A branding strategy involves developing your brand for it to be successful and meet your set goals.
Branding is one of the single most important aspects of your business.
In regards to how your target audience identifies with you and your product or service; branding, and by extension, your branding strategy, is make-or-break stuff.
The concept of a brand
Our brand is just the logo, right?
It's so much more than that. Your brand encapsulates what and who you are, where you're going, as well as what you stand for.
Your brand is a vast collection of tangible and intangible assets that come together to resonate with your target audiences whenever they come face-to-face with it.
Defining the ingredients of good branding is something many businesses struggle with, simply because of the sheer number of abstract factors at play.
Generally speaking, the components to consider in your brand strategy fit into one of two groups. Surface or experiential.
For this blog, we'll be detailing the considerations you should be making when tailoring the surface elements of your brand strategy. We'll also discuss some of the other factors you must account for and some common mistakes to avoid.
Developing your brand
With a bit of luck, by this point, you're feeling deeply philosophical about your brand.
Ideally, you're questioning what questions you need to pose to yourself regarding your brand strategy, as well as what those questions mean.
Who are you?
Existential shizzle, I know, but absolutely paramount in crafting your branding strategy.
Generally, understanding who you are as a company requires reflection on four things.
- Your purpose.
- Your vision.
- Your mission.
- Your values.
Many will struggle reflecting on these concepts. So, what are they?
What is my brand purpose?
Consider why you formed the company in the first place, condense that consideration and voilà.
What is my brand vision?
Your vision should inform you where you're heading, reminding you of everything you're going to achieve. It should be something that unites and motivates the team around you and drives change.
What is my brand mission?
Your mission should summarise the reason you exist as a company. It should be the reason you love coming into work every day.
What are my brand values?
Your brand values are your principles. What do you stand for? Brand values are easy to get right. However, if you slip upholding them, repairing the damage can take time.
Consistency in your brand messaging is paramount for your brand strategy.
You must also ensure that your brand messaging irrefutably reflects your brand essence.
If you can't communicate the crux of your brand within your messaging, how on earth will it resonate with consumers?
Defining and then implementing your brand essence within your messaging is undoubtedly tricky.
As with so many of the ingredients that come together to make your brand, your brand essence can be a frustratingly abstract concept.
Defining your brand messaging means addressing three key components:
- Your Personality.
- Your Voice.
- Your Tone.
But how do we expand upon this additional list of conceptual words?
How do I define my brand personality?
Your brand personality should reflect your brand purpose and values.
Ask yourself, what would your brand be like if it were a person?
If you can visualise what your brand would look like as a person, and can then reflect that persons personality through the rest of your brand.
How do I define my brand voice?
Defining your brand voice is imperative when identifying your brand essence.
A good brand voice is distinct, unique, and irrefutably yours.
It should hold it's own within a digital sea of other content and voices.
Once you've settled on your brand voice, you must communicate it consistently in your copy to maintain credibility.
How do I define my brand tone?
Many businesses get voice and tone mixed up, or even worse, fail to distinguish between the two altogether.
The difference between the two is contextual. Voice should be constant across your messaging, but your tone should be changeable depending on the distribution channel and who you're talking to.
So, that's that, you (hopefully) now have a grasp on what these abstract buzzwords mean. Ideally, you'll be able to exit this blog post and effectively ponder how you're going to perfect you're brand messaging.
Alas, this is not the end of the components you must consider within your brand strategy.
Your logo as an asset
Your logo is the most influential and visible brand asset in your arsenal.
Effectively, it's your signature: a mark that signals ownership of a service or message.
When designing your logo, simplicity tends to signal success.
The logos that stick in peoples minds are simple images that people can process and attach meaning to.
Your strapline as an asset
When presenting content to your consumers, you need something that brings your values and vision to life, something that attaches your content to the essence of your brand. You need a strapline.
Your strapline should become your go-to in marketing communications, holding a place in all your marketing assets across all channels of distribution.
You may be wondering though, what does a great marketing strapline look like?
Thankfully, you have us on hand to demonstrate with an example, such as the one below.
Typifying your typography
Typography is fundamental in presenting a united personality for your brand.
Your typeface gives your brand a consistent typographical voice.
With consumers consuming copy on several channels, consistency in how your typography is presented is absolutely crucial.
That colour palette is so you
The use of colour in branding is of quintessential importance.
The colour palette you base your branding around can alter peoples perceptions of your brand and what it stands for. It can even alter their purchasing intentions.
As powerful as your chosen colour palette can be for your brand, it's a far cry away from being an exact science.
At the end of the day, no matter how much research goes into it, colour associations will always be subjective to what different people associate that colour with.
The photography used is a vital cog of your visual identity.
Photography should aim to support your brand attributes through the characteristics of the people, their actions and the environment around them.
Imagery should be thought-provoking, inspiring and portray an experience. Show your company vision through the visuals you use.
If you can, ensure your imagery compliments the brand colour palette as well as the typography used within your messaging.
Tailoring your brand to your customers
Many brands fall into the same trap when building their branding strategy.
They've invested all that time defining who they are and what their messages should sound like. But, they forget the most significant aspect of their brand, the customer.
Failing to consider who your target customer actually is can leave your efforts falling flat on their face as your brand essence and messaging don't actually resonate with your customer.
So, with this in mind, you need to work on some target market research and, ideally, build a detailed customer persona that you'll look to build your brand around.
But what questions should you be asking when building your customer persona? Starting with the basics, you need to consider some bog-standard demographic questions:
- What age is my target audience? - Communicating with 18-25-year-olds may bring with it temptation to act 'down with da kids'. Consequentially, you begin to adopt a glut of colloquialisms as part of your strategy. Would you stick with that approach targeting the 65+ age group? I think not.
- What gender am I targeting? - It may be that the product or service your brand is offering is geared towards a specific gender. The rest of your branding strategy should reflect this.
- What income group am I targeting? - The price point of your product, as well as the intended user, will have a tremendous bearing on the rest of your branding strategy. If you're selling 'premium' products, this should reflect in the rest of your brand strategy and vice-versa if you're selling a 'budget' product.
After considering basic demographics, a vital part of understanding your customers and building a customer persona is understanding their working life.
- What is their career path? - To understand your customers working life, you need to understand what they're doing presently, and where it could take them in the future.
- What industry are they working within? - Just as you need to understand your customers' current career and career path, you need to understand the industry they're working within at the moment.
A final part of building your customer persona is understanding aspects of their day-to-day life.
- What does their typical day look like? - Understanding your customers day-to-day routine gives you a glimpse of the place your brand could hold within their lives.
- What are their biggest day-to-day challenges? - Grasp what the biggest challenges your customers endure on a day-to-day basis. If you can understand this, you can understand how your brand can tackle their struggles; or at the very least provide a distraction from them.
- What does success look like to your customer? - Knowing what your customer classifies as success is priceless. Quantifying that success helps you to appreciate the motives of your customer, and by extension, how your brand can tap into that.
By asking these questions you can build a comprehensive persona of what your customer looks like and what matters to them. Your brand can leverage this information to inform its brand strategy, before ploughing forward like a headless chicken.
Common brand strategy mistakes
Lack of long-term vision
One common mistake when building a brand strategy is not looking far enough into the future.
This ties into establishing your brand vision sufficiently. If your business fails to have a long-term vision, it can be damaging for your brand. Furthermore, it may leave your brand susceptible to disruption in the market which you are ill-prepared to adapt to.
Not solidifying the brand identity and message
Throughout the brand identity section of this blog, we emphasised the importance of consistency in how you display your brand identity as well as your brand messaging.
As previously highlighted, if these aspects of your brand strategy aren't consistent, then you will fail to resonate with customers. Even worse, it can create a lack of identification with the brand itself.
This ties into ensuring brand identity is solid. If creative assets, including logo, strapline, or even imagery, are inconsistent, it confuses your consumers as to what your brand identity is.
Particularly in the digital age we live in, the landscape of many markets can be change quickly.
In this sense, you must ensure your product-to-market remains relevant and up to date within your market space. Again, this very much ties into your brand vision and how far into the future your brand is thinking.