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how to make a brand strategy?
9 min read

Once we have established the positioning strategy, you need to learn how to make a brand strategy, to sustain that position. All the Brand elements should be built with this positioning strategy in mind.

What is branding?

Branding is the process of creating a unique and distinct identity for a product, service, company, or individual. It involves shaping and influencing how others perceive and recognize the entity in question.

The sole purpose of branding is to establish a strong and positive image in the minds of consumers or target audiences. It helps differentiate a product or company from competitors, build customer loyalty, and foster trust and credibility. A well-executed branding strategy can evoke specific emotions, values, and associations, making the brand memorable and recognizable.

The main pillars of a Brand are represented by consistency:

  • consistent brand personality.
  • consistent messaging
  • a consistent tone of voice
  • consistent customer experience

Effective branding is done by doing thorough market research, and understanding who is your target audience and what preferences they have. After that, you should work to align the brand identity with the positioning strategy that can help you occupy the desired step of the brand leader, in the mind of your client.

Such an effort requires careful planning, strategic decision-making, and ongoing brand management to maintain and evolve the brand over time.

Before starting to build your brand, you need first to understand the difference between branding and marketing. Even if there are many definitions out there regarding what is the function of marketing, and the function of branding (some people talk about both as it would be the same thing), they are different notions and they are complementary. I will share with you the best explanation I was able to find in 10 years of learning about the subject.

In the book “Brands and Bulls**t” – Bernhard Schroeder has the best explanation I found for understanding the difference between product marketing and brand marketing. He argues that “Product marketing differentiates your product from other products in the market. Brand marketing differentiates your customers from other customers!”.

What are the core elements of a brand?

Promise

The brand promise is the core of your brand. This is the way you communicate the added value you will bring to your customers with every interaction. It is very important to try to communicate the emotional benefits of your product/service, not just the product attributes.

Perception

It is not relevant what you think about your brand, it is important just what your customers think about it. For this reason, you need to constantly work to develop the perception that can sustain your positioning strategy in the long run. 

Expectation

Be aware of the brand promise that you communicate to your clients. They will expect that promise to be enforced with every purchase they make. Don’t betray their trust. Like Warren Buffet often says: “It takes years to build trust, and seconds to lose it!

Brand Persona

Try to answer this question: “Who is your brand?”. To answer it, imagine that your brand is a person and describe it. What is it like?; What are the main personal attributes that make you want to spend time together?; What does it make you feel?; Would you be happy or bothered to be associated with this kind of personality?

Brand Elements

Besides the intangible elements described above, your brand will be defined by the physical elements like logo, packaging, slogan, messaging, etc.

Think of all these elements in an integrated way to constantly underline your brand position, to meet brand expectations, and to bring light on the Brand Persona.

How to make a brand strategy?

There are many approaches to this task. I will present to you the one that I consider to be the best structured. In the same book mentioned above, Bernhard Schroeder talks about the concept of a “Brand Rainbow”.

This is a practical approach, that can help you build a brand in any industry. In the “Brand Rainbow” you have a 5 step-by-step approach.

  • Brand Audit
  • Brand Insights
  • Brand Positioning 
  • Brand Creation
  • Brand Communication

Brand Audit

This would be the first level of building a Brand Strategy. To do this step of the process well, follow the next step:

  • Define the mission and vision of your business.
  • What are the values and culture of your business?
  • What is the customer experience that you are aiming for?
  • What are the key products?
  • What is the marketing landscape?
  • What are the forces inside your industry (who are your competitors and what strategies do they have)?
  • Constant research and analysis.

Brand Insights

At this step, with the positioning strategy in mind, you can start outlining your brand. In doing so, you will need to consider the following:

  • Brand Values
  • Brand attributes
  • Brand strength and weakness
  • Opportunities and threats
  • Product category
  • Industry Analysis
  • Customer segments
  • Brand differentiators
  • Competitive advantage

Brand Positioning 

At this step, you will need to answer questions like:

  • Unique value proposition
  • Who are your customers?
  • What is the product category in which you want to compete?
  • What are your main competitors?
  • What is the step on the category ladder that you want to occupy?

If you want to dive deep into the subject, you are welcome to refer to the previous article: How to Build a Position Strategy?

Brand Creation

At this step, everything comes to life and starts taking shape. As with all the other steps, please keep in mind the positioning strategy that you started with.

  • Visual identity – name, logo, colors, etc.
  • Name
  • The tone and voice of the brand
  • Key messages

Brand Communication

These are all the marketing tactics that are meant to create the brand perception that can build your brand, and further sustain your Positioning Strategy.

At this step, you need to consider the following:

  • Customer experience
  • Employee behavior
  • Brand manifesto
  • Packaging
  • Marketing campaign
  • Word of mouth
  • Brand Manual

All this effort needs to be crowned around a brand story. All brand has one, and yours should have one as well. This will help you especially to give personality to your brand, to be authentic, and will bring your brand to life.

How to craft a brand story? 

Bernhard Schroeder says that “The story of your brand is a complete picture made up of facts, feelings, and interpretation, which means that part of your story isn’t even told by you”. I agree. This is why you have to be consistent in your story, and make sure that helps you create a perception for your brand that can support your positioning strategy.

Why is important to know how to make a brand strategy?

Building a brand will help your business, especially in the long run. It will build fences around it, to protect the position that has in the mind of your client, and will be more resilient in difficult times.

Build a brand, and you will have to list the following benefits:

Differentiation

In a crowded marketplace, branding helps distinguish a product, service, or company from its competitors. It helps you create a unique identity. Also, it helps you occupy a unique position in the minds of consumers.

Effective branding communicates what sets your client apart from the ones of your competitors. It relies on emotional benefits to underline the added value that it brings to the customer.

Competitive Advantage

A strong differentiator will build in time a significant competitive advantage. This will help you establish a strong market position and create barriers to entry. Brands that are deeply ingrained in the minds of consumers are more likely to be chosen over alternatives.

Consistency and Coherence

Branding provides a framework for consistency and coherence across all brand touchpoints. It ensures that the messaging, design, and customer experience align with the brand’s identity, values, and positioning.

Recognition and Recall

Over time, your branding efforts will pay off in the form of recognition and your clients will easily recall your brand.

Consistent branding elements such as logos, colors, and slogans help consumers easily identify and remember the brand.

This recognition leads to familiarity, trust, and an increased likelihood of purchase or engagement.

Trust and Credibility

A well-established brand instills trust and credibility among consumers. Brands that consistently deliver on their promises and maintain a positive reputation build customer loyalty and foster long-term relationships. Trust is crucial for consumers when making purchasing decisions, and branding plays a significant role in building that trust.

Emotional Connection 

Brands have the power to evoke emotions and forge a connection with consumers. Through branding, companies can communicate their values, personality, and story, which resonate with their target audience on a deeper level. Emotional connections with a brand often lead to stronger brand loyalty and advocacy.

Price Premium

Strong branding allows companies to command a price premium for their products or services. When consumers perceive a brand as superior or having higher value, they are often willing to pay more for it. Branding helps create perceived value that goes beyond the tangible features of a product.

At the same time, Branding can increase the resilience of your product/company over time, by decreasing the price elasticity.

Business Growth and Expansion: Strong branding opens opportunities for business growth and expansion. A well-known and respected brand can more easily enter new markets, introduce new products or services, and attract partnerships or collaborations. It provides a solid foundation for long-term success and sustainability.

Conclusion

I have built to this point three different businesses, in tree different industries. Trying to understand the market dynamics in those industries, analyzing the 5 big forces that influence the market, and interacting with different customer groups, helped me understand that having a brand:

  • it is one of the best ways of having control of the price of your product, your customers will be less price sensitive.
  • it helps you make mistakes (and you will do time to time), and your clients will be more understanding and will give you a second chance.
  • It will be easier to tell your story and to underline the differentiator.
  • It will be easier to take feedback from your community, in real time, and improve or build products that make your clients fall in love.
  • Last, but not least, your business will have a competitive advantage hard to match!

Additional resources for better understanding how to make a brand strategy

I would recommend you buy a copy of Brand and Bul**t – Bernhard Schroeder and study it. Have it on your desk and open it every time you have a brand decision to make. It will make your life much easier and it will help you save a lot of time and resources by not being forced to use a trial-and-error approach every time.

Also, you can read the other free materials in our Strategic Framework: How to build a business strategy?

Now you need to take all the points above, one by one, and address them with patience. Even if it seems like a sort of list of activities, in reality, you need to put a lot of effort and energy into developing a consistent strategy, that can take into consideration all the important factors to have a 360-degree approach.

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