Every successful brand has one thing in common: a strong brand strategy. Whether your aim is to become the next big name and disrupt the market or to grow and find success, the right brand strategy can set you up for success.
A brand strategy, or a brand development strategy, is your brand’s long-term and holistic guide to achieve market penetration and help in identification and brand recognition. Backed with market research, a good brand strategy can help you find your sweet spot in a competitive industry. As a former brand marketing professional for unicorn startups and such, I often see brand marketing professionals confuse a brand strategy with its creative elements.
What I mean is, a brand strategy isn’t your logo, color palette, or brand guide. These creative elements are a part of your brand strategy and can help you implement it across all communications.
However, your brand strategy is the comprehensive plan that helps you find what your brand positioning will be like, how to achieve brand awareness, and what’s your brand equity.
Still confused🤔? Read on to find the essential components that inform a brand strategy, and find the steps to create a robust brand strategy that lets you bring your A-game on!
Essential Components of a Brand Strategy
Your brand strategy is a comprehensive plan to improve return-on-investment (ROI), keep your brand engaging and refreshing to customers, while increasing qualified leads and conversions. In fact, a brand strategy will go on to reflect your brand persona later. Here are the essential components of a brand strategy:
A brand strategy needs to incorporate the roadmap of your brand’s business goals in the long-run. That’s why your brand strategy can’t do without a brand vision. In fact, a realistic brand vision can help influence business decisions and achieve marketing goals.
A clear brand vision provides a unified direction to implement the brand strategy. In fact, a brand vision is a core component of the brand strategy that keeps stakeholders motivated, fosters consistency in purpose and execution, and helps differentiate the brand from its competitors.
We make buying decisions based on emotion. Most of our needs and willingness to pay are guided by what we want, rather than we need. Hence, if you want to position yourself as a successful brand, it’s important to ensure emotion is a core element of your brand strategy.
It’ll give you a unique brand voice to connect with customers and make a deeper impact than just a commercial relationship. Brands that form connections with customers and make emotions memorable can influence decision-making positively. Adding emotion to your brand strategy also allows customers to trust you and find a sense of loyalty to what you stand for.
If you’re a new brand, and you want to position yourself as a memorable brand, consistency is key to your brand strategy. Brand recognition depends on consistency. You can’t have a too serious social media post one day, and a scandalous one the next day. Your customers will be confused, and won’t find a way to relate with your brand.
Hence, ensure all your brand communications are cohesive. Most new brands make the mistake of trying to target everyone. However, once you find your target audience and create buyer personas, I recommend you stick to your target audience, do A/B testing (in measure) to see what they’re receptive to.
Have some amount of flexibility in your brand strategy, but don’t oscillate between extremes for brand success.
How to Build a Brand Strategy
Building a brand strategy might be overwhelming if you don’t take stock of these 10 easy steps:
#1. Discover Your Brand’s Purpose
The first step towards building your brand strategy is figuring out your brand purpose. What does your brand stand for? If you don’t know where to start, start by figuring out: What’s your overall business strategy? Then, begin to have your business strategy from your brand strategy.
Your business strategy will have two parts:
Functional: How do you make money? Or, bring in profits?
Intentional: What gap are you looking to fill in the market? Or, what problems are you solving?
However, how can the overall business strategy determine your business strategy? You can take your business’s core mission and see how you can help your target audience. Suppose, an airline company’s brand purpose might be to make travel to all destinations easier and more comfortable.
Now, you might position your brand in two ways: if your airline company is focused on being affordable, your brand purpose will be offering economical rides or discounts. Whereas, if your airline company is focused on providing luxury, your brand purpose might have everything to do with glam, and a high-end experience.
#2. Define Your Target Audience
You won’t make profits unless you sell your products or services. And, you won’t sell unless you understand your target audience and use customer segmentation.
What are their pain points?
What are their long-term goals?
Plus, what are their needs you can serve?
You also need to define your target audience to understand how much should your product or service be priced at. You can also create a digital marketing strategy that helps reach more of your target audience once you know the platform they use. Should you take advantage of push notifications, WhatsApp messages, or Meta ads to target audiences? You can answer similar questions and define them in your brand strategy, going forward.
#3. Do Market Research
When you’re trying to get your brand strategy right, you need to know the industry landscape. Who are your competitors? Who are the target audiences of your competitors? What’s the average price of competitor products? Which markets are they selling in?
Answering these questions will help you find a space in the market. If you do your market and competitor research well, you’ll also be able to spot a market gap. In fact, doing competitor research can also help understand customer expectations.
You can take advantage of their campaigns to see what has worked with your target audience, and steer clear from the ones that haven’t.
#4. Determine Your USP
As a brand, your brand strategy is incomplete until the moment you have come up with a unique selling proposition (USP). You can do a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis to identify your brand’s strength and weakness, and external opportunities and threats.
Combined with market research, a SWOT analysis can help figure the unique brand value your product has. Your USP can be a unique product, a cheap selling point, a durable product/service, a time guarantee, a result, or something else.
Solve a big problem your customer’s facing
Or, offer a similar product or service at a competitive advantage (lower pricing, more features)
Remember that the moment you announce your USP, your competitors will try to copy the same or devalue your USP. Hence, invest time and effort to preserve your USP and keep its value proposition intact.
#5. Design Your Brand Identity
Designing your brand identity early on can be a big plus for brands and businesses looking to set up a brand strategy. In fact, every brand needs to develop a basic brand identity, which has three essential components:
Your brand identity should be scalable for future ventures and easy to apply in present situations. Moreover, having a brand identity will ensure all your communication messages are tied up in a cohesive theme.
When you choose colors, take psychology into account. As a brand marketing professional, I can confirm color psychology in marketing can really give you an added advantage and help your brand stand out. Food brands like KFC and McDonald’s use colors like red to make customers feel energized and more prone to drive action.
#6. Develop a Brand Voice
Everyone, at some point in their lives, has heard of the quote: Sometimes, it’s not what you say, but how you say it. That’s where the importance of a brand voice comes in. In fact, your brand voice can serve as the official guide to how to say what’s there to say.
Your brand voice ensures you’re just not like every other company trying to make a noise on the internet. It lets you stand out, have your identity in communications, and ensure the same is reflected across all your messaging communications.
You can take a look at your best-performing content to see what your audience likes or expects from your brand. Do they like a more formal brand voice? Or, a fun one? You can also have a mix of both.
Ensure your brand voice isn’t unfriendly or pretentious. Don’t take the too serious approach, either. Find a balance, and you should be good. In fact, as a brand marketing professional, I’ll recommend having a, ‘dos and don’ts’ list for your brand voice.
You can add exceptions, rules, and general guidelines on how to use your brand voice in different settings to improve ROI, customer retention, and engagement.
#7. Create a Brand Style Guide
Once you have figured out what your visual identity and brand voice will be like, you can create a style guide to include typography, color palette, and a brand logo.
The need for a brand style guide is important for scalability, and ensuring these elements are used across all touchpoints like websites, social media, and marketing campaigns.
Your brand guide should also include essential instructions on brand tone, brand voice, and the types of fonts you use. Have a set of colors that could work well for your brand. Moreover, you can also pick image styles and have a few templates to go on social and be a part of marketing campaigns as and when required.
You can also lay down rules on copywriting, including tone and writing styles. In fact, you can also decide how to work with illustrations, icons, images, and have a reservoir to use for campaigns and social media strategies. Here’s the checklist you need to own:
Paid ad templates
Social media image options
Social media layout options
Guidance on usage of brand identity (tone, typography, and color palette)
And once you have all those materials ready, you’ll need good content and social media tools so that you can make the best of your resources.
#8. Decide Brand Touchpoints
When you’re creating a brand strategy, it’s essential to decide the touchpoints your brand is going to have. Now, you might wonder why brand touchpoints or channels are important to your brand strategy?
Well, in the age where digital marketing is everything, it only makes sense to incorporate the two, so that your brand strategy can be based on the channels you’ll be using for communicating with your audience.
However, how to decide brand touchpoints and channels?
Choose channels based on where your target audience functions
Do some A/B testing and find out where your audience engages with your brand the most
Do you have a high open rate for newsletters? Or, do you have a high CTR for push notifications? In that case, you could check the different ways to push for better audience targeting.
You can also see where your audience performs the best, whether that’s Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, or TikTok. You can use multiple channels simultaneously to target different buyers in separate journeys.
Why I Feel Businesses Should Invest in Branding
Most brands make the mistake of making their brand strategy all about their brand. My years in brand marketing have taught me that a brand strategy should not only revolve around your brand values and mission. But also, take an audience-focused approach to be successful. And that is why branding needs to be consistent, resonate with your audience as well as authentic to your brand.
You can use market segmentation and audience targeting to create a brand strategy that revolves around customers and their needs. Market segmentation lets you know which audiences to target, who are your potential customers, and what pain points can be solved for your ideal target audience. Once you start focusing all your business actions (selling tactics and marketing campaigns) on this target group, you start targeting more conversions, leads, and sales.
Your brand strategy shouldn’t last forever. A good brand strategy works for the phase your business is in. Once you have achieved your goals, you should create a new brand strategy for the next phase of business, like sponsoring popular sites for instance.
Initially, a new brand’s goals include brand awareness. Hence, your brand strategy should prioritize that. However, once you have achieved brand awareness, your next goal is to increase conversions and leads. Once that has also been achieved, your brand strategy should focus on building loyal customers, focusing on customer retention, and developing brand equity. Hence, keep repositioning your brand strategy and ensure it’s aligned with the business goals at every point of time.