16 Steps To Building A Brand Strategy
The most prized asset to your business is your brand.
A brand is a reputation and picture portrayed by a business to its customers. Simply put, your brand is your image and representation in the market place. The strength of your brand in the marketplace is directly proportional to your performance in the market.
The main focus of business owners should be building a good brand. That is the reason resources are often channelled into developing a strong brand.
What then is a business brand?
Well, you must first know why your brand exists in the first instance. What is the purpose and what does it stand for? You should know that your brand is synonymous with your business.
Below are a few questions you should answer to define your brand before you proceed. The problem my business/brand solves, my target market, my competitors, why customers should choose and trust my product and the feelings customers get from interacting with my product.
Once all these questions are answered and you have a glimpse of your brand in your mind, it’s time to move to brand strategy.
From Mcdonalds to Coca-Cola, wherever you are in the world, you can trust that these companies will provide identical drinks and food each and every time you order.
Hence, brand strategy is the consistent approach you take in creating and building your business. When building a brand strategy, you must take cognizance of these main components:
1. Drive: This elucidates the purpose of your business. Why is your business created and what purpose will it serve to your customers?
2. Reliability: You should be able to outline the premises that allow you to meet your customers’ needs. What are the things you need to always satisfy your target market?
3. Connection: What relationship will your customers have with your product? Can you create a bond between your business and your customers?
By understanding and defining these components, you have the foundation for building your brand strategy. An effective and efficient brand strategy will create a unique identity (your brand) that sets you aside from your competitors. Without further ado, let us dive right into the steps to build a great brand strategy.
1. The Purpose Of Your Business
This section is where you need to uncover the “why” behind your business.
It’s the force that propels you to get out of bed in the morning, to think about your business idea continuously, and it’s the passion that will keep you going on your business journey.
Here are a few examples of businesses mission statements that might surprise you in light of the products and services they provide;
- Microsoft – “Our mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.”
- Uber – “We ignite opportunity by setting the world in motion.”
- Kickstarter – “To help bring creative projects to life.”
If you’re still unsure about the purpose of your business, take time on this step to think about why your company concept is essential to create. This will really help you create a strong brand for your business.
2. Establish Your Target Market
If you haven’t decided already who you shall be marketing your products to, you need to. You really need to begin to build a compelling brand that will connect with your customer.
Beyond your target audiences’ ages and locations, attempt to slim this down to a specific set of people you’ll be selling your product or service to.
For example, what are their estimated incomes, goals and motivations in life?
Once you identify who your real customers are, it’ll be easier to tailor your branding and marketing approach to reach and persuade them to buy from you.
3. Research Your Competitors
An essential part of creating an excellent brand for your business is to research your competitors.
Choose those who offer similar products and services to you, but be mindful that this step isn’t to copy from them.
It’s to assess their strengths and weaknesses within the market, their missions and values as a company. Plus, the quality and cost of the services and products they provide and the marketing channels they use to approach their target audience.
From this analysis, you can decipher what does or doesn’t work for you.
4. Define your general business strategy
This may sound similar to the quick detour we had in the introduction. However, it is similar with a slight difference – the addition of the process. A good place to start strategizing for your brand is in the general business strategy.
Your business mission, vision and core values must be the foundation for your brand strategy. If you have a distinct place you want to take your business, your brand strategy will take you there.
5. Define your target market
You cannot serve everybody, at least not at the same time with the same product. Only nature’s gift can do that. Trying to satisfy every market will not only make you lose concentration but can lead to business problems.
You need to clearly define which market you are serving and how you are going to get them (we will get back to this later). Your brand concentration in the market is inversely proportional to the diversity of your target market.
While defining your target market, you must be careful to select the best for your business since your success is hinged on it. Then how do you make the selection? Follow me to the next step.
6. Investigate your target market
To build a solid brand strategy, you wouldn’t just make decisions out of the blues. After you must have identified your business purpose and the market you are serving, you must make investigations about that market. Make systematic research about the market you are about to serve so you can make informed decisions that will profit your business.
You might ask what the benefit of this investigation might be. One is that it helps you understand your customers’ perspectives, views, priorities, and preferences. With these, you can anticipate their need and emotions and plan to meet them. This also informs you about your competitors, market risks, opportunities and threats in the market.
All in all, a business that does market research grow faster and make more profit. The frequency of the market research also imparts profitability because frequent research means you are up to speed with market deals.
7. Cultivate your market positioning
With the knowledge you’ve gotten from your investigation, you should now know where you fit into the market. When you know your market positioning, you know your brand positioning.
What differentiates you from other businesses in the same market caste? What do you have to offer to win over the customers in your target market? Once you know this, you can now formulate your positioning statement. Your positioning statement should have this kind of characteristic:
- Three to five concise sentences
- Captures your brand positioning
- Aspirational but achievable statement
8. Delivering the brand message
Your positioning must be communicated effectively and efficiently to relay your message to all in your target market. There are many groups in your target market which include potential customers, referral sources, partners, agents, and even employees.
You must take note that the perception of each of this group and subgroups are different. Even though you use different means and tailored messages for each group, your core brand message must not change.
The message must highlight the most relevant information for each group ad relay accordingly. So, to make your brand relevant to all in your target group, ensure that the message relayed to them address their individual specific needs.
9. Strategic Product Pricing
The pricing of your product or service is particularly essential when creating your company brand. For instance, manufacturing companies instigate MAP policies to ensure the retailers don’t advertise their products for less than the agreed price.
The reason being, as setting a price low for an item, portrays to the public that its value is low. Here is a MAP policy example for your perusal.
Thus, if the retailer attempts to raise the price later on, consumers may not think it’s worth the increased cost.
10. Develop representations
Whenever people talk about a brand, their mind always goes to the representations first – the name, logo, tagline, colour, and other physical representations. You should know these as just depictions and not brands in themselves.
That settled, let’s talk about perhaps the most iconic of all your business representations – the name. For starters, your name must portray your brand positioning. For businesses going through a merger or breaking new grounds, a change of name or name modification will be in order but for many businesses, a name change is not required.
In cases where the name change is not applicable, a change in logo or tagline may be necessary. A set name will influence a logo. Utmost care must be taken because, after the name, the logo is the next strongest representation of the business brand.
All your representation should carry your brand message and deliver the same appropriately to the target audience. Ensure live your representations to make them really come to life.
11. Integrate your brand
Either you have a department for branding or you run it yourself, integrate the brand to all aspects of your business. Your brand should be visible to all and sundry. From your doormat, door, business card to your website, all should display and portray what your business stands for – your brand.
12. Build a great content marketing strategy
Having a good marketing strategy is not enough, you must have great content too. Content marketing is better suited for professionals in the internet age and it has proven itself to deliver more than the traditional marketing strategy. What then makes the difference?
It not only does all that the traditional marketing does but goes further to do it more efficiently by using educational values to draw, develop and meet the requirements. Your brand should not be an “all talk, no show.”
As much as you show your brand, always ensure you can back it up with action. That is what I mean when I said your brand message must be achievable. Your brand strategy should bring integrity, reputation, and visibility to your business. While marketing will make your business visible to potential customers, what you deliver will make or mar your reputation and relevance.
13. Build a website
Your online representative is your website. One good thing about this representative is that it can represent your business 24-7. Your customers can learn about what you do, how you do it and interact with your business.
Even though your website wouldn’t be the only factor your prospective customer considers, it might be one of them. I can tell you from experience that a lot of businesses lose customers because of the wrong messages passed on the website e.g. unavailable webpages, wrong information posted and other website design errors.
While some lose because of their poor website, you should make good use of it to your advantage. When you post valuable content on your website, your potential customers and referrals will be able to locate you through the content the search engine crawler gets.
You should focus on search engine optimization and ensure the right information is posted and updated as at when due. In this day and age, you can have your website do two things: convey your brand message (tell who you are, what you do and display other information about your business) and generate and raise potential customers.
A website that renders both services at the same time is called a High-Performance Website. 😉
14. Build your marketing tools
Your content, business, and brand are as good as you market them. And your marketing is as good as the tools you employ. The marketing tools you use are greatly influenced by the demography of your target market. There is a countless number of tools available for use but I will just talk about a few.
- Brochure – A small book containing information about your product and services. In short, a book about your brand. The electronic brochure is often used now instead of the printed paper. Nonetheless, if you want to capture some customers in the market especially the aged ones, you still need the printed brochure.
- Sales-sheet – A page that describes the main services offerings and the market attended.
- Videos – Increasing now is the use of short videos to aid other marketing tools. It is said that you can speak a thousand words with a picture, if so, then you can speak a billion with videos.
These and many more are important tools you could use to build a good brand strategy.
If I may ask, what is the importance of a good plan or strategy that is not executed? It is just like an architectural plan which is fine on the paper but never built. Its beauty and functionality wouldn’t be known and it will be a total waste of resources.
Execution is an important part of this step because it is where the strategy comes to life. It is not a surprise that some great brand strategies never saw the light of the day.
This is rampant with start-ups who started with a fine strategy but as they grow, they get too busy and lose focus. So, it is not enough to have a solid brand strategy, you must follow up until it is fully executed.
Tracking is the last step here. Getting to the execution step isn’t enough, you need to track the progress. Mind you, it is not only the executed plan that you keep track of but the result as well.
Are the results as expected? How many new leads and opportunities were generated with the target group? With this and other questions answered, you can now adjust the variables to bring you back to track. The variable includes the strategy itself, the target market and audience, employees, policies, market position and tools, et cetera. Your tracking might be useless if you do not adjust.
There you go – the steps you need to build a brand strategy. While some confuse brand strategy with brand positioning, brand story, brand value, brand mission, and even brand identity, well a brand strategy is just the plan to shape and build your brand. Build a great brand strategy and enjoy a long term success.
Each and every business would benefit from creating their own brand for their company. Your brand is the memorable image and reputation your business imprints on your target audiences.
You gradually build a safety net in the mind of your customers that you are providing value and satisfaction on purchasing something, as they know exactly what they are buying and what the quality will be.
Each and every business needs loyalty. From your vendors to your customers, you want to be the top go-to company. A brand is a large part of how you achieve that.
Pay particular attention to your target market, your mission statement, your pricing and competitors to develop a strong base for your company brand.
I hope this sounds helpful!
How have you been working on your brand?
I’d love to hear from you. 😀