Essential Guide to Brand Strategy: 10 critical issues that will influence your brand
All right, let’s say you began building your company’s brand strategy with your business name, added a logo, and ta-da you’re in business. Right? Well, not exactly. Over time, your brand strategy dissolved, and the logo was changed and modified with different fonts, colors, and formatting because the look didn’t present the right brand identity for your company. Now you’re noticing that nothing is consistent.
Before we understand and apply the basics of brand strategy let’s take a look at your brand from a different perspective to get a better understanding of what changes could be made to improve online engagement such as YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and social media.
Brand strategy is a long-term all-inclusive plan, which directly connects your consumer’s wants, needs, and desires. A successful brand strategy represents the tone of voice, visual identity, and positioning of your company.
First, let’s clear up a miss understanding of brand strategy: Your logo, website, name, product, and/or letterhead are important components to an overall brand strategy.
Your brand is a combination of graphic design and marketing components that separate and identifies your brand from all others. Taglines will come and go. Products will rest away. Services will eventually become obsolete, but a good brand will live forever.
To build a successful brand strategy takes a mixture of art and science. And to help you harness the benefits and spread the word about your brand we’ve broken down the process into 10 comprehensive brand strategy steps.
10 PARTS TO BUILD A COMPREHENSIVE BRAND STRATEGY
1) Define your brand strategy and express yourself
In a marketplace where consumers are saturated with competition, it’s imperative to define exactly what you do, how you do it, and what makes you different. In short, define the purpose of your business.
Knowing the ins and outs of any business is necessary when establishing a brand strategy. Leveraging and positioning are what makes you different and essential to separating you from the competition. In other words, be something meaningful, not just another something.
Define your brand strategy before outsiders define your business. Unfortunately, day-to-day operations most often have a relaxed workplace behavior that management will tolerate from its’ employees. Business values are determined by you. Model behaviors, outcomes, collective goals, and good vision form your business profile, and ultimately, the process of growing your business and increasing the bottom line.
While achieving to be a profitable and a market leader is an important business goal for just about every company. They’re a few exceptions which strive to accomplish more than just profitability, like Harley Davidson®.
2) Uniformity and consistency is the key to building a successful brand strategy
A strong image is established by delivering a consistent message that will benefit your brand. Avoid unnecessary temptations to engage with things that don’t relate or enrich your brand. If it doesn’t align with your brand strategy it may do more harm than good.
A cohesive message will build a strong brand that’s engaging. Trust and customer loyalty are established with consistency and brand recognition.
Using brand guidelines to avoid fragmenting in advertising and confusing your customer base. Brand guidelines can contain logo positioning, color theme, style guides, placement, and messaging of important products and services. By setting up guidelines and stylesheets your brand strategy will benefit from structure.
3) Reaction– customers aren’t rational or predictable
After all, perception is the measure of value. That’s why consumers spend thousands of dollars every year on diamonds. It’s not for the actual diamond, because there’s no practical use, but for the emotional response when the diamond is given. Jewelers, law firms, and others use emotional triggers to camouflage consumers’ need vs want. Done right, it is a very successful brand strategy.
By using emotional response triggers in their advertising consumers feel (not think) and intrinsic connection to the product or service. Consumers have a natural desire to want to shop. Consumers do not like to be sold. Make sure your brand strategy takes this marketing tactic into consideration.
So, what’s the takeaway? Discover a way to relate to your customers on a stronger, more meaningful, emotional plane. It’s simple, give them what they want and make them feel important. Use marketing triggers in your brand strategy to build relationships and reward loyalty.
BRANDS I HAVE CREATED
4) Be adaptable and exceed your customers’ needs
In order to stay relevant and ahead of competition keep your creative fresh and be ready to react quickly with the new ideas. Consistency sets the standard for your brand, but flexibility and adaptability can help you quickly capture trends and take advantage of upticks. Be a trendsetter.
Successful branding campaign depends on consistency to build brand recognition, but it requires deviations to maintain interest and keep the message fresh.
Allstate’s “Mayhem” is one of the best marketing examples of maintaining brand standards and emotional creativity to connect on a higher level. As you know, the automotive insurance industry is very competitive and brands like State Farm and Geico have exploited their own niche. Each of these companies is continuously reinventing their brands to attract the younger generation with strategic messaging.
Look for the chance to entice your customer base with smart, fresh ideas. Think of unusual connections and ideas to expose your brand and grow your audience. Are there benefits that you take for granted? Is it time to look for opportunities? How long has it been since you talk to your customer base? Maybe it’s time to look at yourself from in perspective.
5) Brand recognition is not about whom you know. It’s who knows you!
As we’ve stated, getting creative and following a consistent brand strategy to deliver a unique message is imperative to building long-term success and brand. A comprehensive brand guideline can set the standards for consistent, organized display, but at the same time, it’s critical for employees to be familiar and practice brand management. If your brand strategy is built around quality products and excellent service, it would be off-brand to promote a blog about a competitors’ products, service or company. Right?
To avoid conflicting messages, brand degradation, and fragmented advertising it’s smart to depend on the skill sets of an experienced brand strategist.
6) It’s cheaper to keep dedicated customers
If you’ve already achieved brand evangelism, reward your customers for their loyalty.
Dedicated customers are difficult to come by and harder to keep. They believe in your employees, products, and services, and go out of their way to support your business. They spread the good word to their friends, share reviews, and make your business more profitable.
Often, a simple goodwill gesture or personalized thank you is all that is needed. Spotlight them on your website or blog. Make them feel like a VIP. After all, word-of-mouth endorsement is free and the most valuable form of marketing. So, what’s good for the business should be good for the customer.
Customer dedication and rewarding loyal customers are vital components of brand strategy. Spread the word, let potential customers see the value, service, and loyalty (which swings both ways) that they can expect when they do business with you.
7) Look for quick and easy opportunities to gain a competitive edge and capitalize on your brand strategy
Monitoring your competition is critical to get a competitive edge. Tract their campaigns online to improve your own brand strategy. After all, you’re both fishing the same pond. Right? What campaigns work? How do customers react? What campaigns don’t work? Why?
Use this research as leverage to boost your brand strategy. As you become the leader your area, don’t be surprised when your competition copies exactly what and how you’re doing. Be prepared to deviate your brand strategy with extraordinary creative to differentiate your business, again.
8) Find your niche and beat it like a dead horse
When assembling a brand strategy, it’s not about who is bigger. It’s about who is better. Not just a little better, considerably better in a very precise way. Exploit your nitch and competitive advantage and focus on attracting customers to grow your brand. A concentrated, consistent message is a very strong brand!
Large companies usually can’t get out of their fear of failure to alter their brand strategy. Drawn-out approval processes are necessary to make decisions leaving opportunities wide open for smaller, hungrier, businesses that can counter quickly. Timing is everything. Use your market insight to your advantage and snatch opportunities to constantly improve your brand strategy! Marketing is like a horse race. Whoever gets to the finish line first wins.
9) Go with your gut. You’ll know when it’s working it’s time to change your brand strategy
Information paralysis is a liability shared by many large businesses. Without lots of analytics and reinforcing research, they remain stationary. Smaller, more flexible companies can afford to take chances and follow their business urges. Most often, trusting your gut is the right call, but sometimes it leads to other opportunities that will benefit your brand strategy.
As you define your business’ principles, understanding profitability takes precedence, but the usefulness of strong brand strategy can help set your company apart from everyone else in your marketplace.
Always weigh the risk versus the rewards. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Take small bites and chop away market share from your competitors
10) Make an original. Over, and over, and over
Your brand strategy must be “Taylor” made buy a branding expert. After all, the foundation I’ve your company. It’s how your customer sees you. It’s everything you do to show up in the world. Your communications – visual, editorial, interactive, outdoor – it all comes together to create a total experience for anyone who comes in contact with your company. Developing a brand strategy, setting goals, and managing the different aspects of your brand strategy is critical. Understanding your market position, gaining market share, and winning the affections of your customers is a pre-requisite for success.