6 Things to Know About Building a Brand Strategy

November
15th, 2019
Keyhole - Content Marketing - Joe Dudeck
Joe Dudeck
President + Founder
November
15th, 2019
Keyhole - Content Marketing - Joe Dudeck
Joe Dudeck
President + Founder

Branding is one of the most important aspects of any business, no matter the size. An effective brand strategy sets you apart and makes you easily identifiable.

But what exactly does “branding” mean? How does it affect a small business or new startup? Simply put, your brand is your promise to customers. It communicates the product or service they can expect from your company and the experience they’ll receive. Your brand is derived from who you are, who you want to be, and who people perceive you to be.

6 Things to Know About Building a Brand Strategy

Strong brands don’t just happen. They are usually the results of a long-term strategy guiding regular business and is tightly bound to understanding customer needs. A strong brand gives customers confidence to move forward with a purchase decision. According to Harvard Business Review, building a solid brand benefits companies in three ways:

  • It is an economical means of addressing customer concerns at scale.
  • It prevents ad hoc marketing efforts that result in unclear messaging.
  • It allows marketers to increase margins and build loyalty with their own customer base and protects them from competition.

1. Understand Your Audience

Brands today must be more than a logo or a design. They have to build meaningful relationships with customers. To do this you must know the audience you serve…truly know them. Know their needs and desires, and their struggles and challenges to progress. It’s also important to recognize how and why they purchase, as well as the channels they use to interact with businesses like yours. Learning about what drives them will help you shape your Brand Perception – what your brand has been in the past, what it is now, and what you want it to be in the future.

Within your wider audience is your niche — prospects who benefit the most from the services you offer. Tailor your brand and your marketing primarily to this niche rather than trying to appeal to everyone at once. As you expand into new markets you will add more groups and craft targeted messaging for each. When you market to your niche you can design value propositions addressing distinct needs and triggers.

We’ve addressed effective ways of getting to know your audience on our Content Strategy Building Series Day 2: Getting to Know Your Audience. We highly recommend using these tips for sitting down with current and future customers to gain a robust understanding of how they think and work.

2. Identify Your Brand Values

How do you then craft a brand that compels your audience and their needs? The answer lies in discovering and articulating your specific brand values — that is, the passion and purpose behind your company. This will be the driver for everything you design moving forward including Brand Promise, Brand Voice, and Brand Positioning. What inspired you to create the business? What value do you offer your customers?

To articulate this correctly, avoid superficial or vague statements about profit and revenue. Your brand values should be declarations that reflect winning qualities of a memorable brand and should center around core company values that you hold near and dear. You might hold authenticity above all else, or strive to be the simplest solution in your industry. Whatever it is you do, have something clear and enticing.

Not long ago, we released our new brand identity — including the creation of a new logo, color scheme, and typeface that more accurately represent the soul of our small business.

3. Identify Brand Promise, Voice and Positioning

These three elements are important to craft individually because they help shape the look and feel of your visual brand as well as future method for communications. While they might all sound the same, they each provide unique angles that must be considered.

  • Brand Promise — A brand promise conveys an idea that goes beyond benefits. It’s not a slogan, advertising headline, or unique selling point. Its uniqueness comes from how it transforms the way your company creates meaningful connections. A brand promise is a natural extension of the building blocks of your corporate strategy:  mission, vision, and values. It should communicate a powerful commitment for your narrative in which these core elements can be explained and lived out.
  • Brand Voice — How does your brand “speak?” What is its personality? Is it buttoned down and serious, or more playful and intriguing? The answer to these questions will depend on the audience or niche with which you are trying to engage. There should always be a fit between your audience and the voice you use to speak to them.
  • Brand Positioning — Brand positioning can usually be boiled down into a one or two sentence statement that defines the target audience, the problem being faced, the solution you provide and a statement of proof for the brand promise. It tells you what the brand’s position in the market is relative to its competitors, and what sets it apart from the rest.

4. Communicate Effectively

Once brand values, promise, voice and positioning are established, it’s time to start putting brand communication into use. First impressions set the standard for every future interaction so it’s good to start with authority and clarity. How effectively you communicate about your product/service can have more impact on your success than the product itself. Here are helpful tips when communicating around your brand:

  • Be Genuine:  Current customers are your most genuine and authentic agents of promotion. With this in mind, ensure that all brand communication from your end is also genuine and spontaneous. A humanized, empathetic, and authentic brand voice builds an immediate connection with the audience.
  • Be Transparent:  Letting your customers in on what’s going behind the scenes helps a brand earn the trust of customers. This practice not only helps the organization educate customers, but also dispel rumors and improves awareness.
  • Provide Relevant Content:  Creating content that is geared toward your audiences should naturally be geared toward your brand. While it might be tempting to veer toward topics that you like, remember that your audiences are watching and waiting for information centered around what it is you do best. If you’re known as an authority in your market, stick to information centered around your values, goals, and best practices.
  • Avoid Too Much Self-Promotion:  People don’t like those who can only talk about themselves. Similarly, brands that overtly promote themselves without offering any value to the client, are often at the risk of losing customers. Provide meaningful and direct content to gain respect and recognition.
  • Leverage Consumer Content:  Pay close attention to what your customers are saying or sharing. As consumers continue to take co-ownership and influence their favorite brands, companies should work on improving their offerings. Even when a customer has a negative experience, you have the opportunity to turn that person into a brand evangelist with open and honest communication.

5. Design for Impact

Compelling brands are instantly recognizable and very memorable. They have a style that is unique and relevant to their niche market. Branding should speak to the brand values, as well as the promise to customers, so that graphics don’t get lost in translation. Designs should not be confusing or require elaborate explanation. Your website, logo, and collateral should all be designed for maximum aesthetic appeal, exude professionalism, and trigger reminders of your brand values, voice, and positioning.

6. Be Consistent

One of the easiest and most important elements to effectively communicating brand strategy is by being consistent. Too many times, companies agree to a brand look and feel and try to roll it out, but end up redesigning or not using it at all. Companies (especially if they are a small or new company) need to be consistent in how often they’re using branding and agree to stick to it!

Without consistency, businesses never have the opportunity to evolve into sustainable brands. Consistency builds trust, breeds recognition, and drives greater profits. Capitalize on your brand values, your impressive design, and your intimate understanding of your audience by delivering a consistently enjoyable brand experience.

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