There’s no feeling quite like being lost. The moment you look around and realise you don’t know where the hell you are is confusing and anxiety-inducing. When it happens in your brand, it’s the same – this is where your brand strategy saves you.
Any good adventurer will tell you there are three things you need to know to stay on track – where you’ve come from, where you are and where you’re going.
Funnily enough, these are also the components of a good brand strategy.
What is a Brand Strategy?
Alright, there’s more to it than direction – but direction is a pretty big part. So let’s take a step back and answer the wider question first – what is a Brand strategy?
Brand strategy is a big part of your marketing. Building an attractive and consistent brand identity is crucial for engaging with your intended audience. Key to this is consistency – if you’re not being consistent with your efforts, your customer loyalty will suffer.
A successful brand strategy sets clear guidelines, creating desired impressions and feelings. The aim is to increase brand awareness and positive associations with the products or services available. Ultimately the aim is to improve customer experience.
It should also cover many areas, acting as a guide for other aspects of your business. It is important to include key elements such as:
- Visual identity
- Brand Messaging
- Brand Story
- Tone of Voice
- Awareness strategies
- Customer Personas
All these and more help to build a picture of the path ahead.
Having a brand strategy is like having a map that provides direction and focus to achieve your goals.
Why is all this important? A 2019 study showed a staggering 81% of people say that brand trust is a deciding factor in their buying choices. Even more interesting is that this trend was even across age, gender and income.
People want brands they can trust – a strong brand strategy helps ensure consistency, which builds trust in the target market.
Why is Brand Strategy important?
An effective brand strategy forms the basis for building success. It’s not just a ‘nice to have’ either. It’s a vital component to seeing a business through tough times and seizing opportunities.
A comprehensive brand strategy can aid many areas of business. Here are some ways that your strategy helps your growth.
Building Brand Awareness and Recognition
How can anyone buy from you if they don’t know you exist? A customer’s first steps in the buying journey involve awareness and recognition. Therefore it’s important to ensure first interactions are positive. A strong brand promise will give good first impressions and help ensure future loyalty.
Creating a Consistent Brand Image
Building consistency through your brand is what keeps it going. When clients interact with your brand they expect to feel and experience the same things. They will be disappointed if their experiences clash with the brand image they see.
A solid brand strategy ensures consistency of the brand image throughout the business. It is easier to build a loyal audience if your interactions are consistent.
Speaking of loyalty…
Establishing Brand Loyalty
Yes – loyalty starts early. Even before you start getting customers. Designing your strategy with the customer in mind creates an exceptional customer journey, leading to increased loyalty. Creating scenarios and personas early means you can plan for customer expectations – and build satisfaction into your branding.
Loyalty is one of the main factors that dictates growth. Loyal customers are not only more likely to stay but will act as ambassadors and bring you more business. When it comes to referrals, people trust recommendations from friends and family the most. Therefore, understanding how your brand creates a loyal following is key to future growth.
Increased Trust and Credibility
I’m sure I don’t need to tell you why trust and credibility are important in your brand. The more trusted a brand is, the easier it finds to get customers. Building contingencies into your strategy means that when things go wrong – which they will – you have a way of fixing them.
Trust goes beyond blind loyalty. If you plan for negative customer interactions, they are more likely to view them as isolated incidents.
Standing out from the Competition
Building a strategy early helps to uncover more of what makes your brand truly unique. This is vital in the digital age, as your clients have even more options available to them. Your strategy should cover many aspects and require a strong guiding brand purpose to direct it.
Defining your brand purpose early makes it easier to understand what makes you different. Building your strategy around this will help everything you do stand out.
Getting the most from your strategy
Putting a great brand strategy in place is half the battle. Implementation also has its pitfalls. You can spend forever planning, but eventually, you have to start the journey to get anywhere. Ensuring you have ways of measuring your success helps show if your strategy is working, or if you need to adjust course.
Consistency across all touchpoints
Brand touchpoints are any place where your potential clients come into contact with the brand. This includes your visual identity, messaging, and even interactions with staff. Touchpoints refer to any interaction between a brand and its clients, which can number over 100 for most companies.
With so many potential points of contact, it can be tough to maintain consistency. That’s why a brand strategy is so important – it helps form guidelines early that translate to consistency later on.
When looking at your strategy, write a master list of your brand touchpoints. Compare this to your brand identity – your vision, values and purpose. Your touchpoints should ALL reflect these core aspects of your brand.
Visual touchpoints should match and follow the visual personality of the brand. A clear voice should be present in your message. The customer experience should be consistent across all channels to ensure a seamless transition between them.
It is also important to regularly monitor and review to quickly identify any weaknesses.
Evaluate and adjust your strategy
While it’s important to build a firm strategy, it should not be immutable. Sometimes the plan doesn’t work and in these cases, it’s important to be flexible. Planning time to evaluate is crucial to prevent following a path that doesn’t work for your brand.
So plan time to review – this should be at least annually. You need time for plans to start and results to form, but leaving reviews too long can mean continuing with a detrimental strategy. Being able to adjust due to exterior influences is important for keeping your brand ahead.
Making adjustments based on new information is smarter than blindly following a path set during different times.
Follow Brand Guidelines
Your brand guidelines are the central reference point for your brand identity. Ensure that everything you create and present to the world is in line with the brand guidelines. This is the best way to ensure consistency across the brand.
A good set of brand guidelines is an invaluable tool for the modern business owner. Their most vital function is preventing the brand from sudden changes that will confuse. By building rules early on, it ensures that anyone who works in (or on) the brand knows how to reflect it.
It’s also important to note that brand guidelines are not purely about the visuals. Yes, colours, fonts, patterns and logos are important – but it’s more than that. A comprehensive set of guidelines should include also cover the brand identity. This includes aspects such as values, tone of voice, and how to interact with clients.
So when your strategy is in doubt, refer back to your brand guidelines.
And if you don’t have any – there’s no better time to go and get them sorted.
Conclusion – why you need a brand strategy
There is so much to cover when it comes to strategy that it can look overwhelming. But the beautiful thing is that you can grab a notebook and start. Building a strategy map is initially a lot like brainstorming and can be a great mental exercise that helps clear your mind.
In short, your strategy does a lot for your business. From brand awareness and loyalty to brand clarity and customer experience, it all starts with your strategy. Without it, you can find yourself directionless.
That’s why starting from a strong position is so important. Creating a clear and consistent image in the eyes of your clients builds trust and loyalty. Defining your purpose, values, vision, and messaging early can help you achieve your goals.
A strong brand strategy is also vital if you want to stand out in the market. Being aware of your competitors’ actions helps you to distinguish yourself and take a unique approach. This is key to attracting your ideal customers.
If you haven’t already, it’s time to build that strategy. Creating a plan is useful when you find yourself lost. It helps you gain perspective and discover your current position.
And once you know your bearings, you have a much better chance of reaching your destination.
Need some help finding your direction? Compass may be just what you need – a focused hour of brand attention that will help you find your path. Click the button below to see how to get confidence in your brand.