By Ester Solsona, on 8 September 2021
The brand you design as part of your overall marketing plan has the power to make or break your business. It is the public face of your business, and the identity you create has a direct impact on your reputation. Without a clear and unified brand strategy, everything from your content to your culture and core business can suffer.
If you have yet to incorporate a clear brand strategy in your business, then you might be wondering what brand strategy is and why it's so important. We'll answer that in this post where we will discuss how you can build an effective brand strategy, and how designing the right approach can boost your brand reputation and overall business success.
What Is a Brand Strategy?
According to branding guru Marty Neumeier, a brand strategy is “a plan for the systematic development of a brand in alignment with a business strategy.”
So, what does this mean? What is brand strategy exactly?
Put simply, a brand strategy is a plan of action for getting your brand where you want it to be. An effective brand strategy takes into account your long-term business goals and designs a roadmap for getting there. It relies heavily on valuable data relating to consumer needs, emotions, and competitive environments.
The right strategy can help you understand who you are as a brand, what core values and beliefs guide your actions and behaviors, and how you should communicate and interact with your customers and followers in order to build a strong, lasting brand that secures your position as a relevant, competitive force in the market.
What Are the Benefits of Defining Your Brand Strategy?
The best way to succeed as a company is having a clear definition of who you are, what you believe in, what you’re trying to achieve, and how you are going to get there.
This is what building a brand strategy is all about: creating a consistently solid and relevant identity that resonates with your audience. You also gain the following benefits:
- A brand strategy helps you define your purpose, vision, mission, and values as a company. These can then be used to guide your business decisions.
- Having a strong brand can help you build customer recognition.
- A clear identity gives you a competitive edge in the market and can help to differentiate your brand.
- It’s a lot easier to launch new products and services when you have established your position as a relevant brand.
- The consistent use of branding guidelines can help increase customer loyalty.
- Cohesive brand messaging is a great way to attract customers and employees who share your values.
- The ability to articulate your brand can help you carve out your place in the market.
Key Components of a Brand Strategy
There are a number of things to keep in mind when you design your own brand strategy. Key components include purpose, consistency, and competitive awareness.
Who are you and what do you have to offer? Is your messaging consistent and relevant? What strategies do your competitors use?
You also need to make sure you create content that’s aligned with your brand, and tell your “story” at every touchpoint, maximising your content reach. This means that every employee at your company needs to understand your brand strategy so that consistency can be maintained.
But, how should they communicate with customers? What values should they uphold when representing your brand?
Let’s take a look at some of these points in a bit more detail.
The first step in connecting with your audience as a brand is defining your core purpose as a company. By this, we don’t mean profit. Making money is, of course, a priority, but that won’t set you apart from the masses. Your purpose needs to reflect the needs of your customers.
Who is your target customer? What do they want or need? What can you offer them? How will you communicate with them?
Considering all these factors will help you create a brand strategy than enables you to connect with your audience.
A good example of a clearly defined corporate purpose can be seen with IKEA. The Swedish flatpack furniture giant has established a clear purpose that it promotes to its customers: “create a better everyday life.” This appeals to customers as it demonstrates the company’s commitment to providing value, not just making sales.
Consistency & Flexibility
The next step is making sure all brand communications are consistent. Don’t just post things for the sake of it-make sure everything you have to say aligns with your brand strategy and reinforces the image you are trying to convey. This will help build brand recognition and increase customer loyalty.
The best way to build a consistent brand is by designing detailed branding guidelines that take into account content, tone, style and voice, as well as factors that impact a brand’s visual identity, such as logos and color schemes (Coca-Cola is a great example of a consistent brand).
You also need to make sure your brand strategy is flexible. Markets change regularly and trends are fluid, so make sure you keep your finger on the pulse and understand how your buyer persona is evolving. This will enable you to make adjustments where necessary and help you cement your position as a distinguished and relevant brand.
For instance, back in 2007, Netflix decided to reinvent itself and the company evolved from a simple DVD rental business into one of the biggest online streaming platforms in the world. In contrast, Blockbuster decided to stick with its existing offline brand strategy and ended up filing for bankruptcy in 2010.
Make sure you stay relevant if you want your business to thrive.
The final factor to consider when building your brand strategy is competitive awareness.
Who will you be competing with for attention? What branding style do they follow? What works well and generates interest? What doesn’t?
Analyzing your competitors will help you identify who you are, how you fit in, and how you can stand out. You can use any insights to help you communicate your USP through your brand strategy and tailor your brand positioning based on the experience of your competitors. Learn from their mistakes so that you don't make them yourself.
A great example of this comes from Pizza Hut. When a Twitter user posed the question “Pizza Hut or Domino’s?”, Pizza Hut didn't miss a beat. Within seconds the well-known pizza brand responded cheekily - “You know our vote.” Domino’s, in contrast, missed the boat and stayed silent, conceding defeat to Pizza Hut.
Keep an eye on your competitors and act fast when you see a chance to promote your brand.