Developing an effective brand strategy is critical for companies to establish and maintain a strong market presence. A brand strategy provides a clear roadmap for building a brand identity, establishing brand messaging, and differentiating your company from competitors.
Is your organization looking to stand out from its competition? Are you considering a rebrand or a refresh and wondering what the best course of action is to take? We want to help you do all that and more and the starting point is your brand strategy.
In this blog, we will discuss the key components of brand strategy and walk you through the framework of developing one for yourself.
If you still have some questions after reading this blog, then make sure to contact the MOJO team. We’ve helped organizations big and small develop a strong brand strategy and can answer the questions you have.
Purpose of Branding
If you’re already committed to seeing your brand flourish then feel free to skip this section. But for those who are on the fence about investing in their branding, it’s necessary we take time to discuss if it’s worth it for them.
The purpose of branding is to create a distinct identity and image for a product, service, or company that sets it apart from its competitors in the minds of consumers. We all have brands we love. Oftentimes, those brands are not the most affordable, or even the best at what they do. But because of the brand they’ve built, we decide as consumers that that’s who we are sticking with.
Branding encompasses various elements such as the name, logo, design, and messaging, but it does more than just paint a pretty picture of who a company is. Branding can:
- Build Recognition and awareness
- Create a Uniformed Customer Experience
- Differentiate a Business from Its Competitors
- Create Loyalty and Trust
- Increase a Company’s Overall Perceived Value
Branding is sometimes neglected or viewed as a “nice to have” if there’s money left over for it. The reality is that branding affects your bottom line and it’s something that your organization should invest in seriously.
Creating a Brand Strategy
A brand is more than the logo and colors an organization uses on its website and marketing materials. And in order to create a strong brand, it takes strategic insight. That’s where the brand strategy comes into play.
A brand strategy will help an organization establish a clear and differentiated identity for its brand in the minds of its target audience. A well-defined brand strategy helps to create a strong emotional connection between your brand and your customers, which can lead to increased brand loyalty and advocacy. Below are the steps a company can take to develop its brand strategy.
Define Your Brand Identity
Your brand identity is the core foundation of your brand strategy. It’s essentially who your business is encompassed in the visual and non-visual elements that represent your company, including your logo, color palette, typography, tone of voice, and brand personality.
Who are you as a company? What are your mission and values? What unique attributes do you have that set your company apart from competitors?
Your brand identity is the foundation for your entire strategy. Take the time to work through all these details until you have a clear picture of who you are as a company.
Identify Your Target Audience
Now that you know who you are, the next step is to identify who you are selling to. To develop a successful brand strategy, it is critical to understand your target audience. This is the main people groups you want to attract and it will include their needs, preferences, pain points, and behaviors.
Who will benefit most from your product or service? What people are most likely to buy? How well do you know and understand these audiences?
Your marketing and messaging need to resonate with your target audience in order to be effective. Even if you know your target audience, make sure to do your due diligence in researching and reviewing the data to ensure you are working from true data points rather than assumptions.
When this is done successfully your brand strategy will help to build stronger customer relationships and a longer customer lifetime value.
Establish Your Brand Messaging
Once you have defined your brand identity and researched your target audience, the next step is to establish your brand messaging. Your brand messaging should communicate your brand's unique value proposition and differentiate your company from competitors. But, it should also communicate how the service helps solve the audience's problems in a way that they resonate with.
Too often brands use their messaging as a way to communicate their own wants and needs. This is a great way to have your message ignored.
The two biggest mistakes companies make when communicating with customers are
- Only talking about how great they are as a company
- Using industry jargon and other terms that the target audience may not understand.
The key to creating a successful messaging strategy, is focusing on the audience's needs and the terms they will resonate with.
When developing your strategy, include key messages, the brand voice, and a brand personality that resonates with your target audience.
Create a Branding/Marketing Plan
The implementation aspect of your brand strategy will take shape in a comprehensive marketing plan that outlines how you will communicate your brand messaging to your target audience. This includes developing a content strategy, social media strategy, email marketing plan, and other marketing initiatives that align with your brand identity and messaging.
Take what you know about your identity and your target audience and then connect the dots by drawing out the customer journey. Identify how the various messages will connect with the target audience on each platform and how you will lead them from one step to the next in the buying process.
Measure Your Brand Performance
Every marketing initiative should be measured including your brand strategy. This is crucial in knowing how effective your brand strategy is and it will also identify opportunities for improvements.
Measure the performance by tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) such as brand awareness, customer loyalty, and brand reputation. These KPIs should be established early on and should align with the company’s overall goals. You will also want to take note of any seasonal fluctuations and industry trends that could affect these numbers.
By monitoring KPIs, you can identify areas of success and areas for improvement, and adjust your brand strategy accordingly.
Establish Brand Guidelines
Finally, it is critical to establish brand guidelines that provide clear rules for using your brand identity and messaging across all marketing channels. This promotes brand consistency over all platforms which is crucial in building brand recognition, trust, and loyalty among customers.
Brand guidelines should include guidelines for logo usage, color palette, typography, tone of voice, and other visual and non-visual elements. There should be no exceptions when it comes to your brand guidelines.
You’ve put in the work to develop a good brand strategy. Don’t let inconsistencies ruin it. Your brand guidelines are what will keep the brand on track.
Developing a successful brand strategy requires a comprehensive understanding of your target audience, a clear brand identity and messaging, and a plan. By measuring brand performance and establishing clear brand guidelines, you can ensure that your brand remains relevant and competitive in a constantly evolving market.
Real-Life Example of Brand Strategy in Action
One example of a brand strategy is Nike's "Just Do It" campaign. The campaign was launched in 1988 and has since become one of the most successful and recognizable brand slogans in the world.
Nike's brand strategy focuses on inspiring and empowering athletes to push their limits and achieve their goals. The "Just Do It" campaign is based on the belief that everyone has the potential to achieve greatness and that with the right attitude and determination, anything is possible.
The campaign has been executed across a variety of marketing channels, including TV commercials, print ads, social media, and product packaging. The iconic "swoosh" logo has become synonymous with the brand, and the brand's messaging is consistently centered around empowering athletes to be their best.
Nike's brand strategy has been extremely successful, with the brand consistently ranking as one of the most valuable and recognizable brands in the world. The "Just Do It" campaign has resonated with consumers across generations and has become a powerful symbol of the brand's commitment to empowering athletes and promoting a healthy and active lifestyle.
Framework for Creating a Brand Strategy
So far, we have discussed the details, but what does that equate to from an implementation standpoint?
We have a simple framework that you can follow which outlines what it will look like to develop a brand strategy from the ground up.
For demonstration purposes, we will use a fictitious home goods company.
- Mission: To provide high-quality, sustainable home goods that elevate everyday living.
- Values: Sustainability, quality, craftsmanship, and innovation.
- Unique Attributes: Use of eco-friendly materials, sleek and modern design, emphasis on practicality and functionality.
- Demographic: Urban millennials, ages 25-40, environmentally conscious, interested in design and home decor.
- Psychographic: Values sustainability and quality, seeks out products that align with their values, interested in modern design, and seeks products that enhance their daily lives.
- Key Messages: Sustainability, quality, modern design, functionality.
- Brand Voice: Friendly, approachable, knowledgeable, and authentic.
- Brand Personality: Innovative, environmentally conscious, design-savvy, and practical.
- Content Strategy: Produce educational content on sustainability and eco-friendly materials, showcase product features and benefits, feature user-generated content.
- Social Media Strategy: Use Instagram and Pinterest to showcase visually appealing product images and lifestyle shots, and partner with influencers who align with brand values.
- Email Marketing Plan: Send regular newsletters featuring new product launches, sales, and promotions, highlight sustainability and eco-friendliness in messaging.
- Other Marketing Initiatives: Participate in trade shows and events, and offer in-store and online promotions.
Brand Performance Metrics:
- Brand Awareness: Track website traffic, social media followers, and engagement rates.
- Customer Loyalty: Track customer retention rates and repeat purchases.
- Brand Reputation: Monitor online reviews and feedback, address any negative feedback promptly and effectively.
- Logo Usage: Use the XYZ logo in all marketing and promotional materials, do not alter the logo in any way.
- Color Palette: Use the brand's designated color palette in all marketing and promotional materials.
- Typography: Use the designated fonts for all written materials.
- Tone of Voice: Use a friendly, authentic, and approachable tone of voice in all written and verbal communications.
- Visual Elements: Use high-quality images that showcase the brand's products and lifestyle.
Overall, the brand strategy for our fictitious company is centered around providing high-quality, sustainable home goods that appeal to a specific target audience - urban millennials who value sustainability, modern design, and functionality. The key messaging emphasizes the brand's commitment to sustainability, quality, and modern design, while the brand voice is friendly, approachable, and knowledgeable.
The marketing plan includes a content strategy that focuses on educating consumers about sustainability and eco-friendly materials, a social media strategy that showcases visually appealing product images and lifestyle shots, and an email marketing plan that highlights new product launches and promotions. Additionally, they will participate in trade shows and events and offer in-store and online promotions to increase brand awareness and drive sales.
To measure the success of the brand strategy, our company will track brand awareness through website traffic, social media followers, and engagement rates. Customer loyalty will be measured through customer retention rates and repeat purchases, and brand reputation will be monitored through online reviews and feedback. Finally, the brand guidelines will ensure consistent use of the brand's logo, color palette, typography, and visual elements to maintain a cohesive and recognizable brand identity.
This framework will allow you to create a brand strategy that’s consistent, drives sales and builds a loyal customer base.
Ensuring Brand Consistency Even When Outsourcing
A company’s brand identity shines brightest when the messaging and voice come from the actual company. Working with third-party agencies and marketing companies can cause a brand to become diluted across its various channels.
With certain precautions, companies can avoid this and keep their brand consistent even when working with third-party companies.
Your company needs to be involved in the process. Sometimes clients do not want to be involved with the day-to-day marketing but it’s their voice that shapes the brand. Your organization does not have to be involved for the entirety of the marketing efforts but there should be a brand champion at least in the beginning to ensure the messaging, voice and plan is in alignment with the brand identity.
The second requirement for brand consistency is to work with partners who understand the importance of the brand and understand how you want your business to be perceived. There are a lot of choices for agencies out there. It’s necessary to your brand to work with a partner who can take your brand identity and consistently carry that into all of the marketing and creative efforts.
Working with a third party does not have to ruin your brand identity, in fact, with the right partner, it can enhance your brand strategy (here’s a case study showing the possibilities). The important thing is to make sure you are championing the process and working with partners who are dedicated to ensuring brand consistency.