Branding – Why it’s important to set the strategy first
Your brand strategy affects all aspects of your business and is the essence of what you stand for. It is the foundation which helps you to create a unique identity that differentiates you from your competitors and is unfortunately something that is increasingly becoming neglected in a bid to engage consumers fast. A lot of businesses mistakenly think that their logo is their brand, but it’s SO much more than that.
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, visuals, website design, and imagery. The customers that you choose to target and serve, also form 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.
Why is it important?
When starting up, branding is probably not the highest priority and tends to fall well below the product itself. Branding is important for every company no matter how big or small. By establishing your brand well from the beginning, it makes it easier to be distinguishable and build brand equity.
Consistent branding if done really well adds value to your company’s products or services, which also means you can sometimes charge more for your product. Your brand also gives your employees focus and ensures that they are working towards the same goals and objectives.
Defining your brand 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 run quarterly 'Define Your Brand' Workshops (register your interest and we'll let you know when we're running the next one) and also offer 1:1 consulting in a form of a Brand Intensive to help you define this very important foundation of your business.
How to create your Brand Strategy
Your brand isn’t just your logo. There are tonnes of elements that make up your brand brand and the strategy is the very important first step. We believe that there are three over-arching areas that make up your Brand Strategy – your Brand Value, Brand Identity and Brand Positioning. Within each area there are multiple things for you to think about when creating your brand strategy, but let’s start with Brand Value.
1. Pin Point Your Brand Value
Your brand value encompasses everything from your vision, strengths, achievements, market need, ideal clients and customer experience combined with the features and benefits that are included in your product or service that help you fulfill your customer need, want or desire. Those then need to be communicated through your brand message in order to attract those customers to you.
Your brand value is, therefore, your product market fit which consists of 3 parts:
Your value - what you have to offer as a business founder - your vision, knowledge, experience and so on
Your market - specific group of people who are interested, need , want or desire the value that you offer
Your product - the form in which you deliver you value to your customers to create delight and unforgettable experience
2. Establish Your Brand Identity
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, experience, 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. Your identity should be summarised in 3 words that form it's essence (the emotional heart).
Your brand identity can be broken down into 3 parts:
Your identity - who you are, your personality or traits that are associated with your and influenced your brand
Your voice - what you or your business say and how you say it including your mission, vision, values and beliefs
Your Essence - 3 words expressing how you make people feel emotionally when they come in contact with your business
3. Solidify Your Brand Positioning
Brand positioning describes the unique position that your brand occupies in the marketplace. It defines a product’s advantages versus those of a competitor or competitors overall. It also explains why this difference matters.
One way to get your Brand positioning nailed down it to bring everything together in one concise statement.
Here is a brand positioning formula for you to use:
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 those 3 important steps nailed down, you can move to creating your brand image.
Brand image is an expression of your strategy and essence (value, identity and positioning) 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 translating the brand essence into a brilliant visual presence that inspires online audiences, makes your offer worth more and and keeps your clients coming back. We've developed our own signature process called 'Define Your Brand' to take our clients from brand confusion into an exciting brand vision that we then translate for them into an iconic, memorable and delightful visual experience for their clients.
Are you confused about your value, identity and positioning?
Not sure what image you should create to attract your ideal clients (or who they even are!?)
Would you like some help understanding which areas of your brand you should be focusing on next?
We have created a quick and easy online questionnaire with an instant report! Our personal branding questionnaire is a tool to help you understand all of the different components that are needed to create a successful brand that will win the hearts and minds of your audience. In 9 simple questions (around 3 min of your time) you can assess where you are on your brand journey and what step to take next!
After you get your quiz results, we’ve provided even more information for you to read through to brush up on your branding knowledge covering everything from ways to pin down your Brand Identity, Brand Personality, Image or Design Style.