retains a significant amount of worth. Kevin, I really appreciate you providing these posts since they are very instructive.
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Creating a Brand Strategy: 8 Essentials & Templates [for 2023]
Written by: Brian Nuckols
Taking the time to develop a winning brand strategy is a crucial objective to help improve your organization.
In this post, I’ve collected the essential steps you need to take to upgrade your brand strategy, as well as concrete tips you can utilize right away.
Let’s get started!
Here’s a short selection of 8 easy-to-edit brand strategy templates you can edit, share and download with Visme. View more templates below:
Table of Contents
What is a brand strategy, 4 types of branding strategies, essentials for a winning brand strategy, how to build a brand strategy in 8 steps, a brand strategy template to help you get started, frequently asked questions (faqs).
We will start by defining brand strategy as the process of achieving long term goals during your organization’s evolution. Said another way, brand strategy is the plan you follow so your most important outcomes emerge in the world.
Branding is a way to bring your organization’s intangible aspects like its authenticity, personality, reputation and unique selling proposition into one neat concept.
You can understand strategy by comparing and contrasting with a related concept, tactics.
Many people conflate tactics and strategies with each other. This conflation leads to confusing branding strategies with branding tactics.
A strategy is your map for achieving long-term goals that do not always need a discrete endpoint. A strategy is more like a process or a path that involves moving iteratively towards your goals.
Tactics are a far more concrete concept. They are essentially action steps taken to achieve the goals set in your branding strategy.
Some common branding tactics are to create a website, launch a new ad campaign or create visual content for a company blog .
Branding strategists may also use initiatives as a synonym for tactics because they typically have an objective time frame and discrete endpoint.
To craft an effective brand strategy, you must understand what your brand stands for and the extraordinary impact it hopes to make on the world.
Additionally, it is helpful to articulate any promises or guarantees you make to your customers. Expressing your brand’s personality conveys how communication with customers is a critical step in the brand strategy process.
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Now that we have explored an overview of brand strategy, we will move to the four most important types of branding strategies you need to know.
Here's an infographic to summarize the four branding strategies. Keep scrolling to read about each brand strategy in more detail.
Type #1: Brand Extension
The first type of brand strategy we will explore is a brand extension. When you use the brand extension strategy, you are expanding your existing brand into new product categories.
The strategy’s essence is to expand your reach by moving into new markets on your existing brand’s strength.
When you extend into new categories, they can be related and unrelated to your current category.
Nike is an excellent example of a company that expands its reach through brand extension. They have grown from shoes into products as diverse as sunglasses and golf balls.
What is essential to keep in mind from a brand strategy perspective is to select new categories that match your brand mission statement and values.
Ultimately, the strategy you are using is to launch a new product underneath your established brand name in a new product category.
Although starting a new product seems like a daunting task, it is a viable strategy for brands of all sizes.
It is a viable strategy because you can ride the strength of your pre-existing brand, including all of the social proof and value that comes with it.
Even though the new product will be unfamiliar in the marketplace, the goodwill you have built up will create a greater likelihood of market penetration in the new category.
This success will help you reach a new audience and increase your overall brand strength.
Type #2: Line Extension
The second type of brand strategy we will explore is line extension.
In the brand extension strategy, you expand your brand’s presence in a new product category. The line extension strategy does something similar by increasing your reach inside your existing product category.
A great example of this takes place in the creation of new cell phone products. When a company like Apple creates a phone with a larger screen to appeal to a larger segment of customers, they use the line extension strategy.
When you use this strategy, it can help to win over customers who are choosing your competitors because they are looking for a product with specific features.
Instead of losing these customers, line extension can be a profitable way to increase your brand’s strength .
Ready to get started with translating your brand strategy ideas into an interactive presentation for your team? Use the digital branding and promotion template to get organizational buy-in!
Type #3: Derived Branding
The third brand strategy we will explore is the derived branding strategy.
While the first two strategies have covered how to expand your brand as a strategy of improvement, this strategy is about breaking things down.
Your product or service will likely include some key components that come together to deliver value for your customers. The derived branding strategy is when you isolate a particular feature and give it a separate branded identity.
An example of this is the consumer electronic company Intel. Their chips are in many PC products. Instead of branding Intel computers as a standalone entity, Dell chooses to give a component of the PC its own brand identity.
Type #4: Individual Branding
The fourth type of brand strategy we will explore is individual branding.
This strategy involves emphasizing personal characteristics, values and accomplishments that executives or team members have that highlight your brand’s mission.
It's beneficial for executives and leadership to use their platforms to amplify brand values. Plus, it's easier for people to connect with people.
Now that we have reviewed the four types of brand strategy you can use, we will discuss some essentials for creating a winning brand strategy.
Essential #1: Employee Buy-In
The first essential that is crucial for you to dial in with your branding strategy is employee buy-in. Having an authentic approach to branding is the most sustainable way to create an effective employee buy-in strategy.
One way to create more authenticity in your branding is to link your forward facing company culture with your outward facing brand voice.
The most critical step in reinforcing this link is clearly articulating the promises you make to customers and your company’s underlying values.
This clarity is a great way to make sure your employees feel aligned with your brand. If they resonate with your company’s values and mission statement, and you articulate the branding strategy’s importance, you are sure to be on the same page.
Whether you are already clear on your company values or need to do some work articulating them for your branding strategy, you can ask the following questions.
- Who is your ideal customer?
- How do you create value for them?
- What is your vision?
- What are your values?
- What does your company hope to be in the world?
Essential #2: Consistency
The second essential for winning brand strategy is brand consistency. Brand consistency is the regular delivery of content that aligns with your values and brand strategy over time.
This consistency means that your audience can expect exposure to your key messages and core offerings regularly. Brand consistency means you always deliver core messages with consistent visual branding and other regular brand elements.
Easy ways to achieve brand consistency include creating a brand style guide and ensuring you deliver messages in a similar tone across time.
When you achieve brand consistency, your customers will start to recognize your messages and build positive associations.
Essential #3: Lean into Emotional Benefits
Emotional branding is the process of creating a relationship between an audience and a brand by provoking their emotions. We can achieve this by creating a brand that appeals to your ideal customer’s emotional state and aspirations.
The work of Marc Gobé is a good reference point for emotional branding.
He created the emotional branding concept and detailed it in his book The New Paradigm for Connecting Brands to People .
The philosophy is based on the observation that connections occur on an emotional level in relationships between brands and people.
Emotional branding is powerful. It focuses on the audience and gives them the chance to control what type of content or product they get. They’re in charge. Wondering how to implement this in your brand?
You can see a great example from this company that offers simple meal planning . It allows the customer to customize a meal plan to their taste. They can include/exclude ingredients and choose a portion size that will suit the family, creating a deeper connection with their customer.
Essential #4: Take a Flexible Long-Term Approach
Getting the most out of your branding strategy means taking a long-term approach.
Do not be afraid of making efforts now that may take a while to materialize. Branding is a long-term investment that will pay dividends if you continue to improve.
There is an important balance to strike between long-term planning and short-term flexibility. It's crucial to leave space in your branding strategy to adjust to real world feedback as it arrives.
Now that we have reviewed some of the essentials, we can shift to some concrete tips. We will now move on to eight practical steps you can take to develop your brand strategy.
Step #1: Establish Your Core Values
The first step to build your brand strategy is to establish your core values. Core values are the beliefs you have about your brand that inform your actions.
Use this template to jot down the values that matter most to your brand.
These core values are why your company exists and are related to the specific problems you hope to solve for your customers.
Often, the company’s founding forged these values, and they are unlikely to shift much as your company grows. They are a foundational anchor of your brand strategy.
Step #2: Create a Strategic Positioning Statement
The next step to creating a brand strategy is to make a positioning statement. The positioning statement is a description of your product as well as your target market.
Its purpose is to show exactly how your product serves a particular need in a target market.
Here's an editable template you can use to craft your brand positioning statement and visualize its various elements.
You can use a positioning statement as a tool to make sure your marketing efforts are on the same page as your brand strategy.
You can also use the positioning statement to communicate your value proposition to your ideal customers by featuring your brand’s core characteristics.
Before crafting your positioning statement, you have to find clarity on the following aspects of your brand.
- Who do you serve?
- What do you offer them?
- How do you offer it to them?
- How does this compare to current offers?
Step #3: Understand Your Ideal Customer Profile
The third step to build a winning brand strategy is to understand your ideal customer profile.
An ideal customer profile is a description of the type of customer that would gain a lot of value from your product or service.
They are the easiest to sell, have the highest retention rates and love to refer others to your product.
In short, the ideal customer profile is a description of future customers that have the characteristics of your most important success stories.
Here's a buyer persona template you can customize to visualize and organize details about your ideal target market.
After you develop a thorough ICP, it will help you clarify the value you create for your customers. This will help you layout your branding strategy that is like a beacon for new customers and revenue.
Step #4: Craft a Brand Promise
The fourth step in building a winning brand strategy is to craft a brand promise. A compelling brand promise combines the brevity of a tagline with your unique selling proposition.
The more any brand delivers on the promises they make, the more effective their brand strategy becomes. Conversely, if you can not match your expectations, the brand strategy is failing.
This risk of not matching the brand promise is why it is vital to create a valuable brand promise that is both exciting and realistic.
At Visme, we help you design and share beautiful on-brand presentations, infographics and other visual communications . This statement is a brand promise.
It is an experience you can expect to receive when you interact with our design tools.
Step #5: Have a Visual Identity
The next step, when it comes to brand strategy, is to have a visual identity .
Now that we have explored various ways to find clarity on how you create value for your customers, we need to translate that into your customer facing communications.
Visual identity is the overarching description of the images and visible elements of your brand. The visual identity includes everything from your website to your business cards and social media accounts.
Use this template to define your visual identity elements, such as logo variations, brand color palette and brand typography.
The images you chose are a crucial form of communication when making an impression on your audience .
Your overarching visual identity will impact your ideal customers on an emotional level. Because of this impact, visual identity is an essential tool for building an effective brand strategy.
Conversely, if things go awry on this step, visual identity can become an obstacle to further growth.
A short description of the visual identity includes all of the imagery that expresses who your brand is and why you are different from everyone else.
A vital step in developing a brand strategy is to create and or review your brand style guide. A brand style guide will give you, and everyone on your team, instructions on creating a consistent visual identity.
Step #6: Review Crucial Customer Touchpoints
The sixth step in creating a brand strategy is to review crucial customer touchpoints.
Reviewing these touchpoints will help assure that your brand strategy is consistent in the most significant locations where people discover your brand.
A brand touchpoint is a point of contact between your audience and your brand. It includes things like your email newsletter, social media profiles and website.
Here's a template to help you visualize your customer touchpoints.
When you create a winning brand strategy, discovering the most crucial, revenue-generating touchpoints is a good step.
Understanding where your branding efforts make the most impact will help you prioritize any tweaks that can significantly impact your results.
Step #7: Get Clear On Your Brand’s Voice
The next step to building a winning brand strategy is to find clarity on your brand's voice . Defined simply, a brand voice is the standard way you communicate with your audience.
Here's a template you can customize to pinpoint your brand voice.
The ingredients of a brand voice are reasonably straightforward.
First, you must address the brand voice toward your ideal customer. Second, the brand voice should stay true to the brand values you described earlier in the brand strategy process.
If you include those two ingredients, an authentic style will emerge. For some brands, the voice takes a more authoritative tone. Additionally, for others, a more playful voice feels more authentic.
Step #8: Build a Regular Brand Audit
The final step for developing a winning brand strategy is to schedule a regular brand audit.
A brand audit is a thorough review that describes how your brand strategy performs compared to the goals we articulated during the brand strategy creation.
You should schedule these audits quarterly. Block out 1-2 hours to review your visual identity. Ask yourself these open ended questions.
- How well is our visual identity representing our core values?
- What tweaks or improvements can we make to improve our brand strategy?
- Are the critical customer touchpoints speaking to the ideal customer most effectively?
- What small experiments can we make with our brand voice to more accurately reflect our mission?
You can also take advantage of our brand audit template below.
There are many benefits to schedule a regular tempo of brand audits. First, you establish standard performance benchmarks. Additionally, you create a routine of incrementally improving your brand strategy.
Now that we’ve explored the best strategies to create a brand strategy, we will share how to use Visme templates to enhance your efforts.
However, if you’re not entirely sure how Visme can help, please check out our short video on tips for marketing plans like your branding strategy.
Ready to translate your branding ideas into a dynamic brand strategy document? Customize this winning brand strategy template and get started right away.
Ready To Start Developing Your Brand Strategy?
A winning brand strategy will help you reach your goals. While integrating the theoretical knowledge is a good start, using Visme to incorporate professional design into your brand strategy is the next step.
With Visme, you get an all-in-one tool to create, share and manage your brand assets, content marketing visuals, presentations, reports and more.
When you are ready to take your design to the next level, get started with a free Visme account and take it for a test drive for as long as you want.
Now that you are ready to use Visme to help develop your brand voice, I would like to address the eight most common frequently asked questions about the process.
Q1. What is a brand strategy in marketing?
The definition of brand strategy is a long term and organization wide initiative for your brand to achieve concrete, measurable goals. Designing strategies to work across the entire organization is a mark of winning brand strategy.
Brand strategy helps you improve customer experiences, increase revenue and become more competitive in the marketplace.
Q2. How much does brand strategy cost?
Creating involves understanding the essence of your company. Additionally, it consists of understanding how your product fits within that mission and the marketplace.
Understanding these types of questions takes investments in your time and energy as a leader or employee in the company. It will be a variable cost depending on the value of your time.
Alternatively, you can hire a designing agency. Check out this helpful guide from TechCrunch on the varying costs of startup branding.
However, suppose you want to try branding on your own.
In that case, you can pick up the following two book suggestions designers commonly recommend: The Battle for Your Mind by Al Ries and Jack Trout and Designing Brand Identity by Alina Wheeler.
You can also use Visme to get professional design without needing high professional design costs.
Q3. How to build an employer brand strategy?
The best way to build a strong employer brand strategy is to understand your organization’s needs.
When you understand your business’s short and long term needs, you can craft an effective strategy. Understanding your needs will help you find clarity on everything you want to accomplish.
This clarity will help you align your goals with existing skill sets in the labor market.
When you do this, you can craft an employer strategy to attract the skills that will move your company forward.
To gain even more clarity on this issue, you can ask questions like:
- What objectives will the business pursue over the next 12-36 months?
- What new products and services are in the pipeline?
- What talent gaps exist that could prevent us from meeting our obligations?
Q4. How to create a brand strategy roadmap?
Creating a brand strategy roadmap is an important step to take when developing a winning brand strategy.
There are four elements that you should include in your brand strategy road map. These include vision, brand purpose, values and goals.
The vision component in the brand strategy roadmap will discuss the direction your brand is traveling. It defines an ideal outcome your brand is hoping to create in the world.
The purpose component asks the question, why is this vision important? What is the motivation underneath your ideal outcome? What makes it essential to the world?
Next, the value section helps you define what your brand stands for. What are your standards for operating as a company? How does this shape your strategy?
The goals section is where you get more concrete with your brand strategy roadmap.
What exactly do you hope to achieve? Make sure to include the specific metrics that track your results.
Q5. What does a brand strategy look like?
A great metaphor to help guide your brand strategy is to look at brand strategy like storytelling.
Our favorite stories transcend their medium. They are more than books, shows or movies. They are a lived emotional experience.
Stories achieve this experience with a simple structure. They have a beginning, a middle and an end. Additionally, they always have some kind of transformation or change involved.
When you build your brand strategy, make sure it communicates how your product or service creates a change in the world. Include language about where the customer starts, what it is like using your product and where they end up.
A good story is not just something to read on a page — it’s an experience. And for something to be an experience, it needs to have a beginning, a middle and an end. At the end of the story, there must be some kind of change from the start.
Q6. What does a director of brand strategy do?
A director of brand strategy is typically responsible for managing various brand strategy projects for multiple clients. Often, they collaborate with marketing and design teams to meet organizational goals to increase brand awareness within the market.
Q7. What is a brand strategy document?
A brand strategy document can include several different brand strategy templates that your team will use to improve their work. It may include details on your value proposition, brand narrative, customer personas and positioning statements.
Q8. Why is brand strategy important?
Brand strategy is important because it helps you cultivate a strong presence in the market. It gives you a definition that your customers will recognize.
Additionally, it gives you concrete benchmarks to track your progress. Without a brand strategy, you will find yourself unable to judge your branding efforts’ progress accurately.
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About the Author
Brian Nuckols is a writer working in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He enjoys communicating visionary ideas in clear, action oriented language. When he’s not working on content for a transformative company you can find him analyzing dreams, creating music, and writing poetry.
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Business strategy, brand strategy & marketing strategy - how do they intersect?
At BrandMatters, when asked how we work, we often explain that we operate at the intersection of business, brand and marketing. Each of these areas is a critical function that requires an individual, well thought-out strategy. But what roles do business strategy, brand strategy and marketing strategy each play? And how do they interrelate? In this blog post, we explore the relationship between them.
A business or organisational strategy details a firm’s vision, mission and long-term objectives. The organisational objectives form the heart of the strategy. However, a complete strategy also prioritises those objectives and describes specifically how the firm plans to achieve them - while competing successfully in the market and optimising financial performance. The strategy should also cover the resources that will be needed to deliver it.
Business strategy considers many things, including market structure and competitors, entry and exit barriers, market segmentation, market trends, organisational scale, spread and structure, organisational agility, organisational culture, product/service portfolio, branding and differentiation, IP, business model, distribution channels, supply and demand, sources of revenue, cost structure, cash flow, technology, strategic partnerships and the keys to success.
The strategies proposed should reflect the organisation’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, as well as its competitors and the market.
The brand strategy and brand exists to enable, express and bring to life the business strategy. Therefore, branding is the expression of the essence of an organisation, product, or service - its reason for being. Branding communicates the characteristics, values and attributes that the organisation or product stands for, how it is positioned differently to competitors, and why a customer would buy it.
A brand strategy clearly outlines a brand's unique characteristics, values and attributes. It is comprised of the brand positioning - the unique, relevant, credible and sustainable position in the market that it owns - along with the brand story, values, personality and brand tone of voice . It should also include the employee value proposition (EVP), which is closely linked to your brand. If there are multiple brands, it may include a brand architecture framework and brand portfolio strategy. And if there are multiple brand audiences, the brand strategy may also include customer value propositions (CVPs).
Once an organisation has signed off its brand strategy , it will need to create a marketing strategy and a marketing plan. Marketing strategy is shaped both by business strategy and brand strategy.
Whereas branding is strategic, marketing is more tactical. Marketing is actively promoting and selling a product or service. It's about putting the right product/service in the right place, at the right price, at the right time. It unearths and activates buyers. Marketing is a push tactic. All marketing initiatives and campaigns should reinforce and support the brand essence.
A marketing strategy typically answers the following questions for a product or service:
- Who are its customers?
- Who are its competitors?
- What makes it stand out in the market?
- Which market trends can be taken advantage of?
- What are its strengths and weaknesses and what are the opportunities and threats?
- What initiatives and programs can be used to promote it and take advantage of its strengths and the available opportunities, mitigate its weaknesses and minimise the threats?
The intersection of business, brand and marketing
As you can see, there are several points of intersection between business strategy, brand strategy and marketing strategy. Here are a few examples:
- Mission, vision and values are closely related to brand positioning.
- Organisational culture also aligns strongly to brand.
- The competitive environment, market structure, market segments and target customers are fundamentally important to all of these strategies.
- Competitive strategy links business strategy to brand strategy.
- Business model strategy, brand strategy and marketing strategy must all consider pricing strategy.
- All three strategies must consider market trends to be viable in the long run.
- Branding precedes and underlies marketing efforts. It's a pull tactic - brand creates customers predisposed to buying a product or service and supports marketing.
- All marketing initiatives and campaigns should reinforce and support the brand positioning.
How do we ensure these three strategies integrate and align?
To create effective integration between business, brand and marketing strategy, consider:
- The sequencing of these strategic plans. Business strategy comes first, closely followed by brand strategy, and then marketing strategy.
Business strategy → brand strategy → marketing strategy and plan
- Brand can be used to rally an organisation around its high-level strategies, so it can be helpful for brand positioning and strategy work to closely follow the creation of the business strategy.
- Brand strategy should be created at a senior level within the organisation, so that it is created by those who understand the business, business model and competitive strategy and the rationale behind them very well.
- Ensure the marketing team has the following qualities: strategic thinking, creativity, analytical ability and strong program management/execution discipline. These qualities are all important for creating a marketing strategy that links to business and brand strategy, for implementing marketing strategy, and for ongoing brand management.
At BrandMatters we consider these connection points and associated conundrums as part of our daily fare. If you’d like a point of view on how to resolve or reconcile any of the above we’d love to hear from you - please contact us .
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