What is brand strategy?

Freelance graphic designer

When it comes to branding, a logo is where it starts and ends for many small businesses. With a deluge of terminology and buzzwords it’s little wonder there’s a real desire to stick with what’s tangible.

Brand, branding, brand strategy, brand proposition, brand identity, brand architecture, brand audit, brand awareness, brand equity, brand attributes, brand personality, tone of voice, mission, vision, values, purpose is just some of the jargon used and often misused to confuse everyone from business owners to creative professionals.

If you want your business to have a deeper connection with its customers however, branding has the power to be a real game-changer.

So to simplify the convoluted and often avoided world of strategy what are the key questions you need to answer to make sure you’re connecting with your customers on an emotional, rather than a superficial level?

Why we here?

Why you came to be, above and beyond making money. When Rich, Adam and Jon decided to quit their jobs and start innocent back in 1998, their raison d'etre was to make natural, delicious and healthy drinks that help people live well and die old.  

What do we do/how do we do it?

These are the day-to-day nuts and bolts of what your business does for its customers. Apple for instance is committed to bringing the best personal computing experience to students, educators, creative professionals and consumers around the world through its innovative hardware, software and internet offerings.

What makes us different?

In a world of sameness, finding what makes you different is absolutely key. You could be the only business in a sector to offer a product/service or in the case of Avis back in the early 60’s when there wasn’t an apparent difference between themselves and the market leader Hertz, they built a truth around trying harder, which they continued to trade on for decades.

What do we value the most?

Core beliefs are truths that we share. They tend to be what’s currently true and what we aspire to be in the future. In the case of Lego they value creativity, imagination, fun, learning, quality and care – which they use as their guiding principles and reflected in everything they do.

What’s our personality?

How do we communicate, what’s our character? In order to be memorable we want to make sure our personality fits with our offering and appeals to our customers. A great way to see how personality traits work is by using archetypes. Red Bull uses the explorer archetype for their personality, which appeals to people who love adventure and fear confinement and immobility.

Who are we here for?

Clearly define who your customers are. Create customer profiles that deep dive into their wants, needs, desires and pain points.

What are the benefits?

What are the functional and emotional benefits of using your product/service? How does using and interacting with your product/service improve people’s life, how does it make them feel? Harley Davidson offer their customers the emotional benefit of freedom and a sense of community like no other motorcycle company.

Who are our competition?

Who are your competition? What do they do well and conversely not so well. Then audit yourself and ask the same questions looking for potential opportunities and threats. Map the market for similarities, are your competitors occupying a similar space in the market? Do they look similar, sound similar? Look for the gaps that you can move into.  

If you can get across the board agreement and answer those eight questions you’re highly likely to be doing more than most. With a strong verbal foundation, a powerful brand strategy will set the stage for the creative visual work and most often inspires it.