Running a business presents its own set of challenges, but establishing a meaningful brand and maintaining that cohesive brand strategy can often prove even more difficult. The good news is, it doesn’t have to be. You don’t need a master’s degree or decades of marketing experience to craft a brand that genuinely connects with your audience–just a bit of extra thought and strategic planning.
Brand vs. Brand Strategy
If you feel a little lost at the difference between brand and brand strategy, here’s a recap.
Your brand is the overall identity of your product or company, which encompasses the visual elements such as the logo, design, and colors. For example, when you hear “McDonald’s,” you most likely think of the colors of red and yellow, and the famous golden arches. It also can include any slogans or taglines, so whenever you hear “Ba da ba ba ba… I’m lovin’ it” you may just start craving a Big Mac. But what’s even more interesting is that consistent, effective branding even has the power to make a person associate a certain emotion with that company. As people catch sight of the restaurant’s logo from down the street or catch a faint whiff of French fries, they’re instantly transported back to their childhood family outings or late-night snack runs with college buddies.
McDonald’s has practically mastered the art of branding–but over the course of almost 70 years. Building a brand often takes intentional, persistent effort for many years for it to really resonate with its audience (or even the entire world).
Creative brainstorming for your brand can inspire exciting plans, but without a well-defined brand strategy, those suggestions are just stuck on the piece of scratch paper or boardroom whiteboard. A brand strategy is a deliberate plan and approach a company uses to build, manage, and grow its brand. It often includes elements such as target audience definition, positioning, messaging, tone of voice, value proposition, and long-term brand goals. The purpose of this strategy is to create a roadmap for how the brand will be presented to the market and how it will engage with its audience. It’s also very important to align the brand’s identity and values with the company’s business objectives.
Here’s a simple framework to help you get started on developing your brand strategy:
Step 1: Define Your Brand’s Purpose and Values
Mission Statement: Start by crafting a clear and concise mission statement that explains why your brand exists, what it aims to achieve, and the values it upholds. Why do you do what you do?
Core Values: Identify the core values that your brand embodies. There are the principles that guide your business decisions and customer interactions.
Step 2: Understand Your Target Audience
Audience Analysis: Conduct in-depth research to understand your target audience. Develop buyer personas to profile your ideal customers, considering demographics, psychographics, needs, and pain points. Interview people who are considered your target audience to understand them more personally.
Step 3: Establish Your Brand Positioning
Unique Selling Proposition (USP): Determine what sets your brand apart from competitors. Your USP is the unique benefit or advantage that your brand offers.
Brand Promise: Craft a compelling brand promise that communicates what customers can expect from your brand consistently. Let customers know they can rely on your product or service.
Step 4: Create Your Brand Identity
Visual Elements: Develop your brand’s visual identity, including your logo, color palette, typography, and design guidelines. Create a basic “style guide” that you and your team can always refer back to, in order to ensure uniformity across channels, and both internally and externally.
Tone of Voice: Define the tone and style of communication that aligns with your brand’s personality and resonates with your target audience. Are you funny and silly? Friendly and approachable? Informative and educational?
Step 5: Develop Brand Messaging
Brand Story: Craft a compelling brand story that narrates your journey, values, and mission. This story should connect with your audience emotionally. You know those little paragraphs labeled “Our Story” on the back of an organic brand of granola? The one about the 5th generation farmer starting a small cereal company out of his barn? This is a brand story. The one that makes the reader go “awe” and feel a personal connection to you and want to be a loyal customer to your brand.
Tagline: Create a memorable tagline or slogan that encapsulates your brand’s essence and promise. This most likely will be very similar to the brand promise.
Step 6: Plan Content and Marketing Strategies
Content Strategy: Define your content strategy, including the types of content you’ll produce, where you’ll share it, and the themes that align with your brand. When researching your target audience, make sure you find out what platforms they use the most and what types of content they consume.
Marketing Channels: Determine the marketing channels and platforms (social media, email, website, etc) you’ll use to reach your audience.
Step 7: Monitor and Adapt
Feedback Loop: Implement mechanisms to gather feedback from customers and monitor your brand’s performance. Be prepared to adapt your brand strategy in response to changing market conditions or customer feedback.
Step 8: Consistency is Key
Consistency: Ensure that all brand touchpoints, from advertising to customer service, reflect your brand’s identity and messaging consistently. Not only should all of the content be synonymous, it should also be regularly updated and pushed out to ensure that
Remember, a brand strategy is an ongoing process that should evolve with your business. It’s perfectly acceptable to shift your strategy if it doesn’t seem to be well received by the target audience.
Is the above step-by-step brand strategy plan still a little too daunting to tackle by yourself? We’re here to help. If you’re looking to enhance your company’s brand with the support from professional marketers, consider the invaluable support of a digital agency. At Obey Creative, we’re passionate about helping brands tell their story through the marketing strategies that truly resonate with their audience, creating lasting connections and driving meaningful engagement.
Reach out today.