8 brand strategy steps that aren’t about creatinga logo, values or purpose.

Updated: Jan 28

A guide for how you can create an effective brand strategy to better connect with your consumers.

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If you’ve followed me for a little bit now you’ll know I’ve had a gripe with this phrase ‘brand strategy’. A total farking buzzword in any branding person’s vocabulary and I dare not speak its name when I rattle off my services with clients. Why? Because I'm not a brand strategist, I develop brand identities.

Here’s the difference:


A brand strategy is about what you’re going to be doing in 2022 (and beyond) to connect with a specific group of people to buy into what you have to offer. It’s the game plan behind passing the basketball (your offering) from your end of the court, into Michael Jordan’s hands (customer wants/needs) and giving him the space (positioning) to let him get the ball in the bucket (your customer) so your team scores (sales) time and time again to win the game (profit) and be known for it.


A brand identity is just that, an identity. It does have strategic components baked into the process of developing a brand identity that is going to connect with your consumer. But it is the identity that represents you, your team and what you have to offer so that it’s just the one identity a specific group(s) of people need to connect with. It’s the team philosophy, the logo emblazoned on the stand out red shirts and shorts, the team music played while on offence and the home court feel and atmosphere.

Basketball analogies aside, here’s a handful of hard truths I've come to learn:

  1. 1. A brand strategy is not done with the sole purpose of developing a brand identity, if at all.

  2. I would not confuse developing your brand values, purpose, mission, vision, tone of voice, etc, as being your brand strategy that informs a better logo/visual identity (sometimes just referred to as the brand identity). A brand identity is indeed the values, purpose, voice, message, look, feel, sound and smell of a brand.

  3. The third is that a brand strategy is better to be revisited in the short term. A set and forget brand strategy does not keep your brand relevant.

  4. Developing/refreshing/rebranding a brand identity (also known as ‘branding’ - the act of brand building) is a tactic to achieve the objectives of a brand strategy.


 

Now that I’ve got that out of the way, do you need to be doing brand strategy for your business?


Not necessarily because it’s not for everyone. But can it help create an impact? Quite simply, yes.


The broader answer is that a brand strategy is much the same, if not the same as a marketing strategy. It might just be semantics depending on if it’s coming from a branding person or a marketing person. That said, you may already do brand strategy or parts of it without even knowing it because much of it is an inherent part of business. So no matter what you call it, the benefit of this effort is a plan for everyone involved to know what the hell you’re going to be doing in the next 12 months or thereabout.


So your plan is simple:

  1. Review

  2. Research

  3. Segment

  4. Target

  5. Position

  6. Set objectives

  7. Get tactical

  8. Put a $ figure on it with a Budget


At the end of all this, we just want a clear plan everyone understands and can get behind to be successful by the end of it all and when we come full circle to start from the beginning in a new year's cycle of brand strategy.


A quick caveat before I dig in. There is another step in a brand strategy process is a step called Market Orientation. It’s a process of identifying the needs/wants of the customers who are likely to benefit from and be satisfied by your offering. Though if you’ve already got a product/service customers are buying, this step may not be needed. However, if you’re developing a new offering or updating an offering, this is the step you should be taking first.

And how good is this, you can collapse each of the steps to read more about them.

1. REVIEW

I talked about reviewing what your brand’s 2021 looked like in my last blog post of this ‘All about Branding’ series. So to quickly rehash this one again, ask yourselves these questions: ( If your brand is just starting out you can in most cases skip this bit)

  1. What objectives did we not hit?

  2. What objectives did we hit?

  3. Is there anything we’ve learned of value that needs to be considered this year?

  4. Could anything be done better this year?

  5. How are we tracking with brand awareness, sales, referrals, leads, market share, consumer sentiment, etc?


2. RESEARCH

3. SEGMENT

4. TARGET

5. POSITION

6. OBJECTIVES

7. TACTICS

8. BUDGET


 

So there are the 8 steps to set a plan in motion.


Now, one thing you might be thinking after all this is how did I learn this stuff if I don’t necessarily do this brand strategy process with my clients? My best recommendation is to look up marketing professional and marketing/brand consultant, Mark Ritson or simply refer to this great “Marketingland” illustration below to help you travel to ‘Brand Beach’. This process has proven success in real-world use from the biggest brands in the world, all the way down to small businesses.



But when it comes to the tactics and a brand identity refresh or rebrand is needed, say g'day and book call here.


So whether or not you’re just starting out, you’re going through your strategic planning for a new year or you’re assessing how you can better help your clients as a branding or marketing person, consider these 8 steps to develop a winning and reoccurring plan for developing a strategy that grows your brand at the same time as generating revenue and profit, rather than it be all about how your logo looks.