The topic around the value of a brand strategy, and what it provides is vast, as are the ways in which it elevates your business. Any business owner that is serious about the success of their business, and outperforming their competitors needs to start thinking ‘brand first’. A clear and well thought out brand strategy will help transform new customers into returning customers, build loyalty and ultimately support the long term growth of your business.
In this blog post we’re taking a look at brand strategy, what it is, how it helps your business and the different reasons in which you may consider hiring a brand strategy agency to support the growth of your business.
If you have ambition to grow your business and build a brand that people really care about, whether you’re a start-up or well established business, this ones for you.
What is brand strategy?
The lines between brand and marketing are often blurred and whilst ‘Brand Vs Marketing’ is certainly a post for another day, brand strategy shouldn’t be confused with ‘branding or brand identity’ or marketing for that matter.
When instead brand strategy is a clear set of guidelines defining company characteristics and values in line with its goals. It provides clarity on the who, what, why, where and how. A strategy will help to define a clear vision and compelling mission for your business. Your brand strategy will impact every aspect of your business, from the people within it (via your internal brand) and any customer that comes into contact with any brand touch points (via your external brand).
Developing a strategy will help provide the clarity you need to understand how you deliver an impactful and memorable experience to your customers. It ensures that your brand is well positioned for your target audience. Building a strategy will help to elevate your brand above and beyond your competitors ensuring you deliver a compelling and distinctive proposition for your customers. As your customers start to harness this it builds awareness, trust and loyalty with your desired audience.
A brand strategy will look to provide clarity on the following:
- Mission & Vision
- Short Term & Long Term Goals
- Purpose & Brand Values
- Ideal Customers & Audience
- Positioning & Differentiation
- Research & Market Insights
- Competitor Analysis
- Brand Experience / Customer Journey
- Brand Communication
So, although a strategy absolutely impacts branding, identity and marketing campaigns, it is much more exhaustive than that. A complete, comprehensive brand strategy looks to determine the tangible and intangible brand elements which will enable you to create a cohesive brand. A brand that is perfectly positioned for your ideal customer.
Why is brand strategy important?
A brand strategy is essential for business longevity and success, it literally provides the foundation and the pillars in which to form your business. If you think about how the success of a company relies upon its customers, then their opinion and experience can either make or break you. Your product, or service that you sell might be amazing, but your story, credibility, customer experience, and reputation, is what keeps people coming through the door. One of the most common problems is that businesses struggle to create a cohesive brand. A brand that is consistent across all customer touch points. This inconsistency dilutes the brand’s value and can often result in poor business performance.
Another thing to consider is that when creating a strategy is that it is natural at some point you will have a look at what your competitors are doing. Whilst we’re not a massive advocate for constantly looking over your shoulder at your competitors, it can come in handy when working on your brand positioning. Your strategy should ensure your brand is distinctive and uniquely positioned for your audience. The information gained from market research and competitor analysis can be invaluable ensuring any decisions you make are based on fact and will support the company growth in the future.
A brand strategy agency will look at your ideal client and how best to position your brand for them. This can effectively be done by creating customer personas for each customer type. If you are a start-up or in the infancy stages of your business then you will have to create these personas based on informed choices and judgement. If you are an established business then you will be able to review your existing customer base and build up a range of personas based on any existing sales data and legacy information you have.
Your brand strategy will enable you to create and establish an emotional connection with your target audience. Consumers these days want to feel an affinity or connect with your brand. They want to find and seek out shared values which in turn will create a deep bond and connection. These customers, when presented with your brand, feel like they’ve found a business that really understands them, their pain points and how your product or service will help them to overcome any challenges they face. When a customer starts to build a more human connection with your brand it builds trust and loyalty. These customers are of great value to your business, not only will they recommend you to others but they will stay loyal to your brand even when there may be cheaper, different brand alternatives.
Effective brand strategy will get to the very core of ‘why’ you started the business. This is where the real value and potential of any brand truly is. Not in the what, or the how but in the ‘why’. Finding your why is one thing but being able to communicate it consistently with clarity is where the work really starts.
How will a brand strategy help your business?
Businesses that are instantly recognisable are ones that not only have, but live by its brand strategy. These companies are strong in their message and their consumer experience, often unconcerned with what others in their niche are doing.
If we take a brief look at Starbucks, we all know it costs more than your local coffee shop, but both caramel lattes are nice. You are paying for the brand that is now well established, that everyone knows, with our regular favourites or even seasonal specialities like a pumpkin spice latte around Halloween time (just as an example). The brand experience is consistent, whether it be the takeaway cups, the ordering process, the interiors it is instantly recognisable, you just know you’re in a Starbucks. Think about it, how many times do you notice the white coffee cup, green brand identity, handwritten name in marker pen and mentally note there must be a Starbucks near-by?
In regards to the Starbucks brand, none of this will have happened by chance by the way. Brand authority has been established by a considered and good execution of the strategy set out at the beginning of building their brand.
Hiring a brand strategy agency is also amazing for your employees. By using your brand strategy to inform and educate employees on expectations, company standards and values, you are ensuring they understand the brand, business and culture you wish to create.
Not only will they understand it but want to be a part of its success story. Having this employee buy-in means that your business is consistent in the service that it delivers, all customers have the same great experience no matter the day or time.
Brand strategists are experts in their industry, so the insights and actions they supply are invaluable to any business owner that wants to establish a successful brand and grow their business.
Having clarity around your brand strategy can help to move your business forward in many different ways. Whether these goals are revenue driven, market specific or even purpose driven your brand strategy is integral to the success and growth of your business.
What are the benefits of investing in your brand and brand strategy?
By investing in a brand strategy agency you can avoid making costly mistakes further down the line, such as copying competitors, inconsistent brand communication and relying on market trends. Such mistakes are damaging to your brand’s integrity, it means you won’t hold or sustain a consistent connection with any one target group, and therefore, performance will be inconsistent. Together this can have an impact on your brand authority within your location or niche.
By investing in your the strategy if your brand you reduce the gap that exists between your business and customers. You give your business a competitive advantage over your competitors by developing a brand strong on values, positioning and differentiation. In doing so you make it easier for customers to become aware of your brand and to do business with you.
For example, if you are opening a vegan café, the brand values and story behind the brand should be strong and communicated in the brand design and aesthetics, making those crucial first impressions impactful to your target audience. Through this impactful impression, in just seconds, you have established a strong emotional connection with a customer. That connection cannot be obtained anywhere else, other than delivering on your brand strategy (and story). Just providing a nice coffee is not simply enough anymore.
As an established business already, hiring a brand strategy agency to develop a bespoke brand strategy for you is the most effective way of revitalising your company. A brand strategy agency gives an outside perspective to your business, looking at performance and positioning, in comparison to the current market and competitors. As well as this, they drill down into why the business started and where you want the business to go, this establishes your core brand values.
As business owners it’s easy to look at your competitors and measure yourself against them, look at what they are doing and try to emulate them. Unfortunately, this puts you on the back foot. The best way to set yourself apart from competitors is to focus on your own brand and business, not theirs. Reaching out to a brand agency is the single best way you can get your company moving in the direction you desire. The service they provide will elevate your brand beyond that of your competitors.
At Grey Coffee we believe that all businesses face the same challenges. They want to reduce the gap that exists between their business and customers. In order to do this we have to build a unique and distinctive brand that will capture the attention and deliver on the promises that you make to your customers. Having clarity and building a successful brand strategy isn’t something that your competitors can copy. It’s not like a product or a service for example, your brand is unique to your business. To unlock the true potential of your brand you need to move it much higher up the priority list and make it a core part of your business development.
If you enjoyed this post on Brand Strategy then you may like some of our other content & insights. See Below;
Brand Strategy Consulting – How to connect your brand with more customers
Brand Strategy For Hospitality Businesses
Building Better Brands & Businesses
Free Brand Strategy Template
Best Branding Books & Authors