“A brand is a voice, and a product is a souvenir.”
The world’s most popular companies all have one thing in common – powerful brands. Pepsi Cola, Google, Facebook, McDonald’s, Lamborghini, Amazon, Nike – everybody instantly recognizes these names and what they stand for. These brands have so effectively mastered their brand strategies that people can recognize them from the content, the language, the emotions they use, and the ideas they promote without making the association overt.
Modern customers demand authenticity and values they can relate to. Therefore, brands must be crystal clear on what they stand for because there’s no place to hide in the digital age. To ensure your business performs and stands out from the competition, you need a genuine and distinct brand strategy.
In this guide, we’ll share sequential steps you can use to create a functional brand strategy that grows with you as your brand evolves.
What Is a Brand?
“Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
There’s more to a brand than a logo or a color palette. A brand is almost entirely subjective because it encompasses what people think, feel, and say about your business, forming its reputation and perception from their experience. In contrast, marketing is what you think, feel, and say about your business.
What Is a Brand Strategy?
In a nutshell, your brand strategy explains why your business exists beyond making money. It helps you understand who you are, what you stand for, the promises you make, and the personality you convey. While creative elements, such as your logo, color palette, and slogan, help convey your brand, it’s your everyday interactions with your audience that make the biggest difference. These include:
- The messages you deliver on your online channels (social media, website, etc.).
- The way your employees interact with customers.
- Your customer’s opinion.
Purpose of a Brand Strategy
The purpose of a brand strategy is to find your identity and form a culture around out. By doing so, executive leadership, marketing, sales, operations, and other departments in your organization can all align and mature collectively. When you have no brand strategy:
- You don’t fully understand your vision, mission, and purpose. As a result, you make inconsistent business and marketing decisions.
- Your plans will be based on instinct or gut feeling.
- You’ll have an unorganized, confused, and disunited team.
- You can’t clearly or consistently engage with your audience.
What Team Do You Need to Create Your Brand Strategy?
You need a team to build your strategy, bring it to life, and put it into action. Without this team, you’ll lose track of your work or prolong tasks unnecessarily. The five members you need in your brand strategy team are:
1. Brand Shepherd
The role of a brand shepherd is to align all your brand and business goals, oversee marketing, and communicate with higher-ups.
2. Creative Lead
The creative lead often shares the same responsibilities of a brand shepherd. Their main role is to preserve brand identity by overseeing and enforcing brand guidelines.
3. Marketing Lead
The marketing lead aligns marketing to the brand strategy by overseeing content creation and coordinating teams and resources.
4. Culture Lead
The role of a culture lead is to cultivate a culture that reflects brand values.
5. Communications Lead
The communications lead shares brand knowledge by documenting information, building a brand library, and educating anyone who needs the information.
How to Build Your Brand Strategy
The following are three sequential steps you can use to build a comprehensive brand strategy and share your story effectively:
1. Create Your Roadmap
First, you must decide where you want to go and create a roadmap of how to get there. From an organization’s perspective, this means focusing on what you want to achieve and how you will achieve it. Your roadmap is comprised of four elements:
Why do you exist?
The big picture of what you want to achieve.
How do you achieve that big picture?
The principles that guide your behavior and actions.
2. Formulate Your Brand Messaging
Before you get into designing your visual identity, you need to figure out how to express who you are as a brand and speak to your audience accordingly (brand essence). This is because, ultimately, your logo, images, and slogan are a visual translation of your brand essence. To ensure that your roadmap, messaging, and visual identity aligns, you must:
- Create a Brand Essence (Personality, Voice, Tone)
Your personality is your brand’s attributes and a reflection of your roadmap and how you infuse it into every aspect of your brand, such as customer service, sales, marketing, etc. Your brand voice and tone reflect the way you sound to your audience. You can see this by observing that a perfume brand doesn’t speak the way a fast–food brand speaks.
A brand’s essence includes the words, phrases, slang, and jokes you use to interact with your audience, as well as the tone you use to deliver your message (formal, informal, joyful, sad, optimistic, or sincere)
- Value Proposition
This is the promise of value your brand delivers, acknowledges, or communicates to your audience.
Your tagline is a sentence, phrase, or word businesses use to summarize their market position.
3. Design Your Visual Identity
Finally, it’s time to build up your brand’s visual identity. Since this isn’t a one–time process, you need your identity to be flexible so it can grow with your brand and intuitive so that each element complements the other.
A good logo reflects your brand and makes a powerful impact. The idea is to make it as simple and memorable as possible.
Typography is just as important as your logo and is used to convey feelings of exclusivity, intelligence, and style.
Bringing Your Brand Strategy to Life
Now that you understand the basics of creating a brand strategy, it’s time to put your knowledge into action. To make things easier, we’ve even created a free Brand Toolkit to guide you through. We hope you find it helpful.