When it comes to developing a branding strategy, business owners equate this to choosing the logo design, font families, and color palette for their website and package.
And since these tasks are usually outsourced to freelance graphic designers or media companies, not many business owners take the time to develop and document a branding strategy.
In reality, there’s so much more that goes into developing and implementing creative branding ideas so that you can build an online presence that’ll grab the attention of your audience.
Today, I’ll be guiding you through the steps on how to develop a branding strategy for your business.
First, what is branding?
Your company’s brand communicates what your company stands for, what you aim to do, and what you can offer to your audience.
Your logo, all your graphics, and the colors associated with your company comprise the visual aspect of your branding.
The words your company puts out and the causes you stand for make up your company’s voice. Even the products you sell tell a lot about your company. All these combine to make up your company’s branding as a whole.
Presenting these things and creating a strong image of your brand in your audience’s mind can convert them into customers
Why does your business need to develop a brand strategy?
Creating a clear, compelling, and memorable image in the minds of your company’s audience is not something quickly done. It requires a clearcut plan and thoughtful execution.
With a brand strategy, you can create the image you want in your audience’s heads when they think of your company. It’ll also convey actions and words to reflect what your company stands for. You want your customers to know why your company exists.
In short, developing your brand strategy is about telling your brand’s story.
Brand storytelling shares why you started your business, the journey to get where you are now, and the values and principles your company holds dear. That way, your customers can connect with you at a deeper level.
This doesn’t only send vital information about your company to your audience but helps them remember your brand. It also keeps your customers loyal to your brand because they feel good about supporting a brand they identify with.
More importantly, your brand impacts your businesses’ bottom line. That’s because customers are more likely to support brands that they remember, and they identify with.
Nike’s ad campaign featuring Colin Caprnick, the former NFL player who made headlines for kneeling during the US national anthem, is a perfect example.
Source: Los Angeles Times
Even though the ad didn’t show any products or the name of the company, Nike’s done such a great job with their brand strategy that the logo and tagline are enough to tell you who’s ad is this.
Steps to develop a brand strategy
1. Audit your current branding and marketing strategy
Before planning your strategy, you have to know where you stand now.
From the moment your company was made, you’ve already been building your brand. The first step to finding out what your company branding is to ask yourself: “What is the point of my business?”
Your company exists for a reason. It could be as simple as: “There was nobody providing products like mine in my area.”
The fact that you sell those products to people in your area already equates your brand with the message that you want to contribute positively to your community.
Take note of how you’ve been communicating with customers on social media and through your other support channels. Find out how your logo would make others feel. Find out what your customers feel and think when they do business with your company.
These are all things that your customers already identify you with, and these are the building blocks upon which you can build upon or pivot your marketing strategy so that you can continue growing.
2. Develop your buyer persona
A buyer persona is a profile of an ideal target customer.
Beyond demographics, it represents a real person: what they go through in a day, what they like and dislike, and which social media channels they use.
Using a buyer persona makes it easier for you to make a brand strategy that would successfully connect with your real customers since your buyer persona should represent your actual customers.
Here is a brief list of the essential data your buyer personas should have:
- How old is your customer?
- Is your customer a man or a woman?
- Where does your customer live?
- What’s your customer’s household income?
- How does a typical day for your customer look like?
- Are there any causes your customer supports?
- Why is your customer buying your product?
- How does your customer use your product?
- How often does your character buy your product?
- Why wouldn’t your customer buy your product?
- How does your customer like to communicate? (Social media, emails, texts)
Developing your buyer persona involves studying your customer data, as well as the data of your competitors and data from market research.
Use all this data to target your customers successfully, and then make sure you’re the best company that they could come to for their needs.
A more convenient way of creating your buyer persona is by using HubSpot’s Make My Persona tool.
This tool takes you through the steps to generate your buyer persona by answering a set of questions.
3. Determine your business’ mission and vision
Your company’s mission and vision state what your company is now, and what it aims to be. They guide your company to make sure your actions and goals are all aligned and going in the right direction.
These two statements are part of your brand’s unique value proposition.
Your vision statement shows your customers your goals and helps them decide if they want to help you achieve them. It should be a bold statement about what your company can be in the future.
A vision statement describes what your company hopes to be. This statement provides the direction for your company. It provides the long-term goals your company wants to achieve through what it’s doing now.
Take IKEA’s vision statement, for example:
Your mission statement explains what you offer to them, and what you’re doing to achieve the goals in your mission.
A mission statement describes what your company currently is. It explains what your company does, how it does its business, whom it helps, and why they do it all. This statement is short term, as it only outlines the steps your company is taking to achieve your long term goals.
Tom’s mission statement is a perfect example:
The mission and vision statement work hand-in-hand to condense your brand in a few words. They should be clear and comprehensive enough that your customers can read them and know what your brand is.
4. Be clear about your “why.”
Before promoting your products to your customers, you have to think about why you set up your business in the first place.
The “why” of your company is the purpose of every action you take in your company.
61% of consumers want brands to take a stand for causes they believe in.
This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to change the world. But your company’s purpose needs to reflect who you are and what you contribute.
For example, Johnson and Johnson’s company credo doesn’t state that their products will change the world. They just say that they have the responsibility as a company to produce quality products at reasonable prices for the people that need their products the most.
Johnson & Johnson’s credo showcases their purpose and responsibility to the people that depend on them: their customers, employees, and stakeholders. This purpose drives them to continue their company’s work, and roots all their work moving forward.
When making your company’s purpose, find out what causes and beliefs you will promise to uphold every step of the way — not just for your customers, but for the company itself. Every time you decide for your company, it should always go back to your “why.”
5. Identify and analyze your competitors
Your competitors are the other companies who can satisfy the needs of your target customers. The most obvious competitors are grouped into three categories: primary, secondary and tertiary competitors.
Primary competitors are those companies who sell the same product as you. These are also called direct competitors because when you both sell the same product, the majority of your customers will only choose one or the other to satisfy what they would need from your companies.
Secondary competitors are also called indirect competitors. These companies do not sell the same product, but they sell a similar product that can also satisfy the needs of your product.
Pizza Hut, for example, is in direct competition with Domino’s as they both sell fast-food pizza. At the same time, it’s also an indirect competitor of McDonald’s and Taco Bell.
That’s because all these restaurants serve fast food to their customers and food delivery.
Tertiary competitors are the least of your concern because they only sell products vaguely related to your brand.
In the Pizza Hut example, a tertiary competitor would be DiGiorno frozen pizza, who serve pizza but do not satisfy the same needs that Pizza Hut does for its customers.
After identifying these competitors, it’s essential to analyze them. In developing a brand strategy, what’s important to take note of in competitive analysis is how they present themselves to customers, and how customers perceive them.
Take note of your biggest competitors and see what they’re doing right, and what they still aren’t doing. Some industries have best practices already in place, so following those best practices can be an excellent foundation for a long-lasting, effective brand strategy.
Always be comprehensive when scoping out your competition. Check out their advertisements, social media, and customer service. This will lead you to some ideas for your brand, and maybe inspire you to create unique strategies of your own.
After seeing what your competitors do, check out how their customers respond to them.
Check out the news surrounding that company, their sales performance, and how much they are being talked about.
Awario is a tool that checks the internet for you so you can keep track of how customers are currently feeling about your competitor’s brands.
6. Audit your current branding and media campaigns
It’s best to be aware of where your company currently lies with your customers and potential customers. Brand positioning is how your company stacks up to your competitors in the minds of your customers.
When it comes to brand positioning, it’s all about how your customers think you can solve their problems better than the other brands out there.
Before they find out if your products can solve their problems, they have to be interested in your first, and that’s where brand strategy comes in.
One of the first things to audit in your current brand strategy is your brand’s consistency. Your brand’s message might be clear to you, but if you don’t relay that message to your customers consistently, your brand won’t stay in their minds at all.
The best way to improve brand consistency is to pick a simple message for your company’s mission and vision and center all your branding efforts around it.
This message should and will be the core of all your branding efforts. Your brand’s aesthetics and your brand’s voice should be set to support this message.
It’s also important to know what the public thinks of your brand.
Using social listening, your company can find out what people on social media say about your brand. And with 49.5% of the world’s population on social media, there’s a lot of data to sift through. So you won’t miss any relevant conversations about your brand.
Mention is a tool that can help your social listening by compiling all the mentions of your brand from over a billion sources and allowing you to sift through them and analyze them.
Using a social media listening tool like this can help give your company insight into the brand strategies that work and that don’t work for your brand.
This can also help you up to your brand’s social media marketing. With social media becoming one of the best places to advertise your brand, keeping up with your competitors and your customers on all the different platforms can help boost your sales and your loyal customers.
7. Develop your brand identity
When customers think of your brand, a clear, distinct, and unique message should pop up in their head instantly. Your brand identity is that message. It’s a message formed by your brand’s name, logo, tone, tagline, and everything else you’ve put out for your audience.
This identity sets the tone for your brand, and a consistent effort to reinforce this identity just makes your brand more influential in the minds of your audience.
You have to make your brand identity strong enough to your audience so that when they see your brand’s logo — or even just something related to your brand — they instantly think of your brand.
Develop your brand centered around what you want your audience to think your brand is.
Paypal’s logo, for example, uses a monochromatic blue color for its logo to symbolize its trustworthiness and stability.
To make sure your brand stays on point with your identity, consider making a brand style guide like this one from Netflix.
Sometimes called a brand style playbook, this details all the dimensions and specifications of your logo and other visual branding elements.
It should be prevalent enough that when a customer of yours sees it, they instantly know that it’s your brand, a brand that they love and trust.
8. Set-up your website
Business owners have to make their website attractive and usable for their customers now more than ever. That’s because it increases the direct sales you get from consumers researching your product.
Having a complete website that informs your audiences of everything you want them to know about your brand is an advertisement in itself.
Keep in mind to follow the best website practices to make a great branded website. This includes using great photos, keeping a clean and straightforward site, and making your website accessible on mobile.
Of course, to build a website, you have to have a website host that keeps your website up on the internet for your customers to see.
Kinsta is a great WordPress host that allows businesses, big and small, to create and manage a website. They handle all of a businesses’ needs using cutting-edge technology and excellent customer support.
Once you have a host, you have to hire a developer to cater to all your website’s support needs.
RiddlePop is a team of WordPress developers that can build and optimize your WordPress sites. With their services, you can pick a flexible plan that works well with the needs of your websites.
9. Develop your content marketing strategy
Content marketing is creating content for your brand that your audience would consider helpful and valuable.
Each piece of content you produce should ask your audience to take action — usually, that action is to buy your product.
The reason for putting out content works is because 88% of consumers research a product or service online before they make a purchase.
Other reasons to do content marketing include its low cost, the increased visits to your company’s website, and better search engine results.
Of course, the type of content your company produces should depend on your company’s content marketing strategy.
For example, case studies are useful for content marketing agencies because they creatively showcase their work. They get to tell their audience a story, but also advertise their services while they’re at it.
Develop your content strategy so that you can always regularly update the content you put out. This ties in with the consistency your brand needs to establish a strong brand identity.
10. Track and monitor your brand strategy
Once you have a brand strategy up and running, and you see it influencing your customers’ buying decisions, it’s essential to keep track and monitor the performance of your brand.
You need to measure how aware audiences are about your brand and the value and accessibility they have with your brand.
You also need to see how emotionally connected they are to your brand and how they differentiate your brand from your competitors. These factors make it easy for you to see if your brand strategy is working, and if you need to make any adjustments.
Make sure your marketing strategy has a good ROI, so that you know if the branding strategy you’re implementing is working. Gather as much data about your customers as you can, so that you can further hone your branding strategy to get the perfect fit for them.
Databox is a tool that measures and analyzes these critical statistics for you so that you can track your brand’s performance at all times. This tool can calculate and deliver your businesses’ most important KPIs for your brand’s continued improvement.
What’s great about using Databox is that it seamlessly integrates with many of the popular analytics tools businesses use. So you can view all your metrics in one place.
An effective brand strategy can help you build a solid presence online
Having a concrete, well-researched, and adequately managed brand strategy can bring your company more customers and ensure your company’s growth. The strategy serves as a blueprint of your company’s success, and investing in your brand strategy will pay off once your company gets closer and closer to achieving its vision.
Your brand strategy can also affect other decisions in your brand. Whether it’s in purchasing, distribution, or the making of a new product, your brand strategy makes your brand run more efficiently and increases the likelihood of success.
Make sure your brand is the first and foremost name amongst the other companies offering the same products as you. Take these steps to create a good brand strategy and watch your company leave your competition in the dust.