Whether your company needs to re-establish or re-invent its brand after experiencing a merger or acquisition, is entering a new market where it isn’t well known, or hasn’t evolved its brand along with changes in the market it currently serves, brand strategy plays a pivotal role in how you’re going to reach your target audience moving forward.
If you’re new to creating a brand strategy, you might wonder what it is and why it matters so much. Simply put, brand strategy is an articulation and manifestation of how you communicate who your company is, what it solves, and what it stands for – to potential clients, your broader market and even your community. It should drive virtually all of your work as a marketer, guiding every email campaign, blog, social post, and similar touchpoint.
Below are five key points you’ll want to consider when creating and articulating a brand strategy for your business.
It might seem strange to talk about outcome first, but before you start creating a strategy, think about and state what you’re working towards. Your brand strategy could be based in something simple, like building brand awareness within your market, or it could be working towards something more tangible, like a client acquisition number. You also don’t need to feel like you’re set to any one outcome—having more than one goal is great, even recommended.
You also might realize that as your strategy progresses, adjustment of your goals or outcomes may be needed. This isn’t cheating or an indication of failure. Shaping your strategy is a continuous learning process that often requires calibration and evolution.
Establishing a brand voice defines the positions and perspectives (e.g. thought leader, experienced practitioner) as well as the personality characteristics (e.g. serious, playful, academic) that you want your brand identity to convey. You may know of brands that have resonated with you for years or really speak to you personally. Maybe there’s something special about how they communicate with you—do they use humor, honesty, facts or perhaps all these things when conveying their messaging?
The best way to start is by getting the pen moving. Freeform meetings or independent brainstorming sessions with your team members responsible for writing can help develop the tone you want to have. Maybe there’s a few key phrases or mottos that really represent your voice that you can lean on and circle back to when crafting your voice for new marketing messages. This messaging backbone helps ensure you have a solid voice that can stay consistent across all your platforms and external communications.
While you may know the voice that speaks to you, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s ideally suited for the audience you wish to serve. If you’re a cybersecurity company, it might not be such a good idea to joke around or make light of the topic. Conversely, if you’re promoting an event that your team is genuinely excited to be at, relating that in a more light-hearted manner via social or email outreach may make sense. Referring to your buyer personas is another great way to guide your brand strategy actions and ideation.
Another key component of your brand strategy is identifying the channels through which you can reach your audience most effectively. Do your customers primarily engage on social channels like Instagram or Twitter, because they’re mostly a younger generation? Are they on your website a lot and need resources and messaging there that they can access? Do you need to reach them through highly targeted emails?
Your brand strategy will include a mixture of multiple channels but understanding where and how you want to reach your audience can be critical as each channel sometimes calls for different language, cadences and overall messaging.
Elements of visual identity include logos, styling, color palettes, iconography, imagery and more. These visual touchstones will act like a beacon for your brand that clients and partners will come to recognize easily and associate with your brand and messaging. For all aspects of brand strategy, consistency in execution is key. Most mature brands create and enforce adherence to brand identity guidelines that clearly spell out how the visual elements of the brand are to be represented.
Brands like Starbucks, Apple, McDonald’s and Microsoft are almost instantly recognizable by their logo alone. While you may not achieve this level of notoriety, it’s important to model brands like this in terms of their discipline and dedication to creating memorable marketing and brand visuals.
Pulling the pieces together
As you can imagine, creating your brand strategy and then actually implementing it effectively entails a great deal of work and dedication. It’s imperative that every employee is on board as each is a direct representative of your brand themselves. Your team, however, may not have the bandwidth or skillsets to craft your brand strategy and carry it out completely given their other responsibilities. Hiring an experienced marketing firm with core competencies in branding to guide the process can be a highly beneficial option for many companies.
Remember, your brand is defined overall by the collective perceptions of your customers, your market and your community in terms of who you are, what you solve and how you do business. Having a clear brand strategy in place provides anchor points to ensure those perceptions are as positive as possible.
If you have specific questions about defining or refining your brand strategy, schedule a free 1:1 consultation with one of Launch Marketing’s brand experts.