When you’re first starting a business, it’s very easy to make the mistake of foregoing brand strategy because of an innate belief that the products and services you’re about to offer will essentially sell themselves. However, it’s oftentimes not enough to just create a popular product or service. Even if the product is successful and reaches more customers than you have anticipated, not having a brand strategy in place could result in your company not taking advantage of the initial success that you had. A brand strategy is a type of plan that centers around how your business will connect with its primary audience.
When you set out to create a brand strategy, there is a range of elements that should be included in the strategy, which extend to a brand mission, purpose, values, and competitor advantage. Completing a brand strategy will also give you the information you need to understand who your main audience is. Many of the business decisions that your company makes in the future will be informed by your brand strategy.
In order to create the right brand strategy, it’s important that you focus on why you started the business in the first place. There needs to be a clearly defined issue that your business is attempting to solve, which will allow you to have a targeted approach for any of the branding that you implement in the future. If your main audience has any pain points or frustrations with a product or service that’s similar to yours, knowing what these frustrations are can help you offer additional products and features that will act as answers to these questions.
By satisfying your core audience, your business and brand will have a higher chance of obtaining long-term success. With a brand strategy in place, it should be easier for your company to build loyalty, create trust, improve your market share, and prepare for the future. Keep in mind that you likely won’t be able to create a brand strategy on your own. Instead, you should have a designated team in place that can develop and revise the brand strategy as needed before eventually bringing the strategy to life. The five most important roles in a brand strategy team include a brand shepherd, a creative lead, a marketing lead, a culture lead, and a communications lead. This article takes a detailed look at the importance of a brand strategy as well as the main components that should be included in every brand strategy.
What is Necessary in a Brand Strategy?
While a brand strategy can include a large number of different elements, the primary components that should be included in every brand strategy extend to:
- A purpose statement
- A mission statement
- Determining brand values
- Understanding your competition
- Creating your brand essence
- Constructing the brand messaging
- Determining your visual identity
The mission statement that you create for your company may be the key to future success. This statement is meant to be the core goal that your company has. Apple’s mission statement is “Apple is dedicated to the empowerment of man—to making personal computing accessible to each and every individual so as to help change the way we think, work, learn, and communicate.”. This mission statement identifies the industry that Apple operates out of and tells customers how they will change the industry in years to come. When making a mission statement, you should be clear about your role in the industry is and what impact your business will have.
Your mission statement will be the bedrock of your business and should play a role in every future decision that you make. Keep in mind that you can be specific in your mission statement. If your company focuses on a certain sector within your industry, the mission statement should be aimed at the sector as opposed to the industry itself. For instance, a fashion company that solely offers sportswear would aim its mission statement at solving the clothing issues that athletes might have.
The purpose statement is nearly as important as the mission statement and is designed to explain what area of the market you’re filling. While there are likely going to be companies and products that are similar to yours, it’s important that your business is able to fill a particular void that’s found in the market you operate out of. Your audience should know why they need to use your products/services. Once you’ve created a convincing purpose statement, you should be much more confident in your company and the role it has in the industry.
Determining Your Brand Values
It’s also important that you determine what your brand values are going to be. Today, many customers are choosing which companies to do business with based on the values that they have. These customers want to solely do business with brands that share the same values that they do. If you’re able to identify clear values for your brand, it should be easier for your business to build relationships and trust with your main audience.
Think about the things you want customers to mention about your brand. For instance, if a large number of customers say that your business is helpful, this may indicate that you have strong customer service. The attributes that you include in your brand values will shape every interaction that you have with customers. Brand honesty is among the most important aspects of brand values. If you’re transparent with your customers and focus on their interests, you should be able to garner their loyalty.
Understanding Your Competitors
If you want to gain a larger market share in the sector or industry that you operate out of, it’s important that you understand your competitors and what has made them successful. Determine how your competitors are better than you, which companies you’ll be competing with for the audience’s attention, and how your business can reach people who may not be wholly satisfied with your competitors and their offerings.
Before completing a competitor analysis, you may find it difficult to define your brand. Defining a brand requires comprehensive knowledge of the competition if you want to fill a void in the market. Learn more about what your competitors are doing that you like or dislike.
Creating Your Brand Essence
Your brand essence will consist of the personality, voice, and tone that your company will have at all times. No matter the types of marketing materials you distribute in the future, your brand essence should always remain consistent, which will help you build a strong and long-lasting brand. The personality that your company has refers to the human attributes and characteristics that are associated with your brand. Maybe your brand is elegant and sophisticated or eccentric and enthusiastic. Once you identify what your brand’s personality is, these characteristics should be infused into every marketing material you make.
As for the tone, this is the attitude that your brand has, which could be anything from authoritative to optimistic. It should be easier for you to identify what the brand tone will be once you know more about who your main audience is and what tone they will respond best to. When it comes to the brand voice, this determines how your brand will speak and sound in marketing materials. If your brand is supposed to have a fun-loving personality, you would likely tell jokes in your marketing materials. Knowing the essence of your brand should pay dividends in helping you create a well-rounded brand strategy.
Constructing the Brand Messaging
Make sure that you also construct strong brand messaging, which should include your value proposition, messaging pillars, and taglines. The value proposition should center around how you plan to solve the issues that were identified in your mission and purpose statement. You need to tell customers what your value proposition is before they even think to ask. Your tagline will be a phrase or sentence that succinctly summarizes the market position that you’re in. Businesses typically go through numerous tagline iterations before landing on one that can prove successful. The researchers on your team should help you create a tagline that best fits your company.
As for the messaging pillars, these are stories that should be told about your brand and how it differs from the competition. Each marketing material should incorporate your messaging pillars. Some messaging elements that should be articulated regularly include a brand story, a brand promise, an elevator pitch, and an origin story for your company. Many of these elements can be included on an “About Us” page on your website.
Lastly, Visual Identity
The last aspect of a brand strategy involves creating your visual identity, which will be included in every marketing material and page of your website. The typography, logo, and colors that you pair with your company will act as the face of your brand. A good visual identity should be flexible, intuitive, and comprehensive. Since your visual identity will be the overall aesthetic of your brand, it’s important that you convey these elements in the right way. Once a brand has been established and has started to garner success, its visual identity will be the first thing that customers think of when hearing the name of the company.
The most important aspect of a visual identity is the logo, which will represent how your brand is viewed by potential customers. Currently, the most successful logos are simple ones. While your logo should accurately reflect your brand, having a simple and straightforward logo will make it easier for your audience to visually process what they’re seeing. The Apple and Nike logos are very simple and easy to remember, which is part of the reason why both companies have been highly successful for decades.
The typography is essentially an extension of the logo and will oftentimes be paired with the logo in marketing materials. Make sure that you don’t pair a simple log with ornate typography. Colors are also highly important for your visual identity but can be difficult to get right. All colors can evoke emotions in people, which is why you should use colors that best represent your brand. Imagery is yet another important aspect of visual identity that will play a part in how people view your brand. As with every other aspect of visual identity, the imagery you use should align with your brand.
Awakening Your Brand Strategy
Now that you’ve spent time and resources creating a comprehensive brand strategy, it’s time to bring this strategy to life. Your brand strategy should be adhered to constantly by yourself and anyone who works for your company. To make sure that your brand is implemented properly in the future, you should:
- Expand the reach of your content to bring in new customers
- Focus on consistent content creation to keep users engaged with your brand
- Make sure that every piece of content is aligned with your brand
- Tell your brand story whenever possible
- Stay current by adhering to the best practices for branding
As long as you keep your branding up-to-date and include your branding elements in every marketing material you create, you should begin to bring in new customers and strengthen your brand for years to come.