To say branding can transform the trajectory of your business is an understatement. If your product and its purpose are the cargo, your branding strategy is your rocket ship and the voice-enabled GPS to guide its journey.
Your brand strategy takes the critical aspects of your business and puts them into a well-oiled machine with Kirk in the Captain’s chair.
Now you can truly boldly go where no one has gone before.
A brand strategy outlines the approach you take to establish and grow your brand. In the same way your product team creates a product development strategy to entice your target audience, your brand strategy will always tie back into higher business objectives like increasing your market share, growing revenue, or diversifying your products or services. A brand strategy outlines the difference between how your brand is perceived and how you want it to be perceived and maps out how to close the gap between the two.
Your brand goes beyond the physical attributes of your business. It’s what your target market thinks and feels when they interact with your product and, by extension, their buying decisions.
An impressive brand strategy does everything above but better.
Below you’ll find the steps to tick off each of these four points and build a brand strategy you’re proud of.
Well-crafted goals are motivational. That being said, what is considered motivational can be very different depending on who in the organization you are talking to. Good brand strategists take this into account and cater to each stakeholder’s objectives, communicating the brand strategy in ways that resonate and motivate across the organization, not just the marketing team.
Securing buy-in from certain stakeholders can be pivotal in the success of your brand strategy. A great randing extends into all teams. If you can’t unify your organization under one consistent brand, how do you expect to convince your target audience you have a strong brand they need to pay attention to?
Making sure you involve those key stakeholders early in your brand strategizing is a crucial step. Think about the gap between where your brand is today and how you want to grow it. What channels do you need to have access to? Who might be potential blockers within the organization?
Convert them into brand advocates by allowing them to contribute to the brand strategy early on. You will not only get them on the brand bandwagon, but you’ll also benefit from a more diverse perspective as you build your strategy.
As you build your brand team, consider stakeholders from other departments who should act as “honorary members.” People whose work might indirectly affect brand might include:
Using a goal-setting framework like OKRs highlights how brand goals are within the interests of the wider organization. This will effectively “translate” those brand goals into ones that sales, product, customer success, etc. can get behind because it contributes to their success as well. You want to be able to show them that if the brand succeeds, they succeed too.
O - Objective
Your objective should be inspirational and directly tied to the wider organization’s success. Aim to create 1-2 objectives.
For example: Establish an online community with a strong brand voice.
This might tie back to the wider organization's goal of accessing a wider global reach.
KR - Key Result
Your key result should allow you to measure whether or not you’ve achieved your objective. Aim to have 2-3 key results per objective
For example: Grow our Twitter following by 30% by Q3
For example: Increase our Linkedin posting cadence to 3/week by Q3
For example: Establish a realistic social listening regimen by September
But how do you come up with these OKRs? What do you need to consider when choosing effective OKRs? Research and data.
Your brand’s direction should be pleasantly unexpected. It should strive to be innovative, but should not come out of left field. This involves setting objectives that are informed by data.
Check out Superside’s 6-step guide to conducting a brand audit.
Whether it’s launching a feedback campaign or digesting whitepapers on the state of your industry, conducting this brand audit will paint an accurate picture of where your brand is today within the context of your target audience and industry landscape. It will expose gaps and opportunities that you can structure your brand strategy around. These insights will fuel the direction of your strategy and allow you to make informed decisions on how to grow and market your brand.
Talk to people who interact with your brand, not just your customers. The differences and similarities between the insights you gather are useful in creating a well-rounded brand strategy. Ask these types of questions:
After conducting your brand audit, you should be able to develop the foundation of your brand strategy:
A buyer persona is a fictitious amalgamation of the characteristics, motivations, and pain points your target audience possesses. Buyer personas make it easier to develop brand messaging that appeals to your audience and its segments.
This will make sure you differentiate your brand from the competition. Here are several ways you can conduct competitor analysis:
As a result of your competitive research, you should be able to summarize your brand positioning. A strong, motivational brand positioning statement communicates your core values to your target audience and helps your internal team align with your key messaging.
Your brand positioning statement requires only three critical pieces of information:
See how Hubspot captures these details in its brand positioning statement.
Since 2006, HubSpot has been on a mission to make the world more inbound. Today, over 100,000 total customers in more than 100 countries use HubSpot's award-winning software, services, and support to transform the way they attract, engage, and delight customers. Composed of HubSpot's CRM, Marketing Hub, Sales Hub, and Service Hub, HubSpot gives companies the tools they need to Grow Better.
All roads should lead back to your purpose because your purpose should resonate with the overarching business vision. It is the “why” of your business. It’s what creates that emotional connection between your business model and your target audience. Craft your brand purpose, if it doesn’t already exist, and integrate it into your strategy’s rationale.
A great brand purpose the values the business cares for and manifests itself in the ways the business extends its power beyond profit.
Slack for Good is a great example of how brand purpose informs brand strategy.
With the wider vision of a “world where organizations can achieve agility easily, no matter their size,” the focus and purpose-driven nature of Slack for Good echoes and supports the accessibility of tech the company aims to uphold.
“Slack for Good is committed to creating concrete initiatives advancing our belief that the benefits gained from technology can and should be more widely and democratically distributed.” Slack, 2022
Brand purpose doesn’t always have to manifest itself in a full-fledged Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program. It can show up in your brand strategy through the causes and people you support and celebrate. Take, for example, Turing, an AI-powered software developer hiring tool, chose to show its support for better diversity in tech by creating branded assets to celebrate Women in Tech Week.
Turing used Superside to create a branded promotional video for Women in Tech Week.
Brand is a team effort. While the brand team should spearhead it, your brand should be as recognizable within marketing as it is in any other department.
This involves defining the brand, and its limits. After all, you can’t push a brand forward without a good grip on the guardrails.
To effectively endorse a brand strategy, you need to empower your colleagues with the tools they need to confidently embody your brand.
Socializing your buyer personas and brand positioning are great brand identity examples, however here are a few more to help you figure it out.
Visual elements, like images, animation, graphics, colors, icons, and art, form your brand's visual identity. Your visual identity is important because it often forms your audience's first impression of your brand.
Entelo used Superside's branding services to develop brand elements that appear across their branded assets like ads, banners, and other digital content.
Abstract elements like tone and voice define your brand messaging. The tone is your brand personality, and it is fixed. Brand voice is how you communicate your brand personality, and it changes depending on the context of interaction.
Executing brand strategy is akin to building a rollercoaster while the car is already racing down the tracks. These two guides will remind your internal stakeholders to keep their arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times while your brand team reacts and builds the rest of the ride. While a lot of the aspects of a brand are predictable, like your visual identity, great brands are also very reactive. It needs to be flexible enough to thrive in an ever-changing digital landscape.
Being adaptable involves establishing a brand management regimen that allows you to evaluate the performance of your brand-building efforts and jump on opportunities as quickly as they arise. This includes:
Good key results are once that highlight cause and effect very clearly. You want to focus on metrics that you can actually influence. Double points if you can pick ones that overlap with other departments’ own goals. This will strengthen the buy-in you can potentially win when socializing the importance of your brand strategy and the interdepartmental support it needs to succeed.
But arguable most importantly, picking the right KPIs to focus on will give you the flexibility you need to adapt your tactics. By establishing a strong desired result/metric, you have more control over the how.
Building an impressive brand strategy is no cakewalk. This framework, which comes in a useful google slides template, can help you organize your thoughts and collaborate with your brand team. You’ll find a structure for your strategy document/presentation as well as some more helpful tips to help you fill out your brand’s game plan.
According to Sprout Social's 2021 State of Social Media report, 43% of consumers use social media to discover new brands. Your research might have gathered strong insights into the “watering holes” of your target audience being social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok. Your target audience is most receptive on these platforms, so naturally, you may want to make these channels the main stage for your branding initiatives and projects. In this case, your OKRs should revolve around social media metrics and social media content.
Picsart used Superside's social media ad service to develop social media ads that promote their product while maintaining brand consistency.
Your research might lead you to pursue a brand extension strategy. This type of strategy is common for strong brands that what to double down on the recognition and reputation they’ve cultivated by expanding their offering, making their brand more predominant in their existing customers' lives, or widening their target market by offering more than their existing range of products.
A successful brand extension strategy should rely on the fluidity, adaptability, and flexibility of your brand, to maintain the core brand as you expand and test others. This should also be informed by demand in your market research.
Take, for example, Imperfect foods, which started out in 2015 as a subscription service for “ugly” produce. As their brand gained traction and loyal fans, their eco-conscious consumers expressed interest in buying more than just produce from them, but also consumer packaged goods. Their suppliers also hopped on board to fill this gap, effectively extending their brand and its offerings.
Check out Imperfect Food’s full case study about how they overcame design bottlenecks and supercharged their paid media strategy.
Imperfect foods used Superside's motion design services to create motion graphic ads that showcase their expanded offering of grocery categories.
Attitude branding relies heavily on emotional appeal. Take, for instance, the brand messaging Shopify uses in these digital banners. They appeal to the aspirations of budding entrepreneurs and use powerful words to elicit a connection between the brand’s objectives and the audience’s goals—both motivational and relatable.
Shopify used Superside's marketing design services to create these digital banners that appeal to their target market’s personal aspirations.
Diversity will only make your brand strategy richer and stronger. Collaboration across teams that include a variety of voices will uncover perspectives that will push your brand and its potential. This is especially true at times that force your strategy to shift and improve. Kirk was a great captain because he trusted his crew to tell it like it is and get the job done. This exercise, not unlike space battles, is one of reaction and coordination. Encouraging an open dialogue around your brand’s growth will give it the best chance to shine.
Last but not least, don’t forget to celebrate wins! A great brand isn’t built in a day, a week, nor in 5 years. Enjoy the evolution of your brand as it unfolds. Good luck!
Laurella is a Product Marketing Specialist at Superside. With a background in B2B SaaS and a penchant for mind maps, she’s written content tackling everything from gender-biased design to partnership strategy. At Superside, she helps unearth nuggets of customer insights and makes them shine in case studies and articles. As a pandemic graduate, she finds the idea of watercooler-slack-channels scary but is always eager to send you a well-crafted meme. Connect with her on Linkedin.
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