How to Create an Effective Brand Strategy
A common misconception of branding is that your brand is simply your name, logo, company, product, website, CEO, or even your visuals and tone. However, your brand is not any one of these but a combination of all of these. It is, in fact, the intangible and emotional connection your consumers feel when considering your company or product. It is what separates you from all of your competitors in the market and what changes your product's 'purchasers' into 'advocates' that will not only purchase from you but reel in other consumers for you as well.
In the following article, we create a comprehensive Brand Strategy guide on how you can effectively build your brand, increase your company's sales, convert your target consumers into 'advocates', and drive growth for your company in the coming years.
What Is Brand Strategy
A Brand Strategy may encompass many things, but put simply, it is the process of creating a growth-driving, distinct "personality" for your brand that is memorable and identifiable, communicates why you do what you do and, most of all, relays what value you want to bring to your consumers at all your touchpoints.
Traditionally, companies tend to focus on promoting their products and their key benefits, not on advocating their company, tying purchase motivations primarily to what consumers individually experience with the product or service. However, in the current age of social media, the game of marketing has changed from a one-sided monologue from brands to a round-table discussion with companies and consumers alike. It is no longer about an individual consumer's experience with the product, but what everyone's collective experience with the product is as relayed through user reviews, comments, likes, forums, and more.
With that, what consumers say to each other is more important than what brands say to each other. In this time and age, what a brand advocates for and how it builds and maintains its relationship with its consumers triumphs over the promotion of its individual products. In other words, the key to a company's success from here on is the conversion of its consumers from 'product purchasers’ to 'long-term users and advocates' of the brand. With a properly created brand strategy, you should be able to emotionally connect your brand to your consumers and build a relationship that puts your company in your product category.
How A Proper Brand Strategy Can Change Your Company
- Brands with strong reputations offer 31% higher shareholder returns
- Strong brands have more engaged employees who can help their company grow profits 3x faster than competitors.
- In the B2B industry, the top 10 brands with the best customer connections had a 31% greater revenue growth over three years compared to the ten lowest brands.
- 64% of consumers cite shared values as the primary reason they have a relationship with a brand.
- 50% of people follow one to four brands on social media, 26% follow five to nine brands, 22% support ten or more brands, and 3% follow no brands.
On top of that, experience has shown time and time again that effective brand strategies unite companies, boost morale, improve reputations, drive growth, and position companies to ride upward trends for long-term success.
How To Create a Brand Strategy
Throughout our years of creating brand strategies for a multitude of clients, we have devised the following systematic process to create a brand strategy that resonates most effectively with each client's respective target audience:
- Define your Business and Marketing Objectives as these objectives inform the goals your brand strategy is aiming to achieve and how it will achieve them.
- Conduct Desktop Research into ongoing market trends to understand what upward trends you can ride to position your brand for success in the long run.
- Conduct Competitor Research to understand how your competitors are positioned and what niche they own, so you may, in turn, determine if you want to compete directly or find an area of uncontested market space.
- Conduct Consumer Research
- There are a myriad of ways to better understand your target consumers, especially with the amount of data collected through social media. Using tools such as Facebook Analytics and ethnographic research, you can easily delve deeper into the needs, wants, and desires of your target consumers to inform your brand strategy.
- Conduct a Brand Audit of your company to understand your internal vision, strengths, employee motivations, and the values and promises you will be able to uphold credibly.
- Extract Insights and make sense of all the information you have gathered and how you will weigh each factor in your brand strategy.
- Creatively Conceptualize your brand strategy and condense your brand position into a brand positioning statement with some preliminary visuals and text for further validation.
- Use Perceptual Mapping, a powerful tool recommended by the Harvard Business Review, to connect your brand positioning with your business outcomes, such as sales and price, and compare them to your competitors to understand where you stand in the market.
- Test, Test, and Test your brand strategy images, visuals, and concepts because there is no better way to know what your audience wants than to directly hear it from them.
- Devise Marketing Tactics that best suit your company and product to create a strategic plan and timeline that can be realistically implemented.
- Integrate your brand strategy into all of your visuals, texts, and consumer-facing touchpoints to ensure a high standard of quality and consistency. A brand book is commonly created to advise and guide all your current and future visuals, texts, and marketing activities.
- Launch your websites, social media profiles, and marketing campaigns to start building relationships with your consumers.
- Analyze your marketing campaigns using tools, such as Google Analytics, Hubspot, or SimilarWeb, and extract insights on where your campaigns are succeeding and where you may need further revisions.
- Improve your brand strategy according to insights from your analytics and maintain an agile and flexible mindset to change the market accordingly.
Using the above process, your company will be able to effectively create a brand strategy that serves as the foundation and core of your marketing plan aimed at maximal growth.
Components of Brand Strategy
With a complete brand strategy, you may integrate your idea into the texts and visuals of all of your touchpoints. Here are essentially the numerous branding components that may appear on your website, social media, and marketing collaterals, etching your brand into the minds of your consumers with every interaction:
Brand Positioning Statement
A statement describing your brand's created identity, its offered emotional and practical value, and the niche your brand will own in relation to your competitors in the market.
Often displayed on the "About Us" section of your company website, this short paragraph or sentence defines your company's business objectives and goals.
Often displayed alongside your mission, this is also a short paragraph or statement that describes your company's desired future position and how you aim to achieve that.
A brief story that describes your founder's background story, how your company came to be and how it evolved into the company it is today.
This is a short statement that defines how your brand delivers specific benefits and why consumers should choose your brand.
This is a series of short adjectives woven throughout your text that describe the image and personality of your brand and the key emotional benefits consumers can derive from your product.
Key Selling Points
These are a couple of bullet points describing your company's key offerings, benefits, advantages, and emotive values for the consumer.
Unique Selling Point
One sentence iterating the unique benefit your company or product exhibits that allows you to excel over your competitors.
Reason to Believe
A "why we do what we do" statement explaining why your consumers should believe the claims of your brand positioning statement, including your company's points of credibility and foundational values.
This is a selection of three to six colours that will be woven throughout your visuals to give it a uniform look and feel.
This is a description of the stylistic choices that will guide future images used for all consumer-facing collaterals. For example, will images be representational photos, abstract photography, or colourful graphic design.
If your brand were a person, how would they speak? Determining the tone of your brand further personifies your brand into a fun, quirky, luxurious, serious, or aspirational brand.
This collection of text is a series of 10-30 phrases that can be woven throughout your text to reinforce a uniform feeling for your brand. For example, "with our customers at our centre", "to inspire joy in your everyday life", or "with our vertically integrated system” are all sentences that can be included in a word palette.
With the above components laid out, usually in the form of a brand book, you ensure that your entire company is united and clear in the image you want to portray, and consumers will effectively and subconsciously build a consistent image of your brand every time your paths cross.
Evaluating a good brand strategy
After your brand strategy process if completed and launched, you may use the following questions to evaluate whether your brand strategy is strong and set up for long term success or whether more improvements can be made:
- Is your brand positioning statement clear and easy to understand?
- Is everyone in your company clear on the purpose and aim for your brand?
- Can everyone in your company iterate the value your brand is bringing to your consumers?
- Is your brand strategy in line with your business and marketing objectives?
- Does your brand inspire and motivate your employees, as well as your consumers?
- Is your brand in line with ongoing market trends and set up for long-term success?
- Will your brand enable growth?
- Does your brand align with your target audience?
- Can your company uphold the promises and claims made in your consumer-facing texts?
- Is your brand distinctive and memorable amongst your competitors?
- Are your visuals instantly recognizable and consistent throughout all your consumer-facing touchpoints?
- Is your voice distinct and consistent throughout your entire consumer-facing touchpoints?
- Can someone who just joined the company reproduce branded visuals and text based on the brand book or guideline your brand created?
- Are you moving beyond your product's features and benefits to the emotional benefits your brand offers?
- Are people talking about and advocating your brand?
With the above evaluating criteria, you will be able to better assess your brand strategy. If you are able to answer yes to all the above questions, your brand should see growth in sales with ensuing marketing campaigns!
The digitally-savvy modern consumer now expects much more than just a functional product, they expect great story-telling, an inspiring purpose, strong values, quality visuals, a personable image, and more engagement with your brand than ever before. With this, a comprehensive, carefully thought out brand strategy will be the foundation to ensure success and guide all your future marketing activities in growing your company.
What did you think about this? We would love to hear your feedback! Please drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to learn more, please also see our other articles on branding and how we have helped our clients effectively grow their brand.