A functionally superior product on its own without an emotional promise is not a brand. Starbucks, IKEA and Lululemon are more than just good coffee, furniture, and yoga pants; their reputation and perception differentiate them.
A brand is a package of functional and emotional benefits that sustainably differentiate it from the competition to appeal to your audience.
What is a brand strategy?
A powerful brand forges a personal, intangible connection with its audience that often transcends the product offering itself. It is shaped by your visual and verbal identity (name and logo), marketing, advertising, and the experience customers associate with you.
A brand strategy is the first step in developing and cultivating a strong brand. It defines who you are as a business. It outlines your brand identity, values, character, positioning and messaging and becomes a blueprint that guides how your brand is communicated to your audience. The brand strategy enables you to present a consistent message and image across all your touchpoints, including packaging, website, email, social media and advertising.
Developing your brand strategy.
Brand strategy development starts with understanding consumer needs and emotions, how your product solves their problem, the competitive environment, and your vision for the brand.
A clearly articulated, persuasive, and competitive brand strategy brings ailing brands to good health and sets new brands on the path to long-term success.
The six components of a brand strategy
A vision statement helps you focus and rally your team to achieve your business’s goals. It should be purposeful, lofty, and not easy to reach. What lofty goal do you want to achieve over the long term?
Example (IKEA): To create a better everyday life for the many people1
Values are beliefs, philosophies and principles that inform and guide everything you do. A company’s values can set it apart from the competition by clarifying its identity and serving as a rallying point for employees. They should be strong, concise, and meaningful and sincere.
Example (IKEA): Togetherness, caring for people and planet, cost-consciousness, simplicity, renew and improve. Different with meaning, give and take responsibly, and lead by example.
Your brand’s personality is a set of human characteristics adopted to guide elements, such as voice, tone, and manner, and maintain consistency in all communication. A successful strategy allows your customers to see themselves in the brand, thus wanting to buy the products or services your brand sells.
Example (IKEA): Ikea: Swedish, lighthearted, quirky, competent, and caring.
What value does your organization provide to customers that no one else can offer? Defining your unique value proposition allows you to stand out and deliver the right product to your customers. How you compete is based on your strengths, capabilities, and resources.
Example (IKEA): Design inspiration; trendy and affordable furniture for home or office; easy to assemble; and easy to transport.
#5 Positioning statement
How do you want to be perceived in the marketplace? Your positioning statement sums up the key message or elevator pitch you want to deliver in all your marketing communications.
Example (IKEA): IKEA offers a wide range of trendy, well-designed, functional home furnishing products at affordable prices.
How do you want to position yourself in the minds of your customers? You can’t hit a target if you don’t know where to aim.
Who are you trying to attract to your business? Focus on consumers most likely to want your product or service.
Example (IKEA): Price-sensitive families, small businesses, students, and young professionals.
Once you have a focused and crafted brand strategy ready, you should brief your design team to bring your brand to life with a unique brand identity (logo, colours, sell line, graphics, imagery, and language).
With your brand strategy and brand identity, you can start developing your messaging and marketing touchpoints like packaging, e-commerce website, blogs (articles), videos, eBooks, infographics, social media imagery and advertising.
Your brand strategy and identity will enable you to present a consistent brand experience across all channels.
What is Brand Identity?
Your brand identity is how your audience sees you.
It is how your brand looks, feels, speaks, and sounds. A brand identity dictates how you communicate with the world, differentiate yourself from your competition, and create a brand experience that encourages people to engage with you.
A well-developed brand identity will help you build trust and familiarity, stand out from the competition, and increase customer loyalty.
Elements of a brand identity
A brand identity is the comprehensive visual language of your brand, but not just that; it also includes your brand’s voice, the words it uses and how it sounds can be applied to all our marketing touchpoints.
A comprehensive brand identity would include your logo, colour palette, typography, design system, style of imagery (Photography, Illustration, Iconography), and tone and style of the brand language. It will also include the design direction for signage, packaging, website, store/office ambience, uniforms, and livery, to name just a few.
When your brand identity is applied consistently across all your communication and marketing touchpoints, your brand becomes recognizable, familiar, and unique and trustworthy over time.