A brand strategy is more than just a pretty logo and a slogan. It's how you want your business to be perceived by your customers. It’s the foundation for all of your marketing efforts, from branding and advertising to customer service and social media.
But crafting a brand strategy that will actually transform your business is a daunting task. It requires a lot of research, planning, and hard work.
In this article, we break down the process of building a brand strategy into easy-to-follow steps. We’ll also give you a framework that you can use to create your own strategy.
Before we dive into the process of building a brand strategy, let’s take a moment to define what we mean by a brand strategy.
A brand strategy is a set of goals for a company’s brand. It’s a roadmap, a blueprint. It’s a way for you to clearly articulate what you stand for as a business. A brand strategy is not a collection of short-term tactics. You can get those from your average social media "guru" architype with the latest overly-hyped tactic.
A strong brand strategy needs to have a clear goal and identify a clear vision it will incorporate into its marketing activities, securing buy-in from the top team members involved.
The people whose buy-in you need to implement your brand strategy smoothly include your manager, your key players and your customers, as well as your company's other stakeholders.
A specific and well-crafted set of goals should be motivational. However, what constitutes as motivational may vary according to who you reach out to. Great brand strategists take this into account, which means that they must attend to each stakeholder’s goals while conveying the brand strategy in ways that resonate and are motivating across the organization, not just the marketing team.
Managing your brand can be difficult; getting your various stakeholders on the same page can seem impossible. However, if you can’t secure buy-in from them, how do you expect to convince your audience that your brand is worth their time and attention?
It's important for brand strategists to have clear objectives from early on in their work. There is a gap between where you are today and how you plan to increase your brand's market share and lead the industry tomorrow. What channels do you need to have access to? Who might be possible blockers within the organization?
Convert them early on into brand proponents by allowing them to contribute to and enter a brand strategy early on. Not only will you get them involved in the brand, but you’ll also benefit from a more diverse perspective as you continue to build your strategy.
Using a goal-setting framework can support brand objectives that align with the wider organization's priorities. Building a goal-setting framework like OKRs translates the goals that have been set for the brand (as part of the broader organization) into things that sales, product, CMS and customer success can get behind without it resulting in the deletion of their jobs. Your organization wants to be able to show their team that if the brand were ultimately successful, it enables them to function and continue achieving results for the business without changes to the job definition (i.e. a derivatives requirement).
OKR is an acronym for Objective & Key Results. This framework enables its users to stay goal oriented with the end benefit in mind.
Your objective should be tailored, inspirational, and directly connected to the broader organization’s success. Try to come up with 1-2 objectives for the week that will help shape your week.
For example: Establish an online community with a strong brand voice.
This is thought to tie back to the broader goal of getting a wider global impact.
Your main result should tell you if you are successful at your key result. When 1 key result is enough will depend on the objective you’re trying to achieve. Normally you would have 2-3 key results that should be specific and measurable:
1. Establish a realistic social listening regimen by September
2. Grow our Facebook following by 25% by Q4
3. Increase our TikTok posting cadence to 4/week, by Q4
If you want to pick out OKRs that will significantly impact employee performance - you need to have data about how companies can benefit from OKRs.
Your brand strategy moves up in the world when you take your brand elements from vision, ideation and conception to successful execution. Every successful brand strategy is based on data. It needs to be data driven. In today's world, your brand strategy needs to be innovative without being jarring. Surprising but in a good way. This can be done efficiently through data-based decision making.
Your digital real estate should be a treasure trove of information. Examine your website analytics and try to see what made your site most popular.
Analyze your sales statistics and ask yourself what the key drivers are for successful conversions of customers to your brand.
Review your social data and figure out which messaging resonates strongest with your community, what they're liking or sharing.
Put yourself in your competition's shoes and conduct competitor's analyses (eg. SWOT analysis). Don't copy their strategies though but rather, understand where the gaps are and how you can position yourself to fill those gaps.
Finally, talk to your customers and internal stakeholders. These are the people on the front lines that are directly affected by the problems you're trying to solve.
Whether you are a company or the entrepreneur behind your own business, it is important to periodically reassess your brand to make sure it reflects where your business stands. It will expose gaps and opportunities that you can draft your brand strategy around. These insights will fuel the direction of your strategy and allow you to make informed decisions about how you will grow and market your brand. Originally developed for companies, the Brand Audit is perfect for entrepreneurs who are unsure whether their business is on track or requires orientation. This brand audit helps to differentiate between lack of planning and inadequate preparation. Lack of planning and preparation may leave you with a costly product launch. Successful entrepreneurs know the value of paying careful attention to opportunities and pitfalls within their brand strategy.
Talk to your customers, not just your audiences, through conversations with people in your industry who have a strong relationship with you. The differences and similarities between the insights you gather will allow you to create a well rounded brand strategy. Ask questions such as this:
- What need does your product solve for me?
- How has your experience been with our product?
- If you invited our brand to a party, would they introduce themselves like this?
- What would they be like?
After conducting your brand audit, you may develop the foundations of your brand strategy:
If you think buyer personas are only for e-commerce stores, think again. A buyer persona is a fictitious amalgamation of the characteristics, motivations, and pain points of your target audience. It makes it easier for marketers to develop messaging that appeals to them and is adjusted to their segment. Need help with one? Download a free template here to get you started.
This will transform your brand image in the eyes of your audience. In addition, you can conduct this analysis in several channels-social media, email, in-store and online.
Conduct secondary market research on your competitors by analyzing whitepapers, industry reports, and inquiries by their customers on public forums. Get feedback from your sales team on the conversations they have with prospects in regards to your competitors they are considering. Analyze the positive and negative opinions on companies from websites, social media, review sites, and anywhere else people are talking about you.
Gathering all this information will help you create a strong, motivational brand positioning statement that summarizes your key messages to your customers, helps your target audience align with your core values, and presents your team with messaging that they will get behind.
See how Hubspot captures these details in its brand positioning statement.
Since 2006, HubSpot has been on a mission to make the world more inbound. Today, over 100,000 total customers in more than 100 countries use HubSpot's award-winning software, services, and support to transform the way they attract, engage, and delight customers. Composed of HubSpot's CRM, MarketingHub, Sales Hub, and Service Hub, HubSpot gives companies the tools they need to Grow Better.
Every road should, in fact, lead back to your purpose—and here it is found in the intersection of “who you are,” “what you do,” and “where you’re going. ”Your brand purpose should be in line with your business strategy. It is what creates that emotional connection between your business and its customer segment.
Believe it or not, brands are not build by a specific brand team alone. This is not a lone wolf situation where the CEO or CMO calls the shots. Like everything else in the business, it requires a contribution from everyone. The brand team's key responsibility is in defining the brand and preparing guardrails that the rest of the departments can easily follow. You can only push a brand strategy forward by knowing the core themes of the brand.
If you want to successfully implement a brand strategy, first you need to empower your organization’s people in the appropriate fashion so as to effectively embody your brand. This comes not only from knowing and recognizing what the brand is but to go to the extent of living and breathing it.
How can companies visualize something like brand positioning and strategy when it's intangible? Easy. By creating a great brand identity as a guiding post.
Visual elements, especially images, graphics, colors, icons, and art are vibrant parts of a brand that creates the first impression for your audience. They usually form your audience's first impression of your brand.
Abstract elements such as tone and voice define the way your audience recognizes your brand. These elements define your brand messaging. The tone of your brand becomes your brand personality, and it is static and consistent. As for your brand voice (how you communicate your brand personality), it changes depending on the context.
Executing a competitive brand strategy is akin to (borrowing from Agile methodology) building a car while you're driving it. This guide helps owners set the baseline for safety and security while having a brand team react and build the brand as it tunnels along on this crazy ride. Branding needs to be nimble and adaptable enough to thrive in the always changing digital landscape.
Being adaptable focuses on the creation of habits that allow you to evaluate what you are doing to build your brand and to adapt your strategy as soon as a change or variation occurs. This means to having a strategy that allows you to move toward dedicated decision-making systems and process metrics, having a framework that aligns with the KPIs will be the best place to start. Implementing effective social listening tools like SproutSocial to navigate the social space at a more frequent cadence can help your brand address issues promptly. By getting sufficient data points to work with, your brand can establish a strong key performance indicator (KPI) metrics to understand what's working and what isn't.
Good results are the ones that can be linked clearly to their causes. They need to be measurable. Your goal is to look at metrics that make an impact. Bonus points if that impact flows across multiple departmental goals. This will further strengthen the level of buy-in you get for your brand strategy and the level of interdepartmental support it needs for it to succeed.
Yet arguably most importantly, choosing the right KPIs will give you the flexibility you need to adjust your strategies. With established desired results, you can have greater control over how you achieve them.
A successful brand strategy is the foundation of a great business. It’s the key to getting your target market to see you as the obvious choice for the products or services you offer. It also determines how you communicate with your customers, and how you position your company in the marketplace.
If you've gotten this far, you should know by now how powerful an effective brand strategy can be and how you can make your brand strategy work for you. While your brand strategy relies entirely on you to craft, we'll be more than happy to help you with the aesthetics of your brand. Mad Creative Beanstalk have worked with 100s of successful brands with great brand strategies. Get in touch and be on your way to creating your very own amazing brand today.