Building a Brand Strategy that Puts Your Business on the Map
Have you recently taken a hard look at your brand and realized you don’t know what it is?
Or maybe you have a defined brand, but you’re noticing that it doesn’t translate to your customers.
If either of these sound like you, then it’s time to build a brand strategy.
Creating a brand strategy is a crucial part of branding, as it’s the main thing that gets customers to care about your business.
However, it’s more than just saying ‘We’re great!’ and hoping people believe you; your brand strategy requires a lot of thought and careful planning.
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:
A brand strategy is a plan that outlines how you’re going to show the world what your brand stands for, its personality (or character), and its short- and long-term goals.
Why is this important?
Because, your brand is more than a logo design and tagline. It is essentially the emotional associations that your audience has with your company, and it’s important because it allows your audience to connect with you as if your brand were a person. They can love your brand, be angry at it, or even be jealous of it.
Think about it: How many times have you been mad at your internet provider when your connection goes down?
Similarly, your brand will trigger emotions in your audience. The goal of your brand strategy is to help you decide which emotions you want your audience to feel, and how you plan on communicating in order to elicit them.
The main thing to remember when talking about your brand strategy is that it’s continually evolving. What’s true today may not be true tomorrow, and as your business grows, so must your brand strategy.
In other words, you can’t create a plan, push the trigger, and then sit back and relax. Your finger needs to be on the pulse of your brand, or you’ll lose control of it.
On that note, let’s discuss how you can make your branding exceptional.
We’ll cover some crucial elements that, combined, will help you to form your brand strategy. As you tackle each element, bear in mind that they all need to work in unison in order for your brand to give off a cohesive vibe.
Here’s what you need to focus on in order to create a comprehensive brand strategy:
Defining your target market, i.e., who your customers are, is one of the most important things you can do when developing your brand. In fact, it’s the foundation of your brand strategy, because, without it, you’re marketing to ‘everyone,’—which means you’re marketing to no one.
The greater your understanding of your target audience, the better you’ll be able to zero in and target them with content and messaging that speaks to them—messages that will help them identify with your brand.
So, how do you find out who your target audience is?
First, you need to set out and understand who your current customers are. Then, take it one step further and determine who the ideal person is that would benefit from your products or services.
If you already have customers, you can send them a short survey to find out some basic information about them, which will help you identify who you should be targeting in the future.
Not everyone likes surveys, so you can add incentives by giving them a coupon or some kind of deal for completing it.
Ask them for their:
– Age – No need to be too specific, but give a range, like 20-30, 30-40, etc.
– Interests – What are their hobbies, and what do they like to do?
– Why you – Ask why they bought from you (pricing, product quality, fantastic customer service, etc.)
– Vocation – Teacher, builder, student, etc.
– Hobbies – What do they do outside of work/school?
You can ask them any question you think will help define your target audience, but try and keep them non-invasive. Good luck asking for their salary range, for example (unless you choose to send an anonymous survey).
Collect all your data and create personas that you can use. These personas are who you’ll target when creating marketing materials and messaging. You wouldn’t talk to young students the same way you would to middle-aged professionals, and this data will help you figure out who you should be focusing on.
If you don’t have any customers, then you can snoop on your competition and find out who they’re talking to.
Check out their social media accounts, browse their website copy, and sign up for their email newsletters to try and understand the language they use, who they’re targeting, and whether or not their approach is working.
When your customers think of your brand, what do they think of? The benefits of your brand? Their experience with your brand? Maybe they even have a physical reaction, like the thirst people feel when they see Coca-Cola.
This is your brand positioning – the position your brand occupies in your customers’ minds.
Brand positioning goes above fancy taglines and words; it’s how your audience views your brand, and, if done successfully, sets your brand apart from the competition.
So, how do you go about creating a brand position that allows your customers to see you as credible, positive, and better than the rest?
First, come up with a brand positioning statement.
This is a sentence or two that explains what your brand does, who it’s targeting, and what sets it apart in the market.
Answer these 4 questions, and you’ll create a positioning statement that declares to everyone what’s unique about your brand, its values, and the advantages you have over your competitors.
1. Who is your target audience?
2. What service or product do you provide?
3. What’s your greatest benefit or advantage?
4. What proof for do you have supporting your answers to the above?
For example, if your target audience is busy professionals who need a quick cup of coffee for cheap, you could say:
For busy professionals who need a quick cup of coffee with zero time wasted – Coffee Express is the only brand to get you in and out of the door in minutes. Just ask any of our 500,000 happy customers.
For busy professionals who just need a quick cup of coffee, when you visit Coffee Express, you’ll get your hot java within 2 minutes of walking through our doors—or your coffee is on us.
Along with your brand positioning statement, you need to create a positive emotional connection with your audience in order to connect with them.
How do you foster these connections? Through your brand imagery, and through creative messaging.
Your messaging is everywhere—from your website copy to landing pages and social media accounts all the way down to press releases.
In fact, your messaging comes across in everything your brand produces, whether intentional or not. Any communication you put out into the world will shape how your audience perceives your company, services, and products.
So, it’s essential for your messaging to constantly reinforce your brand positioning. Whenever you create content, regardless if you’re answering a customer email or posting your latest blog, it’s important to ask yourself: Does this reinforce my brand positioning in some way?
Also, your messaging must remain consistent, from the brand voice you use to the amount of times you post a month. Consistency means only talking about things that relate directly to your brand and its purpose.
To help you stay on-message, you can write down all of the details about your messaging (tone, style, etc.) and create a style guide, in order to make sure no one strays from your brand’s personality.
Lastly, the heart of your messaging should always embody your brand story.
Everyone loves a good story, and your brand needs to have a memorable one that captures attention. We’re all wired to respond well to great stories, and, if done well, you can weave your brand story directly into the minds of your audience
Your story should tell the tale of how your business came into being, and it should be compelling, elicit empathy from the reader, and use a strong narrative.
Don’t just list bullet points, but let people know some of the hardships you faced and how you overcame them. Maybe they’ll even be inspired by your journey from a small startup to a successful online business.
However, your story should always focus on your customers rather than on yourself—putting your audience at the center of your messaging. Remember, your brand is only as strong as the audience that connects with it.
This is the final push! You’ve done all the research, you’ve created a positioning statement, you know what emotions you want to draw out from your audience, and you have your brand story.
Now, put it all together to fully define your brand and its goals. This may be the toughest step, but it’s one of the most critical parts of your brand strategy.
If your first thought was to write down “To make money,” then throw it in the trash, set it on fire, and push it out the window. No one will connect with your brand if you just want to make money, so dig a little deeper.
Here are some questions to ask yourself that will help you get there. By now, you should be able to answer them easily:
– What problem does my brand help solve?
– Who is my customer?
– What does my competition do successfully / unsuccessfully?
– Why should customers trust me?
– What is my brand personality?
Put it all together to create a brand strategy that outlines everything you need to achieve these goals. Write out a plan that states how, when, and how often you’re going to communicate with your audience in order to form positive connections with them and turn them into loyal, repeat customers.
Let’s take a peek at a couple successful brands who clearly know their target audience, have a strong creative messaging style, and publicize their brand positioning.
With Dollar Shave Club, it’s all in the name. They provide affordable shaving equipment and ship straight to your door.
They know their target audience aren’t models with 6-packs and a steel jawline; their customers are average people who just want cheap shaving blades.
Compare them to Gillette, who only features sleek young-looking models, and it’s not hard to figure out which one is more relatable.
Yours Clothing sells plus-sized clothes, and they make it evident in all of their messaging (including using plus-sized models in their imagery). Just read their brand story at the bottom of their website. They advertise how inclusive they are and want their customers to feel confident about their bodies.
Now that you know what a brand strategy is and how to build one, it’s time to take the wheel and create your own.
Research your customers, know what your brand stands for, create a logo that rocks, and create a compelling brand story. And, remember to tie it all together with unique, creative messaging that will speak to your customers.