Let’s clear up the biggest misconception about brand strategy first. Your brand strategy is not your product, your logo, your website, or your name. A brand strategy is a process of evaluating, analyzing and synthesizing the personality and meaning of your business. A well thought-through brand strategy guides your marketing’s strategic approach, helping you to better position and express the value your products or services offer.
Ultimately, your brand strategy is pivotal to influencing how your customers perceive you, and how you make them feel, attracting them to your message and what you stand for.Chances are you’re not the only company out there selling a product or service like yours. Part of the brand strategy process is to look beyond what you sell, figure out what you do best and, most importantly, why you are different, and then articulate it.
Your brand strategy represents the foundation on which you build your brand and branding, which in turn informs all of your marketing. It should always be addressed first if you want to outperform your competition.
A brand strategy identifies where you should position your brand within the consumer’s mind. It helps you to clarify the reasons they should buy from you and not the competition, and it influences the experiences and the impressions you want your prospects and customers to feel and remember when they deal with you.
HOW DOES A BRAND DIFFER FROM A BRAND STRATEGY?
Great question. Your brand is the entire experience your prospects and customers have when dealing with your company. It’s what you stand for, a promise you make and the personality you convey, not just the creative elements that convey your brand. Your brand is the result of implementing your brand strategy. In reality, your brand lives in every day-to-day interaction you have with your market, and should consistently and repeatedly tell your prospects and customers why they should buy from you.
Successful branding is all about understanding who you are and being true to what you say you are.Peter Engelhardt
It’s the sum total of many parts, and here are just a few:
- your logo
- your slogan
- the images you convey
- the messages you deliver on your website and in your sales materials
- the way your employees interact with customers
- a customer’s opinion of you versus your competition
- and much more
A simple way to think about building your brand is to think about “building a reputation”. Prospects, partners and great staff will always gravitate to a business with a great reputation.
When you approach your branding strategically, everyone in your business through to your customers and prospects will all be driven and influenced by your purpose, values and beliefs. This is the real engine behind your logo and your company sign. By managing a brand properly, building your own DNA into your product, service and people, it automatically gives you a competitive advantage.
WHY DO YOU NEED A BRAND STRATEGY
- Are you an entrepreneur or business owner?
- Are you responsible for online marketing?
- Do you have a blossoming business idea you want to develop?
If you answered ‘Yes’, you should be investigating how a brand strategy can help you create a better brand to compete in today’s crowded market. For your business to differentiate and dominate you need to think strategically. Strategy is the substructure that is crucial to every company. In today’s competitive markets all the hard work you and your people can muster, and the great products or services you create, are all at risk without a strategy that explains to your prospects the reasons they should buy from you instead of the competition.
Strategic thinking of this kind results in a brand strategy. This is the work that needs to be done before you start building a website or finding and converting browsers into buyers. Deep down we all know that setting up a pretty website and crossing your fingers, throwing money at Google or increasing Likes and Followers on social media is not a strategy.
A strong brand is built on a brand strategy that differentiates you from the competition, creates an experience of added value and secures a long term position in the market. Implementing a brand strategy is an ongoing process.
Here are seven of the most important core reasons a brand strategy can help your business to grow.
A brand strategy;
- Brings your purpose to life – Your WHY, the reason you exist. It’s far more important than any business goals you have. A company with purpose and vision will attract talented staff, strategic alliances and customers who come back time and time again. Articulating a purpose broader than making money can guide strategies and actions, open new sources for innovation, and help people express corporate and personal values in their everyday work.
- Helps you to focus on differentiating yourself – Finding a clear point of difference is the holy grail of marketing and pretty much the only reason for developing a brand strategy – I cover this in more detail below.
- Identifies the emotional reasons prospects should buy from you – Today it’s no longer good enough to just put your product or service out there and hope people will buy from you. To succeed today you must understand your customer’s needs and wants, and in your marketing address their pain points, using messaging that connects at a deeper emotional level.
- Builds the foundations that drive your brand – All too often people just simply start a business with a lot of enthusiasm but little or no thought as to the competitive nature of what they are walking into. A brand strategy helps you establish the foundations that will uniquely position your business so everybody who interacts with your brand understands what you stand for and how that benefits them.
- Identifies the attributes most appropriate for your brand – Your brand’s attributes make up your personality, the set of characteristics that define how you want people to remember your brand. It has long been accepted that customers don’t choose products based on their features alone, but also base their selections on symbolic value. When a customer identifies with the personality of a brand this inspires trust, encourages brand loyalty, and makes a brand memorable.
- Guides the development of your persuasive assets – Today your prospects have a multitude of ways to research your product/service category and learn about your business, and the power is at their finger tips. You need to design persuasive assets – think content – that not only appeal to them but is highly engaging, offers them true value and is available in the online spaces they hangout in.
- Provides clarity for growth – Communicating the various aspects of your strategy internally and externally is the key to driving growth. The clarity that comes from having a brand strategy affects every aspect of your business and should not be underestimated.
It’s never been more important to have a clear strategy for presenting your brand and making brand-right decisions. Brands are becoming more important as social media and Internet technology shift the balance of power to customers. Choices have proliferated and the Internet has made it easier than ever to evaluate all the options. Consumers are seeking information from peers, and placing more trust in the opinions of total strangers than traditional sources. I hope this helps you to achieve a lasting competitive advantage through your brand.