Today’s most popular businesses didn’t just pop out of nowhere (although, sometimes it feels like it). But the truth is, these businesses used a long-term strategy to build themselves to get where they are today. It’s the bread and butter of how businesses connect with their customers.
What long-term strategy am I talking about? It’s called brand strategy and is the game plan for your business.
I know, it sounds like a lot of words, right? But don’t worry, at Tailor, we’re not all talk and no action. In this post, you’ll learn what brand strategy is and how you can build your long-term brand strategy for your business.
With our guide, we’ll help you build and ignite your very own brand strategy, in order to put your business at the front and center of your customers’ hearts.
But first, let’s talk about what a brand strategy is and why you need one:
Before I jump into it, I know ‘brand strategy’ can sound complicated, but not to worry – it’s not as complex as it sounds. A brand strategy is a long-term plan that outlines how your business will grow.
A brand strategy helps to understand who you are and lays the foundation for discovering your audience, which emotions you want your customers to feel, and how you’ll communicate with them to trigger those emotions. Because let’s face it, no one buys a pair of shoes because it makes them feel “meh.” We gotta get those emotions pumping, people!
A successful brand strategy will illustrate all aspects of your business, going beyond your product, competitors, and website. Your brand strategy will dive into elements such as your business’s purpose, values, persona, and more, creating a way to connect with your customers.
Whether you’re just starting or have already launched your business, a brand strategy is key. A brand strategy will help you:
Without a brand strategy, your business will not:
In other words, without a brand strategy, your business will lack the guidance it needs to connect with the right audience and grow. A brand strategy is a crucial part of the foundation for your business’s future.
Okay, so that was a lot of talk (I’m a chatterbox, what can I say?), but now it’s time for the action. Follow these steps to build a long-term brand strategy from scratch.
Emotion is key to creating a brand that connects with your customers. Think about it for a second – why do you buy a specific shampoo? Or a pair of Nike shoes? Successful businesses know how to connect with you. But to do that, they need to know their Brand Heart
Every business has a set of beliefs that guide its actions. While it may be a little cheesy, these beliefs are called your Brand Heart (insert violin music here).
Understanding your Brand Heart is a powerful tool for your business, as once you align your beliefs with your business, you can connect with people who believe in the same things. If your business lacks a set of beliefs, it will fail to connect with your target audience, a group of people who are most likely to buy your product or service. See, no one likes flakiness, especially in business.
Okay, so what does your Brand Heart consist of? Here are 4 elements that can help you understand who you are, what you do, and why it matters.
Whether you’re just starting your business or have already launched, it’s never too late to develop your Brand Heart. Write down your purpose, vision, mission, and values. Take your time with this – your Brand Heart is the why behind your business.
If you’ve already launched your business but aren’t secure with your Brand Heart, you can revise it. Anything you do that helps you gain a better understanding of your business will help you in the long run. Your business’s identity needs to be solid and something that you stand behind.
Knowing your Brand Heart is the first step toward building your brand strategy. Now the next step is understanding who your audience is. But why do I need to know my audience? I’m glad you asked!
You may think you know your audience, but do you really? You have an idea of who they are, but how do you know you’re targeting the right people? Many businesses throw away thousands of dollars on marketing because they don’t know who their audiences are. And as a small business, you don’t have that luxury (and honestly, I don’t think you even want to have that “luxury”).
Knowing your target audience, a group of people who are most likely to buy your product or service, can save money on your marketing efforts, and also help you connect with your audience quickly. Time is of the essence, and you want to make sure every minute spent on your business is being used to reach out to the right people.
Before creating an audience persona (which I’ll talk about in a sec), you can conduct actual research on your target audience. Audience research helps you gain data-based insights about your audience. If you’re just starting your business, you may not know who your audience is, and that’s okay. To learn more about conducting audience research when you don’t have an audience, read this post.
If you’ve launched your business and have data analytic tools like Google Analytics, you can use the data to learn more about your audience. Your audience is made up of people, so remember you’ll need to always reflect on your audience persona and data to update your knowledge on who they are. People change, ya know.
So, how can you discover your target audience? To do so, you can start by creating an audience persona.
An audience persona (also known as a buyer’s persona) is a fictional profile representing your ideal audience. Think of it like creating a character – the only difference it’s the character is someone who will buy your product/service. By creating this character, you’ll have a clearer idea of your customer’s needs, pain points, and habits that will help you market your business. Read this post for a step-by-step guide on creating an audience persona.
Brand Heart, check. Define your target audience, check. Now let’s focus on brand messaging. While your Brand Heart helps you understand who you are, Brand Messaging helps you communicate to your audience about who you are.
There are tons of ways to talk about who you are, what you do, and why customers should choose you over your competitors. But to start, you need to know the following:
Your value proposition explains the practical and emotional benefits of your product/service. It tells them how you will solve their problem and why they should choose you. Here are some examples of value propositions:
Bloom & Wild (online flower delivery service): “We’re enabling (our customers) to order flower and gofts from the lam of their hand with better product, designs and payments.”
Airbnb (online property renting service): “Airbnb exists to create a world where anyone can belong anywhere, providing healthy travel that is local, authentic, diverse, inclusive and sustainable.”
Grammarly (AI-powered spellchecker): “Great writing, simplified. Compose bold, clear, mistake-free writing with Grammarly’s AI-powered writing assistant.”
To write your own value proposition, you’ll want to follow this formula:
We help X do Y doing Z
Grab a piece of paper and pen, and start to write down all the benefits you give customers and the problems you solve. After, choose the benefits and problems you think are most important to the customer.
For example, let’s say you have a natural chapstick business. Your value proposition could be something like this: We help people treat and prevent chapped lips by using natural and ethically-sourced ingredients.
This value proposition lists the main benefits and solutions that your chapstick provides the customer.
A brand positioning statement outlines what your company does, who it helps, and what makes your business different. The purpose of a brand positioning statement helps create a unique niche for your business.
For example, you have a sponge business. That’s a big market – a brand positioning statement will help you and your customer recognize a unique benefit that makes your business different.
To write a brand positioning statement, follow this formula:
(Business name) is a (1) business that provides (2) with (3) by (4)
For example, Bob’s Dog Food is a pet food business that provides your furry friend with all-organic and natural dog food they need to live healthy and active lives. We achieve this by using USDA-certified and organic ingredients.
A brand story is a story that shares the facts and feelings created by your business. It goes beyond just text – a brand story isn’t only what you tell people, it’s also what they believe about your business. They gain an opinion about your business by what your business shows them.
From your color palette to logo to packaging, every element of your business reflects your brand story to your audience.
A good brand story evokes emotion, it connects the audience to your business. It tells your audience why you started your business, why you do what you do every day, and why customers should trust you.
Your brand story gives your business personality and reveals the adversity you had to overcome to get where you are today.
That said your brand story should have the following: a problem, a solution, and success.
A brand voice is the way you talk to your customers – it’s your style of communication. Your brand voice is meant to connect with your target audience and should feel true to your brand values.
For example, if you have a yoga studio, you’re not going to have an aggressive tone when communicating to your audience. Instead, you’ll want to convey calmness and trust.
A good example is Oatly, an oat milk business. They use playful illustrations and lighthearted copy which reflects their brand voice. They want to come across as conversational, casual, and fun.
Your brand strategy also has a visual component (and that’s the fun part!). While building your long-term brand strategy, you’ve probably become inspired by some ideas for your logo or website. It’s easy to spend all your time thinking of color palettes and logos, which is why we saved this for the end.
If you’ve already done this step, that’s totally fine. But I recommend reviewing your visual brand identity if you’ve gone through the steps above. To build your visual brand identity, you’ll want to make sure to include the following elements:
A logo is the first thing a customer sees of your business. It’s what tells them who you are and tells them how your business makes them feel. So, to say a logo is important is an understatement.
Of course, we got you covered with our logo maker to get you started. However, I do recommend researching competitors in your industry for inspiration. You’ll get a better understanding of what you like and dislike in a logo.
The colors you choose for your business do much more than spice up your logo, website, and merchandise. Creating a color palette for your business will establish your identity and help to create a visual connection with your audience.
For example, the logo on the left uses peach and plum. Sure, they’re not common colors to pair, but you don’t need to do what everyone else is doing. These colors, peach, and maroon indicate elegance and tranquility. Which is the exact message an aromatherapy business wants to portray to its audience.
On the right, Jack’s Place uses opposing colors to catch the eye. While the navy illustrates entertainment, the orange shows credibility and trust. You’ll notice with these two logos that there are no more than 3 colors – when choosing your color palette, keep that general rule of thumb in mind.
For more examples of color combinations, check out this post. To learn more about the meaning behind colors, read this post.
Just like your color palette, the fonts you choose are just as important. Not only are they in your logo and website, but they also tell your audience who you are. Every font has its flavor, so it’s important to choose a font that represents your brand personality.
Let’s check out the two fonts above. On the left, there’s Calvin Klein. It’s a sans serif font which can be broken down into 7 subcategories, including Square, Geometric, and Grotesque. Sans serif fonts are clean and symbolize a forward-thinking approach. Businesses that choose this font value honesty and sensibility.
Now, on the right is one we all know, Instagram. They use a script font that evokes creativity, freedom, and elegance. Businesses that use this font want to convey a specific emotion, a sense of uniqueness, and imagination.
To help you get started on choosing the right font(s), take a look at the beginner’s guide on fonts here. For inspiration, check out this post on 50 awesome fonts you need to try.
Visuals are key as they play a crucial role in your brand personality. You want to make sure the images you choose complement your color palette and fit the tone of your business.
Let’s take a look at Burt’s Bees’ Instagram page. Burt’s Bees is a natural beauty and skincare business that focus on “providing customers with the best nature has to offer.”
Now, look at their images on Instagram. They use high-quality images that stick to a natural look. Each image fits with the message they’re trying to convey.
To learn more about how to choose the best images for your business, read this post.
I can describe to you all day long what a brand strategy can look like, but why not show you? Here are examples of businesses that have implemented a brand strategy.
PaperJetAir Studio is a small web design and illustration studio in South Africa. Now, if there’s one thing they nailed, it’s their visual brand identity.
Just by looking at their website, you immediately see cohesiveness and flow. Their color palette, fonts, and imagery give off a playful, youthful, and fun atmosphere. Your brand identity does more than create recognition, it forms a connection with your audience.
Takeaway: Your brand visual identity not only creates a flow throughout your website but shows your audience your brand personality.
Brother Vellies is a women’s apparel business that uses traditional African design practices to create sustainable and artisanal pieces.
With brand storytelling, they humanize their business and you can do this through text, images, and video – you decide how you want to tell your story. Brother Vellies is a black-owned business that puts a twist on traditional African textile and fashion. On their homepage, you can see they use black models and talk about what their business means.
It’s a powerful move that beats talking about product quality.
Takeaway: Storytelling through a blend of images and text can be a powerful way to humanize your business and create a connection with your audience.
Dr. Mariel Buque is a holistic psychologist, Intergenerational Trauma expert, and sound bath meditation healer. Her slogan says it all, “Our humanity comes in layers. Which is why healing must be multidimensional.”
Not only does she have a firm knowledge of her business’s Brand Heart, but you can also see by looking at her website that she understands her audience. She uses deep forest green and calming imagery to convey healing, power, and tranquility.
The header image does more than just showcase herself. The image is a clear example that her audience can live an internally peaceful and calming life if they choose to work with her.
Takeaway: Knowing your audience can help you build a website that speaks and connects with them. You can achieve this by using text and images, regardless of what your business offers.
There are thousands of electric shavers out there, so why would you buy this one? The answer is, that Meridian Grooming’s product isn’t much different from any other razors out there. But they’re not here to reinvent the wheel; instead, they found a way to make their electric shaver stand out among the rest.
Meridian Grooming is a business that’s cheeky, playful, and bold. Right off the bat, you can see that Meridian Grooming is different from other businesses. Why? Because that’s how they branded themselves. Their marketing efforts focus on “grooming below the waist” and “down there” hygiene. Sure, their product isn’t revolutionary, but their marketing strategy is.
Takeaway: Your product may not be much different from other products on the market, but that’s okay. You don’t need to come up with a product/service no one has ever heard of. Instead, find a way to market your product in a unique way.
Thinking of creating a brand strategy can seem like a lot. But once you break it down into sections, building your brand strategy is quite straightforward.
What you’ll need to do from here is reflect on your business and think about how you want your business to be. Then, follow the steps above to create your brand strategy and bring your business to life.
The information provided on this page is for information, educational, and/or editorial purposes only. It is not intended to indicate any affiliation between Tailor Brands and any other brand or logo identified on this page.
Now the Content Lead at Tailor Brands, Kira Goldring began her marketing career as a 17-year-old handing out flyers on the streets of NYC. She currently covers all things branding, marketing and small business, but she could talk your ear off about investment strategies or gripping literature without missing a beat. Say hi on IG - @kiragoldring