To spread your business and grow as an organization, you have to establish a brand marketing strategy. Think of some of the most memorable brands: Nike, Starbucks, and Coca-Cola. Do you think they blindly create random marketing materials hoping people will buy their products? No.
You don’t become a memorable brand by chance. It involves a deep dive into the foundation of your business to establish a unique, memorable, and genuine brand that resonates with consumers.
In this post, I’m going to cover all things brand strategy. Continue reading to learn what a brand strategy is, why it’s important, the components that go into a brand strategy, and how to develop a strategy for your business.
What Is A Brand Strategy
Brand strategy is the approach a business takes to create a unique, cohesive, and consistent identity. Two main elements within a brand strategy include your company’s reputation and the reputation of your products and/or services. The ultimate end goal is to become a memorable brand in the eyes of the consumer and build familiarity within the market.
When building a brand for your business, it would be senseless to go about the process without an understanding of your company, target audience, and market. At a high level, creating a brand strategy involves identifying what makes your business unique and strategically aligning it with long-term goals.
In developing a strategy for your brand, you’re able to differentiate yourself from competitors and create demand for your products and/or services. An effective business branding strategy is a reliable method to spread awareness for your business and increase profitability.
Why Is A Business Branding Strategy Important?
There are numerous reasons why creating a well-informed brand strategy is important to the success of your business. Without a brand, it’s difficult to market your business online or in person. Even if you’ve thrown together a “brand”, if it’s not strategically designed you won’t make a significant impact on the most relevant consumers.
Here are a few key reasons why you should focus on your business branding strategy:
- Differentiate your brand from competitors: No matter how unique your business or product/service is, there is always going to be competition. By identifying the components of your business, mission, values, and services that separate you from the competition, you’re more likely to stand out.
- Establish a unique brand identity: Your brand identity is your efforts to shape the perception of your brand and business. Once again, this involves identifying the components of your business that make you unique: your values, mission, personality traits, characteristics, and more.
- Build trust and earn loyalty: A large part of corporate branding is transparency and authenticity. Building your brand strategy around the genuine qualities of your business will in turn build trust within your target audience and earn brand loyalty.
- Construct the foundation for your marketing efforts: All of your advertising and marketing materials are based on your brand. By establishing a brand strategy you create the guidelines and foundation upon which every marketing initiative will revolve around.
Components Of A Brand Strategy
What makes up a brand strategy? If you’re panicking over the thought of where to begin when creating your brand strategy, don’t fret! Several core components collectively make up the framework of a brand strategy.
In the sections below, I’ll outline and explain in greater detail each of the components that go into a brand strategy.
One of the first questions to ask yourself when starting a business is this: why do you do what you do? The answer to that question is your purpose for being in business.
When you reach the point of establishing a brand, you should already know the answer to this question, but it doesn’t hurt to spend some time thinking about it. When it comes to branding your business, purpose is the driving force behind your brand identity, personality, and strategy.
In a crowded market, you have to find your greater cause and lean into it. Make it known to employees and consumers alike. If you’re a law firm that specializes in defending wrongfully convicted clients, you should incorporate that purpose into every aspect of your branding efforts.
I emphasize this point in every post about branding. The key to a successful brand is forming an emotional connection with your target audience. Customers make decisions and pledge loyalty to brands often based on emotion, not logic. The emotional component of your brand strategy involves appealing to sensations, building relationships, and connecting emotionally with customers.
When developing a brand strategy, think critically about your target audience and what they’re most likely to connect with. This involves taking your purpose and brand identity and shaping it in a way that creates a community where your target audience feels at home. If they feel at home, they’re likely to become loyal to your brand.
Building loyalty amongst your target audience is a strong way to establish a foundation for your brand. As important, if not more so, is retaining your loyal support base. Loyal customers offer two benefits to your business: a consistent source of profit and a brand ambassador.
When a consumer pledges brand loyalty, they’re emotionally connecting to your purpose and identity. See how all the components of a brand strategy work together to push your business forward.
Gaining loyalty early in the consumer’s journey is important because they choose to give their money to your business and spread the word about your brand to new audiences before considering your competitors.
Once you have their trust, you never want to lose it. To maintain loyal supporters, you have to find a way to make them feel like they are a part of your brand and reward them for the role they play as ambassadors. Some ideas for fostering loyalty might include a simple thank you post on social media, personalized letters, free merchandise and exclusive deals, featured reviews on your website, or any other creative engagement.
Consistency is a key to keep your business afloat in general. In branding, consistency helps maintain a cohesive brand that resonates with the emotions and characteristics of your target audience. It pushes your brand to the forefront of the consumer’s mind. It creates brand recognition and shapes your brand image.
Every aspect of your branding needs to be consistent. Every avenue of marketing and promotion needs clear, cohesive messaging. Images and visuals should align with your brand purpose. To shape the consumer’s perception of your brand in your favor, all of your images, copy, and other creative assets should reflect your identity.
As a company, every action you take should be harmonious and well-planned. Avoid putting anything out there about your brand that doesn’t further your business goals.
The main force working against your brand is other companies within your market. Your competition. One way to gain a leg up against competitors is to analyze their strategy. What are competitors doing to establish their own, unique brand?
A couple of questions to ask whenever you’re analyzing the competition include:
- What aspects of their branding are working for them?
- What isn’t working for them?
- How can you incorporate tactics that are working for competitors into your brand?
- How can your brand capitalize on tactics that aren’t working for the competition?
The market and consumer preferences are constantly changing. What’s trendy one week quickly dissolves to irrelevance the next. As a brand, you have to remain flexible and adapt to changing times.
Attention spans are incredibly brief and technology offers a consistent stream of new options to occupy that limited timeframe. To keep customers interested and remain relevant in the market, you have to find a way to balance flexibility with consistency.
Find the happy medium between trend-hopping and becoming outdated. No matter what changes or adaptations you make to connect with a new demographic, all of your efforts should remain aligned with your brand purpose and values.
How To Develop A Brand Strategy For Your Business
That’s a pretty comprehensive breakdown of the components that make up a brand’s strategy. I’ve already offered some of my opinions on how to effectively weave the separate elements into a cohesive strategy.
In the sections below, I’ll provide a more formulaic approach to creating a basic brand marketing strategy that your business can follow.
Pinpoint Your Core Principles
Before you can create a brand around your business, you need to clearly define and draft your mission, vision, purpose, and values. The core of your business is the core of your brand. Why do you do what you do?
If you’ve already established your principles – or you need help identifying them in the first place – write out a narrative version of your company. Your brand story tells the tale of where your company started and how it got to its current place in the present day. In that narrative, you should answer any questions consumers may have about your vision or mission.
Understand The Competition And Your Target Audience
Two additional tasks in the early phases of your brand strategy include competitive and audience research. To see how competitors are shaping their brand, you need to analyze the playing field.
You should know your major competitors from your initial business plan, so dive into their marketing strategy. This is a constant task that I mentioned earlier – competitive awareness.
To ensure that you’re shaping your strategy around the most relevant consumers, you need to understand who that is. Again, you should already have a sound understanding of your target audience if you’re in business. You can always use more knowledge and conducting surveys, focus groups, or other audience research gives you a better hold on who you are marketing your brand towards.
Establish Your Brand Identity And Personality
Once you understand your purpose and who you’re marketing to, craft your identity and personify your purpose and values. Your identity is comprised of tangible elements like your name and slogan as well as more creative, conceptual elements like personality and voice.
Creating your brand personality involves identifying the characteristics your target audience connects with. For example, if you’re a healthcare facility your brand should exude trustworthiness, professionalism, and expertise.
This phase of the process takes the core components of your brand and transforms those ideas into creative vessels. Those vessels spread your brand and business to consumers.
Develop Your Visual Brand Assets
While there are multiple avenues to advertise your business, visual marketing is an extremely effective source. To do so, you need to visualize your brand. Take your core principals, personality, and voice, and form a visual identity for them.
The components of visual branding that you should consider include;
For a complete library of visual assets that you can use across your website, print advertising, and digital marketing, consider hiring a professional photographer for a business photo shoot. You must find the right photographer who understands how to interpret your purpose and personality through brand imagery.
Commercial video production is another type of visual marketing to consider investing in. If you hire a team for a video project, don’t forget to include a production stills photographer. On-set stills can increase the longevity and profit margin of your video production. It’s also a surefire way to combine photo and video to get the most bang for your buck.
Create Brand Guidelines
As you’ll need to maintain a consistent flow of branded creative assets to keep your online presence updated, you should create brand guidelines so every piece of content is consistent. More importantly, it allows anyone on your team to create branded content – whether they just joined your team or have been with you since day one.
Your brand style guide should define all of the qualities and characteristics that make up your brand identity, personality, and visuals. Again, this helps your brand remain consistent through the test of time.
Work With Casey Templeton To Build Your Visual Brand Strategy
And with that, you’ve made it through brand strategy 101! While it takes time to establish and build your brand, the information I provided should give you a solid starting point. Remember to be patient and purposeful when creating your strategy. To separate yourself from the competition and build a loyal support base, you need to be unique and stand out.
Casey Templeton Photography offers professional photography services that are catered to your brand’s strategy. Casey has extensive technical knowledge behind the lens and years of experience in business branding across numerous industries and sizes. To learn more or work together on creating your visual brand strategy, fill out one of our contact forms.