What is brand strategy?
A lot of agencies will have ‘brand strategy’ on their list of services or expertise. You’re being told to write a brand strategy but what does it mean?
In short, a brand strategy is intrinsically linked to your business strategy. Your brand strategy is a long-term plan to ensure your brand is positioned correctly to support your wider business objectives. It’s the story you want to tell to consumers, it’s the experience you want to give, it’s the perception you want them to have of you. What position do you want to hold in the consumer’s mind? It should affect all aspects of the business while tapping directly into your consumers’ emotional needs ensuring you are making emotional connections with them. Your brand strategy should be a blend of your consumers’ needs and your company’s unique strengths.
There are a number of elements which make up a brand strategy. This guide aims to explain the different terminology that’s used to help you understand each piece of the jigsaw better.
The Starting Point
As mentioned, a brand’s strategy is a careful balance of what your customers want and what the business aims to achieve to answer those wants. To create a real connection with your customers, you need to tap into their emotional needs. People make buying decisions based on emotional needs first, and functional needs second. So before you do anything, identify your audience’s emotional needs. Airbnb does this beautifully with their purpose which taps into the emotional need of their audience to ‘belong anywhere’. It’s not just a tagline, it’s a way to ensure that everything they do helps their customers feel like they could belong anywhere in the world.
The most impactful brands in the world make us feel something. They do that by having a purpose. These brands have a reason to exist beyond making a profit. It is individual to that organisation or brand and is the organisation’s fundamental reason for being; their WHY. As Simon Sinek famously said ‘People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it’. It’s the expression of the organisation’s impact on the lives of customers, clients, employees; whoever you’re trying to serve. Make them feel it. When properly conceived, a good purpose should serve to guide and inspire the organisation for years.
A vision statement focuses on the future. It sets a target for the next 5-10 years to empower your workforce. It should be a source of inspiration and motivation. Often it describes not just the future of the company but the future of the industry or society in which they hope to affect change.
A mission statement describes how a company will achieve their vision and for whom. It defines primary objectives related to your customer needs and brand purpose.
Your values or behaviours align your business and its employees helping them to make decisions based on values that represent your brand and help you to achieve your vision. Whether you choose to have values or behaviours is personal to the organisation. For some, behaviours can feel more tangible for individuals and support recruitment and HR purposes. For others, values work better as they are more generalised and can be applied to wider applications.
Bringing it All Together
These elements, when combined, make up your brand strategy. Your brand strategy should provide you with the tools to steer your brand in the right direction and ensure you are positioned to achieve your business objectives. It should act as the emotional backbone to your business, ensuring that whatever decision you make, the consumers’ needs are at the centre.
When a visual identity, brand experience and brand strategy are cohesive, the brand becomes more effective; consumers understand you more, buying decisions are made easier and loyalty grows.