Do you want to take a closer look at your marketing strategy but not sure where to start? How about nailing one of the keys to success - your brand strategy.
Your brand isn’t the products you sell, the logo you use, or even your name. Your brand is the intangible feeling your brand creates that resonates with your future and current customers on a far more primal, emotional level... and it’s that hard-to-pin-down feeling that separates powerhouse brands from mediocre ones.
For example, when you buy a ruby red can of Coca-Cola it isn’t just just the soft drink you’re getting, it’s also that feeling the brand gives you... through excellent strategy and years of solid marketing you know that Coca-Cola embodies happiness.
Here are some others you might know…
- Apple isn’t about the technology, they embody creativity.
- Nike isn’t just a shoe, they represent achieving.
- Harley Davidson isn’t a motorcycle, their brand embodies rebelling.
- Suzuki isn’t just a car, it’s an adventure.
None of this would be possible without a comprehensive brand strategy. It’s critical to be aware of your brand experience and have a plan to create the brand experience that you want your customers and prospects to have. After all, a good brand doesn’t just happen - it’s a well thought out and strategic plan.
Many small organisations and start-ups neglect to spend necessary time thinking about their brand in this broad sense and the impact it has on their business.
When you think about your brand, you really want to think about your entire customer experience… everything from your logo, your website, your social media experiences, the way you answer the phone, to the way your customers experience your staff, and the type of branded items you have.
When you look at this broad definition of branding, it can be a bit overwhelming to think about everything that is involved in your brand, but in short, your brand is the way your customer perceives you.
Benefits of having a comprehensive brand strategy
There are many benefits to a comprehensive brand strategy.
Running this emotional golden thread through your brand creates loyalty, return customers, and ardent brand evangelists. And this magical feeling is why we say people don’t buy products or services - they buy better versions of themselves.
A well-defined and executed brand strategy affects all aspects of a business and is directly connected to consumer needs, emotions, and competitive environments. It also affects all aspects of a business and is directly connected to consumer needs, emotions, and competitive environments. It is critical to be aware of your brand experience and have a plan to create the brand experience that you want your customers to have.
Here are some key advantages of the benefits of a solid brand strategy:
- A BRAND STRATEGY AFFECTS ALL OF YOUR MARKETING
A brand strategy informs all of your other strategies! Without fundamentally understanding who you are as a brand, it is near impossible to build out a solid communication and media strategy, all of which inform your actual advertising.
- BRANDING PROMOTES RECOGNITION.
People tend to do business with companies they are familiar with. If your branding is consistent and easy to recognise, it can help people feel more at ease purchasing your products or services. This also plays on the mere-exposure effect, where people demonstrate a preference for things they’ve already seen before.
- YOUR BRAND HELPS SET YOU APART FROM THE COMPETITION.
In today’s global market, it is critical to stand apart from the crowd. You aren’t competing on a local stage, your organisation now competes in the global economy, so you need to ask yourself: How do we stand out from the thousands or millions of similar organisations around the world?
- YOUR BRAND TELLS PEOPLE ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS DNA.
Your full brand experience, from the visual elements like the logo to the way that your phones are answered, tell your customer about the kind of company that you are. Are all of these points of entry telling the right story?
- YOUR BRAND PROVIDES MOTIVATION AND DIRECTION FOR YOUR STAFF.
A clear brand strategy provides the clarity that your staff needs to be successful. It tells them how to act, how to win, and how to meet the organisation’s goals.
- A STRONG BRAND GENERATES REFERRALS.
People love to tell others about the brands they like (one of the pros of social media). People wear brands, eat brands, listen to brands, and they’re constantly telling others about the brands they love. On the flip side, you can’t tell someone about a brand you can’t remember.
- A STRONG BRAND HELPS CUSTOMERS KNOW WHAT TO EXPECT.
A brand that is consistent and clear puts the customer at ease because they know exactly what to expect each and every time they experience the brand.
- YOUR BRAND REPRESENTS YOU AND YOUR PROMISE TO YOUR CUSTOMER.
It’s important to remember that your brand represents you… you are the brand, your staff is the brand, your marketing materials are the brand. What do they say about you, and what do they say about what you’re going to deliver (promise) to the customer?
- YOUR BRAND HELPS YOU CREATE CLARITY AND STAY FOCUSED.
It’s very easy to wander around from idea to idea with nothing to guide you… it doesn’t take long to be a long way from your original goals or plans. A clear brand strategy helps you stay focused on your mission and vision as an organisation. Your brand can help you be strategic and will guide your marketing efforts saving time and money.
- YOUR BRAND HELPS YOU CONNECT WITH YOUR CUSTOMERS EMOTIONALLY.
A good brand connects with people at an emotional level, they feel good when they buy the brand. Purchasing is an emotional experience and having a strong brand helps people feel good at an emotional level when they engage with the company.
- A STRONG BRAND PROVIDES YOUR BUSINESS VALUE.
A strong brand will provide value to your organisation well beyond your physical assets.
Your brand needs to permeate your entire organisation. When your organisation is clear on the brand and can deliver on the promise of the brand.
Now that you understand why you need a brand strategy, here are seven key components that go into creating a brand strategy.
Seven key components of any brand strategy
How can you define your business' purpose?
Purpose can be viewed in two ways:
- Functional: This concept focuses on the evaluations of success in terms of immediate and commercial reasons -- i.e. the purpose of the business is to make money.
- Intentional: This concept focuses on success as it relates to the ability to make money and do good in the world.
While making money is important to almost every business, people admire brands that emphasise their willingness to achieve more than just profitability, like the American Furniture Store IKEA: IKEA's vision isn't just to sell furniture, but rather, to "create a better everyday life." This approach is appealing to potential customers, as it demonstrates their commitment to providing value beyond the point of sale.
When defining your business' purpose, keep this example in mind. While making money is a priority, operating under that notion alone does little to set your brand apart from others in your industry.
My advice? Dig a little deeper. If you need inspiration, check out the brands you admire, and see how they frame their mission and vision statements.
In an effort to give your brand a platform to stand on, you need to be sure that all of your messaging is cohesive. Ultimately, consistency contributes to brand recognition, which fuels customer loyalty. (No pressure, right?)
To see a great example of consistency, let's look at Coca-Cola. As a result of its commitment to consistency, every element of the brand's marketing works harmoniously together. This has helped it become one of the most recognisable brands in the world.
Even on the surface of its social media accounts, for example, the seamlessness of its brand is very apparent. To avoid leaving potential customers struggling to put the disconnected pieces of your business together, consider the benefits of creating a style guide. A style guide can encompass everything from the tone of voice you'll use to the color scheme you'll employ to the way you'll position certain products or services.
By taking the time to define and agree upon these considerations, your brand will benefit as a whole.
Customers aren't always rational. How else do you explain the person who paid thousands of thousands more for a Harley rather than buying another cheaper, equally well-made bike? There was an emotional voice in there somewhere, whispering: “Buy a Harley.”
Harley Davidson uses emotional branding by creating a community around its brand. It began HOG -- Harley Owners Group -- to connect their customers with their brand (and each other). By providing customers with an opportunity to feel like they're part of a larger group that's more tight-knit than just a bunch of motorcycle riders, Harley Davidson is able to position themselves as an obvious choice for someone looking to purchase a bike.
Why? People have an innate desire to build relationships. People have a basic psychological need to feel closely connected to others, and that caring, affectionate bonds from close relationships are a major part of human behavior.
Not to mention, belongingness -- the need for love, affection, and being part of groups -- falls directly in the middle of Maslow's hierarchy of needs, which aims to categorise different human needs.
The lesson to be learned? Find a way to connect with your customers on a deeper, more emotional level. Do you give them peace of mind? Make them feel like part of the family? Do you make life easier? Use emotional triggers like these to strengthen your relationship and foster loyalty.
In this fast-changing world, marketers must remain flexible to stay relevant. You may be thinking, "Wait a minute, how am I supposed to remain consistent while also being flexible?"
Good question. While consistency aims to set the standard for your brand, flexibility enables you to make adjustments that build interest and distinguish your approach from that of your competition.
A great example of this type of strategic balance comes from Old Spice. These days, Old Spice is one of the best examples of successful marketing across the board. However, up until recently, wearing Old Spice was pretty much an unspoken requirement for dads everywhere. Today, it's one of the most popular brands for men of all ages.
The secret? Flexibility.
Between new commercials, a new website, new packaging, and new product names, Old Spice managed to attract the attention of a new, younger generation by making strategic enhancements to its already strong brand.
So if your old tactics aren’t working anymore, don’t be afraid to change. Just because it worked in the past doesn't mean it's working now.
Take the opportunity to engage your followers in fresh, new ways. Are there some out-of-the-box partnerships your brand can make? Are there attributes about your product you never highlighted? Use those to connect with new customers and remind your old ones why they love you.
5. Employee Involvement
As I mentioned before, achieving a sense of consistency is important if you wish to build brand recognition. And while a style guide can help you achieve a cohesive experience, it's equally important for your employees to be well versed in the how they should be communicating with customers and representing the brand.
By holding your employees to your core values, you will build a strong reputation for solid, human customer service.
If you already have people that love you, your company, and your brand, don’t just sit there. Reward them for that love.
These customers have gone out their way to write about you, to tell their friends about you, and to act as your brand ambassadors. Cultivating loyalty from these people early on will yield more returning customers -- and more profit for your business.
Sometimes, just a thank you is all that's needed. Other times, it's better to go above and beyond. Write them a personalised letter. Sent them some special swag. Ask them to write a review, and feature them prominently on your website. (Or all of the above!)
Loyalty is a critical part of every brand strategy, especially if you're looking to support your sales organisation. At the end of the day, highlighting a positive relationship between you and your existing customers sets the tone for what potential customers can expect if they choose to do business with you.
7. Competitive Awareness
Take the competition as a challenge to improve your own strategy and create greater value in your overall brand. You are in the same business and going after the same customers, right? So watch what they do.
Do some of their tactics succeed? Do some fail? Tailor your brand positioning based on their experience to better your company.
Brands are getting increasingly playful online, as this tweet from KFC shows:
And while staying in tune with your competitor's strategies is important if you want to enhance your brand, but don't let them dictate each and every move you make.
Sure, you probably sell a similar product or service as many other companies, but you're in business because your brand is unique. By harping on every move your competitor makes, you lose that differentiation.
Now that you have a better understanding of why you need a brand strategy and what goes into one, we hope you’ll look at your brand with a critical eye to see if you’re all up to scratch.
If not, contact us and we can make some magic happen!