A brand strategy lets us have a deeper view of the company’s reasons to exist & where it is heading. This information can be written & consulted to help guide future projects. More than your visual identity—the logo, palettes, and more, your brand strategy is how, what, where, when, and to whom you plan on communicating and delivering your brand messages. Where you advertise is part of your brand strategy. Your distribution channels are also part of your brand strategy. And what you communicate visually and verbally is part of your brand strategy, too.
So, you are an entrepreneur with a great product or service. You have worked hard to build up your customer base and you have a loyal following. You have created a business that you are proud of. However, it seems like your customers don’t stick around for a long time. On top of that, you have fierce competitors taking a big chunk of the market, leaving you with fewer opportunities to grow and scale.
Now what? You're ready to take the next step to make your business even better.
It is time to consider creating a brand strategy. For some people, this sounds like something only Fortune 500 companies need to do. But the truth is, whether you are a large corporation or a small mom-and-pop shop, it is imperative that you think about how best to communicate with your customers.
And that is exactly what a brand strategy does.
The benefits of a brand strategy
One of the benefits of a brand strategy is that it helps you stay focused. It guides you and your team in making better decisions and keeps your communications style consistent.
Another benefit of a brand strategy is that it builds stronger relationships with partners and consumers. A good brand strategy will help you identify a specific niche that would be the most interested in your product or service, or your minimum viable audience (MVA).
A good brand strategy will also bring more clarity on what actions to take next. It can help you know who you are as a business, what makes you different from others in the market, where to focus your time and resources, and how to communicate with your target audience.
Defining why you exist
Know your why. Strategy, culture, even hiring the right people -- everything is easier when you can connect it to an underlying purpose larger than just profit. And that requires knowing what your company stands for.
It's not easy to define what your company stands for but it would be worth it in the long term. It can help you attract customers and employees and investors because they'll know what you care about and what they're getting into when they deal with you. It can help keep your team motivated in the face of adversity because they'll understand how their work is contributing to something larger than themselves (and hopefully something they care about). Furthermore, it serves as a compass to remind your team about the principles that will help them make good decisions when things are hard and confusing.
Let’s take a look at the components that build a brand strategy:
Building a personality
You need to build a personality for your brand that makes people want to buy from it. That's what people do when they decide to choose a brand for their needs.
One way is to try to be distinctive and stand out. A distinctive personality means that all of your communications are consistent and recognizable. This is when you offer something different from the current market. If all you are going for is a distinction, you would want to stand out from the crowd, regardless of what direction you stand out in.
The second way is to try to be important and intentional with who you are instead of merely distinctive. To be important, you have to matter more than other brands in the same category. And that requires that you have some kind of substance and depth in what you represent as a brand —something besides style and showmanship.
Finding your niche audience
The most successful brands today aren't mainstream. They're focused.
The old playbook for branding has been to build an umbrella identity that reaches as many people as possible. But, in a world of infinite choice, this approach is fundamentally flawed. When your brand stands for everything, it stands for nothing.
By focusing on a niche audience, you can speak directly to them without diluting your message or confusing your intentions. Your brand becomes an extension of what makes you unique as a person, allowing you to stand out from the crowd and deepen your connection with customers who love what you do.
Positioning yourself against competitors
Positioning refers to how you want your target audience to think about you relative to your competitors. It is not just about where you want people to place you on a spectrum between two extremes; it is more about thinking of yourself as being in one category or another.
A good brand strategy enables you to create an emotional or rational connection between your brand and something that your target customers value. It's how you differentiate from others in the market.
Identifying opportunities for your business
A brand strategy is about more than just a name and logo. It's about identifying the unique opportunities that your business can deliver, and then going all-in on making them happen. In other words, this is the art of finding a gap between what consumers need versus what we can provide.
A lot of people think of a business plan as just the math: revenue projections, cost analysis, and so on. But really it's more like an exploration: What are we doing? Why are we doing it? What could go wrong? How can we do it better? There are a lot of insights to gain and work on from answering these questions. From this, you can also find opportunities where you discover ways to have maximum impact for the least amount of effort.
Building an action plan
Action plans are usually launched to solve problems. That's why the first step in building a brand strategy is figuring out what that problem is, and why it's important to solve it.
With a clear sense of purpose and goal, a brand can then figure out how to get there. It needs to know what the current reality is, what resources are available, and who can help. What will be the obstacles along the way? Who or what might cause problems? If a brand knows what the possible pitfalls might be, it can create strategies for avoiding them or coping with them if they happen.
Plan before taking action
There is so much more to a brand beyond its logo and tagline. What makes a brand what it is and what makes it work lies in its strategy. A good strategy can save you a lot of time on the execution & make your brand’s vision into a practical plan. So before you start any marketing efforts, invest in other resources and so on, the success of these initiatives depends on the foundation of a strong brand strategy.