It’s rare for brand strategy to be viewed as a top priority for small businesses, in fact many startups and small businesses don’t even have one! But having a brand strategy is really important for a company of any size.
When you’re building a business it’s pretty normal for people to recognise that the product or service you intend to sell is at the top of your priority list. But what comes next? You may have a logo design, online functionality, distribution model and even social media channels on that list, but where does your brand strategy come in? We believe a brand strategy should actually be one of the first things you focus on before a lot of other aspects of your business, and here is why.
Now, before I dive into this, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page when I’m talking about a brand and brand strategy.
Let’s begin with a “brand”. A brand is the way a product, company, or individual is perceived by those who experience it. It’s not just a logo or visual identity – you want people to feel something. You want people to establish a recognisable and positive emotional connection with your brand and an effective brand strategy helps you do this.
A brand strategy is the bigger picture. In the words of the branding guru Marty Neumeier, a brand strategy is “a plan for the systematic development of a brand in alignment with a business strategy”. Your brand strategy should include; who you are, your beliefs, values and promise, your desired market position and your target audience(s), where you’re headed, what sets you apart from competitors, and how these are communicated. If you have not defined this it’s highly unlikely your visual design, marketing activities and even your service model will be truly effective.
WHY IT MATTERS
How people feel about your brand is gained from their experiences with your brand at all touch points throughout the customer journey, as well as reputation and word of mouth. Branding creates an expectation of value and you need to deliver consistently every time anyone interacts with your brand. This includes visually through your brand identity and marketing activities, social media channels, interaction with your employees, written communications, ease of purchase etc – I’m talking about every interaction!
Let’s look at an example, if you tell the world through your visual identity and messaging that you’re a super high-end luxurious brand, this sets an expectation and audiences will start to form a perception about your brand. If you then deliver a poor purchase experience and terrible customer service, customers end up confused and disappointed. You’ve not lived up to the expectation set and unhappy customers will go in search of another brand that meets their value expectation consistently across the entire journey.
If you haven’t established a clear brand strategy, how does your visual identity, service model, marketing activities etc all communicate the right positioning and messages? And how can you ensure they are all delivering the same brand and customer experience consistently? The answer is you can’t, ultimately if these things are not aligned to a brand strategy, it’s unlikely you’ll achieve your goals and your brand will not be perceived as you’d hoped.
Your brand strategy must come first, it’s essential to the foundation of your brand, your why and your story, and your long-term objectives. Aligning everything, your visual identity, brand messaging, marketing, user experience, your team and service model to a unifying strategy will help you to deliver consistency, communicate clear brand messages and fulfil your brand promise.
THE KEY TAKEAWAY
Well-positioned and consistent brands that meet or exceed that value expectation with every interaction not only generate loyalty, but drive customer behaviour. By starting with a brand strategy, it will not only help to create a more successful brand, it will help you avoid mistakes, saving both time and money in the long run. If you’re an established business, it’s not too late! Creating a new or developing an existing brand strategy can help you rejuvenate your business, taking it to the next level or in a new direction.
Do you have any questions about brand strategy that we might be able to answer? Or do you have any feedback on our blog post? Join the conversation on our social channels, or if you need any help with your brand strategy just drop us a line on firstname.lastname@example.org.