When they’re just starting out, all brands are basically bare. It’s only with a strategy that they begin to arm themselves with the necessary elements to succeed.
This article will go over the key steps to a comprehensive branding strategy, so you can develop a comprehensive roadmap that fits your business’s needs.
What is branding strategy?
Branding strategy is a unique approach that develops and maintains important brand objectives. It is how a business meets marketing goals, sustains customer relations and solidifies internal promotion. Branding strategy is a comprehensive outline to ensure a brand reaches its goals.
A branding strategy defines how a brand identifies and presents itself to customers and potential customers. Following a clear process as you develop a strategy is key to the success of these efforts.
This guide offers five key steps to an effective strategy. It also will go over five dynamic elements included in strong strategies. Let’s begin.
5 important steps in the branding strategy process
Work through these five steps in order to ensure your strategy works for your brand. Adjust each step to your personal needs when necessary.
1. Determine why your brand is unique
“If you don’t give the market the story to talk about, they’ll define your brand’s story for you.” – David Brier
The first step in any branding strategy is figuring out what makes your specific brand unique. Determine how your different products and services, as well as brand culture, are positioned.
To further demonstrate the power of positioning, let’s use Apple as an example. Apple’s products are of a high quality, always a step ahead of the market mean and their brand culture is transformative. Their specific branding strategy adapts to future changes and reflects its market positioning.
Apple’s brand positioning is an ideal which other brands can aspire to reach. It is a forward-moving brand, willing to take risks in order to set trends and place itself at the forefront of new and exciting technology.
Identify some key elements required to position your own brand. Show why your brand stands out, especially among its competitors. One way to do this is through a USP, or unique selling proposition.
2. Optimize and leverage your USP
A crucial step in the branding strategy is creating and maximizing your USP. A USP, or unique selling proposition, provides reasons why a specific brand is superior to its competitors, showing off its innovative abilities and value.
Once the USP has been created, it’s time to implement it, using it as a foundation all brand assets should follow. The USP is a guiding hand for other brand elements, making it easy to create effective and on-point logos, color schemes and more.
With your USP acting as a reference point, you’ll have branded assets optimized to mesh with your brand ideals. Next, you’ll need to implement these ideas internally.
3. Extend the strategy internally
All too often we believe that branding strategies are limited to advancing a brand to externals, like customers and clients. This of course is only half the battle, and we need to focus on encouraging internal team members to strive for brand greatness.
One of the easiest ways to do this is establishing and distributing a brand style guide. This will boost efficiency and accuracy throughout each project. Another thing you can do is create internal structures, which can pass on relevant information when necessary. This is often done through the use of a brand manager.
Next, you’ll need to consider the outreach of your brand.
4. Keep an ear to the ground
How receptive is your brand to the public? How tuned-in to the customers are you? Ideally, you’ll want to be available on different communicative platforms in order to not leave anyone out.
Structure your strategy around both your current channels of communication, as well as platforms you plan to use in the future. It may help to take an inventory of the platforms your brand reaches out on. This prevents incidents where customers feel you’re unresponsive as a brand.
Using these numerous channels, take advantage of the opportunity to present the highlights of your brand to the public. Usually, this takes offering them something of value. After this is done, it’s time to evaluate the functionality of your strategy.
5. Embrace analytics
Now that you have a branding strategy in place, it’s time to check whether or not it’s meeting your standards. The best way to do this is by measuring it throughout the implementation process. Nearly everything is quantifiable in marketing – don’t be led to believe otherwise.
Potential metrics include web traffic on certain pages, email engagement and how often social media content is shared.
There are fortunately many tools to check how well your branding strategy is working, such as Google Analytics. Use all the weapons you have at your disposal to ensure your branding strategy is working well.
Now that you have some ways to better create a branding strategy, let’s look at the crucial components of a strategy.
5 qualities of a successful branding strategy
The following five elements, though they aren’t the only ones, are some of the most fundamental qualities of a powerful branding strategy.
1. Brand-wide uniformity
No branding strategy can hold up without a concerted effort for uniformity across different channels and marketing campaigns. There should be an obvious connection from one platform or advertisement to the next, ensuring customers don’t get conflicting ideas about your brand or become confused with the messaging.
For example, say that your brand has blue color schemes and lighthearted messaging. If you had a blue layout and goofy phrases on the business YouTube page, but red layouts and serious tone on the Facebook page, the transition from one to the next won’t be seamless. Keep brand consistency in mind when creating branding strategies.
Though we need to maintain uniformity throughout our marketing campaigns, that doesn’t mean we have to close our brand off from adjustment and adaptability. Instead, part of our branding strategy should include occasional adjustments.
Does this mean a total rebranding effort should take place regularly? Of course not, but the concept should be at least a part of your branding strategy so that you can make the correct adjustments when needed.
3. True focus on customers
The customer perspective should be at the center of all your branding activities. This includes finding the right market, as well as keeping current customers happy through different creative efforts.
It’s one thing to find and attract the right customers to your products and services. It’s another to then put serious focus into retaining them. Show them that you care about them, and that they’re more than just numbers in a machine.
4. Adherence to statistics and data
Without a legitimate focus on stats and data, you’ll be behind in many different ways. It’s not enough to just be aware of relevant information. Instead, you need to interpret these numbers and consider how they relate to your strategic goals.
One of the biggest advantages to focusing on the available data is the idea that you’ll be able to better understand your competitors, which will in turn provide opportunities to outperform them. Consider how trends and the analysis of these trends could give you an edge.
Finally, an important element in an effective branding strategy is a commitment to communication throughout the brand. Remember that all parts of a brand need to communicate in a similar way to retain customer loyalty.
Make sure that your strategy pushes employees to communicate with each other and customers in a way that suits the brand ideals. You’ll find that once everyone is on the same page, all other areas of the strategy you create will work much better.
I encourage you to pick and choose the techniques and elements from this guide that specifically speak to your strategic goals. No article can lead you to the exact strategy you want to build. Fill in the pieces along the way so that your brand is bolstered by a personalized strategy.
For more information about branding, check out our comprehensive branding guide.