Branding – Why it’s important to set the strategy first?
What is Brand strategy?
Your brand strategy is your long-term plan for the development of your brand in order to increase your company value. It’s unlikely that you’re offering something completely unique that no-one has ever done before, and in a concentrated market it can sometimes be difficult to stand out.
Your Brand Strategy encompasses everything, from your mission, vision, values, tone of voice, and essence to the customer experience, product range, visuals, website design, and imagery. The customers that you choose to target and serve, also forms part of your brand strategy.
You need to give your customers a reason to pick you over their competitors, and without having a strong brand foundation in place, and no strategic direction for your brand, it’s going to be tough to sell a product with no substance or consistency. Although still important, the quality of your product alone will only go so far nowadays as people buy more into experiences and emotions that a brand can give.
For example, take Starbucks who have redefined the coffee experience. The vision for Starbucks was not to fuss over profits but to create a concept, environment and experience that consumers would buy into. Their mission statement is “To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighbourhood at a time”. Their self-image that they wanted to create was quality-orientated, environmentally and ethically responsible with a focus on human relationships.
A well-executed brand strategy if done well adds value to your company, which means you’ll be able to charge more for your products. Defining your brand strategy is a journey of self-discovery for your business. It can be difficult to pinpoint at times and requires a lot of thought and reflection but when clear, will pay off in more ways than you can imagine.
At Visuable, we offer a 3-month mentorship programme to help you pin-point your brand strategy, check it out here.
How to create your Brand Strategy
As we’ve mentioned above, you brand isn’t just your logo. There are tones of elements that make up your brand and the strategy is the very important first step. We believe that there are three overarching areas that make up your Brand Strategy – Brand Identity, Target Audience and Product Range. Within each area there are multiple things for you to think about and we’re going to explain each of the 3 areas above in a little more detail in just a moment.
Brand identity is the narrative that surrounds your business which helps you create a certain perception and idea of yourself and your business in your customers' minds. It's what you tell your customers about your vision, qualifications, achievements, passions, drive and the role you play in your business. It's the set of values and beliefs that you hold as an organisation and the mission you've set yourself to achieve whilst helping your customers fulfil their needs, wants and desires. It is the thoughts, feelings and words that people associate with your brand. It is very important to have a clearly defined brand identity, so that your customers can clearly tell you apart from your competitors and remember you for what you stand for!
As a brand, you’ll be much more successful if you select a certain group of customers that you would like to serve, rather than trying to accomodate for everyone. People want to work with specialists - thing about it: ff you have a pain in your back - will you go to a GP (general doctor) or a back pain studio (specialist)? Of course you’ll choose the latter. This idea can be applied to any industry. For example photographers - some specialise in weddings, others in babies, and others in brands. You wouldn’t want to ask a brand photographer to photograph your newborn baby - as he or she will not have correct skills, expertise or even equipment to do so. Now think about your brand - who would you like to serve? Everyone? Or is there a group of customers that your service is most suited for? Who are those people? Where do they live? What do they value? Which brands do they buy from? What cars do they drive? Where do they shop? What magazines do they buy? Having a clear idea of your customers preferences, will help you focus your marketing efforts and communicate a very clear message. Ask yourself the above questions so that you can be more effective at finding your ideal clients.
Now you know what you’re about and who you would like to serve, it’s time to create products and services for your ideal clients. When deciding on which products to offer, it is important to know who will buy them, as this will help you determine the customer experience, features and benefits you would like to include in each of your services or products, to give your customers the maximum amount of value. For example, if you’re a fitness trainer who serves new mums, you might want to include a pre-session questionnaire asking about their health history, about their pregnancy and so on. If you’re a fitness trainer for man, you probably would be asking your clients a very different set of questions! What you include in your products and services depends huely on who you serve, which is why it’s so important to determine your target audience first, before jumping on creating your product and service range.
Now you have your brand foundation in place, it’s time to think how you’ll let people know what you’re about. This is done through a brand positioning statement. A statements which tells your audience who you are, who you serve, how you help, why you’re doing it and what is the benefit of working with you. Here is a brand positioning formula for you to use to write your statement:
For [a concise definition of the target market]
Who have [problem statement describing the need]
Our product is [a name to help categorize the solution to the market]
That provides [key benefits and the derived value]
Unlike [reference a competitor or the competition]
Our solution [key advantages that differentiate the product from the competition and creates customer value]
Once you have the above nailed down, you can start thinking about the image that you would like to project:
Brand image is an expression of your brand strategy through visual means such as colours, typography, design style, photographs and even your and your team's attire. The bigger the brand, the more in-depth the expression of brand image can be. Bigger brands would go to a great length to express their essence using means like music, physical space design and more.
The fast paced digital world that we live forces us to up our game in how how express our brand online. Customers no longer accept the low quality or mediocre brand offerings - only the strongest brands will win their attention, hearts and wallets! It is no longer a choice to have a website, every small business is now online so your website needs to be amazing and needs to reflect your brand personality and value through beautiful design and stylish visuals. Your brand design needs to intrigue and emotionally impact your visitor and your photographs need to tell your brand story visually, to help your potential clients imagine how it would be like to work with your or how it would be like to use your products.
At Visuable, we're experts in defining winning brand strategies and translating them into iconic brand visual image that never fails to inspire online audiences. We've developed our own signature process called 'Define Your Brand' that turns our client’s brand confusion into an exciting brand vision and helps them succeed.