Doing this work for, ahem, decades, it’s easy for me to forget that the most basic yet game-changing concepts can often be misunderstood.
I sometimes assume everyone understands what I mean when I talk about “brand strategy.” But with new readers and fans, it’s worth revisiting this important topic and clarifying terminology so your business can soar.
A lesson for all of you: Don’t assume the information you take for granted is something “everyone already knows.” This is still one the most popular question I get:
What is a brand strategy?
And its related cousins…
Where do I even start creating a brand strategy? What are the right questions to ask when building my brand strategy?
Just to ensure we’re all on the same page, let’s first revisit what we mean by BRAND.
Your brand is your core, your essence. It’s the soul and reputation of your company, project or even non-profit and informs everything from who you target to how you price to what your website needs to look like and include….so many other business decisions, big and small. And not just marketing ones, either.
If you think of your brand as your business’ reputation, you can see how this informs they way you look, talk and act as a company or a personal brand.
You convey your brand in three crucial ways: visually, verbally and experientially. I call them this concept the Three-Legged Stool of Branding. And like a stool, if you are missing a leg, the whole thing falls down. The “legs” ensure you have a firm foundation to make all your efforts more effective.
A brand strategy is a statement of direction that answers key questions around why you exist, what you stand for, who you target, what value you provide, your pricing and packaging strategy and your business’ unique personality or vibe that you will present to the world.
Why do you need a brand strategy? Unless you want to overwhelm yourself with a ton of wasted effort (and expense), you need this “strategic map”. Like a compass, a brand strategy guides all your marketing, operational and even hiring and partnership decisions. a Brand Strategy helps you say yes to the right things and no to the wrong things so you not only save money and time, but your specific actions are much more targeted and effective. Otherwise, you will run yourself ragged trying to blindly figure out the right move to make next.
Simply put, a Brand Strategy prevents you from performing random acts of marketing and getting distracted by every new shiny objectStop performing random acts of marketing. Craft your Brand Strategy first. Click To Tweet
Remember: the format of a Brand Strategy is not the most important thing. Yours can be three paragraphs, two pages or even a slide deck or other graphic format. What matters is that it answers high-level questions such as who you are, who you serve and the value you offer and at a detailed level, outlines:
- You mission/vision/values (AKA, your reason for being)
- Your ideal customer profiles
- Your benefits and unique differentiators
- Your brand voice and personality
- Your pricing and packaging
- Your key messages and three main benefits you offer
From this, you can create a Brand Positioning Statement (BPS) that wraps up all your answers into a simple paragraph or two. The BPS is an internal-only statement that guides your decisions going forward. Please don’t confuse the BPS with a tagline: a tagline is an external, catchy marketing statement that conveys your brand to the world. A clear brand strategy often leads you to the right, solid tagline.
Here’s an example of an internal Brand Story, or Brand Positioning Statement from a past client:
“Alinga Bodywork is the Anthropologie of the bodywork field, offering a unique, creative, individual approach to bodywork (massage, Reiki and BodyTalk) combined with attentive and personalized service that is in tune with the way you express yourself and your personal truth. It provides high value, yet affordable services to busy women that go beyond just surface pampering to something deeper and more lasting. Unlike pure massage therapists, Andrea uses the body as an access point to specifically identify what is holding you back by releasing physical tension and unprocessed emotions. This release helps you get unstuck creatively and emotionally. Sessions at Alinga provide a lasting investment in your self-development that goes beyond pure pampering.
Alinga is focused on balance, action, forward movement, and progress. It propels clients to the next level by shifting them out of stagnation and into action, in their lives or work, using a body-centered approach to process the physical and emotional/energetic issues holding them back. It opens them up to new possibilities, giving them the clarity and the confidence to manifest a new reality, whether that be launching or expanding a business, jumping feet first into exploring art, music, or higher education, or creating space in daily life to be more present in the moment and connected to the body.”
This BPS tells me everything I need to know about the company: the target audience, the core benefits it wants to stress in the market, and the tone and voice of the company.
Once you have these questions answered, you’re in a much better position to create a solid plan of marketing tactics. You’ll know where you need to advertise, which social media networks make the most sense to reach your target audience, and what the heck to blog about. You’ll even better understand how your website needs to look and what it needs to say to appeal to your target market.
Internally, you can use the Brand Strategy to inform hiring decisions, operational processes, customer service policies, partner program criteria and even fun company culture practices and rituals!
Your Brand Strategy is your internal bible for making smart business decisions, not just marketing decisions. The more clarity you have about your answers, the more your business will attract the right people with the right message at the right time. Otherwise, good luck navigating the marketing maze of options that exists today.