Did you know there are 50 million new firm births per year! This means, almost 137,000 new brands launched every day. So, with so many options available and the financial turmoil, customers only opt for TRUSTED brands. Therefore, surviving in this highly competitive JUNGLE is definitely not an easy task, especially for startup brands. This is one of the main reasons why businesses all over the world are nowrequired to create an incredible community-centric brand that is innovative, purposeful, inspiring, relevant, and ON-TREND, hence forcing people to pause, pay attention and listen This is where having a MAP before you enter the JUNGLE of branding proves essential – or in simple words creating a strong Brand Strategy is vital! After all, we live in a world where no one has time to carefully evaluate all available brand options. So, its really important for brands to make a REAL connection with their audiences via a strong brand strategy. Once established, this strategy enables businesses to communicate compelling value, build emotional attachment, promote long-term recall of brand messages, and foster trust and loyalty to sustain relationships.
What is Branding and Why It is Important to Develop a Strategy?
Branding is a critical, yet often misunderstood element of business success. Most people may think its about brand names, logos, colours, etc, while others think its just another word for marketing ones products and services. These views fail to capture the TRUE essence of what branding is about and the value it can bring to an organisation. So, lets shed a little light on what branding truly is and get rid of any or all misconceptions associated with it:
In simple words, branding is process of delivering the message of a particular company, product, place, or person clearly and creating a VISUAL that customers can easily identify. It establishes the ground for marketing and helps create trust with customers and give proof of the credibility of the business and its services and products offered in the marketplace.
But, if you think thats all, youre mistaken. Branding is also responsible for creating an EMOTIONAL connection with your target customers. It motivates the potential customer to choose YOUR brand out of all, and its main goal is to allow organisations to receive repeat business, goodwill, support etc. However, successful and sustainable branding requires careful consistency and planning.
This is where the need for a powerful BRAND STRATEGY comes in. The brand strategy is responsible for defining the ideas and stories behind your brand, its structure, partnerships, and relationships, hence describing the core elements. These can include the reason behind your company name, product name, color schemes, logo, and tone of voice.
Subsequently, with a clear brand strategy in place, businesses can finally informed, appropriate, and coordinated decisions not just in marketing, but in all departments from product development, all the way to recruitment and customer service. This process of unifying and embodying the brand idea throughout the organizations is what is known as “Branding”.
The 5 Key Components in a Brand Strategy
Clearly defining these 5 components will help you direct all of your marketing materials from key messages, to your visual identity now and in the future.
Brand Vision describes the ideal future state of the brand. It articulates the ultimate goal you want to achieve through the brand’s success. It is future-oriented, focuses on goals to be achieved, and answers the question, ‘If we can achieve what we want to do, what will we look like in X years time?’
For instance, this could be a simple act of promising to deliver better services for your clients in a specific industry. So, why is vision an important component? Well, knowing why you exist as a company, beyond gaining profits and earning money, inspires and reveals your actions to the audience. Subsequently, when creating a brand strategy, make sure to write a clear, definitive, and attractive vision statement.
Brand Mission defines the purpose of the brand and what it does. Think of the brand mission as the route you will follow to achieve your brand vision. It answers the questions ‘why do we do what we do’ and ‘who do we serve’. This component of a brand strategy basically creates the CUSTOMERS that will drive the business forward.
Yes, brand mission is all about your customers and what you can do for them. Of course, anyone can simply come up with a mission and claim something rather impossible. But the mission isn’t based on fake promises or talk shops.
Creating the brand mission involves pulling together a company’s operations and marketing priorities, intended product development, strategic directions, and vision. From these, a brand can then come up with strategies to create customers and build brand value. However, bear in mind that a brand mission should push the limits of the company.
This is because in many ways, the mission is the defining act of corporate vision and courage. Subsequently, the goal of your brand mission should be unique and to take the brand into new market spaces where competitors cant follow.
In general terms, this component of your brand strategy defines your BELIEF system, which guides your approach in the marketplace. For instance, let’s say you have launched a fitness institute. Your main values would be helping people achieve their goals and value customer confidentiality, integrity and relationships.
These values would clearly be seen throughout your business efforts and will be reflected not only in the marketplace, but also when dealing with customers. Subsequently, when creating a brand strategy, it is incredibly imperative to have clear set values, to ensure your customers know exactly who they are dealing with and what they get in return. List a minimum of 5 to 7 core values about your brand.
4. Brand Positioning
In simple words, brand positioning refers to a business’ efforts in how a product appears in comparison to other products in the marketplace. It ensures that your brand strategy has a consistent and more focused approach when defining your vision, mission, and values. Positioning also makes sure that your brand appears distinctively and uniquely in the market, hence allowing your messages to be delivered consistently across all markets.
Of course, many of you may be wondering how this is possible, as an individual’s perception of a brand cannot be controlled. Yes, it cannot be controlled, but it can be influenced. And, this is exactly what brand positioning does. It helps in delivering consistent messages, hence changing the perception most people have about your brand. You can positively influence market perceptions via 3 main brand positioning components, which are:
- Re-Positioning – This positioning strategy refers to the efforts of an organizations to change the identity or perception of a product relative. For instance, Nike initially began as a Footwear Company. However, with the introduction of its “Just Do It” campaign it emerged as an athleticism brand, paving the way for new products and sub-brands. Currently, the brand has also emerged as an important brand in the wearable technology market.
- Positioning – The process of creating a brand identity or image that appeals to the target market of an organisation or product. For instance, Colgate Toothpaste uses a benefit strategy with an effective message: Brush with Colgate and prevent gingivitis and cavities.
- De-Positioning – Attempting to change the identity or influence competing products relative to the identity of your product. For instance, for years, Pepsi used its traditional blue, red, and white colors for its Pepsi drink. However, in order to give the brand another identity, it introduced the Diet Pepsi. This drink had the iconic Pepsi “sphere”, but used different visual elements altogether, hence changing the way people think about the brand and its drinks.
5. Brand Personality
This component of the brand strategy refers to a business’s attitude, style, and tone in all forms of communications. For instance, the AirAsia brand got its fame and name from its exceptional service and fun attitude. The brand considers customers the first priority and always makes sure to meet their demands. So, how can one identify their brand personality? Well, this can be done by creating a long list of adjectives and emotions surrounding your brand. Are you rural urban; serious or playful; casual or formal? All the emotions that describe your brand – simply write them down. Next, narrow down your list to at least seven attitudes and use them in your brand messages to reflect your personality.
- Works on achieving visibility through simplification — less = more
- Influences purchasing decisions by occupying a place in the mind
- Focuses on reinforcing the truths about an organization
- Strategic — vision, strategy, execution and evolution
- Helps build customer loyalty in the first place
With these 6 points, it is clear that brand strategy refers to the expression of the essential value or truth of an organisation and its services and products. It is the communication of the attributes, characteristics, and attributes that clarify what this particular brand is.
Since a brand is formed through a series of EXPERIENCES – brand strategy is the sum of all information about a business and its services and products. It is reinforced with the vision, mission, value, positioning, and personality and communicates all the promises intended for your audience, creating a memorable and distinct image of your business in the mind of customers.
Who Drives the Brand Strategy?
The senior management team of a business is responsible for driving the brand strategy. These professionals basically work on the different brand features and help deliver clear and consistent messages about your vision, mission, and value to attract the audience. This team is responsible for the awareness, accessibility, value, relevant differential, and emotional connection involved in the process of creating a unique brand strategy.
This ensures that customers are aware about which product categories your brand operates in. It also guarantees that your products and services are readily available. Regardless of whether it is expensive or inexpensive, high end or low end, it will also make certain that everything your brand focuses on provides good value. Finally, it also builds the trust and emotional connection in customers that convince them on buying your services or products.
So, if you want your business to reach new heights, expand its horizons, and deliver clear and consistent messages to consumers, then perhaps it’s time you build a powerful strategy too before jumping on the branding bandwagon.