What is brand strategy? Why having a good one is good business.
Reach your goals for less money, less time, and less guesswork.
Strategy is a series of steps to get from point A to point B—a roadmap before going on a new journey to follow the most effective route to your destination. Simply put, brand strategy is a plan to position your brand and take it from where it is to where you want it to be.
What is that destination?
That place is where you meet your ideal customers, and they get to know you.
Brand strategy is the bridge that connects your brand to your ideal customers in a meaningful way. For some companies, that connection means increasing their social media following and conversion. Others want a larger share of the market, higher conversion rates on their marketing campaigns, etc. The examples are endless.
What do customers have to do with your brand?
There are two essential parts to the equation. The first is your business, understanding who you are, why you do what you do, mission, vision, core values, etc.
The second part is your audience. Who these people are, what they care about, their personal stories, values, drivers, etc.
Companies don't create brands. They create branded touchpoints like a logo, a product, or a new marketing campaign. But brands can only craft the messages, it's not communication unless someone is listening on the other end. When customers experience the products or services of a company, an impression of the experience forms in their minds. That is the brand. So without customers, there is no brand.
Why do companies need a plan for their brands?
The chances of your product or service being the only solution to a customer's problem are slim at best. Businesses need to differentiate themselves from the competition. They need to get their costumer's attention and tell them how their brand is relevant in their lives. They do so by defining their unique positioning and marketing themselves to communicate it. The right brands will connect with the right consumers.
Everything a brand does or says sends a message. From obvious things like marketing, a logo, website, blog article or color palette, to less obvious ones like an image treatment, business location, packaging design, etc.
You must be in control of the messages your company is putting out in the world if you want to get the positioning you want. Reaching the positioning you want is easier when all your elements have a common foundation. When they belong together and support each other, because they are all different facets of the same essence.
How do you know if you need a brand strategy?
Every brand can benefit from having one. But there are some signs that can tell you if a brand strategy can help you overcome the challenges you are facing.
• When you know you have a great product or service that solves an obvious problem for your target customer, but they're not buying from you. Instead, they go to your competition and settle for a less ideal solution.
• If the identified problem remains in your potential customers' lives but they keep talking about it.
• When you know all the important ingredients (the problem, your solution, and the customer) are in the mix, but they are not connected.
• Some of your initiatives work really well and some underperform, and it's hard to pinpoint what is driving the customers' behavior.
Can you scale your brand without a brand strategy in place?
You certainly can, but it will be more difficult and expensive. Finding a sweet spot will take a lot of trial and error.
Trying to create awareness and positioning your brand without strategy is like baking the ingredients of an apple pie by themselves first, and then hoping it looks and tastes like a pie. A few things may taste ok, but the majority will go to waste. And while everything will be edible, some of it won't taste good. It will create the opposite of a good experience and impression.
Is there a time when developing a brand strategy works best?
Yeah. It is more impactful when the problems you need to solve are obvious. These typically arise when companies have already operated for some time and their products have been used in the wild. For startups, the best time is after launching an MVP and doing meaningful user testing. The trick is to have a clear target to hit, otherwise it's just guessing.
What is the outcome?
The tangible outcome is an easy-to-use guide for your team and vendors to understand and use your brand assets. A North Star that always points you in the right direction to implement your brand and reach your ideal customers through a consistent brand presence. Across all touchpoints.
Get a better aim on the use of your resources, so you get a higher ROI.
How is success of a brand strategy measured?
One size doesn't fit all. While doing this work impacts all touchpoints, it responds to a specific challenge a company is facing. Those challenges are usually symptoms of a deeper problem. The process addresses the origin of the problem and stops the symptoms. It gives businesses a precise positioning to work towards. So they can start creating marketing strategies, content campaigns, and other products with a clear goal.