Guide to Branding: Brand Strategy and Marketing
When it comes to business, branding is key. It’s what sets you apart from the competition in the marketplace. That’s why it’s important to focus on your brand strategy.
Developing a strategy around your brand and learning how to market it are pivotal to the success of not just your brand, but your business as well. And that’s exactly what we’re discussing in today’s blog post.
If you’d like to learn more about what a brand is and the different elements that comprise it, check out part one of our Guide to Branding, “What is Branding?” here.
What is Brand Strategy and Marketing?
A strong brand strategy helps you present a unified, consistent brand identity in market: Ranging from your site design, to your social media profiles, and even to how you communicate with customers.
Consistency is pivotal to branding because it helps set expectations with your audience, and a consistently good experience with your brand increases brand loyalty. Without a brand strategy to drive that consistency, your business will suffer.
Crafting a brand strategy isn’t difficult, but it does take time and effort.
A good brand strategy helps you understand your business values and directs your brand to grow in manners beneficial to both your business and customers. It’ll help you communicate with your audience clearly and effectively, attract the right customers, and positions your brand in a way that helps you grow your market share.
Why is Brand Strategy Important?
Without a good, consistent brand strategy your business will suffer.
Crafting a brand strategy helps you understand who you are and what matters to your business, like your values and mission. Those are vitally important to understand when making marketing and business decisions.
When you have an inconsistent brand, your marketing and communications take a hit, and if you can’t clearly communicate your brand and values to your customers, you’ve lost them.
So let’s look into how to create a brand strategy and what you can do to succeed against the competition.
How to Create a Brand Strategy
Before sitting down to create your brand strategy, it’s good to have the following information at hand:
- Who’s your target audience?
- Who are you trying to reach? Do you know what your ideal customer looks like? To craft an effective brand strategy you must know who you’re talking to and what their needs are so you can offer the appropriate solution. If you know your audience, you can speak to them more effectively.
- Who’s your competition?
- What other businesses and brands are competing for the same customers and audience? This information is vital to know. If you understand your competition, you can figure out how to position yourself in the marketplace to stand out from them and attract customers.
Once you have that information handy, it’s time to start strategizing. So, let’s do it. To build your brand strategy, follow the steps below.
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Understanding the Core of Your Brand
Your business holds a set of core beliefs that drives and influences every aspect of your brand. You can think of these beliefs as your business values or your mission.
When your brand and core business beliefs are aligned, it’s a powerful thing. When they’re not, well, you’re facing some issues.
If you understand what drives your business, what drives your brand, then you can successfully communicate that to your customers both verbally and visually. It allows you to grow your business in a way that successfully sets you apart from competitors and engenders you to your audience.
Without a set of guiding beliefs, your messaging will be erratic, employees may feel directionless, and overall, your business will suffer.
To help you determine your core values and beliefs, ask yourself the following questions:
- Who am I? Why does this business exist?
- These questions help you understand the purpose of your business.
- What does the future of my business look like? What does success look like and how do I create it?
- These questions help you understand your business’s vision and mission, and help you determine what needs to be done to support them.
It’s essential that you start your brand strategy by diving into the heart of your brand and determining your values. These values and your core brand can then be shared with your audience and in market through messaging and visual representations.
Define Your Brand Voice and Messaging
Now that you understand what makes your brand tick, it’s time to figure out how to communicate that to your customers and in the market. You can think of this as an exercise in brand messaging.
Brand messaging is the practice of talking about who you are. Like with any practice, the more you hone and refine your messaging, the better it gets. Defining your brand messaging helps your brand communicate honestly and effectively.
It’s important to spend time figuring out your brand messaging before jumping into the more visual aspects of your brand. That’s because your brand’s visual assets are largely an extension of your messaging and how you represent yourself online and in market.
For example, when developing Domain.com’s brand strategy, we determined that our messaging needs to be authentic, interesting, and straightforward. Cleverness is okay, but we’re not cutesy and we won’t pander. We try to be honest and transparent while speaking clearly and simply — no “fluff.”
In turn, this helped us craft our visual identity — bold, strong, and energetic. Our approach with images and the more flexible creative elements of our brand is to find clean, clear imagery for complicated concepts. Our minimal illustration style is designed much like our messaging, again, no “fluff.”
To craft the best brand messaging, you’ll need to understand three things:
- Your brand’s personality.
- Long gone are the days when businesses were entirely formal and focused on transactions alone. Now, your brand needs to have some personality. What characteristics and human attributes does your brand express? Are you fun and cheerful or serious and direct? Determining what attributes to highlight in your messaging helps you build relationships with the right audience.
- What voice to use.
- Your brand voice is unique. A car dealership doesn’t have the same voice as a non-profit, and for good reason. Your brand’s voice is your brand’s personality put into words and articulated in your customer-facing messaging.
- What tone to take.
- A good way to determine your tone is to think about how you want your messaging to make people feel. Your voice won’t change, but your tone can depending on the context of your message or who you’re talking to. Just because your voice is clever, doesn’t mean you can’t have a serious tone when necessary.
Once you’ve defined your brand messaging, it’ll be so much easier to communicate effectively and talk about who you are in market. Your brand messaging and voice should be used when sharing your brand story, making a pitch, or making a promise to your customers.
Define Your Brand’s Visual Identity
Usually, when someone hears the word “brand” they immediately jump to thinking of colors and logos. However, we chose to include visual identity as the third step in your brand strategy because it’s a continuation of your brand messaging.
Your brand expresses itself through colors, images, and icons just as much as it does with words. When crafting your visual identity keep in mind that you’re designing not just for your immediate needs, but for your brand’s future, too.
With that said, your visual identity needs to be clear and intuitive so that the different elements, like colors and logos, work together. There needs to be an element of flexibility so that you can adapt and grow as your business does and as you introduce new products or services. And it needs to be comprehensive. Detail your color palette and what your imagery is meant to convey so that your employees or contractors understand and can apply your visual identity to their tasks and responsibilities.
Translating Your Brand Strategy into Brand Guidelines
Now that you’ve gone through the exercise of determining your brand strategy it’s time to finalize it.
Translating your brand strategy into a tangible document that contains your brand guidelines is an essential step in achieving business success. Having this information documented not only keeps you accountable, but it makes it easy to share with whomever needs the information, whether that be employees or an outside contractor.
We recommend using a cloud-based tool, like Google Workspace or Microsoft 365, to track this information. Both tools make it easy to work from wherever you’re located and you can access your files across various devices. They also make it easy to collaborate with others and stay on top of tasks.
Your brand guidelines should detail the following information:
- Voice & Tone
- Color Palette
- Logos, Taglines, and Icons
- Typography and font
- Visual Language and Identity
- Media kit
- Your media kit should include downloadable files of any logos or design elements that your employees or contractors may need to support your brand.
Putting Your Brand into Market
Ready to take your business and brand into the market? Congrats!
Now that you’ve established your brand strategy, you’ve set yourself up for success.
You can use your brand strategy and guidelines to talk your customers online and off — in email, via social media, and face-to-face. And you should absolutely use and refer to your brand guidelines when designing your website, the core of your digital identity.
If you don’t have a website, we can help. With Domain.com’s WebsiteBuilder, you can get online quickly and easily. And while our AI-powered site builder helps make life a little easier by getting your site design started, you retain full control over customizing your site to support your brand identity.
So what are you waiting for? Get started today.
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