Brand strategy is vital toward ensuring a brand and its customers are making the most of their shared storylines. After all, it takes constant attention to communicate well. Without proper time and planning devoted toward reflection and differentiation, brands run the risk of being careless, overlooked or ineffective.
Brand strategy defined
Brand strategy reveals your brand’s opportunities and differentiation by exploring industry evolution, audience pain points, brand benefits, culture and purpose.
Research: Achieving holistic brand awareness
The psychological and emotional closeness we experience with own lives or our own brands can make it challenging to maintain a holistic self-awareness. This is why I recommend a discovery process of viewing a brand from the outside first and then focus inward: industry, competitors, customers and target audiences, employees and brand.
Ideally, your research will combine primary and secondary data — information you collect and information collected by other reputable sources. When devising brand strategy questions, think of your brand’s impact on others, whether you’re using existing data or collecting new data.
By reviewing industry challenges and trends, you’ll be able to see where your brand can jump ahead or where it seriously needs to catch up. Industry challenges that have “always been that way” or seem overwhelming are opportunities to create dialogue and/or change.
Your competitive analysis should always be done with the intent of further differentiating your brand best. Resist chasing after another brand’s success. Your brand path is uniquely yours. Take the high road.
If you aren’t already gathering customer feedback, start now. Use this opportunity to keep engage your customers on a regular basis through surveys, focus groups, contests and social media.
Your employees are treasure troves of information for how your brand meets humanity on day-to-day basis. Are you capturing that data? They’re the ones who can provide a macro view of their unique part of the product or service engagement. They are gold.
Sometimes the challenge is gathering the right kind of data through brand analytics. Using your unique brand strategy questions, gather data from your CRM, Google Analytics, Google Search Console, SEMrush, Moz and other performance data.
If you or your team want to cultivate greater self-awareness prior to your next brand strategy session, read this article from Harvard Business Review. It hits branding right at its core with this statement, “Self-awareness isn’t one truth. It’s a delicate balance of two distinct, even competing, viewpoints.” Balancing brand goals and customer needs is vital to brand health.
Dialogue: Encouraging open communication
Brand strategy research is best discussed with a small team of your brand leadership and highly effective employees. Depending on the size of your organization and sensitivity of information, vendors and customers may be invited into the discussion. All participants should be bound to confidentiality and encouraged to provide constructive feedback, as opposed to airing negativity without potential solutions.
Maintaining a spirit of open communication can be among the most challenging aspects of the brand dialogue phase. If your brand is already accustomed to soliciting and integrating feedback, within a welcoming culture, you have an incredible advantage in creating ongoing brand health. This is the phase to increase open communication and examine your brand from the represented perspectives.
Bring your group discussion around audience personas to define the edges of what target audiences need from your brand now and in the future. Audience personas aren’t static checklists describing your audiences. Rather, they serve as reference tools for ongoing relationship building throughout the customer journey.
Have a little fun with this phase, too. Imagine your brand as a car, an animal or a video game. Let it get your mind functioning on a more conceptual wavelength. Then, imagine where your industry could go in comparison to other industries, or in terms of a higher dimension of service and innovation. Let your brand lead the way, playing to your strengths.
Positioning: Defining brand purpose and consistency
Build brand positioning from your research and dialogue. This includes defining brand objectives and core messaging, which you’ll use for greater consistency in marketing communications. Such messaging includes your positioning statement, emotional and functional benefits, brand traits and tone. Brand guidelines follow along with this consistency by designating parameters for fonts, colors, logo usage and imagery. Reliability and consistency put customers at ease, opening the door for greater engagement and brand loyalty.
Integration: Mapping out measureable steps
Your new brand objectives may involve improving the customer experience within a specific service area or increasing market share among a specific audience. Integrate these measurable steps into your overall efforts — based on their priority and as resources are available. Common brand objectives emphasize brand awareness, image, loyalty, engagement or equity.
Selecting your next brand strategy consultant
Finding a brand consultant goes beyond securing someone with a strategic skill set. You want to work with an expert who’s a good listener, responsive, a solid project manager, clear on aligning expectations, creative and courageous enough to tactfully work shoulder to shoulder with you on challenges and future opportunities. Keep Storybent Creative in mind for your next brand strategy refresh or brand launch.
All in all, brand strategy gives you some purposeful say in how your journey and story continues. Since we as people continue to develop, so do our communities, cultures, industries and businesses. Stay proactive in your brand development by revisiting your brand strategy every two or three years — or when you’re no longer leading your own story.