“Brand Strategy” is a buzz word in the branding and marketing world today. Everyone is talking about it, but very few are actually telling you how to do it. So let’s go ahead and break that down.
First off, What is Brand Strategy?
To put it simply, your brand strategy is the roadmap to building your brand. You wouldn’t confidently put a new product out into the market without doing your research, the same goes for a brand. It is what is used to select the appropriate colors, fonts, imagery, and content for each part of your business and customer experience.
In the digital, highly competitive, consumer-driven age we live in, a brand needs to be more than just a logo. People are no longer buying something because it’s their only option. They buy because a brand understands who they are and how to relate to them. How do brands do that? Brand Strategy.
There are Six Key Components of Brand Strategy That Make Up the Foundation for All Strategic Brands.
- Buyer Personas
- Buyer Journeys
- Competitor Analysis
- Brand Positioning
- Core Values
- Brand Voice
1. Buyer Personas
Knowing your buyers is by far the most important part of developing a brand. They are the people who will determine if your brand is worth buying from.
There are two parts to knowing your audience.
- Demographics–which are also sometimes called segmentations–these are the characteristics about your audience that you can learn by looking at them. Things like gender, age, race, class, etc. They are the kinds of buckets that marketers used to put buyers in before the age of the internet. While these used to be the only thing you needed to know about your audience, they are some of the least helpful in building a strong brand today.
- Psychographics–the way your audience thinks, feels, and experiences the world–are the real key to understanding your buyers. These are the elements of your buyers personalities that are actually going to tell you how to connect with them. Think about what moves them. What do they love? What do they hate? What are they scared of? What are they motivated by? These kinds of questions will give you a glimpse into what you can do as a brand to make their lives and buying from you easier.
Sit down and write out all the demographic and psychographics you can think of for your audience. You can even go a step further and interview some of your past customers. This gives you an actual glimpse into their thought processes and personalities.
Once you’re done, compile all of those elements into an individual Client/Customer Profile so it is easy to access and return to throughout the rest of the process.
2. Buyer Journeys
Buyer journeys are the different touchpoints and phases your audience will go through on their way to experiencing your brand.
In Nicholas J Webb’s book, What Customers Crave, he talks about five main touchpoints. Each brand and business will have a unique number of touchpoints, but these are an excellent place to start while you’re figuring out what is best for your specific buyers.
NOTE: each different buyer persona and customer type is going to have a different journey.
- The Pre-Touchpoint: When a customer is researching whether they want to engage with your product or service.
- The First Touchpoint: The initial contact with your brand… the place to make a good first impression.
- The Core Touchpoint: The point at which customers are now engaging with your product or service.
- The Perfect Last Touchpoint: The off-boarding/last interaction where you want to leave the customer wanting more.
- The In-Touchpoint: Your marketing follow-up and stream of valuable content that you share with past customers to keep them coming back.
Using what you’ve learned from your buyer personas, fill out a customer journey map that includes what your buyers are feeling at each phase AND what you can do to help elevate their experience to move them along to the next one.
3. Competitor Analysis
Your competitors are going to tell you a lot about how you should be developing your brand–especially since they are the people your buyers can choose instead of you.
Review each company. What do you like that they are doing? What do you not like? What are they doing well? What could you be doing better? By reviewing your competitors you can see what has already been done that is working, while also finding out what you do that can clearly set you apart.
You don’t need to reinvent the wheel, but you also don’t want to simply copy what everyone else in your industry is doing. A thorough competitor analysis of both your small and large competitors will prepare you for your brand’s positioning and differentiation.
4. Brand Positioning
Brand positioning is how your business and brand is categorized in the minds of your customers. Once you have done your competitor analysis, you will have a better idea of where you might fit in the market.
In Al Ries and Jack Trout’s book, Positioning: How to be Seen and Heard in the Overcrowded Marketplace, they talk about the importance of developing the right positioning, especially if your product or service is not the first in the market.
Here are a few questions they recommend answering to get you started:
- What position do you own? Meaning, where do you exist in your market’s mind?
- What position do you WANT to own? Where do you WANT to be in the mind of your market? Note, you cannot take a spot that is already taken up. Be creative.
- Whom must you outgun? Pay attention to your competition. Is someone already in the position you want to take? Ries and Trout do NOT recommend going head to head with big name brands or businesses that already have a claim in the market. If you find this is the case, consider finding a different position.
- Do you have enough money? Vying for a position in the market’s mind can get pricey… especially if you’re using ad spend. If you don’t have a major ad budget, consider niching your market down and hyperfocusing your efforts there.
- Can you stick it out? Really positioning yourself in the market takes long-term strategy and requires commitment to work.
- Do you match your position? Can you and will you walk the walk and talk the talk?
5. Core Values
Your business core values are another element of your brand’s strategy. These are what make your brand feel human. In the highly competitive market we currently live in, buyers are interested in purchasing from companies they connect with. There are dozens of companies all selling the same things, so one of the ways they have differentiated is through the values they embody and present.
Create a list of potential core values that your business could take on. Then, using your buyer personas, see which of those values align with some of your customers. Not all of your values have to align, but I strongly encourage at least three of them be ones that are also important to your customers.
If you’re struggling to come up with potential core values, here’s a list of ideas to get you started.
The final part of your brand strategy, before you’re ready to dive in and start designing your brand identity and marketing plan, is to determine your brand voice and tone. These will help ensure your copy and story are absorbed and resonated with.
Are you wanting to be a friend to your audience? A mentor? Should you use technical jargon or keep things casual?
It should come as no surprise that you will be referencing your buyer personas for this part of your strategy as well. Reflect on how your audience is feeling at each phase of their buyer journey. What do they need to hear from you and HOW do they need to hear it? What will turn them off of buying and what will make them scream about your product or service from the rooftops?
You might notice that you will have a different tone for each buyer persona. This is normal. What’s important is that you keep the type of language consistent so that your voice becomes recognizable.
Need Help Developing Your Own Brand Strategy?
All of these are steps you can take to build a stronger, more strategic brand. “Brand strategy” isn’t just a fancy term marketers are floating around. It’s a standard for anyone wanting to find success in their branding efforts.
Take some time with each of these steps and see what comes up for you and your business. I’d love to hear what you discover.
As always, if you find yourself having questions or if you’d like a little extra help, book a free discover call with us!