What is Brand Strategy? And why you need one
Table of Contents
To dive deep into brand strategy, we have to discuss what a brand is first.
What is a brand? #
“Brand is a result.”
This is perhaps the best definition of a brand (at least for me). It is from Marty Neumeier, the legendary thought leader on branding.
Your brand is what others think and feel about you. It is what the customers think, feel, and say about your product, your service, or your company. It is the result of how they processed everything you threw at them which includes marketing, which is what you say about your business.
It is not the logo alone nor the product, it is the reputation. Your consumers are the ones who define and shape your brand. Since everybody thinks differently, each consumer will have a different brand of you. We can only hope that it is collectively positioned somewhere we want.
… this is where brand strategy comes in.
What is brand strategy? #
A brand strategy is your game plan to influence and shape your audience’s perception of you.
It is the long-term plan that stands between your business plan and marketing plan. Too “long-term,” in fact, that companies are recently investing more in short-term marketing campaign gains according to Financial Times. The main reason is the lack of metrics on how brand-building impacts the business. Compare this to short-term campaigns in which investment returns are not only guaranteed but also measured.
Despite this, business leaders still believe in strong brands contributing to the overall business. Strategizing a strong brand is a long game for businesses to outmaneuver their competitors.
A strong brand differentiates your business from others.
Is it relevant today when everything is faster? #
Short answer: YES!
When the Internet gave birth to a fast-paced world, it also birthed new opportunities to connect, build, launch, and market businesses.
There are now tons of resources to learn how to code for aspiring tech entrepreneurs, and tons of platforms to launch products. Unlike before when the knowledge is mostly contained in the halls of universities, opportunities to connect with investors and your audiences are scarce.
The internet equipped small businesses with a chance to become Davids against ultra-established Goliaths. It made it easier for aspiring entrepreneurs to dream and create.
And as a result, we are now drowning in the ocean of amazing products. There is more room for everybody.
For consumers, this is great. They have more options.
For businesses, this is a dilemma. How can we be THAT option?
Why do you need one? #
The ultimate goal is to become THAT option for your audience!
A well-defined brand strategy smoothens the path to that goal. It aims to connect the things that matter to your business (your vision, mission, and goals) with the things that matter to your audience.
It will produce a framework that lays out:
- BRAND ATTRIBUTES: The statement that captures the essence of the brand. Sets up the problem you are trying to solve and for whom you are solving it. This is the steering wheel that drives the brand’s direction.
- BRAND VOICE: Formalizes the business’ tone and emotion. How is the company going to reach and speak to people? This shall reflect the marketing campaigns, the visuals, and whatever content the company produces.
- THE APPROACH: The positioning of your decisions shaped by reality (the market, the budget, the data, etc.) with some hypothesis on what the company commits to ensuring the maximum likelihood of success. How badly do you need a website or a logo? Or do you really need that first instead of an email marketing campaign? This is answered here.
- CUSTOMER PROFILES: The document that defines your ideal and/or the current customer. This will shape how you will approach and establish a relationship with your consumers.
✦ Brands aren’t built overnight but overtime ✦ #
There could be a big shift in strategy while the vision and mission remains the same.
Nike, for instance, always had the vision ‘to be the world’s leading sports and fitness company.’ But it took more than a decade for Nike before they got to the brand strategy they follow today. They initially targeted performance athletes before realizing they should be targeting everyday individuals if they want to grow.
On the other hand, Old Spice was a dying brand with a dying generation of market until they introduced humor in their brand voice - ‘the man your man could smell like.’ They also shifted their audiences towards women, who were responsible for 80% of household spending. The ones who would remember the ‘Old Spice Guy’ and add Old Spice into their carts.
Fresh data might encourage a shift in your strategy!
Working with a brand strategist #
Are you already getting offers for a brand strategy? That’s great! It means your business is visible. They have found it.
Or maybe your business is still that best-kept secret yearning to get it out there and smash it one day?
To work with a brand strategist(s), they need to know your story, your product, and your company. So they would become a better partner(s) to your business. A good strategist must have a deep understanding of how your brand fits in the market.
You may also want to introduce them deeper into the business and your goals. A good strategist must understand where the business is heading because their work will be the basis and the support of every creative content done for the company.
Brand strategists are often curious to learn and understand. Research is a big part of their job.
A brand strategy helps you align your marketing efforts with your business goals. It keeps your focus on what makes your company unique to differentiate it from competitors.