What IS a Brand Strategy?
Simply put, a Brand Strategy is built on understanding where your business is and who you’re serving, knowing where you’re going long-term, and projecting all of that in how you present yourself through your branding – ie. the visuals and the tone of your messaging. Your brand strategy is about how you intend to transform your clients, and transform your business into the future too.
“This is exactly what good branding does — it inspires action, change, aspiration, or in some cases, gets your customers to fix something that ails them or change their minds. When your brand is an awesome experience, it literally transforms your users!” (- Marketing Land)
This is PARTICULARLY true for those of you who work one-to-one – so if you do coaching or deep, transformational-type work such as EFT, kinesiology, or other holistic business – you know you need to resonate powerfully with your audience in order to do your best work. So, your brand strategy needs to shine through all your messaging – whether that’s visual or written, or any other form your brand expresses itself.
That’s why just being pretty doesn’t cut it. That skin-deep approach to your branding will only get you so far.
A brand strategy is, like all good strategies, knowledge about your business and its projected future in documented form.
Following your brand strategy consistently means your brand builds a strong, pure voice about who you are and what you stand for. And consistency also builds recognisability and trustworthiness.
So what should you include in such a document?
That’s principally determined by YOUR business and YOUR aims, but some areas to consider are:
What problem/s does my business solve?
This can be (and should be) so much more than simply the gap-filler “answer” to your client’s “problem”. Consider your client’s ultimate aim – how can your solution be a wayfinder for them and point them in the direction they want to go? How can your solution help them feel equipped for the next step after they leave you? Acting as a facilitator in their journey so you help them with the thing they came for AND they leave being able to clearly see exactly what their next steps are can make the difference between a customer who is merely satisfied, and one who sings your praises.
If you’re clear on your target market, you can also consider including other problem-solving aims that are important to your customer – even if they might be outside your direct field. For instance, you might weave social inequality issues into what you do by emphasising inclusive language and being public about your stance on things.
Who is my absolute ideal customer?
While your audience’s demographics are important, probably more important are their psychographics – what are their motivators? What are they trying to get away from and what are they striving towards, and WHY? The “why” goes back to the earlier point – how does your service or product fill a gap for them, and then point them in the direction they want to go?
Who is my competition and how do I differentiate myself?
Yes, you should regularly check in on your competition, to ensure you’re across the latest developments in your field, and also to see how they relate to their audience which will be very similar to yours. This is not so you can copy, but to incorporate some of those ideas, to build on them and make them your own.
What/how does my brand make my audience feel?
Ultimately, THIS is what a brand is. Your brand should stand for something. It should feel like something – because this is what your audience responds to. Why buy a Gucci bag when a $5 one from Kmart will do the exact same job? It’s never just price alone.
Creating a community around your brand is another way to make your audience feel like they’re part of something bigger. Humans are, and always have been, social. We like hanging around other people who “get” us, and have similar likes, dislikes, and aims as us.
How do I create that all-important know/like/trust factor in my customers?
People need to have a certain level of trust in you before they’ll spend money with you. This is especially important if you’re offering high-end services. Few people will spend $2000 on a package without doing a little bit of research to make sure you’re the right person for them!
Consider your long-term strategies, as well as your short-term ones (eg. testimonials). Long-term strategies include providing lots of useful, free information on a regular basis, so that your audience can see you’re consistent and knowledgeable. You can also offer lower-priced options too (eg. a single session, or even a really good ebook) so that people can get a bit of a taster and build their trust in you. Depending on what you’re offering, people often don’t become paying customers for 2-3 years – I know, it’s happened to me.
What is the story behind why my brand was created?
Your brand’s story can not only be a great connector between you and your audience (everyone LOVES a great story and it makes you infinitely more relatable), but it’s also a fabulous guide and reminder to you as to where you’ve come from and what your ultimate goal is for your business.
If my brand was a person, what would their personality be like?
People relate to people – we’re social creatures, through and through. And we like who we like. The same is true of our brand. So, the clearer we are on the personality of our brand, then the more relatable our brand becomes (and it also does the job of pushing away those who are really not right for us too. Because let’s face it – there are some people you REALLY don’t want to work with, right?! Hooray!).
What’s my brand’s ultimate mission and vision? And how do you define success in relation to that?
YOU know what you need to do here. Write it down.
When you’re clear on all of the above, and you have it all documented, THEN you can translate it all into its visual components (colours, fonts, image style, graphic style, logo) and the content and tone of your written messaging.
Regularly refer back to this document. It’ll keep your brand on track, and remind you of what you’re aiming for.
Your brand is NEVER just a logo by itself. It’s not just a colour palette. It’s not any one thing by itself – it’s how you continue to show up in EVERYTHING.
As I said above, consistency builds recognisability and trustworthiness.
But as vital as remaining consistent is to your brand, you must also remain flexible too. Because the world changes, constantly.
But being flexible doesn’t mean unconsidered. If ever you feel the desire to change your brand, then you need to go back to the beginning of your brand strategy and think through all of it again, properly.