It’s impossible to think of a product that isn’t influenced for better or worse by its branding. Just look at something as basic as bottled water. You can probably name several major brands off the top of your head: Fiji, Evian, and Dasani are just a few examples. Some may be from the Swiss Alps and others from an urban tap. But the thing that stands out most about them to consumers and influences buying decisions? Their brand. That’s likely due to the brand strategy behind it.
A brand strategy is essential for a successful business, yet it’s not exactly tangible. It’s defined more by the emotions around what a brand stands for, its values, and its personality as conveyed through products and marketing.
When successful, a brand strategy can help make a brand identity so powerful that it becomes like an extension of its core consumers, an emblem of their own needs, styles, and beliefs. For entrepreneurs and large and small businesses, powerful branding can pave a path for long-term success.
Ready to create a new branding strategy that will help your brand stand out? Follow our lead.
Table of Contents
What Is Brand Strategy?
Brand strategy is the roadmap for everything about your brand, from look to behaviors to marketing strategy. Even if your only interest for the moment is creating a brand logo and name, you should craft your complete brand strategy first.
Here’s why: A strong brand has a complete personality or identity that includes a distinct style, core values, trademark visuals, products, and voice, all of which are crafted to underscore the brand’s desired perception. Your logo and brand name need to be created with consideration for your desired brand identity.
Read through the following nine steps. If you’ve got ‘em nailed, you have your brand strategy and can move on to planning your brand awareness strategy (also below). If not, discover how to refine all the essential elements needed to define a strong brand strategy.
9 Steps To Creating Your Brand Strategy
Get these right, you’re on your way to creating a long-term recognizable brand.
1. Define Your Internal Brand
Everything starts here. This is your brand as you see it: its purpose, vision, value proposition, mission (objectives), strategy, and definition of long-term success. Define this clearly and you can use it as a moral compass for everything that follows.
2. Identify Your Target Market
Unless you’re selling sugar, you can’t please everyone. Don’t try. Identify your target market or your core consumer (aka buyer persona) and set your sights on pleasing the hell out of them.
3. Craft Your Market Position
There are simple questions you can answer that will lead you to your market position. For example:
- What makes you different from your competitors?
- What does your target market need and want?
- How can you problem solve for them and make the lives of your target audience easier or better?
- How can your efforts corner some market share?
These are the questions you should ask yourself to define your market position.
4. Create Your Brand Personality
The phrase, “Know your audience” has never been more meaningful. If you want to reach your target market, you have to appeal to them through your products, designs, and personality. Craft your brand personality to be compatible with your target market.
Better yet, make them best friends. If your brand was a person, what would he, she, or they be like to win the heart of your buyer persona? Whoever that is, that’s your brand personality. Make sure your written and visual voice keeps in step. Want a great example? Think of Barbie. Pink, frilly script. Vibrant colors. On-trend fashions. Penthouse homes and convertible cars. You always know what you’re going to get with her: all things feminine, fun, and fabulous.
5. Understand Your Brand Positioning
Brand positioning is how your brand fits into the world and the perceptions of your target market.
Coca-Cola, BMW, Apple, Tiffany & Co., and Patagonia all have great brand positioning. These brand names bring to mind more than a soda, car, computer, necklace, or puffy vest. Each has its own distinct way of separating itself from its competitors and conjuring an identifiable lifestyle, be it with a hearty dash of joyful Americana, sporty-chic travel, designer tech, expensive elegance, or eco-friendly ruggedness.
As you consider your brand positioning, take into account what your core consumers want, what your brand is able to successfully deliver, and how your brand positioning differs from that of your competitors. Then craft a brand positioning statement by using a few key words that define the heart of your brand (e.g., “sugar-free, delicious, and gorgeous” or “luxurious, understated, and modern”).
Now when you craft creative messaging for your branding initiatives (products, visual identity design, package design, communications, customer service) make sure it’s in line with your brand positioning. The better you get at this, the higher your consumers’ perception of brand equity and credibility will be, not to mention consumer loyalty.
6. Create Your Brand Name
While you may already have a brand name in play, it’s a good time to reflect on the above and make sure it is the right fit for your internal brand and brand personality. Whether it’s literal (The Home Depot) or creative (GOOP), make sure it’s on point.
7. Consider a Tagline or Slogan
Not all brands have taglines or slogans, but they can be very powerful ways to emphasize your brand identity. How powerful? Consider “The Happiest Place on Earth!” You know where we’re talking about without even mentioning the brand. If you want to brainstorm taglines and slogans, check out some famous examples.
8. Design Your Brand Identity
Once you’ve outlined the foundation of your brand, you can start to bring it to life through visuals or brand identity. A logo may be part of brand identity, but it doesn’t dictate it. In fact, the opposite is true. Everything you’ve crafted above to help define your brand should influence the visuals representing your brand.
Following are the items that fall under brand identify that you should carefully design:
As you know, your logo is one of the most important and prevalent visual representations of your brand identity design. Get inspiration here, then, if you don’t have one already, design your own using a free logo maker or tap the template below to make it your own.
Signature colors make an incredible visual impact and can become synonymous with your brand, especially once your consumer becomes loyal to you. Ever heard of “Tiffany blue”? Enough said. Choose your colors wisely.
When choosing colors, make sure they go well together. Need inspiration? Check out 101 brilliant color combinations or tap the template below to explore options.
There are a gazillion fonts to choose from. Do you use serif, sans serif, italics, or boldface for your text? Choose styles that fit your brand and use them consistently in order to create an identifiable, reliable look.
Photos can convey dramatically different vibes. Think about images found in “National Geographic” versus “Martha Stewart Living” versus Nike versus Starbucks. Their style says a lot more about the brand than what their photos convey. With great free photography editing tools like filters, text overlays, and more, you can and should conceptualize a distinctive photographic style and stick to it. Like the template below? Tap it to customize it.
Whether for new products, packaging, social media, brochures, newsletters, or in-store displays, graphics are another important element of your brand strategy. They’re also incredibly easy to produce if you use free digital graphic design templates. Like the animated graphic template below? Tap it to customize.
9. Create Your Brand Collateral
If you’ve created your logo, selected colors and typography, and defined your visual and written voice, you have everything you need to craft your brand collateral.
Brand collateral elements include:
- Business cards (use a free online template)
- Store signage
- Social media pages (get free design templates for all your social media needs)
- Brochures (here’s another free template!)
- Flyers (yup, more template freedom)
- Stationery (free letterhead design)
- Promotional items
Make a Brand Awareness Strategy
The whole point of creating a brand strategy is to reach brand goals defined by you. Now that you’ve done all the hard work, you can put it to use with a brand awareness strategy.
A brand awareness strategy is a detailed outline of the initiatives you plan to execute to further the visibility and impact of your brand. These initiatives can include advertising, promotions, social media, marketing, new product development, and more.
As you probably know, why you choose these strategies is as important as what you include in them. They should tie back to your internal brand and underscore your brand guidelines, priorities, and long-term goals. Luckily, you know what they are now!
The more you think about and understand your motivations for all your brand initiatives, the better your chances of success with them. You can anticipate the impact of your actions, check yourself to make sure what you’re doing and why line up, and confirm everything planned addresses your objective, consumers, and long-term desires. Stay the course and your brand strategy will reward you with heightened visibility and loyalty, and hopefully revenues to match.