Strategy 101: 6 Elements of Strategic Branding
Written by Rachel Richards
Are you looking to create lifelong relationships with your customers? A brand strategy will guide you in the right direction. It provides your business with a clear path toward becoming the number-one choice in your target audience’s eyes. Rather than experimenting with a variety of digital marketing tactics, you can always look back to your brand strategy to understand your goals and how to meet your customers’ true needs. A solid strategy means that you’ll spend less time and money taking shots that won’t land—and more time building deeper relationships with your target audience.
What is a brand strategy?
A brand strategy goes beyond what your logo looks like: It’s a long-term plan for winning over your target audience. It determines what makes you stand out from your competition and defines the unique value you provide to your customers. Tapping into your business and market data, your brand strategy hits on key elements, such as research, your goals, positioning, brand messaging, visual identity, and an implementation plan.
How does it fit into my digital marketing strategy?
When you combine your digital marketing strategy with a brand strategy, you set yourself up for success. Your brand strategy is the “why” behind a customer would choose to buy from you. Your digital marketing strategy is “how” you’ll achieve your goals and “what” methods you’ll take to gain your target audience’s loyalty. Taking the two together, you have a big-picture plan for boosting your reputation and growing your market share.
Here are the steps you need to take to create a strong brand strategy that your customers will love.
#1: Conduct a brand audit
Every great brand begins with research. It’s important to delve into your current state to know where you are and where you need to go. Sink your teeth into your current brand guidelines and digital marketing presence. What’s working well, and what needs to be improved? Beyond that, you need to explore real-world data to help you understand how your brand is performing.
Investigate your target audience
Who are your current and desired customers? Find out about their ages, genders, careers, and family situations. What are their passions and interests? What do they value in life? You can find out this information through your Google Analytics and social media data, or even through surveys and focus groups.
Research your competitors
Get to know the key players in your industry. Explore their websites and social media presences. What experience do they offer their customers? List out the benefits they provide and some of the challenges in their branding.
Conduct a SWOT analysis
Now that you know about your audience and competition, you can analyze this information. A strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) analysis is a smart way to do this. It outlines what your brand is doing well, where you can improve, any areas for growth in your market, and factors that could harm your business.
Set your brand goals
Think about what you want to achieve for your company in the long-term. You may want to grow awareness and visibility for your brand. You could be looking to build customer trust and loyalty. Or, you may be aiming to motivate your audience to buy from your business. Be sure to pair your brand goals with measurable metrics.
#2: Shape your brand positioning
Your brand position sets out what makes you different in your industry. It’s a statement that defines how you want to stand out in the minds of your customers. Based on your research, your positioning is the driving force behind your brand strategy. It allows you to become the most attractive and credible option for your target audience.
Understand your target audience’s pain points
Now that you know who your customers are, explain the issues and challenges that they’re facing. How is your brand solving their problems?
Outline the market landscape
Describe the conditions of your industry and what’s happening with your competition. This helps you craft a brand position that’s relevant to your market.
Define your value proposition
Nail down the most unique benefit that your business provides to your customers. What can you offer them that no one else can?
Set out your differentiators
These are the reasons to believe that your business can deliver on your value proposition. List out the proof that your company is better than the competition.
#3: Write your messaging strategy
Choosing the right words to convey your story is key to any brand strategy. Your messaging helps your customers feel the essence of your business’ personality. It also communicates your brand position in way that rings true with your target audience. This allows you to create consistent and memorable content across your website, blog, and social media.
Create your tagline
Your tagline distills your positioning statement into a short and compelling phrase. It serves as a rallying cry that conveys your value to your customers. Think long and hard about your tagline, because it should be present in almost all of your digital marketing.
Write your brand messaging
With your brand position and tagline in hand, you can now create your messaging. A matrix or table is a great tool that addresses key points that you want to communicate, especially if need to cater to multiple audiences. Always begin with your “why”, and then move into “how” you do it and “what” you offer.
Shape your brand voice and tone guidelines
How would your business speak and act if it was a person? That’s your brand voice and tone. Your brand voice remains consistent no matter what the medium is. It involves choosing adjectives to represent your business and describing how to communicate these traits. Meanwhile, your brand tone changes depending on the channel. Explain the subtleties of how your language differs on platforms like email, social media, and sell sheets.
#4: Design your visual identity
Here comes the exciting part: Crafting how brand your looks. As your first impression to your customers, your visual identity combines graphical elements, such as your logo, typography, colours, illustrations, icons, and photography. Make sure that it conveys the benefits of your brand position across your website, online ads, social media, and any other digital marketing touchpoints.
Create your logo
Your logo speaks volumes with one swish of a line. It can take many sketches and iterations to get it right. Often, it contains a symbol or mark that represents your brand. Always go back to your brand position and messaging to understand the experience you want to evoke.
Choose the perfect typography
From serifs and san serifs to scripts and display fonts, typefaces come in many shapes and forms. Some look bold and modern, while others look professional and formal. Choose one that’s true to your brand, distinct, and flexible across many platforms.
Select the right colours
Colour has the power to evoke strong emotions, so select your brand palette wisely. Yellow is optimistic and playful, while black is elegant and luxurious. Go back to the experience you want to create and let that guide your colour choices.
Develop your visual brand guidelines
Once you’ve shaped your beautiful brand graphics, it’s important to establish your visual brand guidelines. This handbook sets out the rules for how to represent your brand in all of your digital marketing. It contains requirements for sizing, spacing, colouring, and how each of the visual elements interact together.
#5: Build your digital marketing strategy
Your digital marketing strategy is a crucial complement to your brand strategy. It translates those visionary goals into actionable digital marketing activities that will make an impact on your customers. Your digital marketing strategy sets out what you’ll do on your website and online channels to grow your user base for the long-term.
Connect your goals to digital marketing activities
Go back to those objectives you created at the start. Certain digital marketing activities are best for achieving certain goals. For example, search engine optimization (SEO) boosts organic traffic to your website, so you may choose that activity to increase brand awareness. If you want more users buying your products, you may go with conversion rate optimization (CRO) to improve your website experience.
Define your key performance indicators (KPIs)
Once you have the right digital marketing activities for your goals, it’s important to combine those with key performance indicators (KPIs). This allows you to benchmark your performance and analyze how you progress over time. Make sure the KPIs you choose line up with your big-picture goals. For SEO, increases in keyword rankings are connected to brand awareness. For CRO, increases in conversions are connected to sales.
#6: Summing it up: Schedule out your implementation plan
Finally, it’s time to create a roadmap of how you’ll share your brand with your target audience. Your implementation plan includes detailed steps for launching each element of your brand strategy. This comes down to creating a schedule with your channels, audience(s), messages, pain points, tactics, deadlines, and budget. Prioritize your activities according to what will connect with your customers the most.
Let’s create a killer brand strategy for your business
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