One of the best things you can ever do for your business is to create a clear, well-thought-out brand strategy and implement it right from the inception of your business.
This creates a foundation for your business and how you will introduce yourself to your customers. And yes, first impressions are everything!
What Does Brand Strategy Mean?
A brand strategy is a crucial part of your business plan that outlines how your company intends to build favorability and rapport in the market.
One of the main goals of brand strategies is to become memorable to consumers so that they opt to patronize your business over your competition. In essence, this is a long-term plan formulated to create a particular image of the company to its current and prospective customers.
Good branding goes beyond the reasons for the existence of a business beyond money. It helps define what makes a brand what it is and what sets it apart from others. If you cannot describe what makes you different, how will consumers figure it out? And if they can’t figure it out, why buy from you?
A brand strategy should not leave any questions unanswered. It should not stop at ‘so what’; it should leave prospective customers thinking 'of course!'
It should capture the problems you are trying to solve such that your message immediately connects with people experiencing the issue you are looking to resolve. With this, you captivate the hearts of those you want to reach without necessarily shouting about how great your brand is.
The 7 Components of A Brand Strategy
To better understand what brand strategies need to encapsulate, here are the ingredients of effective branding.
Your business’ purpose is the reasoning why you do what you do. This gives you a differentiator. It also goes beyond your name and logo. These are important, but they pale in comparison to your brand purpose.
Your purpose is why you started your company. For example, why do your employees come to work every morning? What keeps your company going every day?
Your purpose can be categorized in two ways:
This focuses on commercial and immediate reasons; essentially, you are in business to make money.
Focuses on success Vis a Vis doing good in the world and making money.
Consumers understand that businesses are profit-making entities. However, we admire businesses that go beyond this and seek to achieve more than a healthy bottom line.
This tech giant’s mission is ‘’to empower every persona and organization on the planet to achieve more’’.
The takeaway here is that the company wants to have a role in every individual's success. The person could be a student in Mexico or a Wall Street banker investment banker.
It's important to keep your purpose in mind at all times, as this informs everything your business does and the decisions you make as an enterprise.
If any, the trick to consistency is to avoid talking about things that do not relate to or enhance your brand. Everything you put out needs to align. If it looks disjointed or seems to give your company a different personality, it becomes confusing for consumers.
A simple example is your colors. If you are red and white, having pink and blue on your landing pages will throw your customers off.
Dropbox likes to think ''minimal''. Not just that, but the company embodies 'minimal.' Everywhere.
The online cloud-based service provides a broad range of services for smart working and keeps its brand consistent via simplicity.
In their software, social media, 404 pages, and website, Dropbox just doesn't go overboard in its communication. And it is that way on all platforms they interact in.
Dropbox seems to suggest its products are easy, light, and straightforward. For example, the company regularly posts cartoons (like those on its error page) and airy, fun emails to its users.
You are also unlikely to find any Dropbox communication without its open blue box logo somewhere on the copy. And it doesn't end with communication. The firm has made it easy to carry Dropbox on mobile, and it provides an easy-to-use product and an even easier sign-up process. In short, everything is stripped down to the bare minimum.
Consistency, then flexibility. This is almost an oxymoron but read on.
While consistency is critical in establishing a successful brand strategy, a bit of flexibility can help you make the changes required to keep you relevant in a dynamic marketplace.
So how do you balance consistency with flexibility? Great question!
Consistency allows you to build a standard for your brand. But, on the other hand, flexibility lets you make vital adjustments to build more interest and differentiate yourself from your competitors without deviating from the set standard.
Example: Old Spice
Old spice has always done a fabulous job with its marketing. So much so that the scent became a must-have for dads everywhere. But Od Spice needed to capture a broader market base. So what did it do? It partnered up with Wieden + Kennedy to reposition its brand for a more diverse client base.
This meant a spanking new website, new commercials, new packaging, and new product names that appealed to a broader audience, not just dads. These strategic enhancements to an already strong brand helped the company get the attention of a newer, younger customer base. It worked like a charm.
What this case tells us is not to be afraid of new territories. Something that has worked over the years can stagnate you at some point. Be open to thinking about fresh ways of repositioning your brand. These can help you get new customers while reminding existing ones why they love you.
Your brand should resonate with customers at a much deeper level than availability, value, and price. In other words, it should appeal to your customer’s emotions.
Think about any random product you use. Chances are that there are multiple companies producing comparable products at a lower price, with possibly more features.
Customers will develop an emotional attachment to your brand for different reasons. This can be a positive post-sales experience, the feeling of being part of a community, the aesthetic value of your product, and so on.
From the introduction of Apple 1, the company built a brand from a small, tight-knit community. The company has since diversified its products and gained more customers, but it still has a segment of consumers that choose Apple above other products any day. Price doesn't matter. Long queues don't matter. They just have to get Apple.
This many years later, there is still a mysticism around Apple and its users. This is partly because users value quality and go for a stellar customer experience over price.
You can use emotional triggers in your branding to spark a sense of peacefulness, belonging, exclusivity, and so on. It can also be a means to attract undecided customers and cement loyalty with existing customers.
Speaking of loyalty…
Increasing customer retention by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%. Again, these numbers emphasize the need for brand loyalty.
If you have managed to create a brand that people love and are happy to support, you need to nurture this appreciation and give back.
Look at the following stats:
· 75% of consumers admit to favoring companies that give them rewards
· 65% of business comes from existing customers
· 58.7% of customers believe that loyalty points and rewards are among the most valued aspects of a shopping experience
Two things stick out here. One is the value of turning new buyers into loyal customers. Two is that giving can get you very far.
Sephora has executed this so well and created a loyalty program used as a benchmark the world over.
The company’s beauty insider offers members a point for each dollar they spend in the store. They also have a tiered system where customers can climb from 'insider' to 'VIB' to 'Rouge.'
This reward system goes beyond points and discounts received from spending. Other benefits include invitations to exclusive events and product launches, birthday gifts, and entries into their coveted giveaways.
Sephora keeps its audience engaged and remains at the top of their minds by giving numerous options to redeem points.
6. Employee Involvement
As discussed earlier, consistency is central to brand recognition. In this regard, a communication style guide can significantly support a cohesive digital experience. However, it's also equally important for employees to understand how to communicate with customers in a manner that represents your brand.
For instance, if you exhibit a light, fun personality on your Twitter, it makes little sense for customers to talk to grumpy employees on the phone or in-store.
Beyond communication, employee involvement can be seen in how well employees buy into and exemplify brand core values in their day to day.
Example 1: Zappos
Zappos' communication and customer service are often talked about online, with rave reviews about how Zappos treats its customers. The brand has become the poster child for a strong, helpful, human customer service.
A customer is not a metric for Zappos but more like family. See examples of this in this SlideShare.
Example 2: Nike
Nike’s HQ boats of a word class sports facility to be sued exclusively by staff members. Many of its employees bike instead of driving to work, and they occasionally come to work in sports gear, including athletic shoes.
Biking and donning sportswear exemplify what Nike stands for as a sporty company.
7. Competitive Awareness
Even as you focus on your customer and what makes them tick, you can't lose sight of your competitors. After all, you have the same product and draw customers from the same pool. It helps to know what they are doing.
Which tactics are they using? Which ones are helping them gain ground? Which ones are failing?
One way to do this is by using tools that keep tabs on your competitor's social mentions.
Keep in mind that knowing what your competitors are doing does not mean you copy-paste everything into your brand strategy. Your brand is unique, and your customers love and identify with it. This is why they give you business.
Competitive awareness is about benchmarking and learning what you can do better and which strategies to avoid.
What Is The Difference Between Brand And Marketing Strategy?
A marketing strategy is shaped by both the brand and the business strategy.
A brand strategy is a timeless, long-term commitment, while a marketing strategy might change in the short term as you adapt to new channels, news, and so on. On the other hand, your brand strategy needs to remain consistent across all channels and campaigns.
As such, marketing is a way for businesses to share their distinct messages to their community using both online and offline strategies. However, branding is how you demonstrate who you are as a company to the world.
Brand Strategy Examples: Frequently Asked Questions
Why Is Brand Strategy Important?
A brand strategy is important because it forces you to spell out who you are outside of a profit-making enterprise. It speaks to how you want your customers to perceive you and sets you apart from your competition.
What Are The 7 Branding Strategies?
· Employee involvement
· Competitive awareness
What Is Nike’s Brand Strategy?
Nike's game plan is to build an influential brand that inspires customer loyalty worldwide. This is partly because Nike uses emotional branding in many of its campaigns. Specifically on the story of the hero.
It's the age-old, well-recognized tale of a hero pitted against a huge foe and the hero emerging triumphant after a bruising struggle. In a sense, this appeal is thousands of years old and has inspired customer loyalty throughout.
For Nike, the foe is our limitations and the things that stop us from working out-laziness included. And really, this is a message that can resonate with most of us. We have the will to work out; we know we should, and we even enjoy it once we get started. However, pushing ourselves to actually get started can be a bit of a drag.
Nike knows most customers will identify with this internal foe, and it uses this to make an appeal that speaks to its audience.
The hero is, of course, the viewer, and everyone is a hero in their own story, this one included. Nike knows this and has ridden on this premise for years-and very profitably so.
Several other brands have copied the hero narrative for security, medication, and so on. this is something you can consider when creating your own brand strategy
What are the best branding strategy examples?
Who else has gotten their brand strategy right? Here are additional successful brand strategy examples.
Tesla (Brand purpose)
Tesla’s brand purpose statement is ‘’To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy’’
This single statement ties the brand to a larger purpose outside of probability. A noteworthy player in the automobile market, Tesla builds electric and creates scalable clean energy generation and storage solutions.
Amazon (brand positioning)
Brand positioning identifies and explores a differentiator to set a brand apart from its competitors. This helps customers remember you what you want them to know you best for.
At the mention of Amazon, most people think of excellent customer service and quick delivery.
Brands that do this best become known for an idea. Not one product, not one service: one idea. When you identify what this is, you can better create a desirable perception in your customer's mind.
Tiffany (brand voice)
Brand voice sets the tone for how you want to sound to your audience.
We know companies that are light and fun; some are warm and professional, others are structured, possibly up-tight, and so on. This is the brand voice, and it needs to remain the same across all communications (consistency).
Essentially, your brand voice will largely be influenced by your personality. So, for example, a fun, airy character cannot have a super-rigid, serious brand voice.
Back to one of the best-known brands; Tiffany. Tiffany is about more than its signature baby blue. It's also about a perfectly defined brand personality and voice. Tiffany is elegant, witty, and classic.
The brand has done this so well that consumers are happy to buy expensive jewelry in the simple baby blue box at a premium than get the same thing at a lower price elsewhere.
Nike (brand tagline)
Nike keeps getting it right, so we give it another mention.
Nike’s tagline conveys its brand spirit and does so in the shortest statement possible. A good tagline requires you to distill your message to select a few memorable words that tell your story.
The tagline should be inspired by your brand position, which is for internal purposes only. A good tagline should essentially capture your vibe as a brand since it's customer-facing. People will see, think about it and associate you with it.
Nike manifests its positioning perfectly with ‘’Just Do It’’. This translates into a message that inspires and bonds customers to Nike for decades.
Today, not only is ''Just Do It'' recognizable globally, but the tagline is often used in regular conversations and pep talks. Talk of a campaign that practically runs itself!
Brand Strategy Examples: Final Thought
When it comes down to it, the right brand strategy helps you outline all the factors that make you who you are. It gives you a clear vision to allow you to define how you want to be seen, what you stand for, your personality, voice, and so on.
Combined, these key elements steer the path to a competitive, robust brand that can withstand a highly dynamic, unforgiving marketplace. The successful brand strategy examples highlighted here speak to how far a good brand strategy can propel a small business into a globally recognized entity.