A brand strategy is a long-term plan that will help you to develop a successful brand and achieve a set of clearly outlined goals or objectives. If done properly it will encompass every aspect of your business, covering everything from consumer needs to the competitive environment within which you will be operating.
It is important to note that the dynamic between brands and customers has shifted significantly in the last ten years. Relationships used to be purely transactional but the proliferation of social media now means that brands must forge emotional connections through shared principles and beliefs with their audience in order to secure sustainable success.
Ultimately your brand plan needs to help you forge meaningful and valuable connections with your target audience. As these relationships are vital to the ultimate success of your business, being intentional throughout this process is imperative.
What Should My Brand Strategy Look Like?
Every strong brand needs a clear identity but you can’t begin to develop that until you have a clear strategy in place. It might be helpful to think of your brand strategy as a comprehensive plan that details what you want to achieve and how you plan to achieve it.
To complete this plan, you need to understand your brand’s:
- Core values
- Brand messaging architecture – including your value proposition, positioning and tagline
A simple Google search will immediately show you thousands of articles, infographics and white papers featuring often conflicting advice as to what should and should not be included in a brand strategy. This can very quickly become overwhelming and in many cases, a lot of the information is outdated or confusing.
The creation of an effective brand strategy can be broken down into three clear stages: discovery, identity and execution.
Your core identity forms the essence of your brand and should clearly convey the why, what and how of your business. Before doing anything else, take the time to establish:
- Why your business exists
- What your business does
- How you want your business to operate
Next, you need to ensure that you understand where your brand will sit within your marketplace in relation to your competitor brands. This information will help you to establish a clearly identified niche for your brand and to develop unique ways in which to connect with your audience.
Successful brands understand how they are perceived by others. Looking at your reviews or conducting audience research will help you to understand what people currently think of your brand. You can then identify the steps required to take to change their opinions if you want to be perceived in a different light.
Now that you understand where your brand fits, it is time to develop ways to communicate to your ideal audience who you are and what you do.
Brand Positioning and Value Proposition.
Clearly articulating what makes you different from your competition is imperative. In addition to communicating why what you have to offer is better than every other brand operating within your niche, you need to explain precisely how your products and/or services will solve the problems your audience are facing.
To successfully leverage the full potential of your content, it is crucial to establish consistent ways of talking about your brand both internally and externally. Messaging architecture is an essential component in doing this effectively, providing you and your team with easy access to the language you need to convey what makes your brand special.
Brand stories are a crucial component of any powerful content strategy. Understanding how to use language will help you to connect with your audience on an emotional level and will differentiate you from your competition.
As soon as you know who you are and the image you want to convey, the next step is to refine your communications and to begin to communicate with your audience.
Taking the time to compile a document detailing all the work you have put into establishing the who, what, why and how of your brand will ensure that every member of your team is on the same page. These guidelines should offer sufficient direction to help everyone who reads it to create work that will strengthen your brand, not weaken it.
Your content strategy should be viewed as a critical component of your overall brand strategy. Encompassing everything from copy to video, your content must always reflect your brand values and engage your audience using language that is familiar and accessible. In addition to referencing your brand strategy when creating your content, this information will also be valuable when it comes to marketing it.
Building a strong brand identity is critical to success in contemporary marketplaces and will inform a variety of important decision-making processes as your brand evolves and grows.