A brand, simply put, is the way people feel about your business. For some businesses, a brand is something that happens incidentally. Their brand just “happens” over time as a result of focusing and developing other important aspects of their business.
For example, when working on marketing campaigns, they realise having a consistent underlying message helps to strengthen their marketing strategy. Or they recognise that certain values help attract clients that they particularly like working with, so they focuse on highlighting those values. These sorts of things — like developing messaging and values — are exactly what go into creating a strong brand, and as time goes on, this brand would become more and more well defined.
This is a very organic way to develop a brand, but often isn’t the fastest or most effective way to do it — particularly when a business is new and trying to gain traction. Instead, you can build your brand in a purposeful and strategic way. This allows you to have more control over your brand’s development and take more care to create the kind of brand you want.
Remember, your brand is a critical part of your business. It:
- gives you a message to market and sell your services
- attracts clients to your business
- allows you to stand out and distinguish yourself from the competition
Your business needs good branding to be sustainable. So, like any important aspect of your business, it makes sense to be strategic about it. This is why you need a brand strategy.
Related post: Is a lack of brand strategy holding your business back?
What is brand strategy?
A brand strategy is a plan for how you will build the brand you want to own. It is driven by a brand goal and outlines the core foundation components that must be kept consistent in order to create cohesive branding.
Confused about the distinction between “a brand” and “branding”? Check out: What is branding and why is it important?
A good brand strategy also considers the audience of your brand and how your brand will relate to them. As you define your values, your purpose and the attributes of your brand (more on that below), think about how it helps to create a strong connection between your brand and your target market.
Examples of brand strategy goals
Following are just a few examples of goals you can focus on. No matter what kind of business-related aims you may have, strengthening your brand will help you close in on them. These are some of the ways you can do that.
Raising brand awareness
This is about improving the recognisability of your brand and it helps with “getting your name out there”. This is what you want to do when you’re establishing your business in a new industry, or aiming to gain a wider reach in the market.
For raising brand awareness, having a consistent message and identity design throughout your marketing is critical. It takes multiple impressions before a person will start to take note of your brand and you want to make sure they can make a connection between those impressions. There should be a clear uniformity in the look, sound and feel of your branding.
For more on this objective, read my post on how to build brand awareness organically in 4 steps.
Earning brand loyalty
This is so important when it comes to building lasting relationships with your clients. It’s also a key part of building a thriving community of people who like and follow your brand.
Repeat clients are far easier to market and sell to, compared to an audience who are new to your brand. You want to build a brand that encourages people to stick around and continue gaining value from your business even after they’ve made their first purchase. People who are loyal to your brand also make great brand advocates and this can go a long way towards building trust quickly with new prospects and gaining more clients.
Improving brand equity
Brand equity refers to the overall image of your brand and the value this brings to your business. Positive brand equity helps your business be more profitable, while negative brand equity hurts you.
Having strong core values and sticking to them, as well as delivering on your promises are important parts of strengthening your brand equity. It can help to establish things like a sense of high quality that allows you to charge premium prices and attract high-end clients. Very positive brand equity makes your brand look like a more valuable choice over your competition.
How to create a brand strategy
Aside from defining your goals, there are two other elements that I like to outline with clients when I work on their brand strategy. The two other elements are: client needs and brand foundation.
So here are the three components of brand strategy (according to me, at least)!
- Goals — As I mentioned in the earlier section, your goal sets the target for your brand strategy. It’s what you’re aiming to achieve with the objectives you implement through your brand strategy.
- Client needs — Your clients are such a vital part of the health of your brand. In the end, you’re building your brand for them (not for yourself).
- Brand foundation — These are the core components of your branding. The values, traits and vision that sets your business apart and is underlying everything you do.
Essentially, every time you create a new piece of branding or really any decision related to your business, you can use this framework to determine whether the decision is right for your brand or not. Whether you’re trying a new marketing campaign, creating a new piece of content, changing your logo, targeting a new type of client — whatever it is you’re doing! — you can can assess:
- Is this going to get me closer to hitting my goal?
- Does it fulfil the needs of my clients?
- Is it in line with my brand values, purpose and personality?
If it’s “yes’s” all round, then you know you’re on the right track and are making progress in a way that is aligned with your brand strategy.
An example of how a lack of strategic branding hurts businesses
Let’s say your business has a beautiful, sleek website where you sell high-end luxury goods, but then potential customers are faced with a clunky-looking checkout system. What’s the likely result? Chances are you’ll lose customers. Why? Because the brand experience from your website and the experience from the checkout don’t match. The customer is left unsure of whether your brand is really for them at all.
This is exactly what you can avoid if you develop your business with a brand strategy in mind. Maybe having a very basic design allowed you do cut costs. But what about the cost of damaging the impression of your brand?
With a good brand strategy in place, you’ll be able to make business decision in a more calculated way. You can measure whether or not your brand is adding value to your business or whether it could use more work. You can analyse whether your checkout system (or sales strategy, or logo design, or next social media post) is a good fit for what you’re trying to communicate with your branding. Everything will be driven by a common goal, helping you to create a smooth, consistent experience for your clients.
Related post: Why you need to design a great brand experience
So, what I want you to take away from this post is: be strategic with your branding.
You might think building a brand is all about having a nice logo with pretty colours and professional photos, but unless all those things are created with a strategy in mind, then there’s no real way to know if they will actually help your business to grow, attract more ideal customers, and make you profit.
If you’d like to discuss how you can develop a brand strategy for your own business, I welcome you to get in touch for a free clarity session. We’ll map out the steps you can take to strengthen your brand and reach your next goal.
Looking for more content? Try these:
- A complete guide to creating a brand that perfectly suits your business
- Why you need to define your ideal client
- Should you hire a graphic designer for your small business?
- Why brand identity is important for your business
- The 4 branding basics you need to unleash your business
- 5 reasons why your brand isn’t working and how to fix it
- How to rebrand to reach your business goals faster