Brand Strategy: A Blueprint For Your Brand
Have you ever looked at a company and thought to yourself, "they seem cohesive, put together, well-branded, and professional"? That’s probably because they employ a clear brand strategy — a tactic used in all sorts of different industries to differentiate businesses and build a loyal customer base. You’re thinking exactly what that company wants you to think because they’ve invested the time and effort into crafting and building a brand that makes an impression and consistently represents the company.
A brand strategy is a plan that reflects the long-term goals of a business. Rome wasn’t built in a day and your brand won’t be either, but a well thought out brand strategy will be the blueprint your brand needs to get you there. By looking far ahead and staying true to your company's vision, you can create a brand strategy that represents a successful business, sustainable growth, and your company’s character, regardless of the products or services your selling.
A clear and well-executed brand strategy touches all points of a business. It’s directly connected to emotions, the competitive landscape, and your consumer needs. If a company goes one step further and invests in strategic branding, they will make their mark by gaining and leveraging customer and managerial insights. When you put strategy behind a brand, you’ll enhance the ability to manage it and its direction to drive profits, reach business objectives, and more importantly fulfill your brand's purpose.
Creating a Brand Strategy from Scratch
Every company needs a brand strategy. Why? Because without it, customers won’t feel that coveted connection that keeps them buying your products and services, or engaging with your brand through social networks, community activations, or word-of-mouth marketing. It will also help guide your company when it comes to communication and interaction with your customer base.
Besides the obvious reason that a brand strategy helps distinguishes you from others in your industry, it also guides your marketing strategy and why and how you engage with customers. When it comes to consumers, a strategic plan will help you communicate more clearly, will provide consistency for both internal and external audiences, and guide your brand down a path to reach your vision.
What forms a brand strategy and helps companies pierce through the noise of the marketplace? Here are nine components that will help make up an effective and successful blueprint for your brand:
1) Definition: By answering who, what, when, where, why, and how, a brand strategy defines what a brand is and what it seeks to do. This will also be a helpful starting place for anyone tasked with executing on your brand strategy (i.e. a new employee or an external marketing team).
2) Relevancy: When your company is no longer interesting to your target audience, it becomes irrelevant. Monitoring the market and having the flexibility to respond to its changes is fundamental. Incorporating a strategic component that will outline how your brand plans to be dynamic and adapt to new trends in the market, will help to keep your brand fresh and top of mind for you target audience.
3) Touchpoints: Touchpoints are moments when customers come into contact with your brand through social media, websites, events, advertising etc. A unique plan for each touchpoint should be outlined in the strategy. Rather than focusing your energy on creating a to-do list for each touchpoint, think about longer term, higher level strategies that will help generate well-aligned ideas for each touchpoint over the course of a year. This will make your brand strategy more sustainable and longer lasting.
4) Story: An excellent brand strategy will not only provide the story of your company, but will also include a plan for sharing it. Consumers engage with stories, so determining ways to incorporate your brand's narrative into strategy will foster a deeper connection between your audience and your brand.
5) Consistency: A brand strategy helps employees, contractors, or whomever you have helping with your brand, deliver it in a cohesive manner with clear communication. It also ensures that your brand's communication aligns with the way that your audience experiences your brand.
6) Empowerment: When all parties are involved in the branding process and feel empowered to build it up, the brand wins. Ensure that your engaging all employees at all levels within your organization in the creation of a brand strategy, especially if at any point they will be responsible for delivering on it. Further, front-line employees will likely have valuable insights into what might work or not work when it comes to delivering your brand to your customers.
7) Differentiation: A brand strategy works to find gaps in your market and then plan ways for your company to fill them. This differentiation is your brand’s unique selling proposition. Building strategies that will highlight your brand's unique value proposition are the best way to ensure your audience truly understands WHY your business is different.
8) Emotion: Emotion sells. A brand strategy should provide guidelines for creating emotional connections between your brand and your audience. Connections valued by your audience will develop long-term, loyal relationships between your consumer and your brand.
9) Measurement: To determine if your brand strategy is as successful as you think, look at the analytics. Measure. Ask for feedback. Work every day to improve the positioning of your company.
Nailing down a brand strategy is challenging. It requires an in-depth knowledge of your brand, your vision, and your purpose. Looking for assistance from external, objective third-parties will help you gain clarity, ideas, and insights you may not have otherwise thought of.
Any strategy is a good idea, but a brand strategy is the best one for creating a thorough plan to consistently deliver your brand's key messages. Without it, you can leave customers confused, and, worst case scenario, drive them away. Creating a brand strategy and employing strategic branding methods will help you and your staff to accurately deliver your brand's promise, purpose, and narrative, and create a strategic blueprint for your brand's vision.
If you would like to chat about creating a strategic blueprint for your brand, send us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.