If you’ve landed at our blog it is highly likely you have started to explore the subject of brand or brand strategy and have recognised the potential it has to transform your business. There are many theories of what brand is and what brand isn’t so it’s important we start with an understanding of the term brand which we can all agree on.
This ‘brand matters’ article of ours will give you an introduction to the ideas surrounding brand and brand strategy. It also provides the opportunity for you to download our free Brand Strategy Template which you can download and use for your own brand.
“Branding is a layer of insurance for your company. You’re investing in it as a strategy, so you don’t have to compete on price and can gain a loyal tribe that participates in your brand and not your offering alone”
Quote: Fabian Geyrhalter | The Brand Therapy Book |
Understanding the term ‘brand’ and ‘branding’
Naturally when anyone mentions the word brand, the first thoughts are extremely visual. If you’re not from a branding background this would be a totally logical place to start. Ideas of look and feel, logo’s, typefaces, colours and icons are usually the very first destination.
To actually pin down what the term brand means in a short concise sentence can be very difficult. In Marty Neumeier’s book ‘The Brand Gap’ he cleverly identifies what a brand is not.
- A brand is not your logo
- A brand is not a product
- A brand is not a corporate identity system
I know what you’re thinking if a brand is none of the above then what is? Simply put your brand isn’t what you say it is, a brand is defined by your audience or community and the feelings and values they have in regards to your business.
Here are a couple of our favourite definitions:
“A brand is the meaning people attach to you and your offer. Branding is an attempt to manage that meaning.”
Matt Davies | Matt Davies Brand Consultancy
“your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room”
Jeff Bezos | Founder of Amazon
When we talk about the term ‘branding’ this is where we more commonly reference brand assets which form part of your look and feel known more formally as your brand identity. It is not uncommon for someone to pick up a product, packaging or interact with a digital service and mention ‘nice branding’.
We should be clear though that ‘Brand’ and ‘Branding’ are not the same thing. What you must understand though is to create a truly authentic brand you need to ensure you have consistent brand experiences across all customer touch points.
Customer Touch points include:
Classes / Workshops
Physical Spaces (retail environments, offices, commercial space)
Print (Signage, books, brochures, flyers, business cards)
Social Media / Content
Website (online platforms ecommerce, progressive web apps (PWA’s))
It is probably unsurprising to you that 3 of the top most valuable brands in the world are:
Apple | 263 Billion Dollars (2021)
Amazon | 254 Billion Dollars (2021)
Google | 191 Billion Dollars (2021)
Here are some other stats we think you will find interesting when it comes to brand strategy;
94% of customers are likely to show loyalty to a brand that offers complete transparency. Source: Label Insight’s brand loyalty statistics
The top 4 qualities people use to describe why they are loyal to a brand are cost, quality, experience, and consistency.
What is Brand Strategy
Brand Strategy is the work that is undertaken in order to identify and set out longer term goals which can be successfully achieved with brand planning, thinking and implementation.
Having clarity surrounding your brand will help you to develop the key areas of your brand. In many companies these thoughts are often blurred and inconsistent. It is about aligning your team, defining your position and consistently articulating your message.
Every purchasing decision we make is built around a need. These needs can be extremely logical and in other cases they can be complex and much deeper than that even reaching an emotional response. As a brand we need to ensure that you do not make ‘noise’ but create something deep and meaningful which will actually connect with your consumers needs.
A successful brand strategy will ensure your brand lasts way beyond the infancy and growth phase of your business. Brand strategy gives you focus and a direction that your brand is heading towards. Being able to understand your brand in such depth will give you the tools you need to make sure it stands the test of time.
Why is Brand Strategy so important in 2021
There has been a seismic shift in how consumers base their purchasing decisions. It’s no longer good enough to simply offer a great ‘product’ or ‘service’. We naturally like to align ourselves with brands that share similar values to us as people. As pointed out in the Brand Gap consumers consider things like ‘What does the product look like?’, ‘What kind of people buy it?’, ‘What tribe or community will i be joining if i buy it?’ ‘What does the cost say about it’s desirability’ and so on.
Brands are very much built around the community that they serve and it is really important to understand this idea of culture. Brand culture is something that will drive your brand internally and externally. Great culture is a key ingredient when it comes to brand building as it will help to develop and build a community of people that don’t just ‘want’ your brand it enables them to fall in love with it.
A strong brand culture will allow you to create authentic relationships with your audience or customers. It is also critical in reducing the gap that sits between your business and customer. We particularly like this reference from Brewdog as it aligns with our way of brand thinking.
The internal culture loop: The strength of your culture will directly impact your team, this impacts the ability to deliver on quality and the quality of what you do will impact your price.
The external culture loop: Is determined by the internal culture loop but what you will see now is that there is no noticeable gap between the business and customer. The internal culture helps to determine and unite the external community. This unity can only be achieved with a compelling mission or vision statement. A reason your business exists far beyond making money.
Brands with an authentic culture break down any barriers between their business and the customer and are rewarded with loyalty and an audience that many businesses fail to engage.
What we cover in a brand strategy workshop
In our dedicated brand strategy workshops we cover four main areas.
The Challenge – Who are you?
Why will people care?
What problems do you solve?
Differentiation – What makes you different?
In order to be able to start exploring these ideas of brand strategy though you need to have a grasp of the challenges you currently face. In our experience a good starting point is with the following three questions. If you want to know more about the origin of the questions they are actually taken from The 7 Powerful Coaching Questions by Michael Bungay Stanier.
What are the challenges that you currently face?
What is that you want?
How can we help you with this challenge?
Whilst it may seem obvious, answering these questions initially will stop you going in search of the answers that you don’t know the questions to.
Across the 4 stages of our brand strategy workshop we explore other areas too like the following:
- Defining brand
- Understanding who you are and what you are passionate about
- Brand purpose and Vision
- Brand values to define culture
- What the future looks like
- Who are you talking to – your audience
- What problems do you solve
- How do you position the customer to be at the core of every brand experience
- Your brand experience
If you are wanting to learn more about brand strategy then download our Free Brand Strategy template. This PDF download will help provide you with a deeper insight and understanding into brand strategy. It also provides some of our favourite branding tasks that we even include within our brand sprint sessions.
This article has been created with the help of some amazing reference and resources when it comes to brand strategy. We have listed them all below:
- Building a story brand – Donald Miller
- How to launch a brand – Fabian Geyrhalter
- The brand therapy book – Fabian Geyrhalter
- The brand bridge – Conlon & Morris
- The brand flip – Marty Neumeier
- The Brand Gap – Marty Neumeier
- Rare Breed – Sunny Bonnell | Ashleigh Hansberger
- Zag – Marty Neumeier