Starting a business is a large undertaking. There are many things to keep in mind when starting a business, but one thing that should never be overlooked is your brand strategy.
You need to find a way to make your brand stand out from all of the existing companies in your market. You’ve probably already started thinking about your business name and logo, but there’s quite a bit more to consider when it comes to brand development. Here’s what entrepreneurs need to know about creating a brand strategy.
- What is a brand strategy?
- Why is having a brand strategy important?
- How to create a brand strategy
- Stay flexible with your brand strategy
What is a brand strategy?
A brand strategy is a long-term plan that guides how a business will grow its brand, reach new customers, and achieve long-term goals. It includes the business’s mission statement and core values in addition to core marketing assets like logos, brand colors, and slogans.
A comprehensive brand strategy also extends beyond these elements to consider consumer experiences as a whole. It should define how you want customers to feel when interacting with your brand through product packaging, social media, advertising, and customer service. It should also describe how your brand will evolve as your business grows.
Why is having a brand strategy important?
A lot of businesses start out with a great product or service but fail to build a dedicated customer base. Having a brand strategy helps you establish your company’s identity, which ultimately helps you differentiate yourself from competitors and build customer loyalty.
Many people have strong brand loyalty to Coke or Pepsi, Android or Apple, Nike or Adidas, for example. Each of these brands has purposeful branding designed to connect with specific consumer bases through shared values, distinct design elements, and a brand personality.
A strong brand strategy allows you to better focus your marketing efforts and remain consistent throughout your customer communications and advertising. If your branding is scattered or inconsistent, it can be hard for customers to connect with your company.
How to create a brand strategy
If you aren’t sure where to start, consider the following steps to create a strong brand strategy for your small business.
1. Define your company’s purpose
The first step is to spend some time thinking about your company’s purpose. The purpose should include the functional purpose of your company through its product or service, as well as your company’s broader goals.
If you haven’t already, consider creating a mission statement and defining your company’s core values. Today’s consumers tend to prefer to support companies that are purpose-driven or hold similar values to their own.
2. Know your audience
While you’re building out your brand strategy, it’s essential to know your target audience.
Some businesses even like to create buyer personas to represent their ideal customers, then map out customer journeys. These can help give you a clear picture of who you’re building your brand strategy for and how your strategy can reach each segment of your customer base.
3. Give your brand a personality
Now it’s time to define your organization’s personality. Your organization’s internal personality is your company culture, but its external personality is your brand. Ideally your company culture and brand should complement one another.
Do you want your brand to come off as formal, whimsical, sassy, or cheerful? Define your brand’s personality and tone—this should fit your product and your target audience. For example, a baby product brand may be more caring and sentimental, whereas an energy drink may be a bit edgier or more playful.
4. Do some competitive analysis
As you define your own company’s brand strategy, it’s also important to look at the branding of your competitors. What is working well for your top competitors? Where are there opportunities to stand out or distinguish yourself in the market?
You don’t want your visual branding to appear too similar to any of your competitors as this can be confusing for customers. You also want your tone and personality to come across as unique. However, that doesn’t mean you have to go in the complete opposite direction from your competitors.
For example, if the top competitors in your market all seem to be using bold colors and more humorous or quirky tones, you may want to adopt some of those branding traits while finding a way to make them your own.
5. Extend your brand strategy to all aspects of your business
When we discuss brand strategy, most people focus on marketing. However, your brand strategy should be an inter-departmental initiative. Marketing may lead the charge on branding, but customer service and sales staff should also consider the company’s brand strategy and incorporate it in how they interact with customers and prospects.
Stay flexible with your brand strategy
As you build your business, you’ll likely find yourself having to adjust your various business strategies along the way. Your brand strategy is no exception.
As your business grows, you may find success with a different customer demographic than you initially targeted or expected. There may also be changes in the marketplace, including the entrance of new competitors or shifts in customer preferences or buying habits.
While it’s important to have a clearly-defined brand strategy, it’s also important to be flexible and make adjustments as your brand, customers, and goals change.
Read next: What is Merchandising?