Building a brand strategy is equal parts art and science. It’s something that requires the human touch as well as a thorough understanding of the buyer’s journey through the sales pipeline.
Besides that, it thrives on the complete harmony of the outward brand definition and the corporate actions that drive it. In short, it isn’t something that you can fake.
Business branding is more than the choice of a symbol for your building sign. It’s more than your social media presence, website, sales collateral or what you stand for. And yet, it’s all these things, too. If this sounds like a tall order, find out now how to build a compelling brand in 2019.
What is Brand Strategy
We define brand strategy as an organization's long-term plan to be visible and identifiable to their target market. A well-executed brand strategy will resonate with your audience on an emotional level, meet their needs and challenge competitors.
Defining a Successful Brand Strategy
Brand development strategy requires planning. It rarely comes naturally. Your brand story sets you apart from your competition and positions you as a better choice. It’s the one thing that a shopper can point to when considering two similar products. Some business owners figure that the careful selection of color tones, symbol size, and lettering font defines them.
That’s not the case. Granted, these elements are a part of the brand. However, they’re only small pieces. Branding is, in large part, an impression. It’s the emotion that your symbol evokes in a buyer. Besides that, it’s the thought process your chosen color starts.
It sounds mysterious, but there’s actually hard science to move you through the steps of building the brand and how to fuse into your brand identity.
However, you need an open mind to work with your brand. Moreover, you can’t take what you have and consider it the final brand presentation. Strategizing calls for a willingness to make significant changes or minor adjustments – depending on what you find out.
How a Brand Builds Relationships
What’s the point of the exercise? Isn’t it enough to just setup your website, throw open the doors, stock the shelves, and run ads? The answer is no. Shoppers want to build relationships with the companies they do business with. Great brands understand this need to belong to something bigger.
Form a Lasting Impression
A brand is what connects your company with the consumer on a personal level. It’s what makes the shopper feel good about buying your products. In fact, the brand makes a promise that separates you from the closest competitor who’s also selling what you offer.
A winning strategy for branding explains what moves you. Granted, you want to make money; we all do. However, what persuaded you to sell the product or service you offer? What makes you better than the competition? In short, what drives you?
Defining this aspect of your brand calls for a vision statement. Next, determine your mission. These become guiding principles that affect everything you do. They present your approach to quality assurance and your commitment to customer service. In fact, they might even explain why you sell green versus yellow widgets.
Your Brand Should Stay True to Form
You sell cool and amazing products. But you also love puppies. Who doesn’t? However, your products and puppies have nothing in common. Should you, therefore, post puppy pictures on your company’s Facebook page? The answer is no.
If it has nothing to do with your brand development strategy, don’t add it. The same goes for political statements and personal information. Unless a picture, blog post, or meme elevates your brand or aligns with your value proposition, it doesn’t belong on your Twitter feed, website, or Facebook page.
Brand Style Guide
Several businesses have found it useful to put together a brand style guide. It defines what colors, fonts, and voice to use when publishing anything on social media. Moreover, it highlights how to communicate with consumers in these settings.
In fact, many businesses find it useful to have one employee take on this task to protect brand uniformity. Select someone who embodies what your brand stands for. If you are formal, choose an employee who can talk this way online. If you are hip, pick the employee who has this tone down.
Besides that, choose someone loyal to your company who understands the importance of brand building. This isn’t a job for the new hire. Moreover, it’s not for the intern who’s with you over the summer.
Get Brand Strategy Buy-in
This brings us to the next point. Anyone involved in your business needs to be in sync with your brand's mission. The brand style guide is an excellent way for keeping everyone aligned whether it's working on the website, print or social brand. However, there will also be times when a consumer talks to one of your employees. There needs to be consistency in how they represent your brand.
For example, if your brand promise is to bend over backward for the customer, then your employee shouldn’t say no to a customer. Instead, your workers should have the power to make a situation right. Moreover, they need the tools to provide the type of customer service that your buyer's demand.
Far too often, management worries about giving away too much power to the employee. If the worker doesn’t have the tools necessary to live up to your customer service mission, how does this management technique enforce your branding? It creates such a jarring difference between what you say and what you do that the customer picks up on it.
Align with Your Target Customer
Another facet of your brand is the emotion it evokes. Company branding must take into account that shoppers will spend more if they feel an emotional attachment to a product or service. In reality, this emotional attachment is to your company and its brand message.
There are ways that you can drive this feelings-dominated approach.
Offer buyers membership in a community that uses your brand. This could be an online group on Facebook or something a little more tangible. You might have mixers at your store.
- Targeted emotions
What do you want your customer to feel after buying the product? Do you want them to feel cool, loved, or smart? Highlight these traits in your sales collateral.
- Stay in touch
Reinforce the brand message by communicating with your buyers after the sale. It continues to invoke the feelings that initially led them to make the purchase. Doing so easily leads to a repeat sale or referral.
- Solicit feedback
Offer your customers the opportunity to preview products or services. Make them your beta testers. Encourage them to invest more time with your brand. It’ll cement their loyalty to your company and its products. Most importantly, it makes them feel important. Everyone likes to feel important.
Adapting Your Brand to Changing Trends
Your brand style guide ensures a uniform appeal of your brand. However, don’t allow it to box you in. Within your consumer demographic, there will be ongoing changes. The reasons why your buyers are selecting certain products may change as world trends change.
Brand Appeal & Focus
If your brand primarily appeals to families, consider how they are changing. In the past, a family’s goal used to be the home with the white picket fence and dog. Today, it is changing to include sustainable city dwelling. Moreover, families look different today than they did 50 years ago. Factor this in as you continuously adapt brand appeal.
You might still have a product that appeals to families. However, is your brand inclusive of the changes that this institution underwent? If it isn’t, you may soon find yourself overshadowed by the competition.
Sometimes, this means rebranding. If your look and appeal have remained unchanged for decades, it may be time to change the brand to include new consumer demographics. Doing so positions your brand as being as relevant today as it was when you first began doing business.
Remember also that your targeted demographic (AKA buyer personas) may change in age. Families with young children 50 years ago were younger than they might be today. You have to keep in mind that these changes affect how buyers view your products and evaluate their brand loyalties.
Rewarding Brand Loyalty & Ambassadorship
When customers move through the sales funnel, they eventually become buyers. If you and your company do a good job, these buyers become brand ambassadors. It means that they talk to their friends and neighbors about you. They like you and recommend you.
Far too often, companies forget to reward this level of loyalty. Make it part of your brand to recognize it. Offer discounts to returning customers. Provide them with discount codes for friends and family members.
Write a “thank you” note to the customer who referred a family member. Invite a buyer to write a customer review that you then put up on your social media feed and your website. Show your gratitude to the people who’re keeping you in business.
Maintain Customer Relationships
One of the biggest mistakes big companies make is failing to build a personal relationship and maintain it. When the buyer feels like just another source of revenue, you won’t be likely to see that person recommending you. Moreover, they might not even feel good about your brand any longer, which leads to a lack of loyalty.
Learn Brand Tactics from the Competition
Your strategy for branding must include an ability to learn from the competition. To do so, you need to know what they’re doing. Moreover, you need to be honest and admit when they do something extraordinarily well. It’s a great learning opportunity.
Sure, you don’t want to copy your nearest competitor. However, learn from what they do and see if you can integrate it into your strategy. Interestingly, you can frequently find out from consumers what works.
For example, you might decide to monitor social media mentions of your product as well as your competitors’ names. See what comes up. Whenever possible, respond to a consumer before your competition does. If they beat you to the punch, have a witty comeback.
Of course, you can’t do that if you ignore the buzz online.
Putting It All Together
Strategizing brand development isn’t just one thing. It’s the skillful combination of various approaches. They need to harmonize. When you succeed, you’ll notice that branding permeates all departments and informs everything you do.
When it fails, you’ll find departments are at odds, a disjointed social media presence, and consumers that don’t know what to expect. Worse still, your message won’t be memorable, and consumers may walk away from an interaction without an impression of your business.
The good news is that you can change this at any time. Few companies succeed in creating the perfect brand setup right from the start. Rather, there have always been some hiccups along the way. The trick here is to recognize them and then fix them. As long as you don’t think of your brand as static, you’re in the right spot.
Learn more about how to build a compelling brand in 2019 and make the changes that’ll benefit your business!