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What is brand strategy?

A brand strategy is defined as the long-term plan to achieve a series of long-term goals that ultimately result in the identification and preference of your brand by consumers.

In layman’s terms, we define your goals, create a plan to meet them, and aim to build a brand your customers will love.

Ultimately, branding is the art of managing your company’s identity. It’s your opportunity to take control of your narrative – hence the name of this podcast.

Brand strategy has been around a long time but it feels like everyone is talking about brand strategy these days. And for good reason. 

Brand strategy is profitable.

The statistics show the impact that branding has on consumer’s preferences and shopping habits.

I’ll share a few with you:

 

A brand strategy can help you gain clarity on your brand, build trust and consistency.

That being said, with all the talk of brand strategy, there are some things that I wish more people knew.

First.. What’s the difference between brand strategy and marketing strategy?

Your brand is at the core of your company. And as the foundation it’s going to permeate in every aspect of your business.

Marketing is entirely different. It’s an ever-changing strategy and the end goal is to get people engaged. To get people to buy.

Branding though, is what keeps a customer coming back. 

So marketing is going to drive sales in the short term, and it can be done through multiple channels like ad campaigns and social media and content marketing and email marketing.. I could go on.

But it isn’t able to sustain those sales. That’s where branding comes in. It is consistent.

 

It’s not a one and done situation

That being said.. While it’s consistent, brands do evolve over time. There’s this sort of myth that you take care of your brand strategy and then that’s it. But the reality is, brands are fluid and will evolve over time. They need ongoing attention. 

Your brand strategy will evolve over time. While at its core, your brand will stay true, and we are always talking about consistency, there will be some evolution along the way.

And that’s important. We want to see that. It means that you’re able to adapt.

Look, in the digital world, things are changing quickly. The last couple of years have shown us a lot in terms of how quickly industries can be transformed, how quickly customer behaviours can change as a result of major events or (global) lifestyle changes.

More than ever brands need to be adaptable. So that means that paying ongoing attention to your brand strategy is crucial.

The other important thing to consider here is that great brands aren’t built overnight. They require ongoing love and attention.

If you know me a little bit already, you’ve probably heard me say that good brands take time. And I say it over and over again, because it’s true.

 

It’s more than some buzzwords

Brand personality. Brand values. Brand voice. All incredibly important elements of building a brand.

But brand strategy involves so much more than that.

A brand strategy involves a careful blend of the emotional and rational. It involves research and analysis. It must also be flexible.

Creating a brand strategy is an intricate process that requires a blend of left brain and right brain thinking. This is where creativity meets analysis. Marty Neumeier, author and basically a brand god, covers this concept in his iconic book the brand gap.

The brand gap was so powerful because it was the first book to present a unified theory of branding. At the time, most branding books leaned either towards the strategic side of things, or the visual, design side. This book instead bridges the gap between a creative approach and a strategic approach – and shows us how we can create incredibly successful brands with this blended approach.

Beyond that, brand strategy has the ability to help you tell a story. Storytelling makes brands relatable and memorable. Psychological studies have shown that we’re more likely to remember stories than facts. Creating a brand story has a major impact.

I think in some ways, thanks to platforms like Instagram, the idea of brand strategy has been reduced to a 30 page document with some keywords. But it’s so much more than that.

 

Research backed

I really believe in the power of research-driven strategy. Again, we’re trying to eliminate guesswork as much as possible.

So whenever I am developing a brand strategy for a business, we start with research.

I can’t tell you how many times we go in with a theory and our proven wrong. But that’s the beauty of research – the not knowing, the discovery. I really love that aspect of research. You have to kind of separate your ego and be okay with being wrong, be open to not knowing, to asking hard questions.

Strong brand strategies are backed by research. We’re talking about competitive analysis, surveying, focus groups, looking at data like web and ec-ommerce analytics, social media insights.

There is not *one* way to do brand strategy and you’ll meet strategists who lean more towards the qualitative research approach – things that are intangible like stories, customer feedback, emotions.. Then you’ll find those who lean more towards the quantitative side. Numbers. Data. Analytics. Both are incredibly powerful tools for developing a brand strategy. I like to use both – like I said, we’re fusing the left brain and the right brain thinking.

Some of the things you find during research might sting a little. When you’re analyzing your brand you might see some things you don’t like. But they’re often the most helpful because they are catalysts for change.

Research is a crucial part of the brand strategy process, it cannot be skipped if you want to develop a successful brand strategy.

 

Brand strategy drives results

Sometimes I feel like brand strategy is seen as less sexy than other business growth tactics. But brand strategy is really the foundation for everything that comes after. You can’t have a successful marketing campaign when your company’s identity is disjointed and confusing.

You have to understand, as the foundation, your brand is going to show through in every aspect of your business.

Your brand is at the core of your company. 

Having a brand strategy can give you a special kind of clarity, helping you define your audience, your identity, your purpose, your vision.

When you’re clear on those things, making decisions becomes a lot easier.

It can also help you save on cost of acquisition and marketing costs because you have more of a direction. It takes away a lot of the guesswork.

I’ll say that again.. Having a well-executed brand strategy is going to help you save money on marketing costs. This is one of the BEST investments you can make in your brand in the long term.

Not only does it save you money but it also saves time – when things are consistent and you have a solid foundation to work off of, you’re not running around trying to pull a bunch of random parts together. You have the clarity and the base to work off of. It’s going to save your team time, it’s going to save you time on getting your marketing campaigns right, and it’s going to help to accelerate your growth.

Think about the most successful companies in the world, or even some of the really successful smaller companies that you love.

They’ve all built strong brands.

So.. Now that we’ve gotten through these myths, how will you build yours?