What to include in a brand strategy
A comprehensive brand strategy is essential in defining who your business is and what makes it unique. It helps to connect all your brand elements and outlines how you’ll manage perceptions around your brand.
An effective brand strategy will also help you to make your mark within the competitive landscape and connect with your consumers on a deeper level.
Think of brands like Nike, Coca-Cola and Apple.
What makes these brands iconic isn’t the quality of their products, but the power of their brand and the effectiveness of their brand strategy.
But wait, what exactly is a brand?
Let’s be clear. Your brand is not your business colours or the fonts you use or even your logo.
We like to think of a brand as the sum of perceptions that are held about you, your business and what you offer.
A brand is hugely impacted by its visual elements, but it’s so much bigger than what you look like. It’s about how people feel when they interact with you, what they think about you and how you compare in relation to your competitors.
It’s all the tangible and intangible parts of your business combined and wrapped up in the minds of your audience.
Make sense? Great! Now that we’ve got that covered, let’s look at how you can smash the new financial year with a better brand strategy.
What to include in your brand strategy
1. Brand goals
Brand goals are one of the most important elements of a brand strategy. After all, you need to know where you’re headed before you can figure out how to get there, right?
Think hard about what you want to achieve. Are there any challenges you want to overcome or any perceptions about your brand that you’d rather shift?
These goals should be ‘big picture’ goals, ones that will ultimately shape who you become over the years.
With this in mind, it’s important to spend some time working through them to ensure you get to the crux of where you want to go.
For example, a brand with high-quality products but with a perception of being overpricing might make it a goal to properly communicate the value of their products so that the price & quality are aligned in the consumer’s eyes.
2. Research, research, research
Research helps to drive decisions with data rather than assumptions. The result? A much more powerful brand.
It helps you to see what you’re doing well, and what you could improve, what others are doing well and where you can take inspiration. It can also help you understand who is using your products or services and what motivates them, as well as who doesn’t and why.
Without research, you’re essentially feeling around in the dark.
Some of the areas we find most useful to research include:
- Brand audit (review all of your current design collateral and evaluate it against your goals)
- Competitor research (who are your competitors? What are they doing well? What are people saying about them?)
- Digital & data analysis (how are people using your website? What search terms are they using? What is your most popular content?)
- Customer research (who are your customers? Why do they love your brand? What could you do better?)
Of course, there are so many other areas you could look into. But starting with these will give you a solid base for building your brand strategy.
3. Brand positioning
Brand positioning defines who you are as a business, how you compare to your competitors and how you solve problems for your customers.
Oftentimes, actual positioning and ideal positioning don’t align. We all want to be the biggest and the best in our industry, but whether this is actually the case lies with your customers and how they perceive you.
This is why research is such an important element of a brand strategy; it helps to uncover perceptions about your brand that you might not have been aware of and gives you the opportunity to do something about it.
With this in mind, we find it really useful to include actual positioning and ideal positioning in your brand strategy. This helps to outline the steps you need to take in order to reach that ideal positioning mark.
4. Brand personality
Your brand personality is the human characteristics you want people to associate with your brand.
Think of your brand as a person. How do they relate to your audience? What do they value? How do they speak?
Building a strong brand personality is key to building strong relationships with your audience.
Why? Because it gives them a sense of who you are and a reason to choose you over all the other businesses in your space.
For a brand personality to be successful, it needs to be woven throughout everything that you do. From your social posts and website copy to things as trivial as your invoices.
There are so many exercises you can do to flesh out your personality. One you can try today is simply compiling a list of adjectives that describe your brand. Is it funny, caring and lighthearted? Or maybe formal, strong and matter-of-fact?
Did you know that our brains process images 60,000 times faster than text? Mind blown!
In the context of your brand, that means that your visual elements will be interpreted 60,000 times faster than your copy.
Remember when we said a brand isn’t just your visual elements? Well, it’s not. But visual elements play an important role in forming first impressions.
Think about when you meet someone. The first thing you notice isn’t what they say or how they make you feel. It’s how they’re dressed, what their hair looks and any body language or facial expressions.
The same is true for your brand. These visual elements convey instant messages that can’t be expressed through words. They also help to establish an association with your business and communicate key elements about who you are and what you’re all about.
In essence, your visual identity isn’t the be-all and end-all of your brand. But nailing it with great creative and consistency across all channels is essential to developing a killer brand strategy.
Knowing exactly what to include in your brand strategy can be a challenge for even the most successful brands. Need some help with yours? Let’s chat!