In our last post we dove into the difference between branding and marketing. Today we'll touch on how to build a strong brand strategy, and look at a few companies doing it well.
What is a brand?
A brand that is recognizable and loved is without a doubt one of the most valuable assets that a company can possess. Furthermore, brand awareness leads to customer loyalty and ultimately conversions. According to a study by Accenture: “75% of shoppers said they are more likely to purchase from a company that knows their name and purchase history.”
But, it’s about a lot more than just a name or logo. Simply put, your brand is a customer’s overall perception of your business. Your brand strategy should be the guide in which you communicate and interact with your customers. This needs to be a key component of your marketing efforts because, after all, your brand is your reputation!
A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories, and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.” - Seth Godin
Building a strong brand strategy
Branding can be broken down into brand strategy, brand identity, and brand marketing. Brand strategy is what makes you different and memorable, while brand identity is how you convey this message to the public. Finally, brand marketing is the way in which you bring awareness to your products or services and connect to the right audience.
So, where do you begin when it comes to building your strategy? The following are some key steps to take when identifying your brand:
- Discover your brand’s purpose: Ask yourself, why do you do what you do every day? What makes your brand unique or different from the competition? Why should people care about what you do? You may have heard the term WIFM, which stands for “What’s in it for me?” The customer is the "me" of that statement, and they want to know what the benefit is and why they should act.
- Research competitors: In order to differentiate yourself from your competitors, you need to know what they are doing. Think about what you can do differently in order to stand out from the crowd. Pro Tip: Create a side-by-side spreadsheet or chart so that you can easily analyze the results of your research.
- Establish a brand mission statement: What is your brand’s mission or vision? It’s important to craft a clear and concise statement that embodies what you are the most passionate about. This can be a roadmap to helping you accomplish your vision.
- Form a brand voice: Your brand’s voice is the recognizable way in which you communicate with your customers. Think about what tone or type of voice will best resonate with your audience. For example, are you aiming to be more informative or more conversational?
- Build your brand story and messaging: Don’t forget that at the end of the day, it’s all about YOUR story. This messaging is what tells your customer who you truly are and what you represent. This is your opportunity to forge a unique emotional connection with your audience.
Brands that do it well
- Warby Parker - The eyeglass manufacturer discovered their “brand purpose” and developed a brand that is truly unique and different. They provide an innovative home try-on experience and their marketing efforts are well-tailored towards their target audience. Their strategy involved taking the pain out of finding the right pair of glasses. Convenience at a reasonable cost, with ease of purchase all contribute to their strategy.
- Starbucks - The coffee chain established a clear “brand voice,” and their “brand mission” led them to great success: “To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.” They achieve success with this strategy largely by being located literally in seemingly every neighborhood. It's not uncommon to have locations very near each other (sometimes literally right across the street and down the block).
- Tesla - The luxury vehicle company did its “competitor research” and determined that it would be best to leave the price out of their branding and instead focus on the quality of their electric-powered vehicles. With a focus of quality over price, they were able to elevate brand in the eyes of their target demographic over their competition.
- Apple - Few companies are as adept at brand strategy as the Silicon Valley giant. The tech conglomerate nailed their “brand story” and “messaging” by tying it into their consumers. “They say if you’re an ‘Apple’ person, then you are also innovative, imaginative, and creative.” This statement resonates and creates an emotional connection with their target audience. There's a reason they are able to charge significantly more for laptops and computers that dollar-for-dollar are usually less powerful than their competitors at similar price points. From the design of their product, to the nostalgic and emotional ads they create, they are masters at creating connections with their audience.
When it comes to business, there are many advantages to having a strong brand strategy.
- Better customer communication: Communicate with your customers more clearly and consistently. Better communication leads to a stronger connection and engagement.
- Embody your core values: When customers can see that a brand strategy illustrates your core values, it helps you better find and connect with the right demographic.
- Focused marketing efforts: You don't want to be all things to all people. A strong brand strategy results in focused marketing efforts.
Taking the time to build a comprehensive and strong brand strategy will put you at the forefront of your industry. This is one of the best things you can do when you want to increase revenue and growth. When you create a memorable brand whose values resonate, your customers will become loyal fans.